Damon Knight

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Damon Knight
BornDamon Francis Knight
(1922-09-19)September 19, 1922
Baker, Oregon, United States
DiedApril 15, 2002(2002-04-15) (aged 79)
Eugene, Oregon, United States
Pen nameConanight, Stuart Fleming [lower-alpha 1]
OccupationAuthor, editor, critic
GenreScience fiction, primarily short stories
Kate Wilhelm (m. 1963)
Knight's novella "The Earth Quarter" was the cover story of the January 1955 issue of If If 195501.jpg
Knight's novella "The Earth Quarter" was the cover story of the January 1955 issue of If
Knight's novella "The Visitor at the Zoo" took the cover of the April 1963 issue of Galaxy Science Fiction Galaxy 196304.jpg
Knight's novella "The Visitor at the Zoo" took the cover of the April 1963 issue of Galaxy Science Fiction

Damon Francis Knight (September 19, 1922  April 15, 2002) was an American science fiction author, editor and critic. He is the author of "To Serve Man", a 1950 short story adapted for The Twilight Zone . [2] He was married to fellow writer Kate Wilhelm.

Literary criticism study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature

Literary criticism is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature. Modern literary criticism is often influenced by literary theory, which is the philosophical discussion of literature's goals and methods. Though the two activities are closely related, literary critics are not always, and have not always been, theorists.

To Serve Man short story by Damon Knight

"To Serve Man" is a science fiction short story by American writer Damon Knight. It first appeared in the November 1950 issue of Galaxy Science Fiction and has been reprinted a number of times, including in Frontiers in Space (1955), Far Out (1961), and The Best of Damon Knight (1976).

A film adaptation is the transfer of a work or story, in whole or in part, to a feature film. Although often considered a type of derivative work, recent academic developments by scholars such as Robert Stam conceptualize film adaptation as a dialogic process.



Knight was born in Baker, Oregon in 1922, and grew up in Hood River, Oregon. He entered science-fiction fandom at the age of eleven and published two issues of a fanzine entitled Snide. [3]

Hood River, Oregon City in Oregon, United States

The city of Hood River is the seat of Hood River County, Oregon, United States. It is a port on the Columbia River, and is named for the nearby Hood River. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 7,167.

Knight's first professional sale was a cartoon drawing to a science-fiction magazine, Amazing Stories . [4] His first story, "The Itching Hour," appeared in the Summer 1940 number of Futuria Fantasia , edited and published by Ray Bradbury. [1] "Resilience" followed in the February 1941 number of Stirring Science Stories, edited by Donald Wollheim. [1] An editorial error made the latter story's ending incomprehensible; [5] it was reprinted in a 1978 magazine in four pages with a two-page introduction by Knight. [1]

<i>Amazing Stories</i> American science fiction magazine

Amazing Stories is an American science fiction magazine launched in April 1926 by Hugo Gernsback's Experimenter Publishing. It was the first magazine devoted solely to science fiction. Science fiction stories had made regular appearances in other magazines, including some published by Gernsback, but Amazing helped define and launch a new genre of pulp fiction.

<i>Futuria Fantasia</i>

Futuria Fantasia was an American science fiction fanzine created by Ray Bradbury in 1938, when he was 18 years old. Though only 4 issues of the fanzine were published, its list of contributors included Hannes Bok, Forrest J. Ackerman, Henry Kuttner, Damon Knight, and Robert A. Heinlein.

Ray Bradbury American author and screenwriter

Ray Douglas Bradbury was an American author and screenwriter. He worked in a variety of genres, including fantasy, science fiction, horror, and mystery fiction.

At the time of his first story sale, he was living in New York, and was a member of the Futurians. [6] One of his short stories describes paranormal disruption of a science fiction fan group, and contains cameo appearances of various Futurians and others under thinly-disguised names: for instance, non-Futurian SF writer H. Beam Piper is identified as "H. Dreyne Fifer".

The Futurians were a group of science fiction (SF) fans, many of whom became editors and writers as well. The Futurians were based in New York City and were a major force in the development of science fiction writing and science fiction fandom in the years 1937–1945.

H. Beam Piper American science fiction writer

Henry Beam Piper was an American science fiction author. He wrote many short stories and several novels. He is best known for his extensive Terro-Human Future History series of stories and a shorter series of "Paratime" alternate history tales.

Knight's forte was the short story; he is widely acknowledged as having been a master of the genre. [7] To the general public, he is best known as the author of "To Serve Man", a 1950 short story adapted for The Twilight Zone . [2] It won a 50-year Retro-Hugo in 2001 as the best short story of 1950. [8] Knight also became well known as a science fiction critic, a career which began when he wrote in 1945 that A. E. van Vogt "is not a giant as often maintained. He's only a pygmy who has learned to operate an overgrown typewriter." [3] He ceased reviewing when Fantasy & Science Fiction refused to publish a review. [9] These reviews were later collected in In Search of Wonder . [6]

Short story Brief work of literature, usually written in narrative prose

A short story is a piece of prose fiction that typically can be read in one sitting and focuses on a self-contained incident or series of linked incidents, with the intent of evoking a "single effect" or mood, however there are many exceptions to this.

<i>The Twilight Zone</i> (1959 TV series) American TV anthology series (1959-1964)

The Twilight Zone is an American anthology television series created and presented by Rod Serling, which ran for five seasons on CBS from 1959 to 1964. Each episode presents a stand-alone story in which characters find themselves dealing with often disturbing or unusual events, an experience described as entering "the Twilight Zone," often ending with a surprise ending and a moral. Although predominantly science-fiction, the show's paranormal and Kafkaesque events leaned the show towards fantasy and horror. The phrase “twilight zone,” inspired by the series, is used to describe surreal experiences.

A. E. van Vogt Canadian writer

Alfred Elton van Vogt was a Canadian-born science fiction author. His narrative style was compelling and stimulating, and in this way, influenced later science fiction writers, notably Philip K. Dick. He is regarded as one of the most popular, influential and complex practitioners of the mid-twentieth century, the genre's so-called Golden Age.

Algis Budrys wrote that Knight and William Atheling Jr. (James Blish) had "transformed the reviewer's trade in the field", [10] in Knight's case "without the guidance of his own prior example". [9] The term "idiot plot", a story that only functions because almost everyone in it is an idiot, became well-known through Knight's frequent use of it in his reviews, though he believed the term was probably invented by Blish. [11] Knight's only non-Retro-Hugo Award was for "Best Reviewer" in 1956. [8]

Algis Budrys American writer

Algirdas Jonas "Algis" Budrys was a Lithuanian-American science fiction author, editor, and critic. He was also known under the pen names Frank Mason, Alger Rome, John A. Sentry, William Scarff, and Paul Janvier.

James Blish American author

James Benjamin Blish was an American science fiction and fantasy writer. He is best known for his Cities in Flight novels, and his series of Star Trek novelizations written with his wife, J. A. Lawrence. He is credited with creating the term gas giant to refer to large planetary bodies.

In literary criticism, an idiot plot is "a plot which is kept in motion solely by virtue of the fact that everybody involved is an idiot," and where the story would otherwise be over if this were not the case. It is a narrative where its conflict comes from characters not recognizing, or not being told, key information that would resolve the conflict, often because of plot contrivance. The only thing that prevents the conflict's resolution is the character's constant avoidance or obliviousness of it throughout the plot, even if it was already obvious to the viewer, so the characters are all "idiots" in that they are too obtuse to simply resolve the conflict immediately.

Knight was the founder of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), [12] cofounder of the National Fantasy Fan Federation, [13] cofounder of the Milford Writer's Workshop, [14] and cofounder of the Clarion Writers Workshop. [15] The SFWA officers and past presidents named Knight its 13th Grand Master in 1994 (presented 1995). After his death, the associated award was renamed the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award in his honor. [8] [6] [16] The Science Fiction Hall of Fame inducted him in 2003. [17]

Until his death, Knight lived in Eugene, Oregon, with his second wife, author Kate Wilhelm. [18] His papers are held in the University of Oregon Special Collections and University Archive. [19]

Selected works


Short stories and other writings

Literary criticism and analysis

Short story collections

See also


  1. Futurians Chester Cohen and Knight used the name Conanight jointly for two 1942 illustrations. Knight wrote three 1943–1944 short stories as Stuart Fleming. [1]

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Orbit 1 is a 1966 science fiction short story anthology edited by American writer Damon Knight.


  1. 1 2 3 4 Damon Knight at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDB). Retrieved 2013-04-04.
    Select a title to see its linked publication history and general information.
    Select a particular edition (title) for more data at that level, such as a front cover image or linked contents.
  2. 1 2 Stanyard, Dimensions Behind the Twilight Zone, p. 51.
  3. 1 2 Battistella, Edwin. "Damon Knight (1922-2002)". The Oregon Encyclopedia. Retrieved 31 July 2012.
  4. Knight, "Knight Piece," Brian W. Aldiss & Harry Harrison, Hell's Cartographers, Orbit Books, 1976, p. 105.
  5. Pohl, SFWA Grand Masters Volume Three, p. 202.
  6. 1 2 3 "Damon Knight". Gollancz/SFE Ltd. Retrieved 15 October 2011.
  7. Malzberg, Barry N., ed. (1976). The Best of Damon Knight. Nelson Doubleday.
  8. 1 2 3 "Knight, Damon". The Locus Index to SF Awards: Index to Literary Nominees. Locus Publications. Archived from the original on 2012-10-16. Retrieved 2013-04-04.
  9. 1 2 Budrys, Algis (December 1967). "Galaxy Bookshelf". Galaxy Science Fiction. pp. 187–194.
  10. Budrys, Algis (June 1965). "Galaxy Bookshelf". Galaxy Science Fiction. pp. 164–169.
  11. Gary K. Wolfe, "Coming to Terms", in Gunn & Candelaria, Speculations on Speculation, p. 18.
  12. "Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America History and Statistics". Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. Archived from the original on 3 October 2011. Retrieved 1 October 2011.
  13. "The History of N3F". The National Fantasy Fan Federation. Archived from the original on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 1 October 2011.
  14. "Milford History". Milford Speculative Fiction Writers. Retrieved 1 October 2011.
  15. "Robin Scott Wilson". Gollancz/SFE Ltd. Retrieved 15 October 2011.
  16. "Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master". Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). Archived from the original on 2013-03-08. Retrieved 2013-04-04.
  17. "Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame". Mid American Science Fiction and Fantasy Conventions, Inc. Archived from the original on May 21, 2013. Retrieved 2013-03-22. This was the official website of the hall of fame to 2004
  18. "Damon Knight, 79, Writer and Editor of Science Fiction, Dies". The New York Times . 17 April 2002.
  19. http://around.uoregon.edu/story/academics/celebrating-csws-40th-le-guin-feminist-science-fiction-fellowship