It seems as though no literary form was wrong for Theodore Sturgeon. He wrote newspaper stories in the late 1930’s, book and film reviews in the 1950’s, and for twenty years after that, radio and television scripts, and a wide variety of fiction. He also published a coauthored Western novel, a (pseudonymous) historical romance, a psychological vampire novel, a film novelization, and five highly acclaimed science-fiction novels.
Theodore Sturgeon’s name is one of those most cited in lists of the writers of science-fiction’s golden age. Many consider him the best golden age author, mainly because he concentrated less on scientific hardware and more on character interaction than did his contemporaries. A moralistic and romantic writer, his major themes are tolerance for otherness of all kinds and concern for the environment before these became fashionable opinions. He was among the first American science-fiction writers to write plausibly about sex, homosexuality, race, and religion. He has sometimes been accused of writing pornography by those who prefer their science fiction in the standard starched-collar puritan mode. In reality, Sturgeon is among the first to turn American science fiction into a fiction for mature, thinking adults, as his influence on writers such as Ray Bradbury and Samuel R. Delany attests. He received several awards nominations and won three awards: the International Fantasy Award in 1954, for More Than Human (1953), and the science-fiction Hugo and Nebula awards in 1970, for “Slow Sculpture.” The University of Kansas offers an annual science-fiction short-story award in his name.
While Theodore Sturgeon (STUHR-juhn) was not as prolific as some of the science-fiction fraternity, he wrote more than 190 short stories, 130 articles, and a number of radio and television scripts. His short fiction was assembled in many collections, ranging from Without Sorcery: Thirteen Tales (1948; also known as Not Without Sorcery) to The Golden Helix (1980).
Theodore Sturgeon’s work was once called “the single most important body of science fiction by an American to date.” A founder of modern American science fiction, he contributed to the genre’s transition from underground to mainstream literature. He was the recipient of Argosy (1947), International Fantasy (1954), Nebula (1970), and Hugo (1971) awards.
Bleiler, Richard, ed. Science Fiction Writers. 2d ed. New York: Scribners, 1999. Contains a brief but usefully analytical article by Brian Stableford.
Delany, Samuel. “Sturgeon.” In Starboard Wine: More Notes on the Language of Science Fiction. Pleasantville, N.Y.: Dragon Press, 1984. Delany is not only one of science fiction’s best authors, but also he is one of its best critics, particularly in analysis of style. Here Delany explores some of the nuances of Sturgeon’s language and the “realism” of Sturgeon’s stories.
Diskin, Lahna. Theodore Sturgeon. Mercer Island, Wash.: Starmont House, 1981. The first book-length study of Sturgeon’s fiction, this volume focuses primarily on his most famous science fiction.
Gordon, Joan, and Veronica Hollinger, eds. Blood Read: The Vampire as Metaphor in Contemporary Culture. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997. Treats Some of Your Blood as a harbinger of the more recent sympathetic vampire novels. Includes a bibliography.
Hassler, Donald M. “Images for an Ethos, Images for Change and Style.” Extrapolation 20 (Summer, 1979): 176-188. An analysis of Sturgeon’s themes of love, loneliness, newness, and the nature of change in relation to his ethics and versatile technique. The works...
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