Coppel, Alfred

Tagged: Author

Working name of US author (and wartime fighter pilot) Alfredo José de Araña-Marini y Coppel Jr (1921-2004) who also wrote as Robert Cham Gilman and Sol Galaxan (for one story only, 1953). He began publishing sf with "Age of Unreason" for Astounding in December 1947, and published a good deal of magazine fiction in the next decade, though he was in fact producing considerably more in other genres with such action novels as Hero Driver (1954). His first sf novel was Dark December (1960), an extremely effective Post-Holocaust quest story set in a nuclear-war-devastated USA; the protagonist's search for his lost family, bedevilled by fanatics and complicated by his new-found pacifism, remains surprisingly engaging. As Gilman, Coppel published the Rhada Space-Opera sequence for tough, older children: The Rebel of Rhada (1968), The Navigator of Rhada (1969) and The Starkahn of Rhada (1970) are not easy reading, and neither is the prequel The Warlock of Rhada (1985). The Burning Mountain: A Novel of the Invasion of Japan (1983) embodies an orthodox Alternate History premise in thriller dress, told grippingly: the American A-bomb is accidentally destroyed before testing, which necessitates a land invasion of Japan, prolonging World War Two; after some delay, a rejuvenated bomb stops the mayhem in 1946.

Although Coppel's energies were, for most of his career, focused on non-sf projects, the Goldenwing Cycle – comprising Glory (1993), Glory's War (1995) and Glory's People (1996) – is a fully idiomatic series of glowingly mature Space Opera tales in which the eponymous, intricately realized FTL ship travels from one planetary system to another – each of them modelled on historical human societies, including an apartheid-ridden South Africa and traditional Japan – in a gradually intensifying effort to enlist support against a looming menace from outside the local galaxy. That the sequence owes much to Cordwainer Smith and Gene Wolfe attests to Coppel's good choice in models. The series stops without coming to a climax; but Coppel's return to sf late in life, though short in duration, was revelatory while it lasted. [JC]

see also: Galactic Empires.

Alfredo José de Araña-Marini y Coppel Jr

born Oakland, California: 9 November 1921

died Menlo Park, California: 30 May 2004

works (selected)

series

  • The Rebel of Rhada (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1968) as by Robert Cham Gilman [Rhada: hb/Richard Loehle]
    • The Rebel of Rhada (London: Gollancz, 1969) as by Robert Gilman [with modified pseudonym: Rhada: hb/Gwyneth Cole]
  • The Navigator of Rhada (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1969) as by Robert Cham Gilman [Rhada: hb/]
    • The Navigator of Rhada (London: Gollancz, 1969) as by Robert Gilman [with modified pseudonym: Rhada: hb/Gwyneth Cole]
  • The Starkahn of Rhada (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1970) as by Robert Cham Gilman [Rhada: hb/Richard Loehle]
  • The Warlock of Rhada (New York: Ace Books, 1985) as by Robert Cham Gilman [Rhada: pb/Kevin Johnson]

Goldenwing

individual titles

links

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