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Denton, Bradley

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1958-    ) US author who began publishing sf with "The Music of the Spheres" in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in March 1984, and who caused some impact in the field with his first novel, Wrack & Roll (1986), a contemporary Alternate-History tale which portrays heavy-metal musicians as the Heroes they might dream of being in a world absolutely divided between the "straight" majority and the anti-authoritarian "wrackers", who are defined by their Music. Denton displays an impressive feel for the sustaining myths of heavy metal in his depiction of the wrackers, whose random violence and passion for life are set against the sterility and genocidal tendencies of the straight world as nuclear war approaches. Buddy Holly Is Alive and Well on Ganymede (1991) deploys the same range of knowledge with more feeling, deeper nostalgia, and an improved control of narrative; this novel won a John W Campbell Memorial Award. Blackburn (1993), a horror novel featuring a serial killer with whom it is possible to empathize (though not to defend), is a maturely controlled fable of America.

Denton's short stories are generally contemporary fantasies with a moral twist, like "The Calvin Coolidge Home for Dead Comedians" (June 1988 F&SF), a fable which attacks the sterile blindness of many Christian conceptions of heaven (see Religion). This became the title story of The Calvin Coolidge Home for Dead Comedians (coll 1994); some stories from this volume, plus some from A Conflagration Artist (coll 1994) (the two volumes were jointly issued) were assembled with new material as One Day Closer to Death: Eight Stabs at Immortality (coll 1998). "Sergeant Chip" (September 2004 F&SF), which won the 2005 Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, was much lauded for its portrait of a sentient dog fighting as a soldier in a Future War; it was reprinted in Sergeant Chip and Other Novellas (coll 2014) with two fantasy tales. Laughin' Boy (2005) reads like a twenty-first-century attempt to recapture late twentieth-century sf takes on the Near Future: but though the Satire on America seems occasionally belated, Denton's sense of the pathologies and disarray of the end times in which we live is of constant interest. [NT/JC]

Bradley Clayton Denton

born Wichita, Kansas: 7 June 1958



  • Blackburn (New York: St Martin's Press, 1993) [Blackburn: hb/Doris Borowsky]
  • Blackburn's Lady (Burton, Michigan: Subterranean Press, 2001) [story: chap: Blackburn: hb/]

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