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Comfort, Alex

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1920-2000) UK medical doctor, poet and author of significant popular work in the fields of sexology and gerontology, being perhaps best known for The Joy of Sex (1972; frequently revised), many of whose interior illustrations were by Chris Foss. Before World War Two he established an extremely precocious reputation for his poetry and fiction, and for the pacifism he espoused rigorously during the years of conflict (later, in 1961, in connection with the Committee of 100, an offshoot of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament founded with Bertrand Russell and others, he was briefly imprisoned). One early novel, No Such Liberty (1941), edges into parable in its description of the wartime internment of Germans (see World War Two); Cities of the Plain: A Democratic Melodrama (1943) is an anti-capitalist Dystopian play; Tetrarch (1980), a fantasy, takes its protagonists magically into a political and sexual Utopia named Los, where they must find their true shapes; and Imperial Patient (1987) infuses a tale of the emperor Nero with mythical elements.

Comfort's first genuine sf novel, Come Out to Play (1961), is a near-future Satire on scientism narrated by a smug sexologist, whose Invention – a potent sexual disinhibitor jokingly called 3-blindmycin (see Drugs) – is accidentally released over Buckingham Palace at the Slingshot Ending, presumably causing the English to act differently than before. The Philosophers (1989), set in a Near-Future UK, savages a decrepit Tory hegemony. [JC]

Alexander Comfort

born London: 10 February 1920

died Banbury, Oxfordshire: 26 March 2000

works (selected)


works as editor

  • C F Ramuz. The Triumph of Death (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1946) [rev, with Allan Ross MacDougall, of MacDougall's trans of Présence de la Mort (1922; trans as The End of All Men 1944): hb/]


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