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Brosnan, John

Entry updated 21 August 2023. Tagged: Author.

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(1947-2005) Australian author and journalist, resident for many years in the UK, a one-time prominent member of Ratfandom. He was known for his writing on genre films some time before he began publishing sf in any quantity. His books on Cinema include James Bond in the Cinema (1972), Movie Magic: The Story of Special Effects in the Cinema (1974), The Horror People (1976), Future Tense: The Cinema of Science Fiction (1978), The Primal Screen: A History of Science Fiction Film (1991) and Scream: The Unofficial Guide to the Scream Trilogy (2000); the first three and the last relate peripherally to sf, and the fifth is in effect a light-hearted update and rewrite of the fourth. Brosnan wrote most of the film entries in the 1979 edition of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction; he also contributed film columns to Science Fiction Monthly and Starburst and was for some time the lead book reviewer for the UK horror magazine The Dark Side. As a film critic, he was essentially an informed appreciator; he did not attempt to forward his own ideas on the nature of the art.

Brosnan's first sf was "Conversation on a Starship in Warp-Drive" (in Antigrav, anth 1975, ed Philip Strick). His books under his own name begin with the adventure novels, Skyship (1981) – a Technothriller featuring a giant, nuclear-powered Airship – and The Midas Deep (1983). He then went on to publish the first of his pseudonymous novels, most written in partnership with Leroy Kettle [see Checklist below]. These written equivalents of exploitation movies are slightly self-mocking but quite exciting as examples of Horror in SF; all are variants on the humans-being-destroyed-by-monstrous-things theme. Those as by Harry Adam Knight include Slimer (1983), filmed as Proteus (1995); Carnosaur (1984) by Brosnan alone, filmed as Carnosaur (1993); The Fungus (1985; vt Death Spore 1990); and Bedlam (1992), filmed as Beyond Bedlam (1994). Those as by Simon Ian Childer are Tendrils (1986) and, by Brosnan alone, Worm (1987; 1988 US as by Harry Adam Knight). The acronyms formed by these pseudonyms, HAK and SIC, were no accident. Torched (1986) with John Baxter, writing together as James Blackstone, is about spontaneous combustion. As John Raymond, Brosnan also novelized a number of television scripts, none of genre interest.

Brosnan reserved his own name for a more ambitious work, the Sky Lords trilogy: The Sky Lords (1988), War of the Sky Lords (1989) and The Fall of the Sky Lords (1991). These novels consist of fast-moving adventure in a Post-Holocaust society (after the Gene Wars), remorselessly evoking another sf trope every time the action flags – everything from mile-long dirigible Airships to Computer guardians of ancient civilizations. The Opoponax Invasion (1993), in which Aliens invade the Net, makes similar use of Genetic Engineering and Nanotechnology, in a scattershot chase tale through Cyberspace and elsewhere, with a fertility (and sometimes pointlessness) of allusions both to sf literature and cinema that were perhaps Brosnan's greatest strength and most revealing weakness. In the end, he gave readers a considerable amount of unfocused pleasure.

The short Travis Thomson sequence, comprising Damned & Fancy (1995) and Have Demon, Will Travel (1996), is broadly comic Fantasy. [PN/JC/DRL]

see also: Eaton Award; Nova Awards.

John Raymond Brosnan

born Perth, Western Australia: 7 October 1947

died Harrow, Greater London: probably 8 April 2005 [body discovered 11 April 2005]



Sky Lords

Travis Thomson

  • Damned & Fancy (London: Random House/Legend, 1995) [Travis Thomson: pb/Stephen Lee]
  • Have Demon, Will Travel (London: Random House/Legend, 1996) [publisher given as Arrow on spine: Travis Thomson: pb/Paul Sample]

individual titles

  • Skyship (London: Hamlyn, 1981) [pb/uncredited]
  • The Midas Deep (London: Hamlyn, 1983) [pb/]
  • Slimer (London: W H Allen/Star, 1983) with Leroy Kettle, writing together as by Harry Adam Knight [pb/]
  • Carnosaur (London: W H Allen/Star, 1984) as by Harry Adam Knight [pb/]
  • The Fungus (London: W H Allen/Star, 1985) with Leroy Kettle, writing together as by Harry Adam Knight [pb/uncredited]
    • Death Spore (New York: Zebra/Pinnacle, 1990) with Leroy Kettle, writing together as by Harry Adam Knight [vt of the above: pb/]
  • Torched (London: Grafton, 1986) with John Baxter, writing together as by James Blackstone [pb/]
  • Bedlam (London: Victor Gollancz, 1992) with Leroy Kettle, writing together as by Harry Adam Knight [hb/Tom Stimpson]
  • Tendrils (London: Grafton, 1986) with Leroy Kettle, writing together as Simon Ian Childer [pb/Alan Hood]
  • Worm (London: Grafton, 1987) as by Simon Ian Childer [pb/Alun Hood]
    • Worm (New York: Bart, 1989) as by Harry Adam Knight [pseudonym differs: pb/]
  • The Opoponax Invasion (London: Victor Gollancz, 1993) [pb/Peter Mennim]
  • Mothership (London: Gollancz, 2004) [pb/Emma Wallace]



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