(1928-2020) UK author who initially studied art at the University of Durham and worked as a graphic designer 1955-1968, then as a film scriptwriter. His first sf novel, Fade-Out (1975; exp 1977), after the fashion of borderline works like Fail-Safe (13-27 October 1962 Saturday Evening Post; 1962) by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler, concentrates long-windedly on the workings of government and military in a Technothriller context, in this instance displaced sf-wards by the fact that the action is occasioned by an Alien landing which damps out all electromagnetic impulses (see UFOs). In Mission (1981) Christ returns to contemporary New York, bearing with him the news that His crucifixion was one small event in a long Space-Opera conflict between the Ain-folk and the evil Brax. A later novel, Star Wartz: Tales of Adventure from the Rimworld (1995), spoofs space-opera tropes, including some deliberately confusing consequences of ill-considered Teleportation.
The Amtrak Wars sequence – beginning with The Amtrak Wars #1: Cloud Warrior (1983) and ending with Earth-Thunder (1990) – more vividly sets primitive Mutes against the blindly technocratic Amtrak Federation in a Post-Holocaust America; as the sequence develops, and the landscape begins to take on Ruined Earth contours, the Libertarian premises that fuel the initial volumes become less dominant as the geopolitical realities governing the land become increasingly complex; the fulfilment of the revelatory Talisman Prophecy – though constantly deferred – gives succeeding books an increasing momentum. Dark Visions: An Illustrated Guide to the Amtrak Wars (1984 chap), with Fernando Fernandez, provides a useful orientation. The sequence, clearly incomplete at the end of the final published volume, was one of the most compelling sf-adventure series of the decade. [JC]
born Southend, Essex: 4 July 1928
died 25 May 2020
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