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Miller, P Schuyler

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author, Critic.

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(1912-1974) US critic, amateur archaeologist and author; an MSc in chemistry, he did research for a time and from 1952 until his death worked as a technical writer. He remains best known in the sf world for his book reviews in Astounding Science-Fiction, which first appeared in 1945 and became a regular monthly feature in October 1951 under a surtitle, The Reference Library, and continued until his death, the last instalment appearing in January 1975. He was not a particularly demanding critic, but his judgements were generally shrewd, his enthusiasm never waned, and his column's coverage was remarkably comprehensive. Largely as a by-product, he accumulated one of the largest private Collections focusing mostly on Genre SF, the Catalogue of the Fantasy and Science Fiction Library of the Late P Schuyler Miller (1977) by Lloyd Currey is a useful bibliographical aid, individually itemizing over 3500 hardbound volumes for sale; Miller's collection also contained over 4600 paperback volumes, not here itemized. In 1963 he was presented with a special Hugo for his reviewing.

However, he began as an author of fiction, being one of the more popular and accomplished sf pulp writers of the 1930s, beginning with "The Red Plague" for Wonder Stories in July 1930 and publishing by 1956 at least fifty stories in all. He collaborated with Paul McDermott (?   -?   ) and Walter Dennis (1911-2003) on two connected stories, "The Red Spot of Jupiter" (July 1931 Wonder Stories) and "The Duel on the Asteroid" (January 1932 Wonder Stories), the first under the pseudonym Dennis McDermott, the second as by Miller and Dennis McDermott; the ideas inspiring each story came from Dennis, whose profile also served as a model for the original drawings of Superman (in his Clark Kent persona) by Joe Shuster (1914-1992)."The Forgotten Man of Space" (April 1933 Wonder Stories) is set on Mars, where an explorer is stranded for twenty years. He befriends the native rabbit-like fauna and when Earthmen manage to get back to Mars, intent on colonization, the original explorer sacrifices himself and kills the second expedition in order to protect and save the local fauna (see Ecology; Imperialism). "The Sands of Time" (April 1937 Astounding) is a Time Paradox tale of interest.

Alicia in Blunderland (stories June 1933-April 1934 Fantasy Magazine as by Nihil; coll of linked stories 1983) presents a sequence of spoof tales with Recursive-SF elements (see Lewis Carroll), several figures from early Fandom being represented. Later stories of note included a Time-Paradox variant, "As Never Was" (January 1944 Astounding), and "The Titan" (Winter 1934-Summer 1935 Marvel Tales, incomplete), a story whose (mild) sexual content made it unacceptable to the pulp magazines; Marvel Tales, which published it, ceased publication before the last instalment, and the story was not printed entire until The Titan (coll 1952), which assembles most of Miller's better fiction. He also collaborated with L Sprague de Camp on Genus Homo (March 1941 Super Science Stories; rev 1950), a novel set in the Far Future and filled with satirical Evolutionary marvels, for apes have taken over (see Apes as Human), an idea later made famous in Planet of the Apes (1968), based on the 1963 novel by Pierre Boulle. [MJE/MA]

see also: Aliens; Invasion.

Peter Schuyler Miller

born Troy, New York: 21 February 1912

died Blennerhasset Island, West Virginia: 13 October 1974 [while visiting an archaeological dig]


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