Reynolds, Mack

Tagged: Author

Working name of US writer Dallas McCord Reynolds (1917-1983), who began writing work of genre interest with "Isolationist" for Fantastic Adventures in April 1950. He occasionally used the pseudonyms Clark Collins, Guy McCord, Mark Mallory and Dallas Ross; he wrote two Gothics as Maxine Reynolds and one other non-sf book as Todd Harding. Some of his early work was with Fredric Brown, including a Joe Mauser story, Happy Ending (September 1957 Fantastic Universe; 2009 ebook); and he also wrote stories with Theodore R Cogswell and August W Derleth. He was for twenty-five years an active member of the American Socialist Labor Party, for which his father, Verne L Reynolds, had twice been presidential candidate; his "militant radicalism" is mutedly reflected, sometimes ironically, in his sf, making him a maverick in the mostly right-wing stable of writers associated with John W Campbell Jr's Astounding Science-Fiction (Reynolds was one of several writers who wrote up Campbell's plot ideas). Many of his later works are unashamedly didactic, although not doctrinaire.

Reynolds's first novel, The Case of the Little Green Men (1951), was a murder mystery set at an sf Convention (> Little Green Men). It was to be ten years before he would publish another novel. Although his 1950s work is minor, he served 1953-1963 as foreign correspondent of Rogue magazine, travelling extensively, and began to plough back this experience into more substantial works on socioeconomic themes. Many of the books which appeared prolifically through the 1960s-1970s were expansions and fixups of earlier magazine stories; the tauter magazine texts are usually preferable to the padded-out versions. Planetary Agent X (fixup 1965 dos), the first of several books featuring Section G, shows subversive secret agents of a United Planets Organization working in the cause of socioeconomic progress in the often-eccentric Ultima Thule colony worlds of a Galactic Empire, masking their activities under the nom de guerre Tommy Paine. It was followed by Dawnman Planet (December 1965-January 1966 Analog as "Beehive"; 1966 dos), The Rival Rigelians (August 1960 Astounding/Analog as "Adaptation"; exp 1967 dos), which ironically describes an experiment comparing the methods of US capitalism and Soviet communism in developing a primitive world, Code Duello (1968 dos) and Section G: United Planets (September 1967 Analog as "Fiesta Brava" and "Psi Assassin"; fixup 1976).

Tomorrow Might be Different (November 1960 F&SF as "Russkies Go Home!"; exp 1975) is a Satire in which the USSR has overtaken the USA as the world's leading economy. "Farmer" (June 1961 Galaxy) is the first of three notable stories which Reynolds set in North Africa, each similarly dealing with the problem of fostering economic and technological development in the teeth of cultural inertia. It was followed by the Homer Crawford sequence, the first two volumes of which are Black Man's Burden (December 1961-April 1962 Analog; 1972 dos) and Border, Breed nor Birth (July-August 1962 Analog; 1972 dos), offering entirely serious and constructive versions of Section G-type plots; although they have dated even more quickly than Reynolds's stories about the USSR, the Race in SF issues raised in them (otherwise virtually untouched in sf) remain politically pertinent. The Best Ye Breed (fixup 1978), which incorporates "Black Sheep Astray" (in Astounding, anth 1973, ed Harry Harrison) and a revised version of "The Cold War . . . Continued" (in Nova 3, anth 1973, ed Harry Harrison), extends the series. Day After Tomorrow (August 1961 Analog as "Status Quo"; exp 1976) introduced a status-conscious future USA further elaborated in Mercenary from Tomorrow (April 1962 Analog as "Mercenary"; exp 1968 dos), which became the first of the Joe Mauser series set in a future world in which corporate disputes are settled by pseudo-gladiatorial contests, packaged by the media as entertainment, and involving small professional armies fighting with pre-1900 Weapons (> Games and Sports). Several lines of speculative thought carried forward in the later didactic novels originated in this novella, but the later novels in the series – The Earth War (March-April 1963 Analog as "Frigid Fracas"; 1963), Time Gladiator (October-December 1964 Analog as "Sweet Dreams, Sweet Princes"; exp 1966; rev by Michael A Banks, vt Sweet Dreams, Sweet Princes 1986) and The Fracas Factor (1978) – are routine action-adventure novels. Joe Mauser, Mercenary from Tomorrow (coll 1986) with Banks contains revisions of the earlier items. The Cosmic Eye (January 1963 F&SF as "Speakeasy"; exp 1969) is a less convincing story set in a future USA where free speech is prohibited.

During 1965-1972 Reynolds's work was more determinedly commercial. He continued to write stories around Campbell plot ideas. All involve a good deal of rather slapstick Humour; examples include Amazon Planet (December 1966-February 1967 Analog; Italian trans 1967; 1975) and Brain World (1978). Of Godlike Power (1966; vt Earth Unaware 1968) is a comedy about a preacher whose curses really work. "Romp" (October 1966 Analog) was the first of a group of crime stories reprinted as Police Patrol: 2000 A.D. (fixup 1977). Space Pioneer (1966) and After Some Tomorrow (1967) are undistinguished, but two novels about Computers, Computer War (1967 dos) and The Computer Conspiracy (1968), gained strength from the timeliness of their themes. The final two stories making up The Space Barbarians (fixup 1969 dos) and The Five Way Secret Agent (April-May 1969 Analog; 1975 dos) were the last items Reynolds did for Campbell, and after late 1969 he published virtually no new sf for three years (although he did publish books in other genres).

When his sf career resumed it was with the strikingly different Looking Backward, from the Year 2000 (1973), a reprise of Edward Bellamy's classic Utopian novel, displaying Reynolds's ideas about the Politics and Economics of an energy-affluent society. He was later to add a sequel – Equality: in the Year 2000 (1977) – which borrowed an idea from his earlier Ability Quotient (1975) to subvert the ending of the first book. Reynolds further extrapolated this line of speculation into the increasingly doubt-ridden After Utopia (1977), which incorporates "Utopian" (in The Year 2000, anth 1970, ed Harry Harrison) and Perchance to Dream (1977), although he salvaged a curiously ironic optimism by re-using a deus ex machina first deployed in the earlier Space Visitor (1977). He developed parallel lines of thought in the Bat Hardin sequence – comprising Rolltown (July-September 1969 If as "The Towns Must Roll"; exp 1976), Commune 2000 A.D. (1974) and The Towers of Utopia (1975) – though his lack of serious purpose can be discerned in Rolltown, a title which has everything to do with large mobile homes (> Macrostructures) and nothing to do with Robert A Heinlein's "The Roads Must Roll" (July 1940 Astounding) (see also Edgar Chambless). He also re-used the central characters of The Five Way Secret Agent in more lightweight stories with similar underlying concerns that make up the Lagrange sequence, continuing with Satellite City (1975) and "Of Future Fears" (October-December 1977 Analog), and further expanded in novels about the tribulations of a quasi-utopian colony occupying a Space Habitat at the L5 Lagrange Point: Lagrange Five (1979), The Lagrangists (1983) and Chaos in Lagrangia (1984), The last two were edited by Dean Ing, who went on to prepare for publication several other manuscripts which Reynolds had left behind on his death: Eternity (1984), Home Sweet Home: 2010 A.D. (1984), The Other Time (1984), Trojan Orbit (1985) and Deathwish World (1986). Space Search (1984) is a posthumous work credited to Reynolds alone.

The Best of Mack Reynolds (coll 1976) has an introduction explaining Reynolds's decision to concentrate on sf which speculated on social and economic issues, and reflecting on his travels and the lessons he learned therefrom. Although he was once voted most popular author in a poll run by the Galaxy Science Fiction group of magazines, Reynolds never received the recognition he deserved for the fertility of his distinctive speculative imagination. His ideas were always far more interesting than his plots, and his writing was sometimes unpolished, but at his best he was a skilled craftsman whose attempts to foresee the Near Future were unusually bold, well informed and challenging. In the contrast between the arguments he laid down, and his inadequately subtle use of Genre SF conventions to convey them, he resembles the significantly more competent Mike Resnick. It is a great pity that he had such difficulty in finding publishers willing to put his work into respectable formats. [BS/JC]

see also: Automation; Cities; Cryonics; Future War; Immortality; Keep; Leisure; Religion; Sleeper Awakes; Social Darwinism; Technology; Time Paradoxes.

Dallas McCord Reynolds

born Corcoran, California: 11 November 1917

died San Luis Potosi, Mexico: 30 January 1983

works

series

Joe Mauser

United Planets

  • Planetary Agent Xsfgateway.com (New York: Ace Books, 1965) [bound together with The Rival Rigelians below, with separate title pages and pagination: United Planets: pb/Jack Gaughan]
  • Dawnman Planetsfgateway.com (New York: Ace Books, 1966) [bound together with Depression or Bust (see under individual titles below), with separate title pages and pagination: first appeared December 1965-January 1966 Analog as "Beehive": United Planets: pb/Chris Foss]
  • The Rival Rigelians (New York: Ace Books, 1967) [bound together with Planetary Agent X above, with separate title pages and pagination: first appeared August 1960 Astounding/Analog as "Adaptation"; United Planets: pb/Peter Michael]
  • Code Duellosfgateway.com (New York: Ace Books, 1968) [dos: United Planets: pb/Kelly Freas]
  • Urania #471 (Milan, Italy: Mondadori, 1967) [first appeared December 1966-February 1967 Analog: Italian publication is first book form: United Planets: pb/Karel Thole]
    • Amazon Planetsfgateway.com (New York: Ace Books, 1975) [English text of above: United Planets: pb/uncredited]
  • Tomorrow Might be Different (New York: Ace Books, 1975) [short version first appeared November 1960 F&SF as "Russkies Go Home!": United Planets: pb/]
  • Section G: United Planetssfgateway.com (New York: Ace Books, 1975) [fixup: September and December 1967 Analog as "Fiesta Brava" and "Psi Assassin": United Planets: pb/Alex Ebel]
  • Brain Worldsfgateway.com (New York: Leisure Books, 1978) [United Planets: pb/Attila Hejja]

Homer Crawford

Julian West

Lagrange

Bat Hardin

individual titles

collections and stories

works as editor

about the author

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