Young, Robert F

Tagged: Author

(1915-1986) US author who turned full-time after engaging in a number of menial occupations. His first sf story was "The Black Deep Thou Wingest" for Startling Stories in June 1953, and he published short work quite prolifically for the next three decades. Young was a slick, polished writer; his stories are readable, often superficial, but the best of them have some of the emotional force of the work of Ray Bradbury, Robert Nathan or Theodore Sturgeon, all of whom seem to have influenced him. The best generally appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, although he wrote also for most of the American sf magazines and for the Saturday Evening Post and others. His modes ranged from the heavily satiric – typified by a series of stories, "Chrome Pastures" (April 1956 If), "Thirty Days Had September" (October 1957 F&SF) and "Romance in a Twenty-First Century Used-Car Lot" (November 1960 F&SF), in which the American automobile mania is extrapolated to absurd extremes (see Transportation) – to the strongly allegorical, in such tales as "Goddess in Granite" (September 1957 F&SF); but his romantic sensibility, at rare intervals mawkish, permeated all his work, as in the emotive Time Travel tale "The Dandelion Girl" (1 April 1961 Saturday Evening Post). His earlier stories were assembled in The Worlds of Robert F. Young (coll 1965), A Glass of Stars (coll 1968) and The House That Time Forgot and Other Stories: The Best of Robert F Young, Volume 1 (coll 2011); the numerous tales published after 1968 remain uncollected.

After a novel released only in French, La Quête de la Sainte Grille (December 1964 Amazing as "The Quest of the Holy Grille"; exp 1975), Young published in Starfinder (fixup 1980) a stirringly romantic Space Opera whose main device – riding to the Stars within the bodies of dead "space whales" – is powerfully evocative; it is by far his best novel in English. The Last Yggdrasil (July 1959 F&SF as "To Fell a Tree"; exp 1982), an over-extended novel version of a strong story, seems sentimental in contrast, failing to impart much plausibility to the story of a tree-cutter on a colony planet who is hired to kill the one huge remaining tree in the area, to the entirely predictable devastation of the planet's Ecology; the resemblance to James Cameron's Avatar (2009) may be coincidental. Young's final novels – Eridahn (December 1964 If as "When Time was New"; exp 1983), which features Time Travel into prehistory, and The Vizier's Second Daughter (August 1965 Amazing as "City of Brass"; exp 1985), a humorous fantasy – neither built nor detracted from his reputation. He will be best remembered for some of the acerbic short tales of his early career. [MJE/JC]

see also: Amazing Stories; Messiahs; Psychology; Robots.

Robert Franklin Young

born Silver Creek, New York: 8 June 1915

died Silver Creek, New York: 22 June 1986

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