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Garrett, Randall

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1927-1987) US author whose third marriage was to Vicki Ann Heydron; his first publication was a Probability Zero vignette (see Flash Fiction) for Astounding Science-Fiction in 1944, and he went on to become a prolific writer for that magazine in the 1950s and early 1960s. He was at one time part of the Ziff-Davis stable writing for Amazing Stories and Fantastic, when he and his sometime collaborator Robert Silverberg ran a "fiction factory" together. During this prolific period Garrett used the pseudonyms David Gordon, Darrel T Langart, Jonathan Blake MacKenzie and Seaton McKettrig as well as numerous House Names. He has frequently been wrongly listed as having written the Analog stories signed Walter Bupp, although these are now known to have been by John Berryman (who is not John Berryman the poet).

Garrett's most notable collaborations with Silverberg were the Nidor series, The Shrouded Planet (stories June-December 1956 Astounding; fixup 1957) and The Dawning Light (March-May 1957 Astounding; 1959), which appeared as by Robert Randall; other collaborations were signed Gordon Aghill and Ralph Burke, and some stories signed under House Names Alexander Blade, Richard Greer, Ivar Jorgensen, Clyde Mitchell, Leonard G Spencer, S M Tenneshaw and Gerald Vance may be further Garrett/Silverberg collaborations. He also collaborated with Laurence M Janifer, usually as Mark Phillips, under which name they produced the Ken Malone trilogy of Psi-Power stories: Brain Twister (September-October 1959 Astounding as "That Sweet Little Old Lady"; 1962), The Impossibles (April-June 1960 Astounding/Analog as "Out Like a Light"; 1963), and Supermind (November 1960-February 1961 Analog as "Occasion for Disaster"; 1963).

Garrett's first solo sf books were Unwise Child (1962; vt Starship Death 1982), about a self-aware Robot en route to exile on a distant planet, and Anything You Can Do ... (1963) as by Darrel T Langart, about a battle between a superhuman and an Alien. His most impressive solo work is the Lord Darcy series of Science-Fantasy detective stories first published in various magazines (chiefly Analog) and anthologies from 1964 to 1979, and assembled in Too Many Magicians (August-November 1966 Analog; 1967), Murder and Magic (coll of linked stories 1979) and Lord Darcy Investigates (coll of linked stories 1981), with all three volumes assembled as Lord Darcy: A 3-in-1 Volume (omni 1983). The stories deal with the exploits of the detective Lord Darcy and his Watsonesque "forensic sorcerer" (see Sherlock Holmes) in an Alternate Cosmos where – in addition to Anglo-European history having taken an Alternate History course – Magic, intermittently though not wholly consistently rationalized in terms of Psi Powers, works according to strict Frazerian laws whose implications are being gradually unravelled by the scientific method. Several of these stories allude playfully to classic crime fiction by Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers (1893-1957), Rex Stout and others; the novel title Too Many Magicians echoes several of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe mysteries, and Wolfe and his household are amusingly homaged therein. The series as a whole is well remembered and received a retrospective Sidewise Award in 1999. Earlier, it had been continued in two Sharecrop novels by Michael Kurland (whom see).

Garrett was fond of producing Parodies in verse and prose: he wrote comic verse for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and joky verse synopses of various genre works as "Parodies Tossed" (poems January-September 1956 Science Fiction Quarterly), and he homaged the Feghoot puns and shaggy-dog stories (written for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction by Reginald Bretnor as Grendel Briarton) in the adventures of Benedict Breadfruit, written for Amazing as Grandall Barretton. Again with Laurence M Janifer (here bylined as Larry M Harris) he wrote Pagan Passions (1959), a mildly bawdy comic fantasy in which the deities of Classical Greek Mythology (see Gods and Demons) have supposedly returned to preside over a high-tech future, but prove to be humans granted special powers by alien Technology. His best humorous work was collected in Takeoff! (coll 1980) and Takeoff Too (coll 1987); a more eclectic selection was assembled in The Best of Randall Garrett (coll 1982) edited by Robert Silverberg.

Always a devout man – despite the occasional wildness of his lifestyle – Garrett virtually dropped out of sf writing for a long period in the 1970s, and took Holy Orders for a while. He eventually abandoned the priesthood and married his third wife, Vicki Ann Heydron, with whom he plotted the Gandalara series of heroic fantasies; these appeared as collaborations, although in fact Heydron wrote them since Garrett – in the wake of a serious attack of viral meningitis – gradually lost the ability to work after 1979, and was hospitalized from 1981 until his death. The series comprises The Steel of Raithskar (1981), The Glass of Dyskornis (1982) and The Bronze of Eddarta (1983), all assembled as The Gandalara Cycle, Volume 1 (omni 1986); plus The Well of Darkness (1983), The Search for Ka (1984) and Return to Eddarta (1985), all assembled as The Gandalara Cycle, Volume 2 (omni 1986); plus The River Wall (1986). [BS/DRL]

see also: Crime and Punishment; ESP; Lie Detectors; Monomolecular Wire; Precognition; Werewolves; Vampires.

Gordon Randall Phillip David Garrett

born Lexington, Missouri: 16 December 1927

died Waco, Texas: 31 December 1987




Ken Malone

Lord Darcy

Gandalara Cycle

individual titles



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