Sunday, August 29, 2004

Lovecraft Years Part 2

In prepping the birthday message, I had more candidates than reasonable space. It is interesting to see where they were by their 47th Birthdays. As before, this points out that a lot of them have yet to grow, or have a lot of life ahead of them.

One thing I have noticed about author biographies is that they are detailed as to the author’s life up to point that he or she is published. At that point, the bios suddenly turn to a list of what the author has published, and any real life the author has disappears behind the wall of his own creations.

Note also that I corrected Raymond Chandler’s entry in the previous entry. It’s a little embarrassing, but at dinner I spoke aloud the “fact” that he was flying planes for the RAF at 47, and it sounded so weird to me I had to double-check. I had jumbled the numbers – in 1935, at 47, Raymond Chandler had lost his gig working for an oil syndicate and was just starting his career as a detective story author.

Mark Twain turns 47 in 1882. It’s been 13 years since Innocents Abroad, and six years since the Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Prince & the Pauper has just come out, and Twain is just wrapping up Life on the Mississippi (83) and Huck Finn (84),

Joe Heller holds his Lovecraft Year in 1970, nine years after his breakout first novel, Catch-22. The movie version comes out in this year. Never the most prolific author, Heller spent part of the previous decade writing scripts, including ones for the TV show McHale's Navy and the movies Casino Royale (uncredited) and Dirty Dingus Magee.

Frank Baum is 47 in 1903. Its been six years since his first children's novel, Mother Goose in Prose, and two years since the first Oz book. He is rising in popularity, and has just stepped down from editing Show Window - the newsletter of the National Association of Window Trimmers.

Arthur C Clark was 47 in 1964. The Sentinel was 13 years ago, 2001 is only four years away for him. Clark divorced in his 47th year.

In his Lovecraft year, 1946, Alfred Hitchcock wraps up Notorious – Spellbound and Lifeboat were earlier in his career. Most of his great works were later, but he already had his own reputation. It has only been six years since his first American film, Rebecca, had won Best Picture.

Isaac Asimov hit 47 in 1967, and was an associate professor in biochemistry at Boston University of Medicine. He had moved away from his SF career during this time, but his novelization of Fantastic Voyage had shown up just the year before. Foundation was laid, but the rebirth of his SF is yet to come.

At 47 James Michener already has his Pulitzer for Tales of the South Pacific, but the bulk of Michener's work lay ahead of him - Hawaii, the first of his large, ponderous geographical tomes, is five years away.

At 47 Vladimir Nabokov is still teaching - the publication of Lolita nine years from now will let him stop and wrap the mantle of controversy around him. He lectures at Wellesley and Cornell, and is regarded as an expert in butterflies.

Shakespeare, if the numbers are accurate, has five years to go, but he is all but done. The Winter's Tale and The Tempest have been completed. The Globe will burn in two years.

Tolstoy has completed War and Peace and is serializing Anna Karenina. At the end of that, he considers himself done, but keeps writing anyway.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle turns 47 in 1906. Sherlock Holmes, slain a decade earlier, returned from the dead in 1903. Doyle runs for Parliament a second time in his 47th year. For the second time, he loses.

Kurt Vonnegut is 47 in 1969 - He has been writing oddball SF as a drugstore spinner-rack novelist for nearly two decades. His semi-autobiographical Slaughterhouse Five is published this year, and everything changes. So it goes.

H. G. Wells is 47 in 1913, his fantastic work behind him - War of the Worlds, Time Machine, First Men on the Moon. In 1913 his work on miniatures, Little Wars, is published, officially starting the subgroup hobby of which I am a part.

Just thought you’d be interested. More later.