(1950- ) US author who began publishing sf with "Side Effect" for Unearth in Summer 1977. His first novel, Forbidden Sanctuary (1982), treats a ticklish theological problem – whether an Alien whose possession of a soul is moot can claim sanctuary in a church – with due regard for the likely Roman Catholic view on the issue (see Religion). Replica (1986), a political thriller also set in the Near Future, not entirely convincingly depicts an American President replaced by his double, but Marlborough Street (1987), a Fantasy about a man with Psi Powers, is of considerably greater interest, and Dover Beach (1987), set in Post-Holocaust Boston and the UK a generation or so after World War Three has set off a Nuclear Winter, is even more substantial. The protagonist of the book – that he is a scientist/detective obsessed by genre thrillers from before the holocaust does not seriously detract from the tale – serves as an effective mirror of our state, reflecting the new world complexly and with wit. The title – it is that of Matthew Arnold's 1867 poem about the loss of faith in a world which has darkened and "where ignorant armies clash by night" – strikes an appropriate note. There is some sense that Bowker's liking for thriller modes – his next novel, Summit (1989), is an espionage thriller involving yet another psychic – may have consorted uneasily with his gift for the elegiac anatomy of individuals and their worlds; he has not remained active in the field. [JC]
see also: Androids.
Richard John Bowker
born Brighton, Massachusetts: 15 August 1950
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