Most of this research was conducted by regular commenter KR, as well as contributions from Mark who set the ball rolling. Special thanks for all this detective work.
The story starts with a piece of updated Hugo Award history. The winners of 1956 Hugo Awards had been recorded for prosperity but until very recently it had been thought that there was no definitive list of finalists. In September, a list of finalists was found in a previously forgotten Worldcon Progress Report (see http://www.thehugoawards.org/hugo-history/1956-hugo-awards/ ). The finalist details are an interesting perspective on SF history but one category in particular caught people’s eye.
The “Most Promising New Author” was as follows:
- Robert Silverberg (winner)
- Harlan Ellison
- Frank Herbert
- Henry Still
The first three names were very good picks for finalists but who is the fourth name? An unfamiliar name in what was still a nascent award and in a minor category is not in itself surprising but the juxtaposition with three names of people who would be recognised today as very important SF writers is interesting.
So was Henry Still a forgotten genius? A writer with the same potential as Herbert, Ellison or Silverberg? Or was he just some guy? More is revealed below the fold…
The Internet Speculative Fiction Database lists 10 stories by Henry Still, most of which (8) from 1955 and 1956.
- While My Love Waits (1955)
- Gold Is Anywhere (1955)
- Slow Burn (1955)
- Are You Hungry? (1955)
- Waste Not (1956)
- Sales Resistance (1956)
- The Long Forgotten (1956)
- Christopher Hart’s Borkle (1956)
- Operation Scrumblies (1958)
- Catalyst (1961)
‘Gold is Anywhere’, ‘Are You Hungry’ and ‘Slow Burn’ can be found online (and probably the others). I haven’t included links because I’m not sure if the relevant sites really have the rights to republish them. With all three I wasn’t sure whether they were parodies that I hadn’t really grasped the humour of and the style was of its time.
‘Are You Hungry’ features a very fat scientist/official sent to a planetary colony that is suffering from a low birth rate. The character is meant to be larger than life and a lover of food who solves the mystery of the low birth rate by considering the food supplies of the colony. It’s a bit odd.
Slow Burn is a near-future space story set around an orbital space station and a moon mission. A foolish politician is sent up from Earth to inspect the station (which he believes is wasteful) and jeopardises the mission. Again, maybe meant to be funny but I think time can be very unforgiving to humour.
‘Gold is Anywhere’ is a better story – a Western-in-Outer-Space about a stereotypical gold-prospector and some criminal claim jumpers masquerading as officials. The SF twist is the planet is both harsh and hallucinatory. The claim jumper’s greed and lack of understanding about the fauna of the planet leads them to their deaths one by one. The final reveal is guessable but still a neat answer to where the prospector is actually finding his gold.
I’m not sure any of the stories stand out as exceptional by the standards of the day but then I haven’t read a great deal of 1950s SF short fiction. They are competent but unremarkable but they clearly appealed to the editors of several magazines.
So what happened to Henry Still after 1956? After two years of stories published in notable magazines like IF and Amazing, his output apparently diminished. Several people went looking for books published by a ‘Henry Still’ and found some possibilities.
- “Surviving the Male Midlife Crisis” (1977) “how to survive the mid-life crisis and also turn it into an opportunity to find a more deeply satisfying path for the later years of life.”
- “Starfall” (1974) a biography of astronaut Gus Grissom by his wife Betty and co-authored by a Henry Still
- “The birth order factor: How your personality is influenced by your place in the family” (1976) by Lucille Forer Phd, coauthored by a Henry Still
- “How to be your own marriage counsellor” (1978) by Dr Frieda Porat, again coauthored by a Henry Still
Of course nothing at Amazon directly connects these Henry Stills other than the name but there does seem to be two burst of activity – one in the mid 1950s with short SF fiction and another in the mid 1970s with co-authored popular science topics/self-help works.
The leads on Henry Still (if this was indeed one person) were cold. However, with more determination KR started piecing a picture together of a possible Henry Still. KR’s timeline is below but as a narrative it goes something like this:
Henry Still is born in 1920 and grew up in Iowa. While at the University of Iowa he starts writing for the Iowa City Press-Citizen and after graduating becomes the city editor for the newspaper. In the mid-1950s he is writing short SF (see above) and in the mid 1960s he becomes a PR manager for the aerospace company Northrup Ventura. KR speculates that he died in 1980.
I think this story makes a lot of sense. There is a picture here of a man who enjoyed writing and writing about technology and ideas. The outlets for that writing were varied, a newspaper, SF magazines, PR, co-authored books
KR’s timeline (I’ve removed some personal information) [Updated – I’d used an older version]
20 years as newspaperman, incl 4 years as city editor of Rocky Mountain News in Denver
10 years (as of 1970) as publicist in aerospace industry
Had six kids
Wife = Charlene Dorothy Draker Still
Lived in Thousand Oaks, Calif – 1397 Corte de Primavera, Thousand Oaks, California 91360
Northrup Ventura becomes Northrup Grumman
May have had some contact with Martin Marietta Corp (wrote biography of Martin)
And the Glenn Martin Aviation Museum in Maryland”
1920 Born? Grew up in Farmington Iowa, son or Mr & Mrs Perry Still
1938 Nov 12 Cross-country athletics at State University of Iowa, The Daily Iowan
1939-40 Secretary of Sigma Delta Chi journalism fraternity, The Daily Iowan, 9 November 1940, page 4
1939-40 Vocalist and guitarist in the Bill Meardon orchestra, which was aired over radio station WSUI The Daily Iowan 17 February 1940, page 4; 11 October 1939, page 5
1940-41 President of Sigma Delta Chi journalism fraternity, The Daily Iowan, 3 November 1941, page 6
1941 Apr 23 Is a Junior at college, liberal arts major, elected president of University of Iowa chapter of Sigma Delta Chi fraternity; Iowa City Press-Citizen
1941 July 5 Gets a $100 from anonymous “Country Gentleman” for writing an article about Pan-American Games. Iowa City Press-Citizen
1941 Jul 23 Takes over sports desk from Loren Schultz at Iowa City Press-Citizen
1941 Aug 18 Marriage licence for Henry C. Still and Charlene Dorothy Draker issued in office Clerk of District Court R. Neilson Miller
1941 Aug 21 Marries Miss Charlene Draker at St Mary’s Rectory in a “single ring ceremony”
Groom is working in the editorial dept of the Iowa Press Citizen
Her photo and an announcement in same paper on Aug 11; colour scheme for
her bridal shower was yellow and white
1941 Sept 4 Two byline sports articles on front page of Iowa City Press-Citizen
Jan 1942 One of several publicity chairmen for the Johnson County Red Cross fund drive
Daily Iowan 1 January 1942, page 4
Feb 1942 Helped with the war effort by collecting dimes for the Phoenix Fund
The Daily Iowan 22 February 1942, page 1
June 1942 Graduates University of Iowa [Iowa City Press-Citizen on 24 June 1968]
1944 In the US Navy. Was stationed at Adak, Alaska, briefly but was currently aboard ship somewhere in the Pacific The Daily Iowan 8 July 1944, page 3
1947-52 City editor of the Iowa Press-Citizen
1947 July 8 “Flying Objects seen in the Sky Here.” Reports on UFO. Iowa City Press-Citizen
1947 July 23 Front page byline covering the “Survival Committee” being struck to deal with issues of atomic war and fallout
1947 July 26 “Senior remember humanity” Donations for war refugees. Iowa City Press-Cit
1948 June 1 Iowa City – City Council meeting: Henry Still and Mrs Henry Still object to the paving of 1400 block of Yewell St. Iowa City Press Citizen (24 June 1948) p.16
1950 Feb 1 Testifies in trial motion for misconduct and jury poisoning for having seen copy of newspaper about Anderson murder trial while going on.
1950 Mar 25 Funeral of [father-in-law?] Robert Draker
1952 Jul 20 “Convention due to Inaugurate TV” Rocky Mountain News
(Mentioned in Cheri de la Garza, “The Television Invades 1952/53 Denver:
Origins of the Video Revolution.” Unpublished MA thesis, Univ Of Colorado at
1955 Feb “While My Love Waits.” Fantastic (Howard Browne, ed) Ziff-Davis Publ
1955 Mar 3 “Radioactive Particles Bathe Colorado.” Rocky Mountain News
1955 April “Gold is Everywhere.” Fantastic (Howard Browne, ed) Ziff-Davis Publ
1955 Oct “Slow Burn.” If: The Worlds of Science Fiction (James Quinn, ed) Quinn Publishing Company, Buffalo NY
1955 Dec “Are You Hungry?” Amazing Stories (Howard Browne, ed) Ziff Davis Publishing NY
1956 June “Waste Not.” Howard Browne, ed) Ziff Davis Publishing NY
** Republished 2013 by Pulp Tales Press
1956 Aug “Sales Resistance.” If: The Worlds of Science Fiction (James Quinn, ed) Quinn Publishing Company, Buffalo NY
1956 Aug “The Long Forgotten.” Fantastic (Howard Browne, ed) Ziff-Davis Publ
1956 Sept “Christopher Hart’s Borkle” Imaginative Tales (William Hamling, ed.
1956 Nominated for the Hugo Award
1958 Aug “Operation Scrumblies” Fantastic (Paul W. Fairman, ed) Ziff-Davis Publ
1961 Feb “Catalyst” Fantastic Stories of Imagination (Cele Goldsmith, ed) Ziff-Davis Publ
1963 Takes job as public relations manager for Northrup, in its Ventura division
1964 Descr as “author and press relations manager for Northrup Ventura” in
Oxnard Press Courier (Sat, 17 Oct 1964)
1964 To Ride the Wind; A Biography of Glenn L. Martin. New York, NY: Messner
1964 Article in Daily Iowan: “A 1942 SUI graduate and former sports editor and feature writer for the Iowa City Press is the author of To Ride the Wind, the first biography ever written on aviation pioneer Glenn L. Martin. The author is Henry C. Still of Thousand Oaks, Calif., who is also a former editor of the Denver
Rocky Mountain News, and is currently public relations manager of the Ventura
Division of Northrup Aviation.”
1967 The Dirty Animal. NY: Hawthorn Books.
1968 Man: the Next 30 Years. NY: Hawthorn Books.
1968 Promoted to Assistant Corporate Director of Public Relations for Northrup
1970 In Quest of Quiet: Meeting the Menace of Noise Pollution. A Call to Citizen Action [NY]: Stackpole Books.
1970 Review of above book in Iowa City Press citizen notes he has had a six-part series running in the Minneapolis Tribune and has accepted to write two chapters for n environmental book planned for spring release by National Geographic Society
1970 Feb 14 Gave talk “Man’s Destruction of His Environment” at Ventura County Branch of the American Association of University Women
1972 Of Time, Tides and Inner Clocks: Taking Advantage of the Natural Rhythms of Life. [NY]: Stackpole Books.
1973-74 President of Rotary Club, Thousand Oaks
1974 With Betty Grissom. Starfall. New York: Crowell.
1977 With Lucille K Forer, PhD. The Birth Order Factor: Your Personality is Influenced by Your Place in the Family. [NY]: Pocket Books.
1977 Surviving the Male Midlife Crisis. NY: Crowell.
(** It’s a memoir!!! One blogger says: “I hope Henry Still (at left) isn’t still alive, and I hope he died peacefully of ripe old age, or his wife murdered him in his sleep and enjoyed it, because I’d feel just terrible about outing him as all of male-journalism-dom’s biggest douchebag ever if he were still alive.” https://usedbookwhore.wordpress.com/2008/08/ )
A few copies availab