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||May 23, 1921
East Orange, New Jersey, USA
||July 30, 1975
Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, England
||Writer, Critic, Biologist
While still in high school, James Blish edited fanzine The Planeteer and began attending meetings of the Futurian Society in New York, where he met Isaac Asimov, Cyril Kornbluth, Frederik Pohl, and others. He published his first science fiction story, "Emergency Refueling," in Super Science Stories in 1940.
Blish majored in zoology at Rutgers, graduating in 1942. Drafted into the Army, he served as a medical technician at Fort Dix, New Jersey. He started graduate school at Columbia University in 1944, switching from zoology to literature, but did not complete his M.A. degree. However, he later revised his thesis on Ezra Pound and sold it to The Sewanee Review, where it appeared in 1950.
After the war, Blish wrote stories for Western Action, Crack Detective Stories, and Super Sports along with science fiction, trying to earn a living as a freelance writer. He worked for trade magazines including Frosted Food Field and Drug Trade News, and as a reader for a literary agency. He also edited little magazines Renascence and Tumbrils. In 1947 he married literary agent Virginia Kidd, and together they had two children.
In 1953, he and Virginia moved to Milford, Pennsylvania, where he would co-found the Milford Science Fiction Writers' Conference; there he wrote fifteen scripts for the television series Captain Video. In 1955, he learned to fly and joined the Civil Air Patrol. He took job as science editor and public relations counsel for drug company Pfizer. From 1962 to 1968, he worked in public relations for the tobacco industry.
In 1964, he married Judith Ann Lawrence and underwent major surgery after a diagnosis of tongue cancer. The Blishes moved to England in 1969.
Blish wrote more than 25 novels, including A Case of Conscience, which won the 1959 Hugo Best Novel Award and earned him an invitation as Guest of Honor at the eighteenth World Science Fiction Convention in Pittsburgh in 1960. A special issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction devoted to Blish appeared in 1972.
Although James Blish was credited as the adapter for the TV series episode stories for Star Trek 1 through Star Trek 11, in Jeff Ayers' Voyages of the Imagination it is acknowledged that after Star Trek 7 or Star Trek 8, the stories were ghost-written by Blish's wife, J. A. Lawrence, and her mother, without the knowledge of editor Frederik Pohl. Star Trek 12, published after the death of Blish from lung cancer in July 1975, was credited to both Blish and Lawrence.
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