Biggle, Lloyd, Jr

Tagged: Author

(1923-2002) US author and musicologist, with a PhD in musicology from the University of Michigan on the music of the medieval Flemish composer Antoine Brumel. His interest in Music and the other Arts, perhaps watered down more than necessary in an effort to make such concerns palatable to his readers, can be detected throughout his sf, which he began to publish with "Gypped" for Galaxy in July 1956. His first novel, The Angry Espers (August 1959 Amazing as "A Taste of Fire"; rev with cuts restored 1961 dos), features an Earthman involved in complicated adventures on an alien planet dominated by Psi Powers, and sets the tone for much of his subsequent work as an author of Space Operas. The Jan Darzek sequence – All the Colors of Darkness (1963), Watchers of the Dark (1966), This Darkening Universe (1975), Silence is Deadly (October 1957 If; much exp and rev 1977) (> Death Rays) and The Whirligig of Time (1979) – recounts the adventures of a late-twentieth-century private eye who becomes involved in adventures made possible by Matter Transmission, from investigating Aliens sabotaging Earth's matter transmitters to chairing the Council of Supreme, which itself governs the home galaxy; by the third volume he is pitted against the inimical Udef, a Dark Force destroying civilization after civilization in the Smaller Magellanic Cloud.

A similarly palatable galaxy (Biggle's clearest affinity in his novels is to writers like Murray Leinster) provides a backdrop and sounding board for the Cultural Survey featured in The Still, Small Voice of Trumpets (April 1961 Analog as "Still, Small Voice"; exp 1968) and The World Menders (1971). Monument (June 1961 Analog; exp 1974) is an effective space-opera parable about Imperialism, through the posthumous triumph of the protagonist – a rogue bureaucrat typical of Biggle's vision of the Competent Man – who successfully trains an entire planet to cope with the oncoming wave of hi-tech galactic civilization and exploitation. He wrote only one more singleton, The Chronocide Mission (2002), about involuntary Time Travel into another time and other Dimensions where a Post-Holocaust situation exists. Selections of Biggle's stories, most of which are competent but undemanding, appear in The Rule of the Door and Other Fanciful Regulations (coll 1967; vt Out of the Silent Sky 1977; vt The Silent Sky 1979), The Metallic Muse (coll 1972), which contains some of his best Music-related tales, and A Galaxy of Strangers (coll 1976).

As a writer of Space Opera, Biggle is seldom less than relaxed and entertaining; it may be intellectual snobbery to ask for anything more, but his stories do often convey the sense of an unrealized greater potential, and he cannot be thought of as part of the succession of writers who explored and fully exploited the Space Opera form after about 1970 or so; Orson Scott Card persuasively argues his merits in his introduction to The Tunesmith (August 1957 If; 1991 chap dos), and there is no doubt he had a winning capacity to dramatize the kind of tale young readers would find formative. Biggle was an active member of the Science Fiction Writers of America from its inception, serving as its founding Secretary-Treasurer (1965-1967), and Chairman of the Board of Trustees (1978-1971); he edited Nebula Award Stories Seven (anth 1972); but more importantly in the end (as the SFWA was in competent hands and flourished) was his founding of the Science Fiction Oral History Association, which he led, often single-handedly, until his death [see nonfiction Checklist below]. [JC]

see also: ESP; Evolution; Fermi Paradox; Memory Edit; Nebula; Pastoral; Social Darwinism.

Lloyd Biggle Jr

born Waterloo, Iowa: 17 April 1923

died Ann Arbor, Michigan: 12 September 2002

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Jan Darzek

Cultural Survey

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