Damon Knight

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Damon Francis Knight (September 19, 1922–April 15, 2002) was an American science fiction author, editor, critic and fan. His forte was short stories and he is widely acknowledged as having been a master of the genre.[1]



Knight's first professional sale was a cartoon drawing to a science-fiction magazine, Amazing Stories. His first story, "Resilience", was published in 1941: an editorial error made this story's ending incomprehensible, although the story was later reprinted elsewhere as Knight originally wrote it. He was a recipient of the Hugo Award, founder of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), cofounder of the National Fantasy Fan Federation, cofounder of the Milford Writer's Workshop, and cofounder of the Clarion Writers Workshop. Knight lived in Eugene, Oregon, with his wife Kate Wilhelm, also a science fiction writer.

At the time of his first story, he was living in New York, and was a member of the Futurians. One of his short stories describes paranormal disruption of a science fiction fan group, and contains cameo appearances of various Futurians under thinly-disguised names: for instance, H. Beam Piper is identified as "H. Dreyne Fifer".

In a series of reviews for various magazines, he became famous as a science fiction critic, a career which began when he wrote in 1945 that A. E. van Vogt "is not a giant as often maintained. He's only a pygmy using a giant typewriter." After nine years, he ceased reviewing when a magazine refused to publish one review exactly as he wrote it. These reviews were later collected in In Search of Wonder.

Damon worked as an editor for Chilton Books in 1965. He read Dune World in Analog magazine and was responsible for tracking down Frank Herbert to publish Dune. Twenty other publishing companies had turned it down before the Chilton offer. Ironically this brilliant insight probably led to his dismissal from Chilton a year later because of high publication cost and poor initial book sales.

The SFWA's Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award for lifetime achievement was renamed in his honor. Formerly known as the Grand Master Award, Knight received that honor in 1994.

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