Clifford D. Simak (1904-1988)

One of science fiction's greatest writers, Clifford D. Simak is best known for his classic novels and short stories: All Flesh Is Grass, Way Station, Ring Around the Sun, Goblin Reservation and A Heritage of Stars. His sci-fi magazine articles, novels, anthologies and short stories have garnered him several awards, including three Hugos, the Nebula (and the Nebula Achievement Award) as well as the Grand Master lifetime achievement award from the SFWA, and the International Fantasy Award (1953). I believe he is the only author to ever win both the Hugo and the IFA.

Aside from his science fiction works, he was also a respected horror writer, winning the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1987.

In mundane life, he was a newspaperman with the Minneapolis Star and the Minneapolis Tribune from 1939 to 1976 (he made editor of the Star in 1949, and was made coordinator of the Tribune's Science Reading Series in 1961).

A long time resident of the American Midwest, even though Simak lived in Minneapolis most of his life, many of his novels are set in small rural towns, with simple townsfolk as his characters. The town drunk, the young country boy yearning to leave, the small-town businessman gone into politics - the novels all seem to start out with a Norman Rockwell painting.

Of course, they wouldn't be science fiction if the novels continued in that vein, so he adds a twist, something not quite right in the idyllic rural picture. He then adds twist after plot twist, waiting for the reader to accept the new, slightly skewed situation before tossing in another piece of the puzzle, until it all fits in; major alien invasions, sentient plants from another dimension, or what have you.

All throughout, he manages to keep his characters human; they often refuse to accept new facts, but are gradually persuaded to do something about it; reluctant heroes, if you will. It's been said that he is a master of portraying a sense of wonder; as with all good golden-age sci-fi, it's not about the science or the technology, its about the people.


I didn't include his excellent works of short fiction, but many are included in the collections above.

My copy of All Flesh is Grass, republished by Carroll and Graf under the "Masters of Science Fiction" series. (
Clifford D. Simak Fan Pages at: