(May 23, 1921 – July 30, 1975)
In the late 30s and early 40s, he edited a fanzine, The Planeteer, was a member of the Futurians (and was one of those to be thrown out in 1945 according to the "X Document"), and attended one of the earliest conventions, the Second Eastern States Science Fiction Convention. He was a member of VAPA, book reviewer for Fantasy Times, critic for Sky Hook, and a member of the Science Fiction Advancement Association. After the War, he founded Vanguard Records with Robert Lowndes.
He was Worldcon GoH at Pittcon, and won the 1959 Best Novel Hugo for the novel-length version of A Case of Conscience, the 1954 Best Novelette Retro Hugo for "Earthman Come Home" and the 1954 Best Novella Retro Hugo for "A Case of Conscience". He was also nominated for the 1970 Best Novella Hugo, and the 1951 Best Novelette Retro Hugo. He is credited with coining the term "gas giant."
His criticism was collected and published by Advent as
- The Issue at Hand, by William Atheling, Jr. (1964)
- More Issues at Hand, by William Atheling, Jr. (1970)
- The Tale That Wags the God, by James Blish (1987)
The short-lived James Blish Award for criticism was named after him, he was one of the founders of the Milford Conference and of the Science Fiction Foundation, and was added to the SF Hall of Fame in 2002.
Blish was born in New Jersey, lived in Milford, Pennsylvania until the mid-1960s. In 1968, he emigrated to England, and lived in Oxford until his death in 1975. He is buried in Holywell Cemetery, Oxford, near the grave of Kenneth Grahame.
For more on his career, see http://www.sf-encyclopedia.com/entry/blish_james