Judith Merril
"The Little Mother of Science Fiction"

Known as "the little mother of science fiction," Judith Merril burst onto the New York literary scene in 1948 with a disturbing story about nuclear radiation.

Merril’s contribution to science fiction was summed up by J. G. Ballard (author of Crash and Empire of the Sun) in 1992:

"Science fiction, I suspect, is now dead, and probably died about the time that Judy closed her anthology and left to found her memorial library to the genre in Toronto. I remember my last sight of her, surrounded by her friends and all the books she loved, shouting me down whenever I tried to argue with her, the strongest woman in a genre for the most part created by timid and weak men."

What was it like for a gender-bender who made it in a man's world fifty years ago? Merril's life was a microcosm of alternative cultural and political movements. Born into early Zionist circles, Merril ventured as a teenager into the Trotskyism of the 1930s and '40s.

From there she became involved with emergent science fiction, resistance to the war in Vietnam, the Free University movement, and tuning-in and turning-on. In 1968, Merril moved to Canada with the draft dodgers, to live and work in Rochdale, Toronto’s student-run university. 

Read the Hugo Award-winning book about her life and learn how early science fiction writers lived, argued, dated, mimeoed their manifestos, learned step by step how to write stories, and (in some cases) how to get paid for them.

Books in Print

Hugo Award-winning
Better to Have Loved:
The Life of Judith Merril

by Judith Merril and
Emily Pohl-Weary
(Between the Lines, 2002)

Homecalling and Other
Stories: The Complete
Short Fiction of Judith Merril
(NESFA Press,
February, 2005).

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