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Davies, L P

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1914-1988) UK author – in the Canaries from the mid-1970s – who worked also as a pharmacist and as a painter. His consistently borderline sf often permits a delusional-frame interpretation of the events it depicts, so that frequently it is difficult to distinguish among the genres he utilizes, which include Horror, Fantasy, suspense thriller and sf. Along with John Blackburn and John Lymington, both of whose writing his sometimes resembles, Davies has in a sense founded a new generic amalgam: tales whose slippage among various genres is in itself a characteristic point of narrative interest, with the reader kept constantly in suspense about the generic nature of any climaxes or explanations to be presented.

Davies began publishing sf with "The Wall of Time" as by Leslie Vardre for London Mystery Selection in June 1960, and published fiction under a number of further pseudonyms, including Leo Barne, Robert Blake, Richard Bridgeman, Morgan Evans, Ian Jefferson, Lawrence Peters, Thomas Phillips, G K Thomas and Rowland Welch.

His first novel, The Paper Dolls (1964), sets a mystery involving Telepathy between quadruplets – resulting from the kind of Nazi experiment John Blackburn also specialized in depicting – and murder in the depths of the English countryside, a venue he used frequently. This novel was televised as "Paper Dolls" (21 November 1968), a segment of the mostly supernatural UK Hammer Films Television Anthology Series Journey to the Unknown (1968-1969). Man Out of Nowhere (1965; vt Who Is Lewis Pinder? 1966) and The Artificial Man (1965) can both be read as delusional-frame tales; the latter, about a Near-Future secret agent immured in a "fake" English village while his unconscious is probed, was made into the film Project X (1968), not to be confused with Project X (1987). The Alien (1968; vt The Groundstar Conspiracy 1972), filmed as The Groundstar Conspiracy (1972), about a hospital patient who claims Amnesia and may be an Alien (but in the film proves not to be), evokes fairly palely Algis Budrys's seminal Who (1958). Davies's subsequent novels were, as to genre, variously marketed, but they share an ambivalence in the way they can be read, an occasional glibness of effect, and narrative skill.

The posthumous collection Shadows Before: The London Mystery Stories of L.P. Davies (coll 2021 2vols), edited by David Balfour, includes the above-cited "The Wall of Time" in its first volume. [JC/DRL]

see also: Psychology.

Leslie Purnell Davies

born Crewe, Cheshire: 20 October 1914

died Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife: 6 January 1988




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