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James Blish

James Blish
Born (1921-05-23)May 23, 1921
East Orange, New Jersey, United States
Died July 30, 1975(1975-07-30) (aged 54)
Henley-on-Thames, England, United Kingdom
Pen name William Atheling, Jr.
Occupation Writer, critic
Period 1940–1975
Genre Science fiction, fantasy

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James Benjamin Blish (May 23, 1921 – July 30, 1975) was an American author of fantasy and science fiction. Blish also wrote literary criticism of science fiction using the pen-name William Atheling, Jr.

Blish was born at East Orange, New Jersey.

In the late 1930s to the early 1940s, Blish was a member of the Futurians. He broke into science fiction print with two stories published by Frederik Pohl in Super Science Stories, "Emergency Refueling" in March and "Bequest of the Angel" in May 1940. ISFDB catalogs ten more stories published during 1941 and 1942, but only two in the next five years.

Blish trained as a biologist at Rutgers and Columbia University, and spent 1942–1944 as a medical technician in the United States Army. After the war he became the science editor for the Pfizer pharmaceutical company. His writing career progressed until he gave up his job to become a professional writer.

He is credited with coining the term gas giant, in the story "Solar Plexus" as it appeared in the anthology Beyond Human Ken, edited by Judith Merril. (The story was originally published in 1941, but that version did not contain the term; Blish apparently added it in a rewrite done for the anthology, which was first published in 1952.)

From 1962 to 1968, Blish worked for the Tobacco Institute.

Blish adapted episodes of Star Trek for Bantam Books. They were collected into twelve volumes, and published as a title series of the same name from 1967 to 1977. The adaptations were generally based on draft scripts, often containing additional plot elements or differing situations from the televised episodes. The original novel Spock Must Die!, also by Blish, was released by Bantam in 1970. Blish noted his financial stability later in life was the result of his Star Trek work.


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