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Chappell, Fred

Entry updated 3 February 2024. Tagged: Author.

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(1936-2024) US academic, poet and author who published some early amateur fiction in Robert Silverberg's Fanzine Spaceship 1952-1953. Most of his work within the water margins of Fantastika adheres to the broad remit of the weird, though his best-known novel Dagon (1968) carries its doomed protagonist into the sway of an idiot deity whose gaze – "the god was omnipotent but did not possess intelligence" – and constitutes a prolepsis of things to come (see Cthulhu Mythos; Horror in SF) [for Weird Fiction see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below]. Set in the eponymous medieval castle, Castle Tzingal (1984 chap) is a book-length poem containing integrated tales of its confabulating inhabitants, as told by a supervising homunculus (see Poetry).

Chappell's most sustained prose work, the Greensboro sequence beginning with I Am One of You Forever (1985), is a regional Bildungsroman set in rural North Carolina, into the reminiscential course of which are interweaved tales of legends and surreal lore; less exorbitant than Donald Harington's long sequence of Stay More tales, it shares with that wilder sequence what in sf terms might readily be described as a Sense of Wonder at the world. A Shadow All of Light (2016) is a fantasy novel which – as often in Chappell's work – consists of interwoven tales, through the course of which an apprentice figure learns his trade and some deeper secrets from the shadow thief who dominates the narrative; some moving echoes of Fritz Leiber and Jack Vance are gracefully absorbed. He won two World Fantasy Awards for short fiction in 1992 and 1994. [JC]

Fred Davis Chappell

born Canton, North Carolina: 28 May 1936

died Greensboro, North Carolina: 5 January 2024

works (selected)



individual titles

  • The Inkling (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1965) [hb/Anita Walker Scott]
  • Dagon (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1968) [hb/Richard Bennett]
  • Castle Tzingal: A Poem (Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Louisiana State University Press, 1984) [poem: chap: hb/Albert Crochet]
  • A Shadow All of Light (New York: Tor, 2016) [fixup: hb/Sam Weber]

collections and stories


previous versions of this entry

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