Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.
Pseudonym of Boyd Bradfield Upchurch (1919-2013), US sf author employed 1947-1971 as a production manager and salesman for the Star Engraving Company, and active in the sf field for a decade following publication of his first novel, The Last Starship From Earth (1968), during which period he published thirteen novels and just one short sf story, "The Girl and the Dolphin" (March 1973 Galaxy). The Last Starship From Earth, which received considerable critical acclaim, remains his most highly regarded work. A complex tale told with baroque vigour, a Dystopia, an Alternate-History story, a Space Opera with Time-Travel components making it impossible to say which of various spaceships actually is the last to leave Earth, and in what sense "last" is intended, the book is a bravura and knowing traversal of sf protocols. The protagonist, sent from a stratified Dystopian Earth to the Prison planet Hell for machiavellian reasons, ends up travelling through time, making sure Jesus Christ terminates his career this time at the age of 33, which will eliminate the dystopia by changing the future into ours; he becomes, in the end, the Wandering Jew, making his way home by simply living through the intervening millennia.
None of Boyd's subsequent novels – some of which are abundantly inventive – made anything like the impression of this first effort, though they are not inconsiderable. The Rakehells of Heaven (1969), The Pollinators of Eden (1969) and Sex and the High Command (1970) all deal amusingly and variously with sexual matters (see Sex), as does his last novel, The Girl with the Jade Green Eyes (1978; rev 1979), and are full of rewarding hypotheses about the cultural forms human nature might find itself involved in. Some later novels, like Andromeda Gun (1974), a perfunctory comic novel involving a parasitic Alien in the Old West (incognito aliens were a favourite with Boyd), show some reduction of creative energy, though Barnard's Planet (1975) evinced a partial recovery; it deals with some of the same issues as his first novel and with some of the same verve. The feeling remains that Boyd had a larger talent than he allowed himself to reveal in his relatively short career, and that carelessness about quality sometimes badly muffled the effect of his wide inventiveness. He did publish a detective story, "Slaughter in the Street" for Detective World in 1950, plus two non-fantastic novels and one nonfiction work as by Boyd Upchurch [all listed below]; it may be that further work, perhaps under other names, remains unregistered. There is, all the same, no sign of any significant publication since the late 1970s. [JC]
see also: Ecology; Under the Sea.
Boyd Bradfield Upchurch
born Atlanta, Georgia: 3 October 1919
died Atlanta, Georgia: 8 June 2013
- The Last Starship From Earth (New York: Weybright and Talley, 1968) [hb/Paul Lehr]
- The Slave Stealer (New York: Weybright and Talley, 1968) as Boyd Upchurch [not sf: hb/Paul Lehr]
- The Rakehells of Heaven (New York: Weybright and Talley, 1969) [hb/Paul Lehr]
- The Pollinators of Eden (New York: Weybright and Talley, 1969) [hb/Paul Lehr]
- Sex and the High Command (New York: Weybright and Talley, 1970) [hb/Paul Lehr]
- The Organ Bank Farm (New York: Weybright and Talley, 1970) [hb/Paul Lehr]
- The IQ Merchant (New York: Weybright and Talley, 1972) [hb/Paul Lehr]
- The Gorgon Festival (New York: Weybright and Talley, 1972) [hb/Paul Lehr]
- The Doomsday Gene (New York: Weybright and Talley, 1973) [first appeared May/June-July/August 1973 Galaxy: hb/Sanford Kossin]
- Andromeda Gun (New York: Berkley Publishing Corp, 1974) [hb/Paul Lehr]
- Barnard's Planet (New York: Berkley Publishing Corp, 1975) [hb/Paul Lehr]
- Scarborough Hall (New York: Berkley Publishing Corp, 1976) as Boyd Upchurch [not sf: pb/McCallum]
- The Girl with the Jade Green Eyes (New York: Viking Press, 1978) [hb/Lynda West]
- The Girl with the Jade Green Eyes (Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1979) [rev of the above: pb/Peter Cross]
- Behind Every Bush (Los Angeles, California: Seville Publishing Co, 1979) as Boyd Upchurch, with Richard H Ichord [nonfiction: hb/]
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