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In his Reflections column in the December 2010 Asimov's, "Rereading Kornbluth" Robert Sivlerberg recommends rereading the works of Cyril M. Kornbluth. A Futurian, Kornbluth was a genius who began writing superb Science Fiction before the age of 16. His career was interrupted by World War II-- he was a 50 caliber machine gunner in the Battle of the Bulge where he earned the Bronze Star and developed severe essential hypertension. He died at the age of thirty-four while running to catch a train for a job interview after shoveling snow.

Silverberg describes Kornbluth's work as "subtle, oblique, elliptical, and sardonic". It's also often gritty, insightful, dark, and incisive. Science Fiction backdropped Kornbluth's stories about people and the socieites they lived in which showed rather than telling while exploring a moral dimension often absent from Science Fiction . He enlivened his stories, their settings, and most of all, the characters with clarity of vision through imagery and prose that could bring tears to a reader's eyes. His prose unflinchingly portrayed pure evil, noble but burned out servants of humanity in their striving , people of integrity in moral delimmas, and just plain sickos. In his stories, characters could find harsh justice and cold judgment. In his works, he dealt with such issues as population explosion, ecological disaster, nuclear proliferation, medical ethics, and the degradation of education-- issues that were new then but which are still of interest today.

Silverberg highlighted several stories and recommended two collections-- a biogrpghy and a omnibus of short stories. . The omnibus is His Share of Glory: the Complete Short Science Fiction of C.M. Kornbluth, edited by Timothy P. Szczesuil and published in 1997 by NESFA Press. It's 56 stories in 670 pages,and I checked it out via the Pinellas County Library Cooperative. Of the stories he mentions, I've read a few and some I haven't. They are-- Of these I've already written about The Only Thing We Learn in My review of Space Dreadnoughts

“The Mindworm,”

“Two Dooms,”

First of the alternate history stories in which Germany and Japan had conquered and partitioned the United States. Deals with the moral dilemna of creating the A-bomb. A-bomb vs Axis conquest of the world.

Shark Ship

“Theory of Rocketry,”

“The Words of Guru” “

“The Little Black Bag,” (The Science Fiction Hall of Fame.)

one of Connie Willis' favorite time travel stories

“The Marching Morons,” from 1951 Amazon reviewer called it Swiftian Satire. Is he then holding the idea of elitism of to ridicule? There is a sense of hauteur in his writing, a sense that the brash and cynical, not-so-young anymore author looked askance on lesser mortals. Seen as presaging the current world of decreasing academic achievment, decreasing attention spans and overall increase of terminal stupidity. PArt of this is blamed on the Internet and computers, with an interesting sideline into the latest Asimov and a quote from the Phaedrus. ( According to Cyril Kornbluth’s Postwar Dystopias By Benjamin Ivry,"The literary agent Virginia Kidd called Kornbluth a 'strict Jewish moralist'” Degeneracy to fascism out of desperation. ___________________________________________
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