(December 15, 1937 – March 10, 2000)
John Thomas Sladek was an American SF and mystery author and editor, known for his satirical and surreal novels. He was educated at the College of St. Thomas, 1955–1956, and the University of Minnesota, 1956–1959 and worked in engineering and as a technical writer and draftsman before becoming a freelance author and editor in 1968.
Born in Iowa, from 1966 until the mid-1980s, he lived in the UK, and was a part of the "New Wave" movement there. During this period he reviewed for The New Scientist and appeared in most of the American SF magazines.
He used a number of pseudonyms, including Cassandra Knye (used as a joint byline for a gothic novel written with Thomas M. Disch, and a solo pseudonym for another by Sladek alone), Thom Demijohn (for another Disch collaboration: Black Alice, 1968), Richard A. Tilms (for Judgment of Jupiter, 1980), and James Vogh (for nonfiction work).
First publication: "The Poets of Millgrove, Iowa" in New Worlds (November, 1966); First SF novel: The Reproductive System (Gollancz, 1968); First SF collection: The Steam-Driven Boy and Other Strangers (Panther, 1973), containing several witty parodies of SF authors.
His most popular works are The Müller-Fokker Effect (1970), Roderick (1980), and Roderick at Random (1983). The last two books, considered as a single novel, are included in Pringle's Science Fiction: The 100 Best Novels.
Sladek has also written mysteries and several non-fiction books, including The New Apocrypha: A Guide to Strange Science and Occult Beliefs (1973), a skeptical reference work on pseudoscientific beliefs.
A semi-autobiographical novel, Bugs, was published in 1989.
As James Vogh, he wrote the tongue-in-cheek Arachne Rising (1977), a treatise on the 13th sign of the zodiac, and The Cosmic Factor (1978). The Best of John Sladek, collecting many of his wittiest stories, was published in 1981. He is also responsible for several limited edition publications, including Red Noise (1982), Flatland (1982), Love Among the Xoids (1984), and Blood and Gingerbread (1990).
Maps: The Uncollected John Sladek, a posthumous collection of Sladek's work edited by David Langford, was issued in 2002 in the UK by Big Engine. Some of the work included in this collection was from fanzines; other items appeared here for the first time, and several of his collaborations with Thomas Disch were included. Maps was mainly fiction; the follow-up New Maps: More Uncollected John Sladek, also edited by Langford, focused on nonfiction (again including material from fanzines) and was published by Ansible Editions in 2019.
His last novella, Wholly Smokes, a fictional history of a tobacco company, was made available as an e-book in 2004 by Ansible E-ditions.
An interview with Sladek conducted [by David Langford] appeared in the Spring 1983 issue (#46) of Richard Geis' fanzine Science Fiction Review, and also in the February 1983 issue of Vector. Langford has written that Sladek was "one of the cleverest, wittiest writers ever to work in, or around the edges of, the science fiction field."
Awards, Honors and GoHships:
- 1970 -- Pat Terry Award for Humour in SF
- 1981 -- Unicon 2
- 1982 -- Channelcon
- 1984 -- ArmadilloCon 6, BSFA (Novel) for Tik-Tok
- 1989 -- Minicon 24
- 1992 -- Minnesota Fantasy Award
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