Robeson, Kenneth

Tagged: Author | House name

A House Name for authors writing the Doc Savage series as it appeared 1933-1949 in Doc Savage magazine, published by Street & Smith. The Robeson name is most strongly associated with Lester Dent, who wrote all but 43 of the Doc Savage stories; other authors involved in that initial run included William G Bogart, Harold A Davis, Laurence Donovan, Alan Hathaway and W Ryerson Johnson. Three stories – The Man of Bronze: Doc Savage and his Pals in a Novel of Unusual Adventure (1933; vt Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze 1964), The Land of Terror (1933; vt Doc Savage: The Land of Terror 1965) and The Quest of the Spider (1933; vt Doc Savage: The Quest of the Spider 1972) – were early published in book form. Three decades later the series was brought to life again when Bantam Books began their republication of the entire run in book form. Variously released as individual titles or in omnibus format, the sequence began with the first title above listed, Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze, in 1964 and ended, complete, 182 stories later with Doc Savage Omnibus #13 (omni 1990). An entirely new sequence was then initiated in 1991, with Will Murray (whom see for further titles) writing as Robeson: this sequence begins with Doc Savage: Python Isle (1991).

The enormously wealthy Doc Savage – headquartered in a fantasticated New York with his five sidekicks, who specialize in various crafts and sciences at the borderline of sf – devotes his life to combating criminal conspiracies, almost all masterminded by the kind of charismatic villain later given definitive form by Ian Fleming in the James Bond books. Doc Savage himself clearly influenced the creation of Superman, and stands at the heart of Philip José Farmer's Wold Newton Family sequence, either in his own name or disguised, with two titles – Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life (1973; rev 1975) and Doc Savage: Escape from Loki (1991) – devoted directly to him. As the original Doc Savage tales are of only peripheral sf interest, we do not list them. R Reginald's Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature: A Checklist, 1700-1974 (1979) provides coverage of the book reprints to the end of 1974; and Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature, 1975-1991: A Bibliography (1992), by Reginald with Darryl F Mallett and Mary Wickizer Burgess (1938-    ), gives a more complete analysis of the entire run.

The House Name Robeson was used also on the Pulp magazine The Avenger, another Street and Smith crime-busting hero series, with rather fewer sf elements. This was an attempt to cash in on the popularity of the Doc Savage stories. Most of the Avenger series (many also reprinted as paperback books in the 1970s) were the work of Paul Ernst; the final dozen titles of the 1970s run, from The Man from Atlantis (1974) on, were newly written by Ron Goulart. Other writers associated with the Kenneth Robeson name were Norman A Danburg and Emile C Tepperman. [JC/PN]

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