Bond, Nelson S

Tagged: Author

(1908-2006) US writer and in later years philatelist (he published works in that field) and rare book dealer. He began his career in public relations, coming to sf in April 1937 with "Down the Dimensions" for Astounding. He wrote only two stories under pseudonyms, one as George Danzell in 1940 and one as Hubert Mavity in 1939. Later in his debut year he published "Mr Mergenthwirker's Lobblies" (November 1937 Scribner's Magazine), a fantasy which became a radio series, was collected in Mr Mergenthwirker's Lobblies and Other Fantastic Tales (coll 1946), and was made into a television play (1957). He soon became strongly associated with The Blue Book Magazine for stories and series similar to "Mergenthwirker"; they tended to combine elements of sf and Slick Fantasy [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below], usually brought off with a high professional polish, and often featuring trick endings reminiscent of O Henry (1862-1910). He modified the slickness of this mode for the "nutty" fiction that he wrote for Fantastic Adventures in the early 1940s, comic tales involving implausible inventions and various pixilated doings, sometimes with an effect of excessive archness. His active career in the magazines extended into the 1950s. Further early collections, assembling most of his best non-series work, are The Thirty-First of February (coll 1949), No Time Like the Future (coll 1954) and Nightmares and Daydreams (coll 1968). He became relatively inactive as a writer in the early 1950s, though three new collections were assembled in 2002-2005, near the end of his life.

Bond's most famous single series, the Lancelot Biggs stories concerning an eccentric space traveller, appeared 1939-1943 in various magazines, beginning with "F.O.B. Venus" (November 1939 Fantastic Adventures); it was published, with most stories revised, as The Remarkable Exploits of Lancelot Biggs, Spaceman (coll of linked stories 1950). A similar series, about Pat Pending and his peculiar inventions, appeared 1942-1957, all but the last in Blue Book; it remains uncollected. The Squaredeal Sam McGhee stories, also in Blue Book (1943-1951), are tall tales, not sf. A series of three stories about Meg the Priestess, a young girl who comes to lead a Post-Holocaust tribe, appeared in various magazines, 1939-1942, beginning with "The Priestess Who Rebelled" (October 1939 Amazing; rev vt "Pilgrimage" in The Thirty-First of February, coll 1949); and four Horse-Sense Hank stories appeared in Amazing 1940-1942, beginning with "The Scientific Pioneer" (March 1940 Amazing). One Meg story, "Magic City" (February 1941 Astounding), and one Horse-Sense Hank tale appeared in a large late retrospective volume, The Far Side of Nowhere (coll 2002), most of whose contents are singleton tales.

Bond's only full-length novel in book form, Exiles of Time (May 1940 Blue Book; 1949) is a dark-hued story about the end of the Age of Fire in Mu (> Disaster), told in a sometimes allegorical fashion; the protagonists, who have arrived in Mu via Time Travel, are unable to avert the cometary doom about to descend (> Comets). It comprises the first of the extremely loose Squared Circle sequence, in which the three Ages preceding ours, as described in the Mayan Popul Vuh, are retold in sf terms; the book-length "Gods of the Jungle" (June-July 1942 Amazing), which is included in Other Worlds Than Ours (coll 2005), depicts the Age of Monkeys. That Worlds May Live (April 1943 Amazing; rev 2002) is a short novel without pretensions. Perhaps because of the number of his markets, Bond established a less secure reputation in the sf/fantasy world than less versatile writers; not dissimilar in his wit and fantasticality to Robert Bloch or Fredric Brown, he is considerably less well known than either, though his work is attractive and often memorable. He was made an SFWA Author Emeritus (> SFWA Grand Master Award) in 1998; extremely active in sf social circles into his nineties, Bond deservedly gained the affection of many readers who were not alive when he first published his best work. [JC/DRL]

see also: Adam and Eve; Amazing Stories; Dimensions; Living Worlds; Invention; Ruins and Futurity.

Nelson Slade Bond

born Scranton, Pennsylvania: 23 November 1908

died Roanoke, Virginia: 4 November 2006

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