James Gunn, prizewinning science fiction author, dies at 97

The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Tuesday, April 16, 2024

James Gunn, prizewinning science fiction author, dies at 97
A photo provided by Andy White/KU Marketing Communications shows the science fiction writer and editor James Gunn in 2018. He was named a grand master of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America in 2007 and was inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 2015. Gunn, who edited 10 anthologies of science fiction and wrote about 30 books, including his last novel, “Transformation,” in 2017, and some 100 short stories, including one he submitted shortly before he died in Lawrence, Kan., on Dec. 23, 2020. He was 97. Andy White/KU Marketing Communications via The New York Times.

by Sam Roberts

NEW YORK (NYT NEWS SERVICE).- In 1949, when he was in his mid-20s and studying for his master’s degree in English, James E. Gunn submitted a piece of science fiction to a pulp magazine. “One day, I got a letter saying, ‘I like your story “Paradox,” and I’ll pay you $80 for it,’” he recalled in a 2008 interview. “My wife says it was probably the most transforming experience in our lives when we realized someone would actually pay me to sit in front of my typewriter.”

He remained particularly proud of the plot — about a drunken bum abducted by telepathic aliens who, once they read his delirious mind, abandon their plans to subjugate humanity.

Decades later, he ran into Sam Merwin Jr., the publisher who had bought “Paradox,” at a science fiction writers convention. He introduced himself by saying, “You probably don’t remember, but you bought my first story.”

“Merwin said, ‘I can tell you why,’” Gunn continued, “and I thought, ‘Gee, it stuck in his mind all this time.’ Then Merwin revealed, ‘It was because anything at all literate popped up out of the slush pile.'”

“So,” he added, “you never want to get too pleased with yourself.”

But Gunn had been so emboldened when his first two stories were published that he went on to make science fiction his career. He edited 10 anthologies of science fiction and wrote about 30 books, including his last novel, “Transformation,” in 2017, and some 100 short stories, including one he submitted shortly before he died in Lawrence, Kansas, on Dec. 23. He was 97.

His death, which was not widely reported, was announced by the University of Kansas, where he first taught English classes in 1955 and founded the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction in 1982.

Gunn’s 1962 story “The Immortals,” about people who discover the secret to eternal life, was adapted into an ABC-TV movie, “The Immortal,” in 1969 and a series in the 1970-71 season. His novels include “The Listeners” (1972), which Carl Sagan described as “one of the very best fictional portrayals of contact with extraterrestrial intelligence ever written,” and which was credited with encouraging research by the SETI Institute into the search for life beyond Earth.

Gunn was named a grand master of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America in 2007 and was inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 2015. He earned a Hugo Award for his critical study “Isaac Asimov: The Foundations of Science Fiction” (1983) and edited “The New Encyclopedia of Science Fiction” (1988).

Despite the incentive provided by that first paycheck, Gunn said in an interview with the University of Kansas in 2017, “I have often made the point that writing is really hard work.”

“Lots of times,” he said, “I’ve sat in front of my typewriter or computer and felt really I’d rather be out mowing the lawn, doing manual labor, than trying to wrench ideas out of my head. But there is also the feeling that sitting there and turning concepts into language that is suitable is what I was cut out to do.”

“I’ve told people,” he added, “that I feel I earn my place here on Earth each day when I am able to create something that wasn’t there before, and, in turn, some of these things enter stories that influence people.”

James Edwin Gunn was born on July 12, 1923, in Kansas City, Missouri, to Jesse and Elsie Mae (Hutchison) Gunn. His father was a printer, two uncles were pressmen, a third was a proofreader, and his grandfather was an editor who was said to have visited every county in the country as a representative of the Masons.

As a child, James devoured fairy tales and Tarzan novels. He was inspired to write science fiction as a teenager after attending a speech by H.G. Wells.

He served in the Navy during World War II and as a Japanese interpreter after the war, then earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Kansas in 1947 and a master’s in creative writing in 1951.

In 1947, he married Jane Frances Anderson; she died in 2012. He is survived by their son, Kevin. Another son, Christopher, died in 2005.

Gunn told The New York Times in 2011 that science fiction could speed the future by sparking the imagination of young minds. But he also acknowledged that, as Arthur C. Clarke said, “The future isn’t what it used to be.”

“The science fiction writer’s task grows increasingly more difficult as science and technology catch up to the science-fictional imagination and as old tropes get worn out,” he told Electric Spec magazine in 2007.

But science fiction and fantasy can provide healing escapism, he often said, while the truth can prove to be stranger.

“Certainly the contact with other intelligences would be as exhilarating (or as traumatic) as anything imaginable,” he said in that interview, “and how we respond to that will determine humanity’s fate and maybe its transcendence.”

“So, he added, “it represents a critical moment — maybe the critical moment — in humanity’s long history, and it behooves us to contemplate it before it happens (if it happens).”

© 2021 The New York Times Company

Today's News

February 12, 2021

MFA, St. Petersburg exhibition focuses on Greek art created during the Geometric period

Jazz legend and fusion pioneer Chick Corea dies of cancer

Christie's to offer rare illuminated manuscripts from the Collection of Elaine and Alexandre P. Rosenberg

Shelburne Museum acquires John Singleton Copley portrait of Mrs. John Scollay

George and Martha Washington's hair among Presidential memorabilia up for auction

Exhibition presents some forty essential works by Mark Tobey

The Met announces Alex Da Corte as artist for 2021 Roof Garden Commission

Britain's brass bands fear being blown away by virus curbs

Frederick Douglass ALS leads Fine Books & Autographs at Swann

Forgotten at home, Italian comic strip enjoys cult status in ex-Yugoslavia

Berlin film festival to spotlight pandemic-era movies

Coin collection of the late Richard Plant is 100% sold at Dix Noonan Webb

Leslie Robertson, who engineered the World Trade Center, dies at 92

James Gunn, prizewinning science fiction author, dies at 97

National Book Foundation names new leader

Review: Shakespeare's baddies convene in 'All the Devils Are Here'

In Spain, virtuoso violinist pays tribute to war-torn Lebanon childhood

World War II Citroen truck for sale with H&H Classics

John Murphy named Director of Development and Donor Relations at MWPAI

New Orleans Museum of Art announces major fund and pledged endowment from Del and Ginger Hall

Timken Museum of Art names Kathleen Lundgren and Alexandra Davis Perez to its Board of Directors

George H.W. Bush Letter to Mikhail Gorbachev to be auctioned

Toledo Museum of Art promotes two to senior management roles

A vision of Asian American cinema that questions the very premise

A High Quality Website Shows You Care About your Company and its Customers

OtelMs Company │ Provide Best Hotel management Software

Is sports betting down to luck or is it really an art of skill?

Longest Running Hindi TV Daily Soaps

The Japan Culture & Arts Profitability Enhancement Project brings to you Video on Demand Adventures!

Follow these effective and simple tips to secure good grades in your Law college degree.

Guide to Travel With Younger Children - Why It's Important

How to Promote Art via Video on Facebook

5 Tips That'll Take Your Drone Photography to New Heights

How to get a cell phone with bad credit and no deposit

Everything You Need to Know About Buying a Car in Florida

Eyeshadow Palettes to Rock Day or Night

Where to Search for Rental Cars

How do Hemp Cigarettes Help You Quit Smoking

The Best Studio City Rehab Facilities

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

sa gaming free credit
Truck Accident Attorneys
Accident Attorneys

Royalville Communications, Inc

ignaciovillarreal.org juncodelavega.com facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. Hommage
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site Parroquia Natividad del Señor
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful