In the decade from 1951 to 1960, Damon Knight was the outstanding critic of science fiction books. Knight's reviews were not mere statements of his personal preferences - his skillful essays analysed the books and told why they were good or bad, to the edification of readers, the delight of good writers, and the embarrassment of bad ones. Believing that his work deserved more permanence than could be found in its original magazine publication, Advent brought out the famous first edition of In Search of Wonder in 1956. In this book, Knight wove his essays into chapters on many aspects of science fiction and fantasy, ranging from "Classics" to "Chuckleheads". A second book was planned, but other activities prevented Knight from finishing it, however he was persuaded to integrate most of the new material into this second edition, which is more than fifty percent longer than the first.
Damon Francis Knight was born in Oregon in 1922. He is regarded as one of the most important figures in modern science fiction, having made significant contributions to the field as an author, editor and critic. Knight co-founded the Milford Writers' Conference, the influential Clarion Workshop and the Science Fiction Writers of America, serving as its first president from 1965-67. Around this time he also made his reputation as one of the field's foremost anthologists. Beginning with reprint collections, in 1966 he launched the influential Orbit series of original anthologies. Starting with Orbit 1, the series would continue for over a decade, concluding in 1980 with Orbit 21. Orbit was the longest running and most influential anthology series in SF up to that point, showcasing such important authors as Gene Wolfe, R.A. Lafferty and Knight's third wife, Kate Wilhelm. A master of short fiction, Damon Knight is best known in wider circles as the author of TO SERVE MANKIND, which was adapted for THE TWILIGHT ZONE and later spoofed in a Hallowe'en episode of THE SIMPSONS. He was granted the SFWA's GRAND MASTER AWARD in 1995, and in 2002, SFWA renamed it the DAMON KNIGHT GRAND MASTER AWARD in his honour. He died in 2002.
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