McAllister, Bruce

Tagged: Author | Editor

(1946-    ) US academic, editor and author, director of the creative-writing programme at the University of Redlands, California, and Professor of English there from 1983 until his retirement in 1997. He has written at least eighty stories since starting to publish sf in July 1963 with "The Faces Outside" (for If), which after many years was assembled, along with a representative sample of his short work, as The Girl Who Loved Animals and Other Stories (coll 2007). "The Boy" (in New Worlds 10, anth 1976, ed Hilary Bailey) – a peculiarly revolting, skilful tale of the entropic life of a reconstructed Peter Pan and Wendy on a less than utopian Island – is an exercise about, and to some extent in, literary sadism, which at the same time gives exemplary form to his ongoing obsessions with psychic and physical entrapment and with the alienation of human beings in worlds they have not made. His first novel, Humanity Prime (1971), which takes some material from "The Faces Outside" and was used as his thesis for an MFA degree in creative writing, ingeniously depicts the complex Under the Sea world of the planet Prime, where humans have, after 3000 years, become deeply adapted to their aquatic life; they cope with both the demented Cyborg Starship that brought them there and an incursion of reptile-like Aliens. His second novel, the elegant and incandescent Dream Baby (in The Field of Fire, anth 1987, ed Jack Dann and Jeanne Van Buren Dann; exp 1989), is set in Vietnam during the darkest years of US involvement there, and recounts the long excruciation of a nurse whose paranormal power (she has Precognitive dreams about the deaths of soldiers: the title is in the imperative voice) leads her, under the control of a secret military unit, into the heart of the darkness. This novel, and some of his other work from the 1970s on, are significant examples of Feminist writing from that period. The Village Sang to the Sea: A Memoir of Magic (fixup 2013) is a meditative Magic Realist coming-of-age tale set in Italy.

McAllister edited SF Directions (anth 1973 New Zealand), the special sf issue of the journal Edge (Autumn/Winter 1973), which comprised a sizeable anthology of original stories, and the fine Their Immortal Hearts: Three Visions of Time (anth 1980), to which he contributed the title novella. Because his first novel was published in a dying series (it was a late Ace Special), because his second novel speaks unrelentingly of painful matters, and because his shorter work remained scattered until late in his career, McAllister continued to be relatively obscure long past the point at which he should have attained considerable prominence, though from about 2000 he has become conspicuously recognized, once again, for short fiction like "The Boy in Zaquitos" (January 2006 F&SF), Kin (February 2006 Asimov's; 2007 ebook), and "The Courtship of the Queen" (2010 Tor.com). [JC]

see also: Future War; Immortality.

Bruce Hugh McAllister

born Baltimore, Maryland: 17 October 1946

died

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