Haldane, J B S

Tagged: Author

(1892-1964) UK biologist and author, brother of Naomi Mitchison; in active service during World War One; an Indian citizen from 1961. He wrote relatively little fiction. My Friend Mr Leakey (coll of linked stories 1937) is a book of light-hearted fantasies for children, with no sf element. His only sf proper is an incomplete and posthumously published Scientific Romance, The Man with Two Memories (1976), about a man's Telepathic link with an Alien of the planet Ulro, which he describes as a Utopia in which Drugs are used to control human behaviour, and most new births are Clones bred for quality.

Haldane's bold speculative essays heavily influenced significant works by other writers. Dedalus; Or, Science and the Future (1923 chap), which espoused Eugenics and inspired the long-running series of To-day and To-morrow texts, is a classic anticipation of Genetic Engineering, and provided the image of the future sarcastically extrapolated by Aldous Huxley in Brave New World (1932). The semifictional "The Last Judgment", in Possible Worlds and Other Essays (coll 1927), sets out an Evolutionary prospectus for the human race which was extensively elaborated by Olaf Stapledon in Last and First Men (1930). Haldane's wife from 1926 to 1945, Charlotte Haldane, drew heavily on his ideas for Man's World (1926). "On Being the Right Size", also from Possible Worlds and Other Essays, discusses recurring problems of scale in sf (see Great and Small), such as giants who are ten times human size but with – unworkably – the same proportions. Some further pieces in A Banned Broadcast and Other Essays (coll 1946) – assembling short science articles mostly written for the communist newspaper The Daily Worker – are of sf interest, including a debunking of World War Two rumours of Death Rays. [BS/DRL]

see also: Anthropology; Biology; Children's SF; Colonization of Other Worlds; Dystopias; End of the World; Far Future; Futures Studies; Sun; Venus.

John Burdon Sanderson Haldane

born Oxford, Oxfordshire: 5 November 1892

died Bhubaneswar, India: 1 December 1964

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