A homage to William Tenn, alias Philip Klass, noted science-fiction author, recently deceased - blog by Gurdur

 




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A homage to William Tenn, alias Philip Klass, noted science-fiction author, recently deceased
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Posted 16-Feb-2010 at 06:04 PM (18:04) by Gurdur
Updated 30-Mar-2010 at 03:07 PM (15:07) by Gurdur

I only by chance yesterday learnt that Wikipedia link for William Tenn William Tenn recently died, on February 07, 2010, at the age of eighty-nine. Tenn was the nom de plume of Philip Klass (May 09, 1920 February 07, 2010), who taught English/comparative literature at Penn State University for twenty-four years. He was an extremely good SF writer and satirist, even if most of of his output was in short stories.

Tenn's SF novel, Wikipedia link for Of Men And Monsters Of Men And Monsters, available included in an in-print compilation of his work, Here Comes Civilization: The Complete Science Fiction of William Tenn, Volume 2, was a brilliant satire of humanity as parasites (like rats) left feeling all cranky as a result of not having any suitable species to parasitize till the handy invasion of huge aliens who conquer the Earth, finally giving humans a chance at their ecological niche. This novel is worthy of being put on the same level as Jonathan Swift's Wikipedia link for Gulliver's Travels Gulliver's Travels.

That compilation, Here Comes Civilization, also contains Tenn's short story Bernie the Faust, a very good SF story about a man who thinks he is fleecing an alien by selling the Earth to the alien -- only to panic and to buy it back, then to discover the alien was conning him in order to get money for spare parts for the alien's crashed space-craft.

The rest of Tenn's SF can be found in another in-print compilation, Immodest Proposals: The Complete Science Fiction of William Tenn, Volume 1, which contains his brilliant SF short story, Wikipedia link for The Liberation Of Earth The Liberation Of Earth, a cutting satire which while inspired by the Korean War, and written in 1950 to be first published in 1953, seems like the best satire ever of the Vietnam War, even though predating it.

Also very worthy is another collection of his thoughts, essays and short stories, Dancing Naked: The Unexpurgated William Tenn.

William Tenn, a.k.a. Philip Klass, is one of SF's greatest, and by all accounts an all-round nice guy. RIP.
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  1. Old Comment
    Interesting. Had never heard of this writer.
    Posted 16-Feb-2010 at 06:57 PM (18:57) by djewleu djewleu is offline
  2. Old Comment

    Bernie the Faust's last lines

    Has anyone noticed that the last lines of this story run something like, "I'm the man who sold the world - and bought it back again." Did David Bowie read this story?
    Posted 30-Apr-2016 at 11:09 PM (23:09) by Unregistered
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