Born in New York City on November 26, 1919, to parents Fred and Anna, Frederik Pohl moved often with his family until they settled in Brooklyn. While attending Brooklyn Tech High School, he made friends with Isaac Asimov, who later became a science fiction writer also. Pohl never found school interesting, and he dropped out as soon as he could. His education came from the library books he devoured and from museums, bookstores, and movies.
When he began writing science fiction, Pohl found publication from small alternative magazines. For employment he became an editor with Popular Publications. Though he'd married, Pohl spent so much time writing that he left little time for his wife. In 1943, he stopped working and enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces until the end of World War II. His entry into the war also signaled the end of his first marriage. Pohl later remarried, this time to a writer for the theater. He also finished a novel about consumers and advertising but deemed it not good enough for publication as he didn't know his subject matter well enough. From this experience and because he commented on society through his work, he decided to learn more about advertising and its effect on the culture. After working and gaining insights about this industry for several years, Pohl quit his advertising job, became divorced, remarried, and changed professions.
Intending to help a friend for a short time, Pohl ended up being a literary agent for five years. He also continued his own writing, collaborating with another science fiction author, Cyril Kornbluth. Pohl had yet to find success in marriage, getting his third divorce in 1952, but literary success came to him in 1953 with The Space Merchants. This book he co-authored using a pseudonym with Kornbluth. Gaining confidence, Pohl remarried and as a full-time writer, penned numerous magazine articles, books by himself, and more books with Kornbluth. Most of his novels were published by Ballantine Books then. Again coming to the aid of a friend, Pohl took on the position of editor for the magazines Galaxy, where he'd often contributed, and If. The magazine If won the Hugo Award for Best Professional Magazine three years in a row with Pohl's editorial guidance. Leaving the job after nine years, he served as executive editor at Ace Books and worked for Bantam Books as their sci-fi specialist. At Bantam he provided many new authors a chance at publication. Not completely happy though, Pohl decided to return to being a writer and nothing more.
A sense of humor mixed with science, adventure, and social satire has brought Pohl fame and awards. Over time he won most of the science fiction awards, including the Nebula three times and the Hugo Award six times, three as a writer and three as an editor. Pohl is the only author to have accomplished this feat.
Pohl travels to lecture and attend conferences when he isn't writing. A firm supporter of science fiction, he also teaches future studies, writes about politics and the environment, and has been Encyclopedia Britannica's expert on the Roman emperor Tiberius. His works have been played on the radio, on television, and made into films and computer games. With a career spanning over sixty-five years and still continuing, Pohl and his fifth wife call Illinois their home.
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