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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Sam Moskowitz on P Schyler Miller (1975)

A Canticle for P Schuyler Miller
Sam Moskowitz

When I was doing the series of articles for Amazing Stories that eventually were collected as Seekers of Tomorrow, I needed 30 days, involving most of my evenings and weekends, to do the research and write each piece, which averaged 5,000 words or so in length. The death of P. Schuyler Miller and the final deadline of the earliest issue of Analog that the biographical obituary could be fitted into, left me with one complete weekend to accomplish the job. I had been recommended to Ben Bova by L. Sprague de Camp, and the length limitation given me was 2,000 words. Working from the top of my head, I could have done it in four hours, but I felt that Miller deserved better.

I spent 26 hours over the weekend, researching, rereading his works, calling his sister on the phone and doing the writing. I had contacted his company a few days earlier and gotten whatever information they could feed me. I had to write with extreme care, because there would not be time to extensively rewrite or retype; the copy had to be good enough to go to the printer with hand corrections. The big problem was that, even slighting the tail end of Miller's writing career. I had a 5.500 word piece. Diane King, Associate Editor of Analog, made me a Xerox of my complete copy and I told Ben to cut it down to the 2,000 words needed, but with the understanding that I was going to later use the entire piece elsewhere.

It is my hope to eventually include the article in some furtue hadcover book, but for the present, I wanted to bring it out soon enough after the publication of the shorter version in Analog so that the entire thing had some relevance. To squeeze it into Analog's February 1975 issue at all, Ben had to substitute it for The Reference Library column, and the hidden cost to me was a rave review of my Doubleday book The Crystal Man which was discarded to make room for it.

There are fascinating aspects of Miller's association with science fiction that are little known, and I wanted to put them on record. His influence as both a writer and a fan of science fiction was greater than is generally realized. The emphasis here is entirely on his science fiction achievement. His contributions to archaeology and natural science has not been covered, though so much of these interests are woven into his science fiction that it might prove fruitful to do so in a special study.

It is the continuing regret of any historian and literary critic that too often the people they write about, whom they like, are no longer around to read what was said about them. I regret it particularly in Miller's case, and accept it as an emotional price to be paid when writing about some of the people who play a role in the unfolding panorama of scientifictional events.


Published in a limited printing of not over 300 copies by Sam Moskowitz, 344 ?vill Ave., Newark, NJ 07107, with the assistance of Ross Chamberlatz (?) for stenciling and Archie and Joyce Katz for mimeographing. Copies will be distributed through The Fantasy Amateur Press Association and a portion of the remainder sold to several dealers on an advance-of-printing order basis.

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