Williams on Sturgeon

Arthur H. () points to a biographical article on Theodore Sturgeon by Paul Williams (on the Theodore Sturgeon Literary Trust site), written in 1976. (Arthur sez that despite the "published here for the first time" line, the article was published sometime in the late '70s.)

It's a good article, though hard to read on the web due to the fact that it's entirely in boldface. I recommend doing a Select All in your browser (on that page), copying the text, and pasting it into your favorite text editor or word processor for easier reading.

I should note that the article is long, and it contains spoilers for More than Human and various short stories. But if you haven't read More than Human, what are you doing poking around on the web? I'm serious: if you haven't read it, hie thee to your local public library (or your local bookstore, or Amazon or Powells or wherever) and go read it, right now if possible.

Anyway, I wanted to mention a couple bits from the article. First, I'm wryly amused at how little some things change:

[I]n terms of the money to be made and the size of the audience, being a star in the science fiction world in the late Forties was a little like being a big frog in a rather small glass of water. But it was a respectable glass of water, from the point of view of the people inside it (outsiders, of course, considered science fiction worthless trash). Science fiction people felt like they knew something everybody else didn't know....

I think the most interesting bits of the article to me are the comments on Sturgeon as a writer, both from a reader's perspective ("He turns things around and inside out at the same time, without letting go of your hand") and looking at his problems with writing, including self-doubt ("I'm not a writer. . . . A writer is someone who has to write. The only reason I write is because it's the only way I can justify all the other things I didn't do") and dealing with long extended periods of writer's block.

He spent many years at a time not writing. Williams notes:

He writes because his stories bring him acceptance, and attention, and love, and like most of us he wants these things. But like many of us, he also fears these things, and so in his skillful and perverse way he tries not to write.

And an editor once said, "I know Sturgeon can write a novel in three days; but which three days?"

At the time the article was written, Sturgeon was in the middle of another long blocked period; unfortunately, he didn't publish many more stories before his death in 1985.

But he left an amazing legacy anyway. I'm very much looking forward to seeing the rest of the complete Sturgeon short stories series appear in trade paperback.

I think this quote from Sturgeon's daughter Tandy is particularly apropos: "[People] still need [a storyteller]. And they like him because he makes them want to listen."

One Response to “Williams on Sturgeon”

  1. Karen

    Oh Jed, thanks so much for linking that article.


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