Long, Frank Belknap

Tagged: Author

(1901-1994) US editor author of sf and fantasy, including some Comics in the 1940s, whose professional working life extended from 1924 to the 1980s; he was married to Lyda Belknap Long (née Lyda Arco) from 1960; under her name he wrote a series of Gothics [see Checklist]. His birth year is often listed as 1903, since Long misrepresented his age at the start of his career and never corrected the record. He produced poetry very early, the best of it appearing in A Man from Genoa and Other Poems (coll 1926) and The Goblin Tower (1935), but is most noted for the weird fantasy he wrote from the beginning of his fiction career, publishing "The Eye Above the Mantel" for United Amateur Press Association in 1921, which was assembled with other unfamiliar material as The Eye Above the Mantel and Other Stories (coll 1995); and publishing his first professional stories, "The Desert Lich" and "Death-Waters" in Weird Tales, November and December 1924 respectively. Influenced by H P Lovecraft, who had promoted the acceptance of his first work and who remained a close colleague until his death in 1937, Long tended to create worlds in his mentor's style with a slender sf base whose fundament – as in his most famous single story, "The Hounds of Tindalos" (March 1929 Weird Tales), featuring creatures originating from a period inconceivably prior to human life (> Time Abyss) – was Cosmic Horror (> Cthulhu Mythos; Horror in SF). He frequently told of his friendship, personal and professional, with Lovecraft, and gave additional details in the valuable introduction and running notes to The Early Long (coll 1975; vt The Hounds of Tindalos 1978), which assembles stories from 1924-1944, the period of his prime as a writer of sf and fantasy. His full-length study, Howard Phillips Lovecraft: Dreamer on the Nightside (1975), treats this material in greater detail. The contents of his first Arkham House volume, The Hounds of Tindalos (coll 1946; cut 1963; vt The Dark Beasts, and Eight Other Stories from the Hounds of Tindalos 1964; vt 2vols as The Hounds of Tindalos 1975 UK and The Black Druid and Other Stories 1975), variously reappeared over his career in other volumes, including The Early Long (see above), which contains other material as well; these stories represent the cream of his work. A more recent Arkham collection, The Rim of the Unknown (coll 1972), draws from the same prime material.

The post-World War Two years saw a change of emphasis in Long's long career, with much more sf being written and published, beginning with John Carstairs: Space Detective (coll of linked stories 1949) which, with "The Ether Robots" (December 1942 Thrilling Wonder) and "The Heavy Man" (April 1943 Thrilling Wonder), formed a series about John Carstairs, detective and biological expert. Most of Long's sf deals with future-Earth situations, space travel occurring relatively infrequently – Space Station No 1 (1957 dos) does occur off Earth, but the setting is not too distant – though much of his earlier sf featured Time Travel. Several of his sf books concentrate on Invasion plots in which Aliens menace our world, as in Lest Earth be Conquered (1966; vt The Androids 1969) and Journey into Darkness (1967); others, like It was the Day of the Robot (1963) (> Dystopia; Robots) and This Strange Tomorrow (1966), depict intrigue-filled future-Earth societies. Some of his later books, such as Survival World (1971) and The Night of the Wolf (1972), a Horror fantasy, are among his better works. In the 1950s he also worked in editorial capacities: for Fantastic Universe under Leo Margulies and as associate editor for Satellite Science Fiction February-May 1959. Long published at least 150 short stories over his career, many of them uncollected; a proper estimate of his stature will have to take them into account, as well as the more routine sf novels of his later years, which for some time obscured the shorter work for which he will finally be remembered. In 1978 he received the World Fantasy Award for lifetime achievement. [JC]

see also: Longevity (in Writers and Publications); Parallel Worlds; Robert Hale Limited; Small Presses and Limited Editions.

Frank Belknap Long Jr

born New York: 27 April 1901

died New York: 3 January 1994

works

novels as by Lyda Belknap Long

collections and stories

poetry (selected)

nonfiction

about the author

links

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