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Godwin, Parke

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1929-2013) US author who began publishing work of genre interest with "Unsigned Original" for Brother Theodore's Chamber of Horrors (anth 1977) edited by Marvin Kaye "and Brother Theodore". Godwin was for some years more or less equally associated with fantasy and sf, though most of the stories assembled in The Fire when It Comes (coll 1984) are the former, the title novella winning a 1982 World Fantasy Award. As an sf writer, Godwin remains best known for the first two volumes of the Masters of Solitude sequence, both with Marvin Kaye: Masters of Solitude (1978) and Wintermind (1982); a projected third volume did not appear. Set in a Post-Holocaust USA, the first volume depicts a conflict between rural followers of a diseased mutant form of Christianity (see Religion) and a City in which a science-based worldview is encapsulated; in the second, a personal drama and an interesting half-breed protagonist intensify the grain of narrative, but peculiarly diminish the sense, given off by the earlier book, of a large sf occasion. Godwin's second sf sequence, written solo, the Snake Oil Wars series – Waiting for the Galactic Bus (1988), The Snake Oil Wars, or Scheherazade Ginsberg Strikes Again (1989) – is an erratically amusing but ultimately very dark-complected Satire on Religion and US society at large, refracted through the behaviour of the two Immortal Aliens who had long before been responsible for Uplifting Homo sapiens from its primate stock (see Apes as Human), and have now taken on the roles of God and Devil; the assault on Christian fundamentalism is explicit.

A Cold Blue Light (1983), also with Marvin Kaye (whom see for the sequel), is a ghost story which confusingly mixes sf and supernatural rationales. With the exception of Limbo Search (1995), whose protagonist's mission is to protect colony planets from interstellar corporations, Godwin's later work was mostly fantasy, much of it, like the loose Firelord sequence [see Checklist], dealing with the King Arthur and the Matter of Britain [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below]. Though a writer whose flamboyance sometimes unhinged his plots, Godwin remains a figure whose relative obscurity is fully undeserved. [JC]

see also: Gods and Demons.

Parke Godwin

born New York: 28 January 1929

died Auburn, California: 19 June 2013



Masters of Solitude

  • Masters of Solitude (Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Company, 1978) with Marvin Kaye [Masters of Solitude: hb/Emanuel Shongut]
  • Wintermind (Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Company, 1982) with Marvin Kaye [Masters of Solitude: hb/Paul Bacon]

Snake Oil Wars


individual titles

works as editor


previous versions of this entry

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