Frank M. Robinson (1926-2014)

Author, editor, and pulp magazine scholar Frank M. Robinson, 87, died June 30, 2014. Robinson lived in San Francisco and had suffered from health problems in recent years.

Frank Malcolm Robinson was born August 9, 1926, in Chicago IL. After graduating from high school in 1943, he worked as a copy boy at the Chicago Herald-American, then as an office boy at Ziff-Davis and Amazing, until he was drafted into the Navy (where he served as a radar technician in WWII, 1944-45, returning for the Korean War in 1950-51). He worked at a number of magazines, serving as assistant editor at Family Weekly (1955-56), then at Science Digest (1956-59). He was managing editor at Rogue (1959-65) and Cavalier (1965-66), had a brief stint as editor of Censorship Today (1967), and was a staff writer for Playboy from 1969 to 1973, after which he became a freelance writer.

Robinson’s early SF sales began with “The Maze” (Astounding 1950) and “The Hunting Season” (Astounding 1951). His first novel, The Power (1956, filmed in 1967), was an extremely successful SF thriller — one of the first of that genre. In the ’70s and ’80s, he co-wrote a number of technothrillers (most with SFnal elements) with Thomas N. Scortia: The Glass Inferno (1974, filmed as The Towering Inferno)The Prometheus Crisis (1975), The Nightmare Factor (1978), The Gold Crew (1980), and Blowout! (1987). He also co-wrote political novel The Great Divide (1982) with John Levin and spy thriller Death of a Marionette (1995) with Paul Hull.

Robinson returned to SF, and solo writing, in The Dark Beyond the Stars (1991), SF thriller Waiting (1999), and medical thriller The Donor (2004). His short fiction has been collected in A Life in the Day of … and Other Short Stories (1981), Through My Glasses Darkly (2002), and The Worlds of Joe Shannon (2010).

Robinson was one of the foremost collectors of, and experts on, pulp magazines. His books on pulp magazines include illustrated histories Pulp Culture: The Art of Fiction Magazines (1998, with Lawrence Davidson), Hugo Award winner Science Fiction of the Twentieth Century: An Illustrated History (1999), British Fantasy Award finalist Art of Imagination (2002, with Randy Broeker and Robert Weinberg), and The Incredible Pulps: A Gallery of Fiction Magazine Art (2006).

Robinson was inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame in 2001, and received a Moskowitz Archive Award in 2008. He won an Emperor Norton Award in 2004. Earlier this year, Robinson was named the recipient of the Special Honoree Award by SFWA.