Scholar, author, poet, critic
James Blish was born May 23rd, 1921 at East Orange, New Jersey, in the
United States. His interest in writing, and science fiction in
particular, developed quite early. The family has a receipt for his
subscription to Amazing Stories dated 1931, and in 1932, Astounding
published an enthusiastic letter from him.
He loved cats, life, companionship, beer, and sharing knowledge. One interesting story
tells of his intense delight in learning of a young lady who turned to a
career in science at least partially as a consequence of reading one of
his stories. He spent the first forty years or so of his life in the USA,
then moved to England, where he lived out his days at Henly-on-Thames
in the beautiful English countryside, with his wife, Judy and a number
His work output was prodigal; right now, we know of over 400 published
works, and there are unpublished ones as well. A brilliant man, his
interests covered mediaval history and persons, music, science, writing,
poetry, criticism, chess, and more. He was passionate in his support
of the things he thought were good; he was passionate in his dislikes
as well, often penning well-thought out essays certain to stir up
those who disagreed - either way.
If you've not read any of his work, we suggest you begin with some of
his science fiction. Good starters might be juveniles like Welcome to
Mars; stand-alone novels such as Jack of Eagles; series like Cities in
Flight; occult thrillers like Black Easter; or perhaps a cerebral work
such as Doctor Mirabilis might suit your fancy. In any case, there's
sure to be something for everyone -- common threads are the well thought
out plots, interesting characters, and occasional dry humor. Above
all, James Blish was a "writer's writer", someone who treated the
enterprise as a craft, and a serious one, at that.
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