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Foster, Alan Dean

Entry updated 27 November 2023. Tagged: Author.

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(1946-    ) US author, raised in Los Angeles; interestingly, he has listed Carl Barks (1901-2000) – the creator (long unacknowledged by Disney) of the best Comic strips and Big Little Books in the Disney stable – as one of his formative influences, specifically on his depiction of older characters. Foster began publishing sf with "Some Notes Concerning a Green Box" for The Arkham Collector in 1971, and has collected short stories in With Friends Like These ... (coll 1977), its companion, ... Who Needs Enemies? (coll 1984), The Metrognome and Other Stories (coll 1990) and others, including Exceptions to Reality (coll 2007) Foster is best known, however, for his prolific, competent and long sustained output of novels and novelizations.

Several of his best books fit into a loose sequence of novels set in a multifarious Galaxy dominated by the Humanx Commonwealth, a venue well suited as an arena for Space Operas and encounters with Alien races. The central sequence follows the life of young Flinx, a seeming orphan with Psi Powers and the friendship of a highly potent pet alien named Pip, and beginning [in order of internal chronology; for chronology by publication, see Checklist] with For Love of Mother-Not (1983); a connected trilogy made up of Foster's first novel, The Tar-Aiym Krang (1972), Orphan Star (1977) and The End of the Matter (1977); Bloodhype (1973); and Flinx in Flux (1988); later volumes either infill or, like the superior Running from the Deity (2005) and Flinx Transcendent (2007), continue his long story. A second, looser sequence consists of Nor Crystal Tears (1982); Midworld (1975); a connected trilogy made up of Icerigger (1974), Mission to Moulokin (1979) and The Deluge Drivers (1987), the three comprising some of his best work to date; Voyage to the City of the Dead (1984); and Sentenced to Prism (1985). A further internal sequence, the Founding of the Commonwealth tales, comprises Founding of the Commonwealth 1: Phylogenesis (1999), Founding of the Commonwealth 2: Dirge (2000) and Founding of the Commonwealth 3: Diuturnity's Dawn (2001), and details the founding of the loosely knit, humane Commonwealth as humans and the Alien thranx edge gingerly towards partnership, while at the same time Flinx begins to suspect that his uncanny empathy with an immensely powerful ancient Tar-Aiym weapon/artefact may suggest that he may himself be an artefact designed, it may be, to save the Galaxy. Strange Music: A Pip & Flinx Adventure (2017) is straightforward. Sometimes reminiscent of the earlier work of Poul Anderson, the sequence is expansive and colourful, though tending to melodrama and prone to the fable-like use of such sf and fantasy elements as ESP and dragons. A later series, like the Taken books beginning with Lost and Found (2004), tends to replicate, but at a lower energy level, Foster's skilful deploying of complicated plots in worlds and galaxies conceived in pleasing detail, as does The Tipping Point Trilogy, beginning with The Human Blend (2010), a new series featuring Genetic Engineering in a Near Future world on the verge of environmental collapse (Ecology).

Individual novels have tended more to a clear-headed commercial exploitation of various genre categories, though Cachalot (1980), whose whale-like aliens are of interest, The Man Who Used the Universe (1983) and Cyber Way (1990) perhaps stand out, and the series of Western tales assembled as Mad Amos (coll of linked stories 1996; exp vt Mad Amos Malone 2018) lightheartedly presents its giant protagonist with various crises. The much darker Sagramanda (2006) is set in a Near Future India very much less amenable to fixes than Foster's usual venues: a lack of science-fictional lightness reflected in the comparatively sombre mode of the telling.

Foster's numerous novelizations and other Ties are not of exceptional interest in the context of his autonomous work, but – as has been noted more than once – they are written at a high professional level, showing no contempt for the category; the first to reach a wide audience was the Star Trek Log sequence tied to the Star Trek universe and beginning with Star Trek Log One (coll 1974); among the more notable titles are Dark Star (1974), based on Dark Star (1974); Star Wars (1976), as by George Lucas, the director of Star Wars (1977); Alien (1979), based on Alien (1979), Aliens: A Novelization (1986), based on Aliens (1986), and Alien³ (1992), based on Alien³ (1992), all three assembled as The Complete Alien Omnibus (omni 1993); and The Chronicles of Riddick (2004). In 2003 he received the Grandmaster Scribe Award for career achievement in media Ties. [JC]

see also: Aelita Award; Car Wars; GURPS; Humour; Transportation; UFOs.

Alan Dean Foster

born New York: 18 November 1946



Humanx Commonwealth

Listed in order of publication:

  • The Tar-Aiym Krang (New York: Ballantine Books/Del Rey, 1972) [Humanx Commonwealth: pb/Dean Ellis]
  • Bloodhype (New York: Ballantine Books/Del Rey, 1973) [Humanx Commonwealth: pb/Jerome Podwil]
  • Midworld (New York: Ballantine Books/Del Rey, 1975) [Humanx Commonwealth: pb/Richard V Corben]
  • Orphan Star (New York: Ballantine Books/Del Rey, 1977) [Humanx Commonwealth: pb/Darrell K Sweet]
  • The End of the Matter (New York: Ballantine Books/Del Rey, 1977) [Humanx Commonwealth: pb/Darrell K Sweet]
  • Cachalot (New York: Ballantine Books/Del Rey, 1980) [Humanx Commonwealth: pb/Darrell K Sweet]
  • Nor Crystal Tears (New York: Ballantine Books/Del Rey, 1982) [Humanx Commonwealth: pb/Michael Whelan]
  • For Love of Mother-Not (New York: Ballantine Books/Del Rey, 1983) [Humanx Commonwealth: pb/Michael Whelan]
    • Flinx of the Commonwealth (New York: Science Fiction Book Club, 2007) [omni of the above plus The Tar-Aiym Krang and Orphan Star above: Humanx Commonwealth: hb/Bob Eggleton]
  • Voyage to the City of the Dead (New York: Ballantine Books/Del Rey, 1984) [Humanx Commonwealth: pb/Barclay Shaw]
  • Sentenced to Prism (New York: Ballantine Books/Del Rey, 1985) [Humanx Commonwealth: pb/Barclay Shaw]
  • Flinx in Flux (New York: Ballantine Books/Del Rey, 1988) [Humanx Commonwealth: pb/Darrell K Sweet]
  • Mid-Flinx (New York: Ballantine Books/Del Rey, 1995) [Humanx Commonwealth: hb/Bob Eggleton]
  • The Howling Stones (New York: Ballantine Books/Del Rey, 1997) [Humanx Commonwealth: hb/Bob Eggleton]
  • Reunion (New York: Ballantine Books/Del Rey, 2001) [Humanx Commonwealth: hb/Robert Hunt]
  • Drowning World (New York: Ballantine Books/Del Rey, 2003) [Humanx Commonwealth: hb/Mark Harrison]
  • Flinx's Folly (New York: Ballantine Books/Del Rey, 2003) [Humanx Commonwealth: hb/Robert Hunt]
  • Sliding Scales (New York: Ballantine Books/Del Rey, 2004) [Humanx Commonwealth: hb/Robert Hunt]
  • Running from the Deity (New York: Ballantine Books/Del Rey, 2005) [Humanx Commonwealth: hb/Robert Hunt]
  • Trouble Magnet (New York: Ballantine Books/Del Rey, 2006) [Humanx Commonwealth: hb/Robert Hunt]
  • Patrimony (New York: Ballantine Books/Del Rey, 2007) [Humanx Commonwealth: hb/Robert Hunt]
  • Quofum (New York: Ballantine Books/Del Rey, 2008) [Humanx Commonwealth: hb/Todd Lockwood]
  • Flinx Transcendent (New York: Ballantine Books/Del Rey, 2008) [Humanx Commonwealth: hb/Robert Hunt]
  • Strange Music: A Pip & Flinx Adventure (New York: Del Rey, 2017) [Humanx Commonwealth: hb/Cletus Adams]

Humanx Commonwealth: Icerigger

  • Icerigger (New York: Ballantine Books/Del Rey, 1974) [Humanx Commonwealth: Icerigger: pb/Dean Ellis]
  • Mission to Moulokin (New York: Ballantine Books/Del Rey, 1979) [Humanx Commonwealth: Icerigger: pb/Michael Herring]
  • The Deluge Drivers (New York: Ballantine Books/Del Rey, 1987) [Humanx Commonwealth: Icerigger: pb/Michael Herring]

Humanx Commonwealth: Founding of the Commonwealth


The Damned

Montezuma Strip

  • Montezuma Strip (New York: Warner Aspect, 1995) [coll of linked stories: four of the five stories originally appeared as by James Lawson: Montezuma Strip: hb/Colorspace]
  • The Mocking Program (New York: Warner Aspect, 2002) [Montezuma Strip: hb/John Blackford]

Journeys of the Catechist


The Tipping Point Trilogy

individual titles

collections and stories

novelizations and other ties

Star Trek

Star Trek: Star Trek Log

Star Trek

Star Wars




individual tie titles


works as editor

about the author


previous versions of this entry

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