Bio: Kornbluth was born in New York City. He was a member of the Futurians, the influential group of science fiction fans and writers. While a member of the Futurians, he met and became friends with Isaac Asimov, Frederik Pohl, Donald A. Wollheim, Robert A. W. Lowndes, and his future wife Mary Byers.
Kornbluth served in the US Army during World War II (European Theatre). He received a Bronze Star for his service in the Battle of the Bulge. After his discharge, he returned to finish his education, which had been interrupted by the war, at the University of Chicago.
Kornbluth died at age thirty-four of a heart attack in Waverly, New York. He had lived primarily in Chicago, Illinois.
Kornbluth began writing at fifteen. His first solo work, "King Cole of Pluto", was published in May 1940 and appeared in Super Science Stories. An earlier collaboration, "Stepsons of Mars", written with Richard Wilson and published under the name "Ivar Towers", appeared in the April 1940 Astonishing. His other short fiction includes "The Little Black Bag", "The Marching Morons", "The Altar at Midnight", "MS. Found in a Chinese Fortune Cookie", "Gomez", and "The Advent on Channel 12".
"The Little Black Bag" was adapted for television by the BBC in 1969 for its Out of the Unknown series. In 1970, the same story was adapted by Rod Serling for an episode of his Night Gallery series. This dramatization starred Burgess Meredith as the alcoholic Dr. Full, who has lost his license and become a derelict. He finds a bag containing advanced medical technology from the future, which, after an unsuccessful attempt to pawn it, he uses benevolently ? reclaiming his career and redeeming his soul ... but not that of the guttersnipe he takes in as his receptionist/assistant.
"The Marching Morons" was one of Kornbluth's most famous short stories; it is a satirical look at a far future in which the world's population consists of five billion idiots and a few million geniuses ? the precarious minority of the "elite" working desperately to keep things running behind the scenes. Part of its appeal is that readers identify with the beleaguered geniuses (which is entirely compatible with science fiction fans' broadly held opinion of their relationship with the mundane majority). Some believe that "The Marching Morons" is a direct sequel to "The Little Black Bag": it is easy to miss this, as "Bag" is set in the contemporary present while "Morons" takes place several centuries from now, and there is no character who appears in both stories. The titular black bag in the first story is actually an artifact from the time period of "The Marching Morons": a medical kit filled with self-driven instruments enabling a far-future moron to "play doctor."
Many of Kornbluth's novels were written as collaborations: either with Judith Merril (using the pseudonym Cyril Judd), or with Frederik Pohl. By far the most successful and important of these were the novels Gladiator-At-Law and The Space Merchants. The Space Merchants contributed significantly to the maturing and to the wider academic respectability of the science fiction genre, not only in America but also in Europe.[