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Ing, Dean

Entry updated 4 March 2024. Tagged: Author.

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(1931-2020) US author whose work makes effective use of his years in the Air Force (1951-1955) and in the engineering profession (1957-1970), and reflects in its pragmatic tone – though not in its plotting, which can be pixillated – his training in behavioural psychology (he had a 1974 PhD in speech). Much of his fiction can be described as Survivalist, insofar as military tales set in a Post-Holocaust or Ruined Earth America necessarily inhabit survivalist terrain; but the violence of his better work is relatively restrained, and the libertarianism (see Libertarian SF) which underpinned his conception of proper behaviour cannot be described as unthinking. Collections like High Tension (coll 1982) and Firefight 2000 (coll 1987; vt Firefight Y2K 2000), the latter including both fiction and nonfiction, amply demonstrate the cogency of his concerns.

Ing began writing sf with "Tight Squeeze" for Astounding in February 1955, though he became prolific only in the late 1970s. His first novel, Soft Targets (1979), interestingly copes with terrorism in a Near-Future setting, though a besetting weakness for melodrama diverts attention from the serious points he makes about the fatal precariousness of societies in the advanced Western World. Ing was, in fact, much less interested in that precariousness than in its consequences, and his most significant work, the Ted Quantrill sequence – Systemic Shock (1981), Single Combat (1983) and Wild Country (1985) – is set in a desolated and paranoid post-Bomb USA under the thumb of a theocracy. (The similarity of this setting to Robert A Heinlein's Future History is sufficiently obvious to count as a homage.) Quantrill's life, as he matures, presents a model of and argument for the individual who admits no restraints upon his behaviour but his own recognizance. That Quantrill does not behave poorly derives, perhaps, more from the author's decency than from the peculiarly American notion (see Libertarian SF) that near-absolute autonomy makes one fully human, and that this argument could be strengthened by using the name of the notorious war-criminal William Cantrell (1837-1865) as a kind of imprimatur. Other titles of interest include several novels written as with Mack Reynolds, based on first drafts produced in the years before Reynolds's death in 1983; they are Home Sweet Home: 2010 A.D. (1984), Eternity (1984), The Other Time (1984), in which an archaeologist uses Time Travel to help the Aztecs defeat the Spanish, Trojan Orbit (1985) and Deathwish World (1986).

In his later career, Ing tended to concentrate on nonfantastic work; but books with sf interest include Anasazi (coll of linked stories 1980), Pulling Through (coll 1983; exp vt The Rackham Files coll 2004), which comprises a short Robinsonade and a series of survivalist articles designed to add verisimilitude to the course of the main story (plus two novellas added in The Rackham Files), and The Big Lifters (1988), a Hard-SF tale in which entrepreneurship wins the day. In general, Ing presented what might be called the acceptable face of survivalism. [JC]

see also: Colonization of Other Worlds; Immortality; Lagrange Points; Social Darwinism.

Dean Ing

born Austin, Texas: 17 June 1931

died Ashland, Oregon: 21 July 2020



Ted Quantrill

Man-Kzin Wars

Black Stealth

individual titles

Mack Reynolds continuations


works as editor

about the author


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