Algis Budrys

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(January 9, 1931 – June 9, 2008)

A fan, pro writer, critic and editor, Algirdas Jonas “Algis” Budrys (also known as A. J. Budrys, and called Ajay by friends) was first published in Astounding in 1952. He was born in Konigsberg, East Prussia, while his father was stationed there as a Lithuanian diplomat, came to the United States at age 5 for the same reason and became a stateless person after World War II. (During most of his adult life, Budrys held a captain's commission in the Free Lithuanian Army.) He lived in New York, New Jersey and the Chicago area.

He joined the NFFF in 1943, and became a modestly successful letterhack to Thrilling Wonder Stories and Planet Stories.

His fanzine Slantasy had two issues; (Lin Carter was his first subscriber). A later zine, dubious, also had two issues in 1960 (the text of both is included in the collection A Budrys Miscellany: Occasional Writing 1960-2000 (Ansible Editions, 2020) compiled by David Langford. He belonged to the ESFA, and met his wife, Edna Duna, through the club (they married in 1954 and had four sons, Jeffrey, Tim, David and Steven). He was also a member of the Fanoclasts.

He worked both as a writer and as an editor — he was involved with both Gnome Press and Galaxy in 1952. He was editorial director of Playboy Press in 1963-64, and did The Autobiography of Lenny Bruce. He also used a variety of pen names, but the most well-known was Paul Janvier. He taught at Clarion.

Probably his best-known works were the Hugo-nominated novels Who? (1958) and Rogue Moon (1960). He is also highly regarded for his SF criticism, including a long series of review columns for Galaxy that was collected as Benchmarks: Galaxy Bookshelf (1985), and an even longer sequence for F&SF eventually published in the three volumes Benchmarks Continued (Ansible Editions, 2012), Benchmarks Revisited (Ansible Editions, 2013) and Benchmarks Concluded (Ansible Editions, 2013). From 1993 to 2000 he edited — and after the first issue also published — the magazine Tomorrow Speculative Fiction (24 printed issues, continuing online).

Among his various day jobs, A.J. worked in public relations. In a famous 1966 publicity stunt, he lampooned the then-controversial, not-yet-installed Picasso sculpture in Chicago’s Daley Center Plaza. As he recalled in a 1997 interview:

It got to a point where the kids — there are four boys — were eating 10-dollar bills for lunch. So I got a job in a PR shop. We had Pickle Packers International as a client.

At one point, we built a 12-foot pickle [and] presented it to the city of Chicago, which had an empty courthouse square because people had objected to the Picasso sculpture originally intended for the site.... So we had all the newspapermen out, a tremendous event....
They called it the “Picklecasso.”
I did that.

What happened to the pickle? We gave it to someone who cut out a hole in it and entered it in a canoe race on the Fox River. In the middle of the race, he turned it over. It floated away. The Fox connects to the Illinois; the Illinois connects to the Mississippi. That pickle could be anywhere.

More reading:[edit]

Awards, Honors and GoHships:

Hugo nominations for the 1956 Best Novelette Hugo, the 1956 Best Short Story Hugo, the 1959 Best Short Story Hugo, the 1959 Best Novel Hugo, the 1961 Best Novel Hugo, the 1976 Best Novella Hugo, the 1986 Best Non-Fiction Book Hugo, the 1994 Best Semiprozine Hugo, the 1995 Best Semiprozine Hugo, and the 2004 Best Novelette Hugo.



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