R.I.P. hard science fiction writer James P. Hogan

Illustration for article titled R.I.P. hard science fiction writer James P. Hogan

James P. Hogan, author of Inherit The Stars and 30 other hard science fiction novels, passed away yesterday. He talked in a 2004 interview about how 2001: A Space Odyssey made him a science fiction author... because it frustrated him.


Talking to Baen Books' Toni Weisskopf in 2004, Hogan explained why he decided to become a science fiction author:

I had read some SF as part of a general mixed reading diet, but it was not something "special." I graduated and worked as an electronics engineer, later a sales exec in scientific computer systems with Honeywell and DEC. By my mid 30s I was doing an interesting job, meeting scientists in every discipline, traveling a lot—a pleasant experience in those days—and making good money. Life was comfortable, challenging, and prosperous, and I had no particular desire to want to change.

Then I saw the movie 2001. Loved the technical authenticity, the Strauss waltzes, and the idea of a scientific mystery being uncovered on the Moon. But the ending ruined everything. I didn't understand it. The next day at the office I was still complaining about it. To shut me up, someone said something like, "If you think you can write something that makes more sense, why don't you do it?" I said I would, and the whole thing ended up as an office bet that I couldn't write an SF book and get it published. I stole Arthur's plot idea shamelessly and produced Inherit the Stars, and the bet made me 50 pounds on top of the payment I got from Del Rey (1977).

There's a longer interview with Hogan, in podcast, form, here.

According to SFSite, he was found dead in his home in Ireland, aged 69. He was the winner of three Seiun Awards and two Prometheus Awards. He had a huge following in Japan, where his fans included Super Dimension Fortress Macross creators Studio Nue, and his novel The Two Faces Of Tomorrow was adapted into a manga.

Note: Hogan's Wikipedia page includes some claims that in later years, he denied that HIV causes AIDS, and that he denied the Holocaust happened in the way that historians believe it happened. There are links to some pages on Hogan's website where he does seem to be endorsing some extremist views on those subjects — but I haven't had time to follow the threads back to see exactly what was endorsing, or how. In any case, please keep the comment thread on this article civil. Regardless of what views he may have come to espouse at the end of his life, this was a great writer who contributed a lot to the field. [via Anime News Network]


Not to speak ill of the dead, but I understood the ending of 2001 when I was five years old: Dave is taken by the aliens, aged and reborn as the next step in human evolution.