Better to Have Loved: The Life of Judith Merril

Paperback | April 19, 2002

byJudith Merril, Emily Pohl-weary

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Judith Merril was a pioneer of twentieth-century science fiction, a prolific author, and editor. She was also a passionate social and political activist. In fact, her life was a constant adventure within the alternative and experimental worlds of science fiction, left politics, and Canadian literature.

Better to Have Loved is illustrated with original art works, covers from classic science fiction magazines, period illustrations, and striking photography.

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From the Publisher

Judith Merril was a pioneer of twentieth-century science fiction, a prolific author, and editor. She was also a passionate social and political activist. In fact, her life was a constant adventure within the alternative and experimental worlds of science fiction, left politics, and Canadian literature.Better to Have Loved is illustrate...

Emily Pohl-Weary is the granddaughter of Judith Merril. Quickly becoming a major figure in the indie culture world, Emily has excelled at finding success on her own terms. She co-edits Broken Pencil magazine as well as her own magazine called Kiss Machine. Her writing has appeared in Shift, Lola, Taddle Creek, Fireweed, This, and Now ...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:300 pages, 8.9 × 7.4 × 0.7 inPublished:April 19, 2002Publisher:Between the LinesLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1896357571

ISBN - 13:9781896357577

Appropriate for ages: 16 - adult

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From the Author

"Her life story not only chronicles the birth of science fiction, but many of the important radical cultural and political movements spanning three-quarters of a century: the Depression, the Second World War, the McCarthy era, the Vietnam War, emerging feminism, and corporatization and globalization of the late twentieth century." Emily Pohl-Wearyin conversation with Steve IzmaSTEVE IZMA: Who was Judith Merril?EMILY POHL-WEARY: Judith Merril was my grandmother -- a science fiction writer and editor, feminist, cultural theorist, and anti-war activist. She grew up among the Jewish intelligentsia in Boston and then moved to New York City to become a writer. Her mother, Ethel Grossman, was a suffragette, who ran the Bronx House, a halfway house for homeless kids. Judith believed that her mother raised her to be a man, to be intelligent, not pretty. She didn't teach her how to use makeup, but rather how to engage people intellectually. Ethel wanted her to be a writer of great literature, just as her father, Shlomo Grossman, had been. Shlomo was a writer who translated the works of Sholem Aleichem and committed suicide during the Depression (Judith was seven) by jumping out the window of his publisher's building.During the 1940s, 50s and 60s Judith wrote three novels, dozens of short stories, and edited twelve years of ?Best Of? anthologies, which acted catalytically and launched the careers of many important science fiction writers. England proclaimed her the American prophet of the avant-garde, helping foster a British new wave in science fiction. Canadians may remember the documentaries she made for CBC Radio, and Dr Who fans will likely recall the mini-documentaries she did for TVOntario, which followed Dr. Who and featured her social and cultural discussions.Her relationship with SF was described in 1992 by J. G. Ballard (author of Crash and Empire of the Sun):?Science fiction, I suspect, is now dead, and probably died about the time that Judy closed her anthology and left to found her memorial library to the genre in Toronto. I remember my last sight of her, surrounded by her friends and all the books she loved, shouting me down whenever I tried to argue with her, the strongest woman in a genre for the most part created by timid and weak men.?Judith Merril was also an influential public figure and cultural critic, who wrote non-fiction articles and frequently spoke for current affairs shows. Her life story not only chronicles the birth of science fiction, but many of the important radical cultural and political movements spanning three-quarters of a century: the Depression, the Second World War, the McCarthy era, the Vietnam War, emerging feminism, and corporatization and globalization of the late twentieth century.SI: What were her major works of science fiction and why were they important?EPW: Judith's most significant contributions to the genre were: Daughters of Earth, That Only a Mother, and Shadow on the Hearth. The last two were written during the McCarthy era in the U.S. They explore the unknown and the terror of nuclear holocaust, and they reflect the oppressive weight that American citizens carried under that political regime.The alien in her work often represents the other from the point of view of American culture: those who don't fit into the mainstream, or into the conventional American "dream'' of what is good or what is right. In fact, growing up Jewish in America with a Zionist suffragette mother and no father, Judith said that when she was writing her stories she connected with the alien.SI: What brought Judith to Toronto in the late 1960s?EPW: In 1968, Judith moved to Canada partly because she could no longer accept the realpolitik of the American citizen; and partly because she needed to escape her power role in New York?s literary ghetto of science fiction. She came to Toronto to join Rochdale College, an experimental student-run university, where she became a resource person in writing and publishing. Also influencing her move was Chandler Davis, a science fiction writer and a mathematician; and Dennis Lee, a poet, who was involved with Rochdale at the time.Better To Have Loved includes a chapter entitled ?Toronto, Tulips, Traffic, and Grass," which is essentially her impressions of Toronto in the early 1970s. Here she discusses why she decided to co

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgements
  • Chronology: Important Events in Judith Merril's Life
  • Prelude
  • Transformations
  • Chapter 1: In the Beginning
  • Chapter 2: A Member of the Universe
  • Chapter 3: High School
  • Chapter 4: What Kind of Feminist Am I? (A Short History of Sex)
  • Chapter 5: (Some Kind of) Writing Science Fiction and the Futurians
  • Chapter 6: Virginia Kidd and Futurian Motherhood
  • Chapter 7: Give the Girls a Break!
  • Chapter 8: A (Real?) Writer: Homage to Ted Sturgeon
  • Chapter 9: Getting Started as a Writer
  • Chapter 10: Kornbluth and Leiber and All...
  • Chapter 11: Katherine MacLean and the ESP Letter
  • Chapter 12: Walter Miller and the Custody Battles
  • Chapter 13: In Appreciation of Mark Clifton
  • Chapter 14: Where Do You Get Those Crazy Ideas?
  • Chapter 15: A Power in the Ghetto: Swinging London, Sour America, and "Free" Canada
  • Chapter 16: Rochdale College: A "What If" Time
  • Chapter 17: Toronto Tulips Traffic and Frass: The Love Token of a Token Immigrant
  • Chapter 18: Living and Working in the Toronto Cultural Scene
  • Chapter 19: Japan Future Probable
  • Chapter 20: The Whole World Is Watching: Considering the Notions of Privacy and Publicy
  • Chapter 21: The 1980s: Friendships and Letters ? Marian Engel and Gwendolyn MacEwen
  • Chapter 22: The Crazies Are Dying
  • Chapter 23: Exorcism on Paliament Hill
  • Chapter 24: Growing Old in the 1990s: Dear Friends
  • Chapter 25: A Message to Some Martians
  • Chapter 26: Improbable Futures
  • Appendix I: The Work of Judith Merril
  • Appendix II: Some of the People in Judith Merril's Life
  • Index

Editorial Reviews

"The strongest woman in a genre for the most part created by timid and weak men."