Davidson, Lionel

Tagged: Author

(1922-2009) UK author who began to publish short fiction – none of it apparently fantastic – in the 1930s, and who was best known for his intermittent but highly successful thrillers, beginning with The Night of Wenceslas (1960). In his second novel, The Rose of Tibet (1962), a young man traces his half-brother into a Lost World in the heart of 1950 Tibet, just as China prepares to invade; it is a tale full of the same elated though "implausible" coincidences and narrative coherence that make John Buchan's early thrillers inherently fantastic. The Sun Chemist (1976) is also sf: a lost formula (see Inventions) of scientist and president of Israel Chaim Weizmann (1874-1952) makes possible the use of the sweet potato as a means of tapping the Sun's power; there is an adventurous quest to find it. As David Line he wrote several books for children. Under Plum Lake (1980; 1982 as by David Line) is a Young Adult tale whose young protagonist discovers the advanced Utopian world of Egon Under the Sea; the action segues to outer space.

More than most of his other adult work, all of which is included in the Checklist, Davidson's last novel, Kolymsky Heights (1994), is fully-fledged sf, though within a taut adventure frame. Scientists at a highly restricted Siberian research institute – involved in Apes as Human experiments with chimpanzees modified by Genetic Engineering so that they can talk and read (see Uplift) – discover in the permafrost the well-preserved body of a 40,000-year-old pregnant woman. The Cro-Magnon/Neanderthaloid foetus she bears complicatedly provides them with further genetic material, and inspires the Invention of an optical fibre implant that gives sight to the blind, by linking the brain to high-tech eyeglasses; but one of its side-effects, through an engineered harmonic, causes electronic systems at a distance to stall, engendering a Technothriller plot which frames the rest. [PN/JC]

Lionel Davidson

born Hull, Yorkshire: 31 March 1922

died London: 21 October 2009

works

Nonfantastic juveniles are excluded.

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