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Science fiction author Poul Anderson dead at 74.

By aphrael in News
Thu Aug 02, 2001 at 06:12:05 PM EST
Tags: News (all tags)
News

Famous science-fiction writer Poul Anderson died on Tuesday. He was 74.


Anderson, along with Heinlein and Asimov, was one of the best known science fiction authors of the 1950s. Over his lifetime he won seven Hugos and three Nebulas, and continued writing critically acclaimed science fiction right up until his death; he was awarded the John W Campbell award for best novel of 2000 less than a month ago for his book Genesis. (Interesting aside, scifi author Greg Bear is married to his daughter).

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Science fiction author Poul Anderson dead at 74. | 20 comments (15 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
Makes me wonder... (1.76 / 13) (#1)
by jd on Wed Aug 01, 2001 at 09:59:50 PM EST

These sci-fi writers go to conventions filled with crazies, drink beer to their eyebrows, and write books under intense pressure from publishers.

On the flip-side, the Queen Mother handles 25-100 events a year (depending on how much she can talk her household into letting her out), is 101, and could probably run the London Marathon... provided the event marshalls served her gin & tonics.

It seems to me that the mental and physical abuse that these writers put themselves through, and are put through by their publishers, are killing them.

(You see the same with other entertainers. Comedians, actors, etc, all have amazingly low life-expectancies, especially given that they have much =more= exercise than "normal" people, and have diets which are rich in anti-oxidants, flavenoids, minerals, and virtually everything medical experts say are good for you.)

Bottom line - I'm sad that this guy died, but I can't say I'm surprised. All that can be said is I'm impressed he lived as long as he did.

IMHO, instead of wasting time mourning - you'll spend all your time in a pit of despair if you did that - maybe we should start thinking about WHY so many people need mourning at all???

i rather concur with this comment. (2.57 / 7) (#2)
by la princesa on Wed Aug 01, 2001 at 11:05:26 PM EST

it is a bit odd that so many people are trotted out to be mourned simply because they are well-known. if one were to mourn everyone that did something cool, that would be all one did pretty much. better in some ways to celebrate the cool stuff they did by continuing to enjoy it and introduce others to it.

[ Parent ]
People die - get over yourself (4.50 / 8) (#4)
by jabber on Thu Aug 02, 2001 at 12:38:38 AM EST

Why be a bastard about it?

Anderson died of kidney failure brought about by terminal prostate cancer. He didn't OD on heroin, he didn't blow his brains out, he didn't drown in a pool of his own vomit, he wasn't riddled with bullets in an ego-driven gang drive-by, he didn't auto-eroto-aspyxiate, he didn't die of carelessly acquired HIV.. His body wore out for one of the many reasons why bodies fail.

The man died of natural causes. His body succumbed to a condition that strikes more older men than most probably realize. Why trivialize or fabularize his passing? Why slant it, or make unfair comparisons? He didn't live in the 'fast lane', he was a dignified craftsman of the written word.

Anderson made a significant contribution to his field of choice: seven Hugo and three Nebula awards.. Why belittle him? Through writing, he affected the minds of his readers, and through these, the world..

Why are there so many that need mourning? Anderson, Asimov, Heinlein, Douglas.. Well, people are finite. No promoter is responsible, no lifestyle offers an escape from being mourned.

You're impressed he lived to 74? I hope you are that lucky. I certainly hope I am. I'm sure that cancer didn't seek him out because he attended conventions and promoted his writings.. That's a cold and cruel implication. I hope your, and my passing are much kinder than his.

Why do so many people need mourning? Because they made a point of making a difference while they were here. They played a net positive game with respect to the rest of us. And any suggestion that this man's lifestyle was what put him in the grave, at 74 - suffering from cancer, is contemptible.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Uh, he was 74 (3.75 / 4) (#5)
by delmoi on Thu Aug 02, 2001 at 02:06:28 AM EST

74 ie the exact life expectancy of an American male.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Life expectancy isn't exact (none / 0) (#19)
by wilson on Fri Aug 03, 2001 at 07:50:39 AM EST

74 is the mean life expectancy for an American male. However, life expectancy for men living past 60 or so (I can't remember the exact figures) shoots up to the mid 80s. A lot of men die in their 50s due to heart disease. Those that live longer enter a time in their lives with reduced environmental dangers. The principal health threat (assuming they don't smoke or do a lot of blow) at that point is organ degeneration which takes a while.

[ Parent ]
Healthy, huh? (4.00 / 4) (#6)
by fluffy grue on Thu Aug 02, 2001 at 02:50:22 AM EST

virtually everything medical experts say are good for you
Well, heroin did use to be prescribed by doctors...

Aren't most of the majorly-publicized early-age celebrity deaths from people who were obese and/or drug users? The only recent one I can think of which was otherwise is Paul Hartman, where his wife did the murder/suicide thing (and wasn't she later found to be on heroin?).

And as others have said, he lived to be 74 - normal lifespan.

Also, in the case of, say, Douglas Adams, heart attacks aren't all that rare a cause of death in people around 50 years old. My dad was 49 when he had a heart attack due to total arterial blockage (fortunately, he survived it, but it historically has an 80% mortality rate); I don't know about DNA, but my dad certainly hasn't lived a hedonistic, drug-fuelled, pressure-cooker lifestyle like what you seem to be painting "these sci-fi writers" as.

(Okay, so I just violated P->Q. Sorry, but I'm too tired to make valid logical arguments right now.)
--
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

Minor correction.. (none / 0) (#13)
by BigZaphod on Thu Aug 02, 2001 at 05:56:49 PM EST

It was Phil Hartman. Not Paul. (No offense, I loved the guy and just want things to be clear :-).

"We're all patients, there are no doctors, our meds ran out a long time ago and nobody loves us." - skyknight
[ Parent ]
Erf (none / 0) (#14)
by fluffy grue on Thu Aug 02, 2001 at 09:40:41 PM EST

I'm a big fan of his too. You'd think I could remember his name right.

/me hangs head in shame...
--
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

Who is Greg Bear? (2.66 / 3) (#9)
by xdc on Thu Aug 02, 2001 at 11:56:09 AM EST

he was awarded the John W Campbell award for best novel of 2000 less than a month ago for his book Genesis. (Interestingly, Greg Bear is married to his daughter).
Who is Greg Bear? From the context, I would think he has something to do with the John W Campbell award, but it's unclear.

Greg Bear (4.00 / 2) (#10)
by aphrael on Thu Aug 02, 2001 at 12:27:11 PM EST

is one of the most well known of the *current* generation of hard science fiction authors. His works first appeared in the 1980s, when he won awards for Blood Music and Queen of Angels; he also wrote Eon and Moving Mars, before moving off into the direction of biotech in the 90s.

[ Parent ]
Two books by Poul Anderson (3.00 / 1) (#12)
by anansi on Thu Aug 02, 2001 at 04:55:10 PM EST

My favorite Anderson book was Three Hearts and Three Lions, a crunchy fantasy as good as Heinlein's Glory Road or Niven's The Magic Goes Away. Close behind was Tau Zero about a runaway starship.

He was never as well known as Asimov or Heinlein, but to science fiction fans, he's definitely up there in the pantheon of all time classic writers. When science fiction gets its own national museum, (If rock and roll, why not SF?) He'll definitely belong in the hall of fame.

Don't call it Fascism. Use Musollini's term: "Corporatism"

My favourite (none / 0) (#15)
by John Milton on Thu Aug 02, 2001 at 11:58:24 PM EST

My favourite was his Harvest of Stars series. Of course, it wasn't realistic. It fell into that, government is bad, corporations are benevolent, libertarian slant. Still it was a wonderful series. One of my all time favourites.


"When we consider that woman are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should Treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton


[ Parent ]
I like Harvest of Stars too (none / 0) (#16)
by sigwinch on Fri Aug 03, 2001 at 04:54:16 AM EST

Of course, it wasn't realistic. It fell into that, government is bad, corporations are benevolent, libertarian slant.
Minor spoilers ahead... Oh, the Stars books aren't even remotely as bad as that. The governments being bad isn't so much libertarianism, as it is the fact that they were gradually taken over by all-seeing all-controlling super-powerful AIs. Same for corporations being good: the books only really cover Fireball Corporation, which is the protagonist Anson Guthrie's plaything, and his main goals in life are 1) Getting Things Done, on a planetary scale if necessary, 2) avoiding being pushed around to gratify someone else's ego, and 3) keeping Fireball from becoming a shell controlled by the dead hand of Policy. The Heinlein-style didacticism is minimal (and what does exist is demonstrative rather than expository), and the Pournelle-style sentimental gung-ho-ism is kept to a dull roar.

Not that the stories don't have a full measure of rugged individualism -- I just don't want people getting the idea that they are Anderson's answer to Atlas Shrugged.

--
I don't want the world, I just want your half.
[ Parent ]

Good point (none / 0) (#18)
by John Milton on Fri Aug 03, 2001 at 05:42:06 AM EST

Yes now that you point to it, I have to agree. He didn't really say anything about corporatism. Just individiualism. I enjoyed the emphasis on individualism. I think in one of the later novels he called it the faustian spirit.


"When we consider that woman are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should Treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton


[ Parent ]
Two More (none / 0) (#20)
by shaum on Fri Aug 03, 2001 at 11:27:32 AM EST

The High Crusade: Aliens land in 12th century England, and try to capture and enslave the locals. The locals -- in particular the local lord, a knight just returned from the Holy Lands -- turn out to be smarter and cannier than expected. Think of it as "The Mouse That Roared" with starships.

(A funny scene: The ship is leaving Earth with the humans on board. As they are about to pass by the moon, the priest (who is the narrator) warns the others to brace themselves, as they are about to collide with the crystal spheres around the Earth -- and then throws a tantrum when they pass by the moon without incident.)

Brain Wave: One day, everyone wakes up to find their IQs doubled. It's not as unqualified a blessing as it seems, as many people were happier living simpler lives, and all of the past works of human culture now seem so simple-minded. And the simians of Africa are organizing a rebellion...

:wq!
[ Parent ]

Science fiction author Poul Anderson dead at 74. | 20 comments (15 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
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