On This Day: Karel Capek & Algis Budrys

On this day, separated by a scant forty-one years and about four hundred miles, two important figures in the history of SF were born.

Karel Čapek, born in 1890, was a Czech writer and playwright, whose chief contribution to science fiction was the not-inconsiderable introduction of the word ‘robot‘ to the international lexicon (it is derived from the word ‘robota’, which translates as ‘work’ or ‘labour’) in his 1920 play R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots). If one can judge a person by the quality of their enemies, the Čapek scores very highly indeed: the Gestapo named him ‘public enemy number two’ in advance of the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia.

Born in 1931, in what was then East Prussia, Algis Budrys moved to the United States at the age of five.

Although best-known these days for his 1960 classic Rogue Moon and his early support for L. Ron Hubbard‘s Writers of the Future programme, perhaps just as important a contribution to the field is his perceptive critical writing. His early book reviews, written for the no-longer-extant Galaxy Science Fiction magazine, are collected in Benchmarks.