By Joel Zakem: I just finished watching Tom Thurman’s nearly hour long documentary “Walter Tevis: A Writer’s Gambit”. It was produced for KET, Kentucky’s state wide Public Television (PBS) network. It is a very interesting look at Tevis’s life (he lived and taught in Kentucky for a time) and work. While Tevis is probably best known, and the film devotes more time, to his more mainstream work, especially The Hustler (his first novel) and The Queen’s Gambit (his last novel), there are also segments devoted to Tevis’s SF work, notably The Man Who Fell To Earth and Mockingbird. Half of Tevis’s six novels, The Man Who Fell To Earth, Mockingbird and The Steps of The Sun are Science Fiction, and some of the stories in his collection Far From Home come from genre magazines.
The film reveals that a childhood disease kept Tevis from participating in athletics, but he loved the competition he found in pool and chess. I also learned from the documentary that Daniel Keyes (“Flowers For Algernon”) taught at Ohio University at the same time as Tevis, and that Keyes spoke at Tevis’s funeral in 1984.
For those in or near Kentucky, “Walter Tevis: A Writer’s Gambit” is being broadcast on various KET outlets throughout this month. Hopefully, it will be picked up by other PBS outlets and/or a streaming service.