In Memoriam – Daniel Keyes 1927-2014

Daniel Keyes (b.1927) died on June 15.  Keyes is best known for his short story “Flowers for Algernon,” which won the Hugo Award, and its expansion, the Nebula Award-winning novel of the same title.  The book was turned into the film Charly, which won an Oscar for star Cliff Robertson, and the less successful musical Charlie and Algernon.

Prior to publishing his first science fiction story, “Precedent,” Keyes was the editor of Marvel Science Fiction and worked as an associate editor for Atlas under Stan Lee.  He also wrote for EC Comics.  Eventually, Keyes taught creative writing at Wayne State University and Ohio University.  His non-fiction book The Minds of Billy Milligan won the Kurd Laßwitz Award and was nominated for the Edgar, as was his book Unveiling Claudia.  In 2000, SFWA named Keyes its Author Emeritus. That same year saw the publication of his memoir Algernon, Charlie, and I: A Writer’s Journey. Many of his works dealt with the question of mental competency, both in cases such as “Flowers for Algernon” or with specific regard to responsibility and punishment in for crimes.

SFWA President Steven Gould notes, “Each time I experience this story (both from repeat readings and the multiple forms–short-story, novel, and movie) I was deeply moved and always in awe of the way Keyes used subtle changes in voice to illustrate the mutating nature of Charlie’s intelligence. Today I’m finding it incredibly poignant that Charlie’s last expressed wish in both the short-story and the novel is that someone put flowers on Algernon’s grave. Godspeed Daniel.”

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