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Harding, Lee

Entry updated 29 August 2023. Tagged: Author.

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(1937-2023) Australian freelance photographer and author who was involved in activities of Australian Fandom, before 1955 under the names Leo Harding or L J Harding; early Fanzines launched in 1953 were Perhaps: The International Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and Wastebasket. He began publishing sf professionally with "Displaced Person" for Science Fantasy #46 in April 1961, eventually expanding this story as Displaced Person (1979; rev vt Misplaced Persons 1979). Aimed – like The Weeping Sky (1977) and Waiting for the End of the World (1983), which are equally impressive – at a Young Adult audience, it memorably imprisons its protagonist in a world turning to grey just as the grim solitude of his own life becomes painfully manifest. As a preliminary to complete displacement or misplacement he has gradually become invisible and then entirely unnoticeable (see Invisibility). Displaced Person received the 1980 Book of the Year Award from the Children's Book Council of Australia, a major non-genre-specific honour.

This use of sf plots to explore character became a kind of trademark of the Harding novel. During the 1960s, sometimes writing as Harold G Nye, he concentrated on SF Magazine work, twice winning a Ditmar Award: in 1970 for "Dancing Gerontius" (December 1969 Vision of Tomorrow); in 1972 for the magazine version of his first novel, The Fallen Spaceman (May/June 1971 If as "Fallen Spaceman"; rev 1973 chap; rev 1980 chap), a juvenile. His other juveniles include The Children of Atlantis (1976), The Frozen Sky (1976), Return to Tomorrow (1977) and The Web of Time (1980); they are sombre and clear. His adult novels – A World of Shadows (1975) and Future Sanctuary (1976) – are perhaps less notable than his juveniles, though the last impressively anatomizes a desolate Near-Future Australia. Heartsease (1997) is non-fantastic.

Harding reviewed genre fiction for Australian SF Review from the first issue (June 1966) of the first series. He edited the anthologies Beyond Tomorrow: An Anthology of Modern Science Fiction (anth 1976; cut 1977), The Altered I: An Encounter with Science Fiction (anth 1976), which presents some of the productions of an sf workshop in Australia presided over by Ursula K Le Guin, and Rooms of Paradise (anth 1978). He received the Chandler Award for life achievement in 2006. [JC]

see also: Children's SF; Psychology.

Lee John Harding

born Colac, Victoria: 19 February 1937

died Perth, Western Australia: 19 April 2023


works as editor


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