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Hartwell, David G

Entry updated 16 April 2024. Tagged: Author, Critic, Editor.

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(1941-2016) US editor, publisher and critic, married to Kathryn Cramer from 1997; his first publication of genre interest was SF-I: A Selective Bibliography (1971 chap) with L W Currey, writing together as Kilgore Trout; he also assisted Currey in the latter's seminal Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors: A Bibliography of First Printings of their Fiction and Selected Nonfiction (1979). With Tom Beeler he published and edited The Little Magazine, a literary magazine founded in Autumn 1965 by Alexis Levitin as The Quest, taken over by Beeler and Hartwell in late 1969, retitled in Spring 1970 and continuing to 1988; authors included Joanna Russ. In 1988 he founded and until his death remained involved with The New York Review of Science Fiction, published by Dragon Press, the Small Press of which he was a partner 1973-1978 and became the sole proprietor. He edited the short-lived Cosmos Science Fiction and Fantasy Magazine 1977-1978.

His substantial influence in the sf world was mainly, however, as an editor and/or advisor for various commercial sf publishers, including Signet (1971-1973); Berkley/Putnam (1973-1978); Gregg Press (1975-1986), an academic publisher of important sf reprints which he managed part-time; Pocket Books/Simon and Schuster (1978-1983), where he was responsible for their important Timescape Books sf imprint; and Tor Books (1984-2016), where he was a Senior Editor from 1995; plus part-time responsibilities with Arbor House (1984-1988) and William Morrow (1988-1991). His career – a tightrope walk – testifies to the difficulties Hartwell partly conquered in reconciling the conflicting demands of art and commerce, especially during his tenure with Pocket Books' Timescape programme, where he published many distinguished titles including Gregory Benford's Timescape (1980) and Gene Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun (1980-1983 4vols).

The Anthologies Hartwell edited include: The Battle of the Monsters and Other Stories (anth 1976) with L W Currey, selected from nineteenth-century sf; Triquarterly 49 (anth 1980) with Robert Onapa, a special issue on sf (in effect an Original Anthology) including stories and essays by Algis Budrys, Samuel R Delany, Thomas M Disch. Ursula K Le Guin, Michael Swanwick, Gene Wolfe and others; the Christmas sequence of seasonal ghost, supernatural, fantasy and sf stories, beginning with Christmas Ghosts (anth 1987) with Kathryn Cramer and ending with Christmas Magic (anth 1994); The Dark Descent (anth 1987) [for vts see Checklist], a massive compilation of Horror tales which won a World Fantasy Award for best anthology; Masterpieces of Fantasy and Enchantment (anth 1988) and Masterpieces of Fantasy and Wonder (anth 1989), both with Cramer; The World Treasury of Science Fiction (anth 1989); Foundations of Fear: An Exploration of Horror (anth 1992) [for vts see Checklist]; The Ascent of Wonder: The Evolution of Hard Science Fiction (anth 1994) with Cramer, which contains intriguingly contrasting definitions of Hard SF in the editors' comments and in the introduction by Gregory Benford; the annual Year's Best Science Fiction showcase opening with Year's Best Science Fiction (anth 1996), edited with Cramer from #7 in 2002 and continuing to 2013; Northern Stars: The Anthology of Canadian Science Fiction (anth 1994) with Glenn Grant and its thematic companion Northern Suns (anth 1999); The Science Fiction Century (anth 1999) [for vts see Checklist]; Centaurus: The Best of Australian Science Fiction (anth 1999) with Damien Broderick; The Hard SF Renaissance (anth 2002) with Kathryn Cramer and The Space Opera Renaissance (anth 2006) with Kathryn Cramer. Most of these anthologies are huge, and as a whole they comprise a concentrated, learned and unopinionated presentation of the fields of the fantastic over the whole of the twentieth century. Twenty-First Century Science Fiction (anth 2013) with Patrick Nielsen Hayden presented a similarly knowledgeable, centralist vision of recent developments in the field.

Hartwell won a further World Fantasy Award in the Special Award/Professional category in 1988, and was very many times nominated for a Hugo as Best Editor, finally winning in 2006 and repeating this success in the revised category Best Editor, Long Form in 2008 and 2009. He wrote a number of critical essays on sf; his Age of Wonders: Exploring the World of Science Fiction (1984; rev 1985; further rev 1996) is wide-ranging, informal and anecdotal, treating sf and Fandom as both a literary and a sociological phenomenon. All in all, however, Hartwell's concept of the fantastic is more far-ranging than this volume gives room for; and it was long hoped that a further study would be forthcoming. He was perhaps the single most influential book editor of the past forty years in the American sf publishing world; some of his contributions are described in David G Hartwell: In Memoriam (anth/coll 2016) edited by Kevin J Maroney [for details see Checklist below]. He received a posthumous Locus Award as best editor of 2015, and a posthumous World Fantasy Award for life achievement in 2016. [PN/JC/DRL]

see also: Philip K Dick Award; Skylark Award; Thomas D Clareson Award.

David Geddes Hartwell

born Salem, Massachusetts: 10 July 1941

died Plattsburgh, New York: 20 January 2016



works as editor



Year's Best Science Fiction

Year's Best Fantasy

individual titles as editor

nonfiction as editor

about the editor


previous versions of this entry

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