(1913-1999) US screenwriter and author of popular fiction in several genres, perhaps as well known for his few sf novels as for any other work, though his first novel with an sf content, The Shade of Time (1946), which deals with "atomic displacement", was (as he records) accepted for publication only after Hiroshima. His books of the 1950s, more widely distributed within the sf markets and recognized as sf, have been better remembered, Dark Dominion (1954) is a well-told melodrama concerning a new Element, magellanium, which varies in weight according to the position of the star Sirius, and which is finally used to power a Spaceship. Beyond Eden (1955; vt Another Tree in Eden 1956) contrasts different routes towards fulfilment – materially, through a vast water-making project, and spiritually, via crystals that expand humankind's nature in the direction of gestalt empathy. Occam's Razor (1957) explores, within the context of a threatening nuclear war, the impact of the arrival of two humans – though one is horned – from a Parallel World. This includes some entertaining Mathematical patter, illustrating minimal-path theory through soap-bubble films which become a gateway to the other world. Duncan then fell silent as an sf novelist, and is not now well remembered. Those who rediscover him will find his work quietly eloquent, inherently memorable, worth remarking upon.
Duncan wrote various scripts of sf interest, including Cinema screenplays for Rodan! the Flying Monster (1956), The Leech Woman (1960; vt Leech) and other Horror/sf films; the original story for The Monster that Challenged the World (1957); and sf scripts for Men into Space (nine episodes in 1959-1960), The Time Machine (1960), The Outer Limits (one episode in 1963), and Fantastic Voyage (1966), adapting Jerome Bixby's story for that film. [JC/DRL]
see also: Dimensions.
born Billings, Montana: 17 February 1913
died Everett, Washington: 26 December 1999
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