Damon Knight

(1922 - Apr 15, 2002)

Damon Knight was a fan who had a major fannish career and then turned with even greater success to prodom. He found sf at age ten in Amazing and became a fan after receiving a copy of Bob Tucker's Nova.

Hugo-winning SF writer, fan, critic, editor, and co-founder of two of the most durable fannish organizations ever: N3F and SFWA. (He later said that both were mistakes.) In his youth he published the fanzine Snide, he began selling his SF writing in 1941, and was a member of the Futurians which he described in detail in his memoir The Futurians. He published It with Larry Shaw. He was also a fan artist of some note in the 40s.

For more about some episodes of his early fannish career, see General Fan Organization and Futurian Houses, Vanguard, Nicknames, Quote-cards, and X Document.

He may be most famous as one of the earliest — and most incisive — critics of SF with his columns collected in In Search of Wonder published by Advent. Probably his most famous critical piece was also one of the earliest when in 1945 he demolished A. E. Van Vogt's revered World of Null-A. (Van Vogt as one of the Big Three and //Null-A had up to that point had a huge reputation.) The criticism, while entirely valid, was so uncharitable that is also diminished his own reputation.

He was the founding editor of the SFWA Bulletin. With James Blish and Judith Merril he also founded the Milford Science Fiction Writers’ Conference in 1956 (and directed it for its first twenty years), and in 1968 helped to found the Clarion SF Writers’ Workshop.

He began his editing career in 1943 with Popular Publication, worked for a while for a literary agency, then returned to Popular Publications and assisted Ejler Jakobsson at Super Science Stories. He left Super Science Stories in 1950 to become editor of Worlds Beyond. He wrote for television, including Captain Video and His Video Rangers, and returned to professional editing with IF in 1958. He is credited with creating the original anthology with his influential Orbit series starting in 1966 and also began the Nebula Award Winners series from SFWA.

He used the pseudonyms Donald Laverty (with James Blish), Ritter Conway, and Stuart Fleming.

He was GoH, Noreascon Two in 1980 and won the 1956 Best Book Reviewer Hugo and the 1951 Best Short Story Retro Hugo.

The 3rd issue of the fanzine Fanhistory, dated April 1956, was devoted to Knight and his work. "All in a Knight's Work" by James Blish appeared in Speculation 29 (1971). Knight was interviewed in the March, 1972 issue (#34) of the fanzine Luna Monthly, and in Eternity Science Fiction #4 (February, 1975). Over the years he has been featured in several isues of The National Fantasy Fan (he is credited with founding the National Fantasy Fan Federation, or N3F). The Knight Manuscript Collection is held at the George Arents Research Library, Manuscript Division, Syracuse University.

Other Awards, Honors and GoHships:

He was married three times (the second time to Helen Schlaz del Rey, a former wife of Lester del Rey) before he married author Kate Wilhelm in 1963.

For more on his career, see http://www.sf-encyclopedia.com/entry/knight_damon

For a very early short biography, see Who's Who in Fandom 1940 p8.


This is a biography page. Please extend it by adding more information about the person, such as fanzines and apazines published, awards, clubs, conventions worked on, GoHships, impact on fandom, external links, anecdotes, etc.