Sign White House Petition
for SF Author Stamps

Heinlein forever StampA petition urging the Obama administration to proceed with a set of commemorative postage stamps honoring sf writers – and to make the group much larger and more diverse – has been launched by Chris Barkley on the 106th anniversary of Robert A. Heinlein’s birth.

A five-stamp set had been announced by the USPS Commemorative Panel program in February with a July 2013 release date but Linn’s Stamp News reported in April the issue is indefinitely postponed. The report also named the writers who had been selected to be on the stamps: Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick, Robert A. Heinlein and Frank Herbert.

The petition contains 60 names and requests that  they appear on a series of stamps over the next several years, “in groups of six, ten or twelve individuals.”

You can sign Barkley’s petition at His goal is to get 100,000 signatures by August 6.

The supporting statement says:

1) The USPS was going to honor just five authors until this past April of 2013, all of them male. This would be a gross misrepresentation of the effect women have had in this field of literature.

2) The general public needs to be made aware of the wide range of people who have affected American AND world culture over the past three generations. Without these creative artists, it’s hard to imagine how anyone could have been influenced to create Star Trek, Star Wars, medical techniques, modern computers and software, communication satellites or the world wide web.

The writers and artists recommended in the petition for this honor are:

Robert E. Howard (1906 – 1936)
H.P. Lovecraft (1890 –1937)
Henry Kuttner (1915 – 1958)
Cyril.M. Kornbluth (1923 – 1958)
Frank R. Paul (1884 – 1963)
E.E. “Doc” Smith, (1890 – 1965)
Paul A. Linebarger (Cordwainer Smith) (1913 – 1966)
Hugo Gernsback (1884 – 1967)
Virgil Finlay 1914 – 1971)
John W. Campbell, Jr. (1910 – 1971)
Will F. Jenkins (Murray Leinster) (1896 – 1975)
James Blish (1921 – 1975)
Edmond Hamilton (1904 – 1977)
Leigh Brackett (1915 – 1978)
Philip K. Dick (1928 – 1982)
Theodore Sturgeon (1918 – 1985)
Jack Gaughan, (1930 – 1985)
Frank Herbert (1920 -1986)
Judy-Lynn Del Rey (1943 –1986)
Chesley Bonestell (1888 – 1986)
Catherine L. Moore (1911 – 1987)
Terry Carr (1937 – 1987)
Alice Sheldon (James Tiptree, Jr.) (1915 – 1987)
Alfred Bester (1913 – 1987)
Clifford D. Simak (1904 – 1988)
Robert A. Heinlein (1907 – 1988)
Ed Emshwiller (1925 – 1990)
Donald Wollheim (1914 – 1990)
Isaac Asimov (1920- 1992)
Fritz Leiber (1910 – 1992)
Lester del Rey (1915 – 1993)
Robert Bloch (1917 – 1994)
Ian Ballantine (1916 –1995)
Roger Zelazny (1937 – 1995)
H.L. Gold (1914 –1996)
Richard M. Powers (1921 – 1996)
Judith Merril (1923 – 1997)
Marion Zimmer Bradley (1930 – 1999)
L. Sprague De Camp (1907 – 2000)
Gordon R. Dickson (1923 – 2001)
Poul Anderson (1926 – 2 001)
Damon Knight (1922 – 2002)
Harry Clement Stubbs (Hal Clement) 1922 – 2003)
Frank Kelly Freas (1922 – 2005)
Alice (Andre) Norton (1912 – 2005)
Octavia Butler (1947 – 2006)
James Baen, (1943- 2006)
Jack Williamson (1908 – 2006)
John Berkey 1932 – 2008)
Dean Ellis, 1920-2009
John Schoenherr (1935 – 2010)
Frank Frazetta (1928 – 2010)
Gene Szafran (1941 – 2011)
Joanna Russ (1937 – 2011)
Anne McCaffrey (1926 – 2011)
Leo Dillon (1933 – 2012)
Ray Bradbury (1920 – 2012)
Harry Harrison (1925 – 2012)
Jack Vance (1916 – 2013)
Richard Matheson (1926 – 2013)

[Thanks to Chris Barkley for the story.]

Update 07/08/2013: Corrected two misspellings noted in comments. 

29 thoughts on “Sign White House Petition
for SF Author Stamps

  1. Also:
    A. E. van Vogt (1912 – 2000)
    Fredric Brown (1906 – 1972)
    Stanley G. Weinbaum (1902 – 1935)

  2. 1) The USPS was going to honor just five authors until this past April of 2013, all of them male. This would be a gross misrepresentation of the effect women have had in this field of literature.

    PC history at its best. Name five women in the field with the name recognition and as large an impact on popular culture as these five men. We’re talking positions on school syllabuses, volume of sales, pop culture references, film adaptations of their works, etc. Including a woman would be a “gross misrepresentation of the field.” At best, you might add Andre Norton, but it would look tokenistic, because it is.

    I’m not a fan of Heinlein or Herbert but you can’t deny that if you’re going to honour just five big names (assuming just American writers) these would be close to the top of the list.

  3. In response to Jason Stokes, I have two vitally iportant questions to ask:
    a) As a child, was be beaned in the head by a fastball by Nolan Ryan and b) would he care to defend his point of view at, say, a panel at Wiscon?

    (Although I suspect the answer to each is a resounding NO, I felt the need to ask to show how seriously I took his comments.)

    Chris Barkley

  4. Way to argue ideas, Chris M. Barkley. I suppose ad hominem attacks just make you feel good

  5. I just hope somebody will correct the spelling of some of those names. I wouldn’t want to see Fritz Leiber or Judith Merril misspelled on stamps.

  6. (On the petition, I mean. They’re misspelled on the petition. Fixing them on this post won’t help with that.)

  7. Just the same, I’ve fixed them in the post. Restored the hyphen in Judy-Lynn del Rey, too.

  8. Well, thanks for scratching that particular itch as far as you’re able, Mike. I see now that there are more misspelled names than that, not to mention the purely typographical problems (absent parentheses, etc.), but I’ll leave those as an exercise for the reader, because I’m not at all sure I got them all.

  9. The Post office allowed my father to be on a vanity stamp a few years before he died. The big problem with the vanity stamp was in the beginning of the program, a few sociopaths wanted stamps with and got , people like John Wayne Gacy and Charles Manson. That has since been changed.

  10. @ Jon Ogden: Seriously speaking, I was VERY angry when I read your post. What followed was NOT an ad hominem attack, but a bit of snark. When I get angry, I tend to respond with a bit of sharp humor instead violence. (And, for the record, I did feel better afterwards.)

    The purpose of the list and petition drive is three fold:

    A) Get the attention of the members of the Postal Service Commemorative Panel.
    B) Spark a debate among fan and the public about the contributions of these artists, writers and editors to world literature.
    C) Bestow honor to these men and women, some of whom may not be well known but who have made a significant contribution to my life and many, many others. They were the pebbles in the cultural pond that spawned tidal waves of change that are still changing and evolving to this day.

    My intentions are not about “political correctness” or about how well known or popular certain writers are. You cannot dismiss or damn with faint praise the works of writers like Alice Norton, Leigh Brackett and Catherine L. Moore and not expect to be called out on it.

    I’m sorry that I hurt your feeling but I find your position indefensible. Fantasy and science fiction literature of the 20th century did NOT begin and end with Heinlein, Bradbury, Dick, Herbert and Asimov. Were they alive today, I am quite sure that they all would vociferously deny it.

    To all others: I alone am responsible for the selection of the sixty nominees and the misspelling of Fritz Leiber or Judith Merril’s names. I’ll try to fix this but I am quite sure the Postal Service will NOT misspell their names on their stamps due to these errors.

    I hope.

  11. While I do not have a problem with the originally selected five being male, given the number of prolific writers in the past century measured male vs. female such a small group would undoubtedly be male by majority. With the expanded list, it was very good to see Butler, Norton, McCaffrey and Bradley added to the listing as well. Of course, there will be as many votes for any one over another as there are responders to this petition – whether Julian May, C.S. Friedman, or even all of the writers who wrote as John Blaine deserve their place or not. I hope we all realize that any listing cannot enumerate the full spectrum of all those writers who might have touched others through their creativity. 5 is a good start, 60 would be even better, perhaps the USPS could later add sheets for each decade’s top writers or top series (Lucky Starr, Rick Brant, etc) to count more in their number – but for now, any recognition for those who sponsored dreams of the future in our youthful readers is simply wonderful!

  12. Chris Barkley, if not Nolan Ryan, then Bob Gibson of the St. Louis Cardinals, one of the most aggressive pitchers ever to play the game, and multiple All-Star.

  13. I have to confess, though, that I wonder what Philip K. Dick’s reaction to being on a stamp might have been.

    There was a time when he said he couldn’t afford to pay an overdue book fee at the library. Since his death, his movies have taken in ten billion dollars, of which he only received the option money for Blade Runner. It would have been nice if he had gotten some of that accolade and money while he was alive.

  14. There is no way that the post office would issue stamps of 60 science fiction writers. Their Black Heritage series has consisted of one stamp a year since 1978, so that hasn’t hit 60 yet. There have been about twenty jazz musicians and about thirty baseball players, both categories that I think are more in the forefront of American culture than sf writers.

    It isn’t that Asimov, Bradbury, Dick, Heinlein and Herbert are the only five American sf writers of any value; it’s that you’re only going to get to have four, five or six sf writers to represent the whole field. That’s the way the stamp program works. And much as I would love to have a Tiptree or Zelazny or Sturgeon stamp personally, there’s nobody on that long list that I would bump Frank Herbert for — and the other four I consider locks.

    In fact (and I’m actually rather shocked that I feel this way), someone who belongs on a stamp for doing so much to bring sf to the American public is Gene Roddenberry.

    Well, I bought a bunch of Edgar Rice Burroughs stamps last year — I’ll be using those for a long time to come.

  15. A stamp seires for the men, and a stamp series for the women. Is good, no?

    No doubt though, that many people will just blink when they hear the names. I’ve encountered a few people who didn’t know Robert E. Howard or Isaac Asimov, unless you mentioned “Conan” or “Robot” with your words.

    Though the choices are good, the list is a bit long for what the Post Office would undertake. They’re still trying to sell off the Homer Simpson stamps.

  16. RWS: Lick the back of a Philip K. Dick stamp…

    Yeah, some of the jazz musician stamps made me a little dizzy, too…

  17. I’ll have to call Spider’s attention to this petition. Although he moved to Canada many years ago, I’m sure he’d be thankful that at least one person feels he’s worthy of being included!

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