By John Hertz: Speaking of this year’s Retrospective Hugo Awards i.e. for 1942, I realize I should call your attention to that strange masterwork of that strange master, the novelette “To Follow Knowledge” by Frank Belknap Long. We think of him, if at all, as a horror writer, which indeed he was. He won a Bram Stoker for Lifetime Achievement in 1987.
Ten years earlier we put him in the First Fandom Hall of Fame – that’s how long he’d been with us as of three decades ago – pun intended – and in 1978 the World Fantasy Convention too gave him a Lifetime Achievement Award.
At his death in 1994 he was so impoverished his remains were interred in a potter’s field. Some of us, including my friend Ben Indick, heard afterward, wouldn’t stand for it, and raised money for a re-interment, which was done in 1995.
The title “To Follow Knowledge” is from Tennyson’s 1842 poem Ulysses. Right under it Long quotes lines 31-32, possibly our motto,
To follow knowledge, like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought,
to which the story lives up.
Haunting, extraordinary, full of strangeness, it closes Groff Conklin’s 1953 anthology Science Fiction Adventures in Dimension. Conklin may still be our best anthologist.
You can, in fact, read it online.