Robert Silverberg wrote
I knew him more than fifty years, was very fond of him, and it was a pleasure to have him as a near-neighbor fifteen or twenty years ago when he was teaching at Stanford. So few of that generation are left now -- how fortunate for us that he took the time to set down a great deal of autobiographical material and other reminiscences in recent years.
Craig Herbertson wrote:
I never knew Mr Klass personally, only through his short stories. However, if ever a writer could make you feel you knew him it was he. Clever, illuminating, humane and tolerant with incisive humour which could make you really laugh. A great loss.
Michael Perna, Berkeley California wrote:
I was in the first class that Phil taught at Penn State, and had the privilege of knowing him and Fruma for many years after that. As a teacher of creative writing, he was both generous and challenging. As a friend and adviser, he helped shape my view of the world and myself. His fiction was visionary, and very funny. [Anyone who wants to read something scarily prescient on the subject of same sex marriages should read his story "Venus and the Seven Sexes" written in the 1950's.] He is yet another addition to a sadly growing list of irreplaceable people.
Michael Herncane wrote:
I attended Penn State from 1969-2003, and in my junior year I was lucky enough to be in one of the first science fiction courses that Professor Klass created and eventually taught there for many years. As some of us know, it was also one of first such offerings of its kind anywhere in the United States.
As a devoted reader of science fiction, I knew and loved William Tenn, but it's Professor Klass's persona of a teacher that touched me the most.
As I write this, next to me on my desk sits a 5X8 blue notebook with a 100 pages of my cramped handwriting recording 30 classes worth of Professor Klass' wisdom. Now, almost 40 years after I took his class, it remains one of two of my most cherished possessions. The other is a battered hardback titled "Seven Famous Novels by H.G. Wells," which Professor Klass gave me after I visited him one afternoon during office hours. He told me to keep the book because he had picked up about 20 other copies in a bookshop in NYC.
Essentially the course was a history of science fiction and its place in modern culture. The man was a brilliant teacher. He was fascinating, profound, outrageous, hilarious, maddening, horrifying, moving, and deeply humane, usually all within the time frame of one period. After most of his classes, my brain literally hurt -- I guess a case of an unused muscle being worked hard.
After I graduated, I became a teacher myself. I was actually able to convince my high school principal to allow me to teach an elective sf course. I'm not ashamed to admit that I borrowed liberally from Professor Klass's course. Before I actually started teaching I called him up and asked if I should "dumb it down" since I was dealing with high schoolers instead of collegians. There was a slight pause, and then he said, "Did I ever tell you how much I hate that phrase:'dumb it down'? Only dummies dumb it down."
He was right, of course.
Mike Gori wrote:
I found out about the Professor's passing over on the WIRED web site, and posted a note there before coming over here. My condolences to his family, he was a great instructor.
I was able to exchange a few emails with him a few years back, and feel horrible at this moment that I wasn't able to keep up the correspondence.
Here's my post @ WIRED:
I've got to say the Professor was one of the best instructors I ever had at Penn State - and he probably taught the only class I never cut. His wit, humor and insight, not only into Sci-Fi and the Golden-Age writers, but the society from which they came will be missed. I still remember, word for word and 20 years later, his time-travel lecture -- I'm glad I make a point to share it with my own students each semester. I guess my lesson plan for tomorrow will be changed in memory of a great man.
Michael Klitsch wrote:
Please pass on my deepest sympathies to Fruma and Adina.
I was a student and advisee of Phil's in the late 1970s, not sure what the heck I was going to do with myself after realizing that physics was not for me. (Well, more like I was not for physics.)
By good fortune, I took his science fiction as literature class, and after several more editing and writing classes with Phil and an internship at ISI, I had managed to find my calling. I certainly would have lived a very different, much less fulfilling life if Phil and I had not crossed paths.
I marvel sometimes at the amount of time he took, advising me even though he wasn't technically my "advisor." I enjoyed his writing, but I really respected the man--and, of course, deeply regret not having said as much to him while he was still around to hear it.
Kevin Kennelly wrote:
Wow...this affected me. Good to see that he lived a long/full life. Glad to have read "Men And Monsters" when it came out. I'll NEVER forget "Betelgeuse Bridge".
Pass my condolences along to the appropriate parties.
Adrien Bledstein wrote:
This morning, leading a class on cursing in the Bible, I read aloud Phil's story "My Mother Was a Witch." This group of 18 literate adults loved it. I just found the website and am grateful. So sorry he passed away before I could thank him for a great story.
Harriet Cat Maier wrote:
I'ld like to contribute something about Phil Klass, but once I start typing I have too much difficulty stopping & editing myself, so (@ almost 4:30 AM, while sleep- typing-here's the main point about Phil (& maybe Fruma-my body is 72 which is just an excuse 2 beg forgiveness)---- Phil & I had discussed/debated in the manner of Jewish yenta types (I played Yenta in Fiddler- also kind of do it in real life)----Wait please. I'm almost ready to mention the subject--- which is: Phil Klass vs Isaac Asimov!!!! ???? Ok-that's it for now. I wonder if I'll be able to send this.
Photos of Phil by Karen Yun-Lutz (Renaissance Woman Photography)
William Tenn, 2006
Michail Velichansky, William Tenn and Fruma Klass at Confluence, 2006
In 2006, in an efford to raise a little money for a documentary David Brody started on Phil, we held a small benefit:
Phil is in front, and, Garth Emory Schafer, David Brody, Kevin Hayes, Randy Hoffman who all performed at the benefit.
A "re-imagining" of the William Tenn exhibit from Noreascon IV at the benefit.
Bill Keith and William Tenn, 2007
William Tenn Home Page