Eklund, Gordon

Tagged: Author

(1945-    ) US author who began to publish work of genre interest with "Dear Aunt Annie" in Fantastic for April 1970, though he also published considerable fan fiction (see Fandom), all of which was collected as Eklundia Stories: The Complete Fan Fiction of Gordon Eklund (coll 2013). In the early and most prolific years of his career he published dozens of stories in sf magazines, much of this work being assembled in the Selected Stories sequence comprising Second Creation (coll 2016) and Retro Man (coll 2016). One tale, "Only the Stars Are Real" (March 1972 Amazing), was published as by Alan Wendell Stewart; until his work as E E Smith [see below], he published all his books under his own name. His work was initially various though uneven. Both his first novel, The Eclipse of Dawn (1971), and his fourth and best solo effort, All Times Possible (1974), anatomize with pessimistic force the American political landscape and share an interest in the psychology and tactics of leadership. The sf elements in the first – mainly some intrusive Aliens – may seem extraneous to Eklund's sharp portrait of a Near Future America ravaged by civil war, but the more successfully integrated Parallel-Worlds structure of All Times Possible intensifies and darkens the picture of political realities at work through the second quarter of the twentieth century. Although a sometimes hasty style mars portions of these books, their occasional prolixities are clearly justified by the insistence and amplitude of Eklund's focus on the theme of Politics in sf.

Other novels from this period include A Trace of Dreams (1972), also a tale of some weight; but some other modestly exploratory works are comparatively routine, in particular the three written for Laser Books, which suffer from the restrictive editorial hand of Roger Elwood. Further titles include Inheritors of Earth (March 1951 Future Combined with Science Fiction Stories as "Incomplete Superman"; exp 1974), with Poul Anderson, which is far from either author's best work. Beyond the Resurrection (1973), The Grayspace Beast (1976) and The Garden of Winter (1980) lack the eloquence necessary to give full life to the concepts they present; but Cosmic Fusion (2016), which an author's note indicates was essentially written in the 1970s, is a complex multi-layered adventure tale set in a Ruined Earth America long after an alien Invasion has decimated the world's population, leading to the mysterious revival of millions of the dead, Zombie-like "spooks" who cause chaos. Protagonists include Superhero-like figures, and other homages to the SF Megatext, all told in a tone which combines spoof and cogent exaggeration. The length of the text, something close to 300,000 words, may have contributed to the long delay before publication.

During the same period Eklund collaborated with Gregory Benford [who see for details] on a series of tales which eventually became If the Stars Are Gods (fixup 1977), the title story of which, in its original form, won a 1974 Nebula for Best Novelette; it is perhaps Eklund's most sustained work (and one of Benford's finest early stories as well). Find the Changeling (1980), also with Benford, less impressively recounts the hunt on a colony world for a shape-changing Alien (see Colonization of Other Worlds; Shapeshifters). At the same time, Eklund engaged upon the Lord Tedric series of Space Operas "with" E E Smith, in which his faithfulness to the elder author's style is sympathetic, but not entirely helpful to later generations of readers; even in the original solo story, Smith's awkwardness as a writer was easily exposed, as in this case, in the absence of any big idea to transcend it. The first volume, Lord Tedric (March 1954 Universe by Smith alone; exp 1978), was expanded by Eklund alone from the original story by Smith and was published in America as a collaboration, though Eklund was not credited in the UK edition; the sequels Space Pirates (1979) and Black Knight of the Iron Sphere (1979; vt The Black Knight of the Iron Sphere 1979), both entirely by Eklund, were again published as collaborations in the USA and as by Smith alone in the UK; the final volume, Alien Realms (1980), appeared under the Smith name in both countries.

Eklund fell silent for some years at this point, until the release of the Young Adult A Thunder on Neptune (1989), which again could be understood in part as homaging earlier sf worlds, in this case the outward-looking, entrepreneur-inspired thrust of Homo sapiens into new territory. More recently the republication of his shorter work from the 1970 now allows a greater appreciation of his verve, and of his loyalty to the rich sf toolkit. [JC]

see also: Alternate History; Gods and Demons; Hitler Wins; Jupiter; Living Worlds; Outer Planets; Religion; Robots; Stars; Sun.

Gordon Stewart Eklund

born Seattle, Washington: 24 July 1945

died

works

series

Lord Tedric

This series is based on E E Smith's story "Tedric" (March 1953 Other Worlds).

Star Trek

Selected Stories

individual titles

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