Lowndes, Robert A W

Tagged: Author | Editor

(1916-1998) US author and editor, often referred to as "Doc" Lowndes, a member of the Futurians fan group and collaborator on several stories with other members of the group under the names Arthur Cooke, S D Gottesman, Paul Dennis Lavond and Lawrence Woods. After a spoof article, "Report of the Plutonian Ambassador by Sir Doc Lowndes" (September 1935 Wonder Stories) – appearing in the magazine's letter column and not its contents list – his first sf story was "The Outpost at Altark" for Super Science Stories in November 1940 with fellow-Futurian Donald A Wollheim, uncredited. For his solo work in the early 1940s Lowndes used the names Carol Grey, Mallory Kent, Wilfred Owen Morley and Richard Morrison; later he added Carl Groener, Robert Morrison, Michael Sherman, Peter Michael Sherman, J K Stuart and Jay Tyler, and once collaborated with James Blish as John MacDougal.

Among other journals, Lowndes edited Future Fiction and Science Fiction Quarterly for Columbia Publications from early 1941 until their demise in 1943, and again throughout their shoestring revival in the early 1950s under various titles. He also edited Dynamic Science Fiction (1952-1954) and Science Fiction Stories (1954-1955) for Columbia Publications, continuing to edit the latter under its new name, The Original Science Fiction Stories, from 1955 until the chain folded in 1960, when after a gap he began editing for Health Knowledge Inc. He gradually added a number of fantasy magazines to the latter publisher's line, including The Magazine of Horror in 1963, Startling Mystery Stories in 1966, Famous Science Fiction in 1966 (until it folded in 1969), Weird Terror Tales in 1969 and Bizarre Fantasy Tales in 1970, but any journals became defunct in 1970. He was also the editor of the Avalon Books sf line 1955-1967, where he published The Duplicated Man (August 1953 Dynamic SF as by James Blish and Michael Sherman; 1959) with James Blish, in which a Matter Duplicator creates numerous versions of individual characters; the hectic action-adventure outcome of this perplex exposes the authors' unease with their concept – according to Lowndes, the original form of the tale was the first full-length fiction either had attempted.

Lowndes also produced three solo novels: The Mystery of the Third Mine (1953), which is a juvenile, The Puzzle Planet (1961) and Believers' World (September 1952 Space Science Fiction as "A Matter of Faith" as by Michael Sherman; exp 1961); in the third and most interesting of these, also published by Avalon during his editorship there, inhabitants of three lost colony worlds in the same solar system (subject to a special kind of Time Distortion) have developed an eccentric Religion. His best short stories are H P Lovecraft-like items such as "The Abyss" (February 1941 Stirring Science Stories) and "The Leapers" (December 1942 Future as by Carol Grey; rev vt "Leapers" September 1968 Magazine of Horror). His literary columns from Famous Science Fiction were assembled as Three Faces of Science Fiction (coll 1973 chap), and he later edited the posthumous The Best of James Blish (coll 1979). «Orchids for Doc: The Literary Adventures and Autobiography of Robert A. W. "Doc" Lowndes» with Jeffrey M Elliott was scheduled for publication by the Borgo Press as long ago as 1993, but though rescheduled at least once has not appeared. The Gernsback Days: The Evolution of Modern Science Fiction from 1911 to 1936 (2004) with Mike Ashley was also originally scheduled from the same press. [BS/PN/JC]

Robert Augustine Ward Lowndes

born Bridgeport, Connecticut: 4 September 1916

died Newport, Rhode Island: 14 July 1998

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nonfiction

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