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Guin, Wyman

Entry updated 5 December 2019. Tagged: Author.

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(1915-1989) US pharmacologist, advertising executive and author who began publishing sf with "Trigger Tide" as Norman Menasco for Astounding in October 1950, though his career can be said really to have begun with "Beyond Bedlam" (August 1951 Galaxy) which, like most of his best work of the 1950s and early 1960s, seemed ideally designed for Galaxy, with its focus (see Medicine; Identity; Psychology; Sociology) on the human implications involved in enduring the future. It is a brilliant novelette describing an Earth about a thousand years hence where Drugs enforce a strictly regulated schizophrenia (see Paranoia) in every human being in a five-days-on, five-days-off routine, each body g inhabited alternately by two personalities, the balance between the two aspects serving to nullify Man's subconscious aggressions, thus eliminating the "paranoid wars" of the "ancient Moderns". But passion and art likewise disappear. The good and evil of this system are explored with a literacy and verisimilitude that make it a genuinely interesting variation on Aldous Huxley's vision of drug-enforced stability in Brave New World (1932). The tale was subsequently included in Living Way Out (coll 1967; exp vt Beyond Bedlam 1973), along with most of the few short stories he published. Similar hyperbolic distortions of the "normal" world govern tales here assembled like "My Darling Hecate" (November 1953 Galaxy) and "The Delegate from Guapanga" (August 1964 Galaxy); "A Man of the Renaissance" (December 1964 Galaxy), is subtly narrated by Leonardo da Vinci, who is a Superman; The Standing Joy (1969), a Parallel-Worlds story set in a nostalgically rendered alternate Earth, features another Superman, a good deal of undistorted Sex, but some sense of missed focus. Like Cordwainer Smith, who similarly haunted post-War sf, Guin will be remembered for the power of his early stories. His achievement was honoured in 2013 with the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award. [JC]

see also: Crime and Punishment; Galaxy Science Fiction.

Wyman Woods Guin

born Wanette, Oklahoma: 1 March 1915

died Montclair, New Jersey: 19 February 1989



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