Damon Knight, teacher [1922-2002].
April 17, 2002 8:29 PM   Subscribe

Damon Knight, teacher [1922-2002]. You made us all write to the very best we could and then you made us try for better. Damon, thank you, and we'll do our best to pass it on.
posted by realjanetkagan (11 comments total)
…it's a cookbook.
posted by darukaru at 8:46 PM on April 17, 2002

His book on short story writing was excellent.

Also the title to his novel: "Humpty Dumpty: An Oval" made me laugh in the library a long time ago.
posted by frenetic at 8:57 PM on April 17, 2002

Thank you, Janet--I heard the eulogy by one of his friends on NPR today where he was described, in his role of patient teacher who always demanded the best of his students, at Clarion, as a Gandalf on acid--and I think of Gene Wole's The Fifth Head of Cerebrus where the dedication reads To Damon Knight - Who one night grew me from a bean. His influence on the field seems to me to be as much through his person as through his writing or editing, which says an awful lot about him.
posted by y2karl at 9:15 PM on April 17, 2002

Damon Knight practically invented the Science Fiction (and Fantasy) Writers of America and the Clarion writers' workshop. His Creating Short Fiction is one of the best manuals on short-story writing ever (here's a sample). The Futurians, his history/memoir of early SF fandom, is worth tracking down. I haven't read enough of his fiction to say anything useful about it, but his main contributions were clearly as editor, critic and (especially) teacher.
posted by mcwetboy at 4:37 AM on April 18, 2002

(y2karl: the exact dedication in The Fifth Head of Cerberus is as follows: "To Damon Knight, who one well-remembered June evening in 1966 grew me from a bean.")
posted by mcwetboy at 4:43 AM on April 18, 2002

I didn't realize he was the one responsible for Gene Wolfe, for that I am eternally grateful.
posted by Mick at 6:22 AM on April 18, 2002

I just do not have a verbatim memory. Thanks, mcwetboy--D'oh!--
posted by y2karl at 7:26 AM on April 18, 2002

However, mcwetboy, if you're going to link The Fifith Head Of Cerberus, something like that is far preferable to an Amazon link. It's far more informative--and a style thing: for me, Amazon links are lame last choices.
posted by y2karl at 8:02 AM on April 18, 2002

(y2karl, then why didn't you link to it in the first place? Surely an Amazon link is better than no link. Besides, I was unaware of the site. No more about Gene; this should be about Damon.)
posted by mcwetboy at 8:47 AM on April 18, 2002

From Alpha Ralpha Boulevard, from there, Fictionwise profile and this online interview. I wish I could remember the title of this very haunting story he wrote in the 60s about an astronaut lost in some seemingly random teleportation booth network found in a ruin on Mars or the Moon--my memory again. rodii might know. He was a good writer even if his ouput was not huge.

He founded the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) and served as its first president; he was a tireless defender of authors' rights and critic of bad publishing practices. He edited dozens of important anthologies, most notably the "Orbit" series; in that capacity, he discovered many writers who later rose to prominence, including R. A. Lafferty, Gardner Dozois, and Gene Wolfe. (Wolfe's classic The Fifth Head of Cerberus is dedicated "To Damon Knight, who one well-remembered June evening in 1966 grew me from a bean.")

From his last editors blog Electrolite, where the NPR interview and several obits are as well. Boy, everybody remembered that dedication. (mcwetboy- it was from a a comment in a post, would've been a repeat and it was snarky to bring it up after your correction-apologies)

Humpty Dumpty looks interesting--definitely on my list now.
Remembered as a writer, editor, teacher and person.
His is not a name writ in water.
posted by y2karl at 9:29 AM on April 18, 2002

Humpty Dumpty is a wonderful book, brilliantly out of square from beginning to end--and then you should read The Troika, by Stepan Chapman, which is in a similar vein.
posted by rodii at 10:45 AM on April 18, 2002

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