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Cogswell, Theodore R

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1918-1987) US author and academic, who claimed to have been a teenaged ambulance driver on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War. He began publishing sf in June 1952 with what proved to be one of his most successful stories, "The Specter General" for Astounding. In this long, amusing tale – much in the vein Keith Laumer was later to make his own – a long-forgotten maintenance division of the Galactic Protectorate reinvigorates a decadent Space Navy. "The Wall around the World" (September 1953 Beyond Fantasy Fiction) was one of Cogswell's most popular stories; the tale of an orphan boy, raised by relatives, who lives in a place where Magic seems to work (see Psi Powers), and discovers the true, Pocket-Universe nature of his world, is an archetypal rendering of the experience of Conceptual Breakthrough. Cogswell's two collections, The Wall around the World (coll 1962) and The Third Eye (coll 1968), contain most of his fiction; his work is polished, enjoyable and, though it sticks closely to horror and sf genre formats – much of his horror, for instance, routinely imposes slick biter-bit comeuppances upon its protagonists – gives off a sense that it was written for pleasure.

In 1959, he founded and edited a Fanzine for professional writers called Publications of the Institute of Twenty-First Century Studies but universally pronounced PITFCS; it ran to the end of 1962, though with a final number in 1979 (mostly containing material from 1962); it became quickly famed for the informative frankness of its contributors' discussions of their own and others' work, its most frequent contributors including Brian W Aldiss, Poul Anderson, Isaac Asimov, James Blish, Anthony Boucher, Reginald Bretnor, Algis Budrys, John W Campbell Jr, Arthur C Clarke, Avram Davidson, Gordon R Dickson, Horace L Gold, Robert A Heinlein, Damon Knight, Fritz Leiber, Dean McLaughlin, Judith Merril, Frederik Pohl, Eric Frank Russell, Theodore Sturgeon and Donald W Wollheim. Its niche as a forum for uninhibited semi-private discussion was arguably filled by the internal Forum of Science Fiction Writers of America, founded in 1965. The entire contents of the journal – except for one issue dealing with a particularly ugly controversy involving Walter M Miller – were eventually assembled in a single huge volume as PITFCS: Proceedings of the Institute for Twenty-First Century Studies (anth 1992). [JC/PN]

see also: Asteroids; Shared Worlds.

Theodore Rose Cogswell

born Coatesville, Pennsylvania: 10 March 1918

died Scranton, Pennsylvania: 3 February 1987



Star Trek

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works as editor


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