Frederik Pohl

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Frederik Pohl (center) with Donald A. Wollheim and John Michel in 1938

Frederik George Pohl, Jr. (November 26, 1919September 2, 2013) was an award-winning science fiction writer and editor, with a career spanning over seventy-five years.


  • You don't think progress goes in a straight line, do you? Do you recognize that it is an ascending. accelerating, maybe even exponential curve? It takes Hell's own time to get started, but when it goes it goes like a bomb.
    • "Day Million" (1966), collected in Day Million (1970)
  • Advertising reaches out to touch the fantasy part of people's lives. And you know, most people's fantasies are pretty sad.
    • The Way The Future Was, (autobiography, 1978)
  • Anyway, that's what life is, just one learning experience after another, and when you're through with all the learning experiences you graduate and what you get for a diploma is, you die.
  • When you spend weeks on end close to another person, so close that you know every hiccough, every smell and every scratch on the skin, you either come out of it hating each other or so deep in each other's gut that you can't find a way out. Klara and I were both. Our little love affair had turned into a Siamese-twin relationship. There wasn't any romance in it. There wasn't room enough between us for romance to occur. And yet I knew every inch of Klara, every pore, and every thought, far better than I'd known my own mother. And in the same way: from the womb out. I was surrounded by Klara.
  • When my mother died and left me it hurt, but I was poor and confused and used to hurting. When the love of my life, or at any rate the woman who seemed to come to be the love of my life after she was safely gone, also left me — without quite dying, because she was stuck in some awful astrophysical anomaly and far out of reach forever — that also hurt. But I was hurting all over anyway then. I wasn't used to happiness, hadn't formed the habit of it. There is a Carot's law to pain. It is measured not by absolutes, but the difference between source and ambience, and my ambience had been too safe and too pleasurable for too long to equip me for this. I was in shock.

The Space Merchants (1953)[edit]

Co-written with Cyril M. Kornbluth
All page numbers from the 1978 Del Rey mass market paperback edition, 11th printing, ISBN 0-345-27682-5
  • Our representative government now is perhaps more representative than it has ever been before in history. It is not necessarily representative per capita, but it most surely is ad valorem. If you like philosophical problems. Here is one for you: should each human being’s vote register alike, as the lawbooks pretend and as some say the founders of our nation desired? Or should a vote be weighted according to the wisdom, the power, and the influence—that is, the money—of the voter?
    • Chapter 2 (p. 15)
  • That’s power, Mitch, absolute power. And you know the old saying. Power ennobles. Absolute power ennobles absolutely.
    • Chapter 4 (p. 44)
  • ‘Thou still unravish’d bride of quietness,
    Thou foster-child of Silence and slow Time—’

    That’s the sort of thing she would have written before the rise of advertising. The correlation is perfectly clear. Advertising up, lyric poetry down.
    • Chapter 4 (p. 48)
  • It was an appeal to reason, and they’re always dangerous. You can’t trust reason. We threw it out of the ad profession long ago and have never missed it.
    • Chapter 8 (p. 103)
  • Anybody who sets out to turn the world upside down has no right to complain if he gets caught in its gears.
    • Chapter 8 (p. 105)
  • Increase of population was always good news to us. More people, more sales. Decrease of IQ was always good news to us. Less brains, more sales.
    • Chapter 9 (p. 111)
  • He drew himself up and said with dignity: “We administer justice, Mr. Courtenay. And an ancient, basic tenet of justice is: ‘Better that one thousand innocents suffer unjustly than one guilty person be permitted to escape.’”
    • Chapter 16 (p. 186)

Man Plus (1976)[edit]

Winner of the 1977 Nebula Award; nominated for the 1977 Hugo Award and the 1977 John W. Campbell Memorial Award
All page numbers from the April 1980 Bantam Books mass market paperback edition, 4th printing, ISBN 0-553-14031-0
  • All of them had been so tested and retested that they had acquired considerable skill in answering test questions the way the examiners wanted them answered.
    • Chapter 4, “Group of Probable Pallbearers” (p. 41)
  • Think of a frog as a functional machine designed to produce baby frogs. This is the Darwinian view, and is really what evolution is all about. In order to succeed, the frog has to stay alive long enough to grow up and get pregnant or get some female frog pregnant. That means it has to do two things. It has to eat. And it has to avoid being eaten.
    • Chapter 5, “Monster Becoming Mortal Again” (p. 50)
  • Even money, thought Roger on the way back to his own office, is not a bad bet. Of course, it depends on the stakes.
    • Chapter 6, “Mortal in Mortal Fear” (p. 74)
  • I don’t think you know what it’s like to have someone head over heels in love with you. What’s the good of a man who’s upside down?
    • Chapter 7, “Mortal Becoming Monster” (p. 81)
  • She described herself as happy. This diagnosis did not come from any welling up of joy inside herself. It came from the observed fact, looking at herself objectively, that whenever she decided she wanted something she always got it, and what other definition of happiness could there be?
    • Chapter 11, “Dorothy Louise Mintz Torraway as Penelope” (p. 146)
  • Don Kayman was too good a scientist to confuse his hopes with observations. He would report what he found. But he knew what he wanted to find.
    • Chapter 14, “Missionary to Mars” (p. 190)

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