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Dunn, J R

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1953-    ) US author who began publishing sf with "Long Knives" for L Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future (anth 1987) edited by A J Budrys; a later story, "Crux Gammata" (October 1992 Asimov's) is an interesting Hitler Wins tale. This Side of Judgment (1994), Dunn's first novel, posits a Cyberpunk-coloured future America in which a pyrrhic military victory over a cabal of South American drug dealers and Leftist dictators has driven the country even further down the road to Entropy and social despair. Exploiters and victims of this scenario are the "imps", humans with chip-implants who (while themselves suffering ineradicable information overload) manage (while attempting to take over the government) to scare Federal agencies into a violent showdown. In the end, action dominates; but Dunn generates a clear sense of speculative undertow, which his next novels confirmed. Days of Cain (1997) is a Changewar tale where the Final Solution (see Holocaust Fiction; World War Two) must not be nullified – by a time traveller anxious to eliminate that horror – because, in the end, the example of the Holocaust is integral to the creation of the better world to come; this optimistic outcome, though manifestly good-hearted, may at the same time express a manipulative determinism that does not quite confess the costs of such fixatedness.

Full Tide of Night (1998) explicitly transfigures motifs and characters from The Duchess of Malfi (performed 1614; 1623) by John Webster (circa 1579-?1638), from which the title is taken; set on a remote planet whose female ruler (based on the Duchess) dominates two conflicted male figures, who engage fatally with each other and her (see Women in SF). In a complex "Jacobean" plot, which conflates family romance, politics and interstellar Space Opera, a "race" of once-human Computer-housed beings called the Erinye – ie, the Furies – threatens these farflung remnants of Homo sapiens, as though human race-guilt were written in the stars. After a cathartic plethora of deaths (as in the original play), galactic order may be restored.

From the early 1990s Dunn has been an editor for the ongoing multi-volume International Military Encyclopedia. [JC]

Jeffrey R Dunn

born 1953



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