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D'Ammassa, Don

Entry updated 27 February 2023. Tagged: Author.

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(1946-    ) US critic and author who has until recently been best known over the past three decades or so for his very numerous reviews, in Science Fiction Chronicle and elsewhere; his work – usually couched in long-capsule form – is noted for its fairness and generosity, and for the extremely wide range of texts he has covered. His Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (2005), which clearly draws on this vast repertory in its coverage of about 500 authors, can be seen as a culmination of his efforts, as can two following volumes, Encyclopedia of Fantasy and Horror Fiction (2006) and Encyclopedia of Adventure Fiction (2009); the emphasis is, wherever plausible, on Young Adult titles from about 1970 on.

D'Ammassa began writing fiction of genre interest with "Automatic Success" in Fifty Extremely SF* Stories (anth 1982) edited by Michael Bastraw; most of his hundred or so short stories are horror, with an emphasis on the supernatural expression of psychical states, as in "Context" (in Souls in Pawn, anth 1992, ed George Hatch), whose protagonist is haunted – rather like the protagonist of "The Jolly Corner" (December 1908 English Review) by Henry James (1843-1916) – by his double who, in contrast to his "victim", has made all the right decisions in his Alternate History version of the same life. Most of his novels, beginning with Blood Beast (fixup 1995), have a similar impact. Scarab (2004), on the other hand, is a detective novel set in the Far Future on a planet very distant from Earth, where a serial killer is at loose.

D'Ammassa's later novels convey a sense that he is systematically traversing the worlds of twentieth century sf in order to pay tribute from a more recent perspective to the worlds and modes typical of the form. Sinking Island (2015), for instance, homages the Lost World novel; and Haven (2015) and Wormdance (2015) are both set on other planets (see Colonization of Other Worlds), where mysteries and Aliens complicate human lives. D'Ammassa has also written nonfantastic thrillers [not listed below]. [JC]

see also: FAAn Awards.

Donald Eugene D'Ammassa

born Providence, Rhode Island: 24 April 1946

works (selected)


Sandor Dyle

  • Scarab (Waterville, Maine: Five Star Books, 2004) [Sandor Dyle: hb/Alan M Clark]
  • Narcissus (Waterville, Maine: Five Star, 2007) [Sandor Dyle: hb/Alan M Clark]

Wanda Coyne

  • The Maltese Gargoyle (East Providence, Rhode Island: Managansett Press, 2015) [Wanda Coyne: pb/Don D'Ammassa]

individual titles

collections and stories



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