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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Learn about David G. Hartwell

David G. Hartwell in 2006

During my long tenure as a science fiction fan and a reader of science fiction (I never "outgrew" SF, I never stopped reading it), I have particularly loved two important editors: Terry Carr (1937-1987) and David Hartwell (1941-2016).

I recently belatedly discovered that the New York Review of Science Fiction, which Hartwell founded and which is now published by Kevin J. Maroney, published a "David Hartwell in Memoriam" issue in February 2016 which is free to download.  So I downloaded and read it on my Kindle. Although it was issued just after Hartwell's death, it is still a useful overview of his importance to the field.

If you don't have time to read the whole thing now, here are three pieces in the issue to check out: "A Selection of Books Edited by David G. Hartwell" (a very partial list that includes Robert Anton Wilson's Masks of the Illuminati), Darrell Schweitzer's "Remembering David G. Hartwell" (a particularly incisive look at Hartwell's importance) and Michael Bishop's "The Stairs Were Also Shelves," which offers a particularly vivid example of Hartwell's editing skills by describing the editing of Bishop's No Enemy But Time: "We spread the novel's chapters, which David had individually tabbed, out on the Hartwells' kitchen table and on the linoleum floor and rearranged them in ways that set its prehistoric episodes next to thematically similar latter-day episodes. In doing so, we created a nonlinear chronology that turned the novel into a kaleidoscope of related word-picture dioramas -- not sometime I could have done alone, or at least not then ... No Enemy But Time landed on the Nebula Award final ballot for 1982 along with titles by Brian Aldiss, Philip K. Dick, Robert A. Heinlein, and Gene Wolfe. Incredibly, it took that year's best novel award."

Speaking of Robert Anton Wilson, Hartwell also was the editor for Wilson's Cosmic Trigger and the three Schroedinger's Cat books, and in 2010 I managed to obtain an interview with Hartwell about that at the World Fantasy Convention. You can read part one and part two of that interview. Read my interview to see what he says about Wilson, but also for his recommendations on the books he edited that he wishes everyone would read.

He was very busy at the convention, but I was persistent in obtaining the interview. He also seemed to remember me, and in fact we had talked briefly at other conventions, and I did a few things over the years for the New York Review of SF. 

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