Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Theodore Sturgeon (February 26, 1918 Staten Island, New York - May 8, 1985) was an American science fiction author. He was born Edward Hamilton Waldo. In 1929, after a divorce, his mother married William Sturgeon, and Edward changed his name to Theodore the better to match his nickname, "Ted".
He sold his first story in 1938 to the newspaper McClure's Syndicate which bought much of his early work (non-fantastic); his first genre appearance was a year later. At first he wrote mainly short stories, primarily for the science fiction magazines such as Astounding Science Fiction and Unknown, but also for general-interest publications such as Argosy Magazine. He is known to have used the pen name "E. Waldo Hunter" when two of his stories ran in the same issue of Astounding. He once ghosted an Ellery Queen novel, The Player on the Other Side (Random House, 1963).
Many of Sturgeon's works have a poetic, even an elegiac, quality. He was known to use a technique known as "rhythmic prose", in which his prose text would drop into a standard meter. This has the effect of creating a subtle shift in mood, usually without alerting the reader to its cause.
Sturgeon wrote the screenplays for the Star Trek episodes "Shore Leave" (1966) and "Amok Time" (1967, later published in book form in 1978). The latter is known for his invention of the Pon farr, the Vulcan mating ritual. Sturgeon also wrote several episodes of Star Trek that were never produced. One of these was notable for having first introduced the Prime Directive.
Although Sturgeon is well known among readers of classic science-fiction anthologies (at the height of his popularity in the 1950s he was the most anthologized author alive) and much respected by critics (John Clute writes in the Science Fiction Encyclopedia: "His influence upon writers like Harlan Ellison and Samuel R. Delany was seminal, and in his life and work he was a powerful and generally liberating influence in post-WWII US sf"), he is not much known among the general public and won comparatively few awards (though it must be noted that his best work was published before the establishment and consolidation of the leading genre awards, while his later production was scarcer and weaker). He was listed as a primary influence of the much more famous Ray Bradbury and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.. Kurt Vonnegut has stated that his character Kilgore Trout was based on Theodore Sturgeon.
Sturgeon's Law is derived from a famous quote of his: "Sure, 90% of science fiction is crud. That's because 90% of everything is crud."
His novels include:
- The Dreaming Jewels or The Synthetic Man (1950)
- More Than Human (1953, actually three linked novellas) - winner of the International Fantasy Award
- The King and Four Queens (1956)
- I, Libertine (1956, as "Frederick R. Ewing")
- The Cosmic Rape (1958)
- Venus Plus X (1960)
- Some of Your Blood (1961)
- The Rare Breed (1966)
- Godbody (1986)
He was better known for his short stories. A sampling of Sturgeon short stories and novellas follows:
- "Ether Breather" (September, 1939, his first published science-fiction story)
- "Derm Fool" (March, 1940)
- "It" (August, 1940)
- "Microcosmic God" (April, 1941)
- "Killdozer" (November, 1944)
- "Bianca's Hands" (May, 1947)
- "Thunder and Roses" (November, 1947)
- "The Perfect Host" (November, 1948)
- "Minority Report" (June, 1949, no connection to the 2002 movie, which was based on a different story by Philip K. Dick)
- "The World Well Lost" (June, 1953)
- "Mr. Costello, Hero" (December, 1953)
- "The Skills of Xanadu" (July, 1956)
- "The Other Man" (September, 1956)
- "Need" (1960)
- "How to Forget Baseball" (December, 1964, originally appeared in Sports Illustrated)
- "The Nail and the Oracle" (October, 1964, originally appeared in Playboy)
- "Slow Sculpture" (Galaxy February 1970) - winner of a Hugo Award, a Nebula Award and a Locus Poll Award
- "Occam's Scalpel" (August, 1971)
North Atlantic Books is releasing a multi-volume The Complete Short Stories of Theodore Sturgeon. Volumes 1 through 10 are available as of February, 2005.
- The Theodore Sturgeon Page - an informative fan site; includes The Theodore Sturgeon Literary Trust
- Theodore Sturgeon bibliography
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