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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Reading Theodore Sturgeon

I just finished reading the Selected Stories of Theodore Sturgeon. Oddly, the collection omits "Microcosmic God," one of his most famous stories, but it does collect many of his most famous stories in one volume. My favorites, some of which I had read before, were "Thunder and Roses," "The Sex Opposite," "The [Widget] the [Wadget] and Boff," "The Man Who Lost the Sea" and "Slow Sculpture."

Sturgeon (1918-1985) was best known as a science fiction writer, although he also wrote fantasy, horror and mainstream stories. He is best known for More Than Human, a fixup of three novellas, and generally was better known for his short works than his novels.

Science Fiction: An Oral History by D. Scott Apel, a collection of interviews with science fiction authors from various eras, has a very interesting interview with Sturgeon which reveals he was a big fan of Robert Anton Wilson.  Sturgeon for example calls Cosmic Trigger an "excellent book."

There is also a striking moment in the interview in which Sturgeon mentions a philosophical novel, 2150 AD by Thea Alexander, and Apel tells him it's one of his favorite books. (Apel: "2150 is one of the three books I recommend unequivocally to people who are looking for books on consciousness expansion." Sturgeon wanted Philip K. Dick to read the book: "I feel the philosophical structure is what he's looking for." I never heard of this book, other than the interview.)

Apel's interview with Wilson in Science Fiction: An Oral History (reprinted in Beyond Chaos and Beyond) includes this statement from RAW: "My favorite science fiction writers have long been Stapledon, Heinlein, Clarke and Sturgeon."

Beyond Chaos and Beyond also describes how Apel, after he became friends with Sturgeon, brought him over to meet RAW.

I recently bought an ebook of The Best of Gene Wolfe, and it seems to me there are other writers who would benefit from a "selected stories" or "best of" one volume collection, including Harlan Ellison, Roger Zelazny and Philip Jose Farmer.

All of Sturgeon's stories have been collected into several volumes, which I'll have to get around to reading.

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