(February 21, 1912 — October 13, 1974)
Peter Schuyler Miller was born on a 100-year-old farm located between the towns of Melrose and Schaghticoke in upper Rensselaer County, New York, and raised in New York's Mohawk Valley — which led to his life-long interest in the Iroquois Indians. He pursued this interest as an amateur archaeologist and as a member of the New York State Archaeological Association.
Miller had several illustrious ancestors, including Major General Philip John Schuyler, who defeated Burgoyne at the Battle of Saratoga, and the first governor of the state of New York, Peter Schuyler. Miller's father was a chemist and his mother a teacher. Miller himself received B.S. (1931) and M.S. (1932) degrees in chemistry from Union College in Schenectady, NY. He subsequently worked as a technical writer for General Electric in the 1940s and for the Fisher Scientific Co. in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, from 1952 until his death 22 years later on October 13, 1974, at the age of 62.
Miller was an excellent student while growing up, graduating as the valedictorian of his class at the age of 15. As a child he read the science fiction novels of Jules Verne. He was introduced to magazine SF with the August, 1924, issue of Hugo Gernsback's Science and Invention that contained an installment of Ray Cummings' story, "the Man on the Meteor." Miller spent his lunch money for this particular magazine, began reading other magazines with SF stories, such as Argosy and Weird Tales — and was literally waiting at the newsstand for the first issue of Amazing Stories when it was delivered.
Miller died at the Blennerhassett Island Site of the West Virginia State Archaeological Society. He was on a tour of the "Fort Ancient Civilization" site west of Parkersburg at the time. He was a member of the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology, and at one time was associate editor of the Pennsylvania Archaeologist. A memorial article on Miller by Sam Moskowitz appeared in the February, 1975, issue of Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact.
Miller wrote pulp SF stories beginning in the 1930s. His first SF story, "Visitors from Infinity," written in the 1920s, never sold but was eventually published in the fanzine Cosmology. In 1930, however, he won first prize ($150 in gold!) in the Air Wonder story contest (500+ entries) with his story "The Red Plague" — that was subsequently published in the July, 1930, issue of Wonder Stories, which by that time had absorbed Air Wonder Stories. Editor Hugo Gernsback said Miller's story was "one of the best stories we have received since the inception of our magazines." Miller went on to become one of the most popular authors of the period. He seldom used a pseudonym, but — when he collaborated on a story with friends Walter L. Dennis and Paul McDermott — they used the byline of Dennis McDermott.
An active fan of the work of others, Miller corresponded with Robert E. Howard in the 1930s and, with his friend and fellow chemist John D. Clark, compiled the "probable" outline of Conan the Barbarian's career for fans (published in 1938 in Howard's book, The Hyborean Age).
Miller contributed regularly to SF fanzines, was a member of FAPA, and his Alicia in Blunderland satire was originally published in the fanzine Science Fiction Digest in the early 1930s. Alicia in Blunderland poked fun at some of the SF professionals, fans, and famous stories of the time. Miller was also the treasurer of Pittcon, the World Science Fiction Convention held in Pittsburgh in 1960 and a member of PSFA.
Beginning in 1945, Miller gradually shifted from writing fiction to book reviewing, initially for Astounding Science Fiction. After reviewing several books for Astounding, he began his regular monthly review column, "The Reference Library," in October, 1951. In 1963 he received a Special Committee Award from Discon I for his book reviews.
His extensive collection of papers, maps, books, and periodicals — accumulated largely as a result of his review work — was donated to the Carnegie Museum after his death by his sister Mary E. Drake. A catalog of these materials, The Miller Science Fiction Library, was published by Dragon Press in 1977.