• A Sound of Thunder (1952)
• Mars Is Heaven! (1948)
• The Veldt (1950)
• Dark They Were, And Golden-Eyed (1949)
• The Martian Chronicles (1950)
• The Illustrated Man (1951)
• A Sound of Thunder (1952)
• Fahrenheit 451 (1953)
On books, writers and writing
One of my favorite stories as a child was the one about the little boy who got a magical porridge machine functioning so wildly that it inundated the town with three feet of porridge.
In order to walk from one house to the other, or head down-street, one had to head out with a large spoon, eating one’s way to destinations near or far.
A delightful concept, save that I imagined tomato soup and a thick slush of crackers. Going on a journey and making a feast, all in one!
I imagine the name of the little boy in that tale should have been Isaac Asimov. For it seems to me that since first we met at the First World Science Fiction Convention in New York City the first week in July 1939, Isaac has been journeying and feasting through life, now at the Astronomical tables, now in a spread of other sciences, now in religion, and again in literature over a great span of time. One could call him a jackdaw, but that wouldn't be correct. Jackdaws focus on and snatch bright objects of no particular weight. Isaac is in the mountain-moving business, but he does not move but eat them. Hand him a book and a few hours later, like that above-mentioned porridge, Isaac comes tunneling out the far side, still hungry. Is there a body of literature he hasn't taken on? I severely doubt it....
People have said Isaac is a workaholic. Nonsense. He has gone mad with love in ten dozen territories. And there are a few dozen virgin territories left out there. There will be few such virgins left, when Isaac departs earth and arrives Up There to write twenty-five new books of the Bible. And that's only the first week!
Preface to Foundation's Friends
You have your list of favorite writers; I have mine. Dickens, Twain, Wolfe, Peacock, Shaw, Molière, Jonson, Wycherley, Sam Johnson. Poets: Gerard Manley Hopkins, Dylan Thomas, Pope. Painters: El Greco, Tintoretto. Musicians: Mozart, Haydn, Ravel, Johann Strauss(!). Think of all these names and you think of big or little, but nonetheless important, zests, appetites, hungers. Think of Shakespeare and Melville and you think of thunder, lightning, wind. They all knew the joy of creating in large or small forms, on unlimited or restricted canvasses. These are the children of the gods. They knew fun in their work. No matter if creation came hard here and there along the way, or what illnesses and tragedies touched their most private lives. The important things are those passed down to us from their hands and minds and these are full to bursting with animal vigor and intellectual vitality. Their hatreds and despairs were reported with a kind of love....
What has all this to do with writing the short story in our times?
Only this: if you are writing without zest, without gusto, without love, without fun, you are only half a writer. It means you are so busy keeping one eye on the commercial market, or one ear peeled for the avant-garde coterie, that you are not being yourself. You don't even know yourself. For the first thing a writer should be is—excited. He should be a thing of fevers and enthusiasms. Without such vigor, he might as well be out picking peaches or digging ditches; God knows it'd be better for his health.
Zen in the Art of Writing
At the end of June in 1939 1 took a bus east to New York to attend the first World Science Fiction convention On the bus with me I took the June of Astounding Science-Fiction in which the short story by A.E. van Vogt appeared. It was an astonishing encounter. In that same issue with him were C.L. Moore and Ross Rocklynne, a fantastic issue to take with me on that long journey, for I was still a poor unpublished writer selling newspapers on a street corner for ten dollars a week and hoping, someday, to be an established writer myself, but that was still two years off. On the way I drank in the words of A.E. Van Vogt and was stunned by what I saw there. He became a deep influence for the next year.
As it turned out, I didn't become A.E. Van Vogt, no one else could, and when I finally met him was pleased to see that the man was as pleasant to be with as were his stories. I knew him over a long period of years and he was a kind and wonderful gentleman, a real asset to the Science Fantasy Society in L.A., where there are a lot of strange people. A.E. Van Vogt was not strange, he was kind. He gave me advice and helped me along the road to becoming what I wanted to become.
The news of his death hurt many of us who had known him for a period of sixty years. His work will outlive him by a long number of years.
"SF Authors Remember A.E. van Vogt"