He knew that he wanted to be a writer, though it was not SF but radio, journalism, and theater that attracted his first efforts in high school and college. He had day jobs – a useful period as a junior editor at Western Printing & Lithographing (the company behind Dell books and magazines back then) and eventually a series of writing, editing, and public-relations positions at the University – but he never stopped writing and publishing SF.
When he got out of the university’s back-office gigs and started teaching, his focus was on science fiction as a literary genre and a writing discipline.
The professional life is only part of a full life, though, and Gunn includes memories of his courting and marriage, the births of his sons, the houses they lived in, their neighbors, the succession of university jobs he held, the bridge tournaments he played in with his father, the loss of his older son and his wife Jane – a wealth of domestic detail that says as much about the man as his work does.
And since those early-1950s Worldcons, his involvement with the SF culture has been extensive – he seems to have met everyone and worked with most of them via SFRA, SFWA, university-based conferences, or publishing projects.
The subtitle, though, is right on the money: the through-lines of Gunn’s adult life have been science fiction and writing, and especially writing science fiction.
The university jobs allowed him to write without worrying as much about the state of the fiction market (of which, nevertheless, he was always keenly aware), and the university later provided institutional support for projects such as annual workshops on the teaching and writing of SF and a home for the Campbell and Sturgeon awards.
In between, he published a good bit of business-technology and music journalism.
He is still working on a book about Hawaiian slack key guitar.
Given Gunn’s long and varied career, his autobiography – particularly one with such a detailed account of his professional activities – should be a significant source for scholars.
An index is promised for the finished book, but what is also needed is a more complete dating and venue identification of the various embedded documents that punctuate Gunn’s narrative, sometimes repeating and sometimes expanding on parts of the story: high school and university 50th-reunion addresses, articles about speaking tours (one from ), and several award-acceptance speeches (the SFWA Grand Master acceptance is dated in its title).