Bulmer, Kenneth

Tagged: Author | Editor | Fan

(1921-2005) UK author, who also signed himself H K Bulmer, as well as using a number of pseudonyms for his books, including Alan Burt Akers, Ken Blake (not sf), Ernest Corley (not sf), Arthur Frazier (not sf), Adam Hardy (for his successful Hornblower-like novels of the sea), Philip Kent, Bruno Krauss (not sf), Neil Langholm (not sf), Manning Norvil, Charles R Pike (not sf), Dray Prescot, Andrew Quiller, Richard Silver (not sf), Tully Zetford, the collaborative pseudonym Kenneth Johns (with John Newman) and the House Name Karl Maras, under which he wrote two novels; there were also been several names restricted to magazine stories, including Rupert Clinton. Nearly half his output – more than 50 novels – was non-fantastic, including military fiction, sea stories and at least one western, and is not discussed here or listed below.

After a career as an active fan dating from before World War Two – Bulmer's first genuine publication being an article, "Search for Ideas: The Conquest of Space" with John F Burke (see Jonathan Burke), Arthur C Clarke, Osmond Robb and H E Turner, for Tales of Wonder in 1940 – and after editing various Fanzines from 1941 (see for example Science Fantasy News with A V Clarke), Bulmer began publishing sf with Space Treason (1952) and Cybernetic Controller (1952), both with A V Clarke, and Encounter in Space (1952), and was soon involved in producing material for New Worlds, Authentic Science Fiction and Nebula Science Fiction, the three major magazines among those proliferating in the volatile UK sf scene of the first post-World War Two decade, though he also sold a few stories to US magazines. His first solo novels, like Space Treason (1952) and Zhorani (Master of the Universe) (1953) as by Karl Maras, and much of his ensuing work, were either Space Operas or adventure plots laid on simplified versions of future Earths. Notable among these were several novels published in the USA from 1957, including City Under the Sea (March-May 1957 New Worlds as "Green Destiny"; exp 1957 dos); The Secret of ZI (1958 dos US; vt The Patient Dark 1969); The Earth Gods Are Coming (May 1960 Science Fiction Adventures as "Of Earth Foretold"; 1960 dos US; vt with one story added as coll Of Earth Foretold 1961); The Wizard of Starship Poseidon (1963 dos); Demons' World (1964 dos US; vt The Demons 1965), in which human colonists exist marginally as a Wainscot Society; and Worlds for the Taking (1966), possibly the best of them, a relatively sustained and dark-toned portrait of the costs of being a "competent man" in an environment of interstellar corporate intrigue, and The Doomsday Men (November 1965 If; exp 1968).

In the period of his most interesting work, approximately 1955-1968, Bulmer was notable for the adept use he made of a wide range of sf themes, from underwater Cities (see Under the Sea) to giant Alien invaders (see Great and Small) to Time Travel and Monsters – in Cycle of Nemesis (1967) – to Parallel Worlds. The latter theme is the sustaining conceit of the Keys to the Dimensions series: Land Beyond the Map (February 1961 Science Fantasy as "The Map Country"; 1965); "The Seventh Stair" (October 1961 Science Fantasy) and "Perilous Portal" (August 1962 Science Fantasy), both as by Frank Brandon; The Key to Irunium (1967); The Key to Venudine (1968); The Wizards of Senchuria (1969); The Ships of Durostorum (1970); The Hunters of Jundagai (1971); The Chariots of Ra (1972) and The Diamond Contessa (1983). Much of Bulmer's later fiction under his own name seemed to flounder somewhat in attempts to handle a more "contemporary" style and subject matter, as in The Ulcer Culture (1969; vt Stained-Glass World 1976), On the Symb-Socket Circuit (1972) and Roller Coaster World (1972). As the Dray Prescot series would show, Bulmer's forte lay in the transparency of the pulp tale truly told.

It was with the Dray Prescot sequence of Edgar Rice Burroughs pastiches – set in a Science-Fantasy interstellar venue and written either as by Alan Burt Akers or as by Dray Prescot or as told to Akers by Dray Prescot – that Bulmer reached his largest and most faithful audience. The long sequence begins with Transit to Scorpio (1972) and its English-language release was terminated with Warlord of Antares (1988); a further fifteen volumes (making a total of 52) were released in German; some of these were made available in English as ebooks. [For details, including the breakdown of this vast sequence into sub-series, see Checklist below. No distinction there is made between titles told by Dray Prescot and those told by Dray Prescot to Alan Burt Akers.] The books are unfailing in their delivery; though they are never entirely inspired, Bulmer's sheer pleasure in the creation of Planetary Romance venues shines through, intermittently but often. According to Bulmer's German translator, the 53rd title «Verrat auf Kregen» ["Betrayal on Kregen"] (1998) was announced but not in fact published.

With John Carnell's death in 1972, Bulmer took over the long-running anthology series New Writings in SF from New Writings in SF 22 (anth 1973) until its termination with New Writings in SF 30 (anth 1978), and maintaining the generally traditionalist content of the books. As fan, writer and editor, Bulmer was one of the mainstays of UK sf for more than four decades; he served as a council member of the Science Fiction Foundation from its inception to 1988. The late eclipse of his career, as far as publications in English were concerned, owed more to changes in marketing than to any pronounced decline in his work. Though much of that work is routine, especially series tales written under pseudonyms, he consistently showed himself to be one of the most competent, though not perhaps the most original, workers in the field. [JC]

see also: Anthologies; Comics; DAW Books; Fan Funds; Faster Than Light; Galactic Empires; Hornblower in Space; New Worlds; OMPA.

Henry Kenneth Bulmer

born London: 14 January 1921

died Tunbridge Wells, Kent: 16 December 2005

works

series

Key to the Dimensions

Dray Prescott

Titles as by Alan Burt Akers are so listed; titles as by Dray Prescot or as by Dray Prescot as told to Alan Burt Akers, are listed as by Dray Prescot.

Dray Prescot: Delian Cycle

Dray Prescot: Havilfar Cycle

Dray Prescot: Krozair Cycle

Dray Prescot: Vallian Cycle

  • Secret Scorpio (New York: DAW Books, 1977) as by Alan Burt Akers [Dray Prescot: Vallian Cycle: pb/Josh Kirby]
  • Savage Scorpio (New York: DAW Books, 1978) as by Alan Burt Akers [Dray Prescot: Vallian Cycle: pb/Josh Kirby]
  • Captive Scorpio (New York: DAW Books, 1978) as by Alan Burt Akers [Dray Prescot: Vallian Cycle: pb/Josh Kirby]
  • Golden Scorpio (New York: DAW Books, 1978) as by Alan Burt Akers [Dray Prescot: Vallian Cycle: pb/Josh Kirby]

Dray Prescot: Jikaida Cycle

Dray Prescot: Spikatur Cycle

  • Beasts of Antares (New York: DAW Books, 1980) as by Dray Prescot [Dray Prescot: Spikatur Cycle: pb/Richard Hescox]
  • Rebel of Antares (New York: DAW Books, 1980) as by Dray Prescot [Dray Prescot: Spikatur Cycle: pb/Jack Gaughan]
  • Legions of Antares (New York: DAW Books, 1981) as by Dray Prescot [Dray Prescot: Spikatur Cycle: pb/Ken W Kelly]
  • Allies of Antares (New York: DAW Books, 1981) as by Dray Prescot [Dray Prescot: Spikatur Cycle: pb/Clyde Caldwell]

Dray Prescot: Pandahem Cycle

  • Mazes of Scorpio (New York: DAW Books, 1982) as by Dray Prescot [Dray Prescot: Pandahem Cycle: pb/Richard Hescox]
  • Delia of Vallia (New York: DAW Books, 1982) as by Dray Prescot [Dray Prescot: Pandahem Cycle: pb/Ken W Kelly]
  • Fires of Scorpio (New York: DAW Books, 1983) as by Dray Prescot [Dray Prescot: Pandahem Cycle: pb/Richard Hescox]
  • Talons of Scorpio (New York: DAW Books, 1983) as by Dray Prescot [Dray Prescot: Pandahem Cycle: pb/Ken W Kelly]
  • Masks of Scorpio (New York: DAW Books, 1984) as by Dray Prescot [Dray Prescot: Pandahem Cycle: pb/Richard Hescox]
  • Seg the Bowman (New York: DAW Books, 1984) as by Dray Prescot [Dray Prescot: Pandahem Cycle: pb/Ken W Kelly]

Dray Prescot: Witch War Cycle

  • Werewolves of Kregen (New York: DAW Books, 1985) as by Dray Prescot [Dray Prescot: Witch War Cycle: pb/Richard Hescox]
  • Witches of Kregen (New York: DAW Books, 1985) as by Dray Prescot [Dray Prescot: Witch War Cycle: pb/James Gurney]
  • Storm over Vallia (New York: DAW Books, 1985) as by Dray Prescot [Dray Prescot: Witch War Cycle: pb/Tim Jacobus]
  • Omens of Kregen (New York: DAW Books, 1985) as by Dray Prescot [Dray Prescot: Witch War Cycle: pb/Richard Hescox]
  • Warlord of Antares (New York: DAW Books, 1988) as by Dray Prescot [Dray Prescot: Witch War Cycle: pb/Ken W Kelly]

Dray Prescot: Lohvian Cycle

All this series was translated by Andreas Decker from the English manuscripts.

  • Wiedergeborens Scorpio (Munich, Germany: Heyne Verlag, 1991) as by Alan Burt Akers [Dray Prescot: Lohvian Cycle: pb/Boris Vallejo]
    • Scorpio Reborn (1996) [ebook: English text of the above: Dray Prescot: Lohvian Cycle: na/]
  • Meuchelmörder von Scorpio (Munich, Germany: Heyne Verlag, 1992) as by Alan Burt Akers [Dray Prescot: Lohvian Cycle: pb/James Gurney]
    • Scorpio Assassin (1996) [ebook: English text of the above: Dray Prescot: Lohvian Cycle: na/]
  • Invasion von Scorpio (Munich, Germany: Heyne Verlag, 1992) as by Alan Burt Akers [Dray Prescot: Lohvian Cycle: pb/Les Edwards]
    • Scorpio Invasion (1996) [ebook: English text of the above: Dray Prescot: Lohvian Cycle: na/]
  • Scorpio in Flammen (Munich, Germany: Heyne Verlag, 1992) as by Alan Burt Akers [Dray Prescot: Lohvian Cycle: pb/Ken W Kelly]
    • Scorpio Ablaze (1998) [ebook: English text of the above: Dray Prescot: Lohvian Cycle: na/]
  • Die Trommeln von Scorpio ["Scorpio Drums"] (Munich, Germany: Heyne Verlag, 1992) as by Alan Burt Akers [Dray Prescot: Lohvian Cycle: pb/Ken W Kelly]
  • Der Triumpf von Scorpio ["Scorpio Triumph"] (Munich, Germany: Heyne Verlag, 1993) as by Alan Burt Akers [Dray Prescot: Lohvian Cycle: pb/Ken W Kelly]

Dray Prescot: Balintol Cycle

All this series was translated by Andreas Decker from the English manuscripts.

  • Die Intrige von Antares ["Intrigue of Antares"] (Munich, Germany: Heyne Verlag, 1993) as by Alan Burt Akers [Dray Prescot: Balintol Cycle: pb/Ken W Kelly]
  • Die Banditen von Antares ["Bandits of Antares"] (Munich, Germany: Heyne Verlag, 1994) as by Alan Burt Akers [Dray Prescot: Balintol Cycle: pb/Ken W Kelly]
  • Die Dämonen von Antares ["Demons of Antares"] (Munich, Germany: Heyne Verlag, 1994) as by Alan Burt Akers [Dray Prescot: Balintol Cycle: pb/]
  • Die Geißel von Antares ["Scourge of Antares"] (Munich, Germany: Heyne Verlag, 1994) as by Alan Burt Akers [Dray Prescot: Balintol Cycle: pb/]
  • Die Fehde von Antares ["Challenge of Antares"] (Munich, Germany: Heyne Verlag, 1995) as by Alan Burt Akers [Dray Prescot: Balintol Cycle: pb/]
  • Der Zorn von Antares ["Wrath of Antares"] (Munich, Germany: Heyne Verlag, 1996) as by Alan Burt Akers [Dray Prescot: Balintol Cycle: pb/]

Dray Prescot: Phantom Cycle

All this series was translated by Andreas Decker from the English manuscripts.

  • Schatten über Kregen ["Shadows Over Kregen"] (Munich, Germany: Heyne Verlag, 1996) as by Alan Burt Akers [Dray Prescot: Phantom Cycle: pb/]
  • Mord auf Kregen ["Murder on Kregen"] (Munich, Germany: Heyne Verlag, 1997) as by Alan Burt Akers [Dray Prescot: Phantom Cycle: pb/Doug Beekman]
  • Aufruhr auf Kregen ["Turmoil on Kregen"] (Munich, Germany: Heyne Verlag, 1997) as by Alan Burt Akers [Dray Prescot: Phantom Cycle: pb/Doug Beekman]
  • «Verrat auf Kregen» ["Betrayal on Kregen"] (Munich, Germany: Heyne Verlag, 1998) as by Alan Burt Akers [announced for 1998 but reportedly never published: Dray Prescot: Phantom Cycle: pb/]

Ryder Hook

  • Whirlpool of Stars (London: New English Library, 1974) as by Tully Zetford [Ryder Hook: pb/Peter Goodfellow]
  • The Boosted Man (London: New English Library, 1974) as by Tully Zetford [Ryder Hook: pb/Peter Goodfellow]
  • Star City (London: New English Library, 1975) as by Tully Zetford [Ryder Hook: pb/Peter Goodfellow]
  • The Virility Gene (London: New English Library, 1975) as by Tully Zetford [Ryder Hook: pb/Peter Goodfellow]
  • Der Nova-Mann ["The New Man"] (Gladbach, Germany: Bastei-Lübbe, 1987) [Ryder Hook: pb/Luis Royo]
  • Mission Galaxis ["Mission: Galaxy"] (Gladbach, Germany: Bastei-Lübbe, 1988) [Ryder Hook: pb/Luis Royo]
  • Rebell der Sterne ["Rebel of the Stars"] (Gladbach, Germany: Bastei-Lübbe, 1988) [Ryder Hook: pb/Luis Royo]
  • Weltraum-Piraten ["Space Pirates"] (Gladbach, Germany: Bastei-Lübbe, 1988) [Ryder Hook: pb/Luis Royo]
  • Gefangen im All ["Imprisoned in the Universe"] (Gladbach, Germany: Bastei-Lübbe, 1988) [Ryder Hook: pb/Luis Royo]
  • Der Weltraum-Friedhof ["Space Cemetery"] (Gladbach, Germany: Bastei-Lübbe, 1988) [Ryder Hook: pb/Luis Royo]
  • Vermächtnis der Zukunft ["Legacy of the Future"] (Gladbach, Germany: Bastei-Lübbe, 1988) [Ryder Hook: pb/Luis Royo]

Odan the Half-God

  • Dream Chariots (New York: DAW Books, 1977) as by Manning Norvil [Odan the Half-God: pb/Richard Clifton-Dey]
  • Whetted Bronze (New York: DAW Books, 1978) as by Manning Norvil [Odan the Half-God: pb/Michael Whelan]
  • Crown of the Sword God (New York: DAW Books, 1980) as by Manning Norvil [Odan the Half-God: pb/Richard Hescox]

individual titles

nonfiction

works as editor

about the author

links

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