Better to Have Loved

Better to Have Loved

The Life of Judith Merril

By Judith Merril and Emily Pohl-Weary


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  • Hugo Award for Best Related Work, 2003 (Winner)
  • Toronto Book Award, 2003 (Short-listed)

Judith Merril was a pioneer of twentieth-century science fiction, a prolific author, and editor. She was also a passionate social and political activist. In fact, her life was a constant adventure within the alternative and experimental worlds of science fiction, left politics, and Canadian literature.

Better to Have Loved is illustrated with original art works, covers from classic science fiction magazines, period illustrations, and striking photography.


The strongest woman in a genre for the most part created by timid and weak men.

– J.G. Ballard, author of Crash and Empire of the Sun

Without Judith Merril, neither science fiction nor Canadian science fiction nor Canadian literature nor the world at large would exist in their present form. Better to Have Loved is essential reading for anyone who’s interested in How Science Fcition Got That Way. In turning a jumbled heap of bright shards into this amazing book, Emily Pohl-Weary has accomplished a task I secretly thought impossible.

– Spider Robinson, author of The Free Lunch

Judith Merril was not only a vital member of the literary community, but a vital person, in the largest sense of that word. She lived her times and places thoroughly, and enriched us all.

– Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale and The Blind Assassin

I loved Judy…I didn’t care a fig about her taste, but I loved her effect. She was an extraordinary catalyst, a perfect editor.

– Michael Moorcock, author of Gloriana and The Condition of Muzak


Chronology Important Events in Judith Merril's Life
Chapter 1 In the Beginning
Chapter 2 A Member of the Universe
Chapter 3 High School
Chapter 4 What Kind of Feminist Am I? (A Short History of Sex)
Chapter 5 (Some Kind of) Writing Science Fiction and the Futurians
Chapter 6 Virginia Kidd and Futurian Motherhood
Chapter 7 Give the Girls a Break!
Chapter 8 A (Real?) Writer: Homage to Ted Sturgeon
Chapter 9 Getting Started as a Writer
Chapter 10 Kornbluth and Leiber and All...
Chapter 11 Katherine MacLean and the ESP Letter
Chapter 12 Walter Miller and the Custody Battles
Chapter 13 In Appreciation of Mark Clifton
Chapter 14 Where Do You Get Those Crazy Ideas?
Chapter 15 A Power in the Ghetto: Swinging London, Sour America, and "Free" Canada
Chapter 16 Rochdale College: A "What If" Time
Chapter 17 Toronto Tulips Traffic and Frass: The Love Token of a Token Immigrant
Chapter 18 Living and Working in the Toronto Cultural Scene
Chapter 19 Japan Future Probable
Chapter 20 The Whole World Is Watching: Considering the Notions of Privacy and Publicy
Chapter 21 The 1980s: Friendships and Letters — Marian Engel and Gwendolyn MacEwen
Chapter 22 The Crazies Are Dying
Chapter 23 Exorcism on Paliament Hill
Chapter 24 Growing Old in the 1990s: Dear Friends
Chapter 25 A Message to Some Martians
Chapter 26 Improbable Futures
Appendix I The Work of Judith Merril
Appendix II Some of the People in Judith Merril's Life