(1942- ) US writer and editor who ran a printing company with his wife before beginning to write in 1977. He soon published his first sf story, "The Tryouts" for Asimov's in November/December 1978. Before his 1981 hospitalization for alcoholism and addiction to prescription drugs – an experience which formed the basis of his non-sf novel Saint Mary Blue (1988) – he had already published prolifically, sometimes as by Frederick Longbeard. Most of the short fiction for which he remains best known was released early in his career, most notably the stories assembled in Manifest Destiny (coll 1980), which explore a shared universe – in which a ruthlessly expanding Earth battles Dracon, an Alien Galactic Empire – with considerable intensity; and most of the contents of It Came from Schenectady (coll 1984). Enemy Mine (September 1979 Asimov's; 1989 chap dos), which appeared in Manifest Destiny, won Hugo, Nebula and Locus Awards, was filmed as Enemy Mine (1985); with the collaboration of David Gerrold, Longyear novelized the film version as Enemy Mine (1985). In both versions of the Enemy Mine sequence, a human and Dracon soldier, caught in the bitter conflict occasioned by human expansion (> Colonization of Other Worlds), are isolated together on a primitive planet and must cooperate or die. The Tomorrow Testament (1983) is a loose sequel to the tale, reiterating its lessons in a competently extended form. Much of this material is revised in The Enemy Papers (coll 1998), which incorporates a new novel as well. In this early period Longyear also initiated his Circus sequence – comprising, in order of internal chronology, City of Baraboo (coll of linked stories 1980), Elephant Song (1982) and Circus World (coll of linked stories 1981) – about the escape of a circus troop from Earth, its misadventures, its colonizing of the planet Momus, and the final triumph of its representatives as an interstellar act, all within a universe loosely shared with the Enemy Mine tales. In 1980 he won the John W Campbell Award for Best New Writer.
After the gap caused by his hospital experience, Longyear returned to active work with a sharp Dystopia about Overpopulation, Sea of Glass (1987), told from the viewpoint of a child whose birth was illegal but who is allowed to survive by the governing Computer which struggles coldly to deal with the huge excess of humans on the planet by creating an artificial War. Later novels like Naked Came the Robot (1988), The God Box (1989), Infinity Hold (1989) and The Homecoming (1989) are variously of interest, but exhibit some intermittent sense of fatigue. His two Alien Nation television Ties: The Change (1994), which novelizes an unproduced script, and Slag Like Me (1994), which novelizes material from a cancelled season, are competent but routine. At the same time, the alert clarity and genre cunning of Longyear's best work seem potentially available to him, and may surface again. [JC]
see also: Asimov's Science Fiction.
Barry Brookes Longyear
born Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: 12 May 1942
Enemy Mine (not listed in order of publication)
- Enemy Mine (New York: Tor, 1989) [novella: chap: dos: first published in Asimov's, September 1979: Enemy Mine: pb/Tom Kidd]
- Enemy Mine (New York: Charter, 1985) with David Gerrold [tie to the film: novelization of the above: Enemy Mine: pb/]
- The Tomorrow Testament (New York: Berkley Books, 1983) [Enemy Mine: pb/Michael Herring]
- The Enemy Papers (Stone Mountain, Georgia: White Wolf Publishing, 1998) [coll/omni of the above plus the original Enemy Mine plus other material including a new novel: Enemy Mine: pb/Matt Manley]
- City of Baraboo (New York: Berkley Publishing Corp/Putnam, 1980) [coll of linked stories: Circus: hb/John Rush]
- Circus World (New York: Nelson Doubleday, 1981) [coll of linked stories: Circus: hb/Les Katz]
- Elephant Song (New York: Berkley Books, 1981) [Circus: pb/John Rush]
- Infinity Hold (New York: Popular Library/Questar, 1989) [Infinity Hold: pb/Paul Youll and Steve Youll]
- Infinity Hold³ (Bloomington, Indiana: iUniverse, 2002) [coll: containing Infinity Hold plus two additional tales: pb/]
Previous versions of this entry