|Born||6 June 1915|
|Died||31 August 1980 (aged 65)|
Tom Godwin (June 6, 1915 – August 31, 1980) was an American science fiction author active throughout the 1950s into the 1970s. In his career, Godwin published three novels and around thirty short stories. He is best known for his short story, "The Cold Equations". Published in 1954, the short story was Godwin’s fourth work to be published and was one whose controversial dark ending helped redefine the genre.
Godwin was born in Maryland in 1915.He had a rough childhood that was marked by much loss and suffering. At the age of five, his younger sister died as a result of an accidental shooting that occurred after he had been "playing with the gun that killed her". After his mother's death, he was raised by his father, with whom he did not have the best relationship. He withdrew from school after the third grade, but he went on to teach himself multiple other subjects to expand his knowledge and be able to write better stories.
Godwin had a spinal disorder known as kyphosis, which results in a curvature of the spine, making him appear hunchbacked.He spent a few months in the Army before he was discharged due to his spinal condition worsening.
In the early 1960s, Godwin was living in a remote area of northwestern Arizona with his father writing and making his own drywashers to sell. It was in the summer of 1961 that he met his future wife, Laureola Godwin, and his then twelve-year-old step-daughter, whom he later adopted, Diane Godwin Sullivan, through the sale of one of his drywashers. He went on to base two of the main characters in his second novel, The Space Barbarians, after them.
He worked for the forest service in Washington state for a short period of time. His wife died from a heart attack in the early 1970s. This was something that had a heavy impact on him for the rest of his life. After living with his adopted daughter and her family in Texas for some time after his wife's death, he moved to Nevada.
Throughout his life, Godwin battled with alcohol abuse with varying degrees of success in being able to control it. It was his wife's death that eventually led him to be "consume[d]" by drinking which led to many health problems. Godwin died in a Las Vegas hospital in the summer of 1980. He did not have any identification on him so his body was held at a funeral home until a friend of his who was a physician assistant learned of his death and contacted his daughter, Diane.
The following stories are collected in the book, The Cold Equations & Other Stories ed. Eric Flint (Baen Books, 2004):
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