James E. Gunn (writer)

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James E. Gunn
James Gunn writer.jpg
Gunn in 2005
BornJames Edwin Gunn
(1923-07-12) July 12, 1923 (age 96)
Kansas City, Missouri, USA
Pen nameEdwin James [1]
OccupationProfessor of English, critic, fiction writer
EducationB.S., Journalism; M.A., English
Alma mater University of Kansas
GenreScience fiction
SubjectIsaac Asimov, history of science fiction
Notable works
Notable awards (below)
Gunn's novelette "Powder Keg" was the cover story for the April 1958 issue of If If 195804.jpg
Gunn's novelette "Powder Keg" was the cover story for the April 1958 issue of If

James Edwin Gunn (born July 12, 1923) is an American science fiction writer, editor, scholar, and anthologist. His work as an editor of anthologies includes the six-volume Road to Science Fiction series. He won the Hugo Award for "Best Related Work" in 1983 and he has won or been nominated for several other awards for his non-fiction works in the field of science fiction studies. [3] The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America made him its 24th Grand Master in 2007 [4] and he was inducted by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 2015. [5] [6] His novel The Immortals was adapted into a 1969-71 TV series starring Christopher George. [2]


Gunn is a professor emeritus of English, and the founding director of the Center for the Study of Science Fiction, both at the University of Kansas. [7] [8]


Gunn comes from a publishing family; his father was a printer, two uncles were pressmen, a third a proofreader, and a grandfather was a newspaper editor. Born on 12 July 1923, Gunn served for three years in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He attended the University of Kansas, earning a Bachelor of Science in Journalism in 1947 and a Masters of Arts in English from Northwestern University in 1951. [9]

By 1958 Gunn was managing editor of University of Kansas Alumni Publications. [9] He became a faculty member of the university, where he served as the director of public relations and as a Professor of English, specializing in science fiction and fiction writing. He is now a professor emeritus and director of the Center for the Study of Science Fiction, which awards the annual John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best novel and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award at the Campbell Conference in Lawrence, Kansas, every summer.

He served as President of the Science Fiction Writers of America [10] from 1971–1972 and was President of the Science Fiction Research Association from 1980–1982. SFWA honored him as a Grand Master of Science Fiction in 2007. [11]

On June 12, 2015, Locus announced the selection of Gunn and four others for induction into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame, along with "a 'lightning-fast' fundraiser to cover [Gunn's] travel expenses so he can attend the June 27, 2015 induction ceremony in Seattle". [5] [6]


Gunn became a professional writer in 1947 when he wrote a play produced by the University of Kansas, then wrote newspaper articles and radio scripts. [9] He began his career as a science fiction writer in 1949, making his first short story sale to Thrilling Wonder Stories . [11] He has had almost 100 stories published in magazines and anthologies and has written 28 books and edited 10. Many of his stories and books have been reprinted around the world. [8]

In 1948 Gunn wrote his first science fiction, ten short stories, and published nine from 1949 to 1952 as "Edwin James", a pseudonym derived from his full name. [9] [8] The first two in print, "Communication" and "Paradox" (the first sale), were published in September and October 1949 by editor Sam Merwin in Startling Stories and Thrilling Wonder Stories. [1] Gunn's master's thesis, a critical analysis of the genre, was also published in a professional magazine. [9] His novels were first published by Gnome Press in 1955, Star Bridge, written by Gunn and Jack Williamson, and This Fortress World. [1]

Scribner's published Gunn's novel The Listeners in 1972 [12] and it was runner-up for the first annual John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. [3] Carl Sagan called it "one of the very best fictional portrayals of contact with extraterrestrial intelligence ever written."[ citation needed ] According to the publisher of a 2004 edition, "this book predicted and inspired the creation of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI)—the organization dedicated to the search for extraterrestrial life." [13]

In 1996, Gunn wrote a Star Trek novel that was a novelization of "The Joy Machine", an unproduced episode of Star Trek scripted by Theodore Sturgeon. [14] [ citation needed ][ clarification needed ]


His stories also have been adapted into radioplays and teleplays.

Selected works




Gunn's other anthologies include The Road to Science Fiction , six volumes 1977 to 1998. The first four volumes, published by Mentor New American Library from 1977 to 1982, are organized chronologically and cover Gilgamesh to 1981 or "Forever" (volume 4, From Here to Forever). The last two volumes, published by White Wolf, Inc. in 1998, feature "The British Way" and "Around the World". [1]


Gunn's 1972 novel The Listeners was runner-up for the 1973 Campbell Memorial Award. [3]

See also

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 James E. Gunn at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDB). Retrieved 2013-04-05. 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 "Fiction Book Review: The Immortals by James Gunn, Author Pocket Books $21.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-671-53486-8". PublishersWeekly.com. Retrieved April 27, 2019.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 "Gunn, James". The Locus Index to SF Awards: Index of Literary Nominees. Locus Publications (locusmag.com). Archived from the original on October 16, 2012. Retrieved April 5, 2013.
  4. 1 2 "Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master". Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (sfwa.org). Archived from the original on March 8, 2013. Retrieved April 5, 2013.
  5. 1 2 3 "2015 SF&F Hall of Fame Inductees & James Gunn Fundraiser". June 12, 2015. Locus Science Fiction Foundation. Retrieved 2015-07-16.
  6. 1 2 3 "James Gunn: The "triple threat": author, scholar, and teacher of science fiction" Archived June 24, 2016, at the Wayback Machine . Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. EMP Museum (empmuseum.org). Retrieved 2015-09-10.
  7. "James Gunn: CSSF Founding Director". Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction (CSSF); University of Kansas (sfcenter.ku.edu). Updated December 2, 2014. Retrieved 2015-07-17.
  8. 1 2 3 4 Niccum, Jon (April 11, 2008). "Top Gunn: Renowned science fiction author finds fresh ways to cultivate genre". Lawrence Journal-World . Lawrence, KS. Retrieved August 17, 2013.
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 "Editor's Report". If (editorial). June 1958. pp. 3–5.
  10. The End of the Dreams, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, Book Club Edition, 1975 (jacket cover).
  11. 1 2 3 Burnes, Brian (August 16, 2013). "For James Gunn, science-fiction's golden age has lasted eight decades". The Kansas City Star . Kansas City, MO: The McClatchy Company. Archived from the original on August 21, 2013. Retrieved August 17, 2013.
  12. 1 2 "The listeners" (first edition). LC Online Catalog; Library of Congress (catalog.loc.gov). Retrieved 2015-07-16.
  13. 1 2 "The listeners" (1st BenBella Books ed., 2004). LC Online Catalog. Retrieved 2015-07-16. With linked publisher description.
  14. [ dead link ]
  15. (in Russian) State Fund of Television and Radio Programs Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  16. The Listeners (first edition) publication contents at ISFDB. Retrieved 2015-07-16.
  17. 1 2 "Isaac Asimov Novel Wins a Hugo Award". The New York Times. Associated Press. September 6, 1983. Retrieved March 29, 2010.
  18. "The Long List of Hugo Awards, 1976". New England Science Fiction Association (nesfa.org). 1976. Retrieved August 17, 2013.