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James, Laurence

Entry updated 9 January 2023. Tagged: Author, Editor.

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(1942-2000) UK paperbacks editor in the early 1970s and then author active under his own name and under at least nine pseudonyms and house names, including James Axler, James Barton, James Darke, Richard Haigh, William James, John M McLaglen, James McPhee, James W Marvin, Jonathan May, Christopher Molan, Klaus Netzen, Mick Norman and some further house names for non-fantastic work, including James Frazier, Neil Langholm and Andrew Quiller, all of which he shared with Kenneth Bulmer; his non-sf or fantasy output spread over various genres including Westerns, thrillers, historical romances and soft-core pornography. Over one four-year period he averaged about a book a month. As James he began publishing sf with "And Dug the Dog a Tomb" for New Worlds Quarterly 3 (anth 1972) edited by Michael Moorcock, an sf development of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot (trans 1954). Under his own name he remains best known for a series of paperback Space Operas featuring Simon Rack and his Galactic Security Service Comrades, which begins in a Ruined Earth about 500 years hence but soon shifts to the stars: Earth Lies Sleeping (1974; vt Simon Rack: Earth Lies Sleeping 1974), War on Aleph (1974; vt Simon Rack: Starcross 1974), The Rack Series: Backflash (1975), The Rack Series: Planet of the Blind (1975) and Simon Rack: New Life for Old (1975). These are swiftly told and energetic, but they do not press against the routine demands of the form. As James Barton, he wrote the Wasteworld, first of several similar series, comprising Wasteworld #1: Aftermath (1983), Wasteworld #2: Resurrection (1984), Wasteworld #3: Angels (1984) and Wasteworld #4: My Way (1984). The sequence carries its military hero through the US South and elsewhere, fighting bigots, both black and white (the former are cannibals, the latter are fundamentalists) and Mutants and winning an Apache lass in a Las Vegas showdown. The tone is consistently Survivalist.

For (male) adults as James Axler, a House Name, he began the Survivalist-Fiction Deathlands military-sf series, set in a Ruined Earth landscape a century after World War Three ends in nuclear Holocaust; the protagonist and his cadre of warrior bandits traverse the ruined landscape via Gateways (see Matter Transmission). The sequence begins with Deathlands #1: Red Holocaust (1986) written with Jack Adrian as by James Axler and Deathlands #2: Pilgrimage to Hell (1987) as by James Axler; more than thirty further titles followed [see Checklist below], when ill-health forced him to pass the series on to other hands. Also under the same House Name, he wrote the whole of the short Earth Blood sequence, beginning with Earth Blood (1993) as by James Axler, in which the crew of a deep space expedition returns to a Post-Holocaust planet. The Dark Future series of Post-Holocaust adventures for a young-adult audience includes The Revengers (1992), Beyond the Grave (1992), The Horned God (1992) and The Plague (1992). This sequence is unrelated to and bore no resemblance to the game Dark Future (1988), whose owners Games Workshop nevertheless sued James's publishers on grounds of trademark infringement and forced the books to be withdrawn. The Survival 2000 sequence, dealing with events after an Asteroid strikes Earth, beginning with Survival 2000 #1: Blood Quest (1991) as by James McPhee, deals with a similar environment in similar terms for the same publisher. [JC]

Laurence William James

born West Bromwich, Staffordshire: 21 September 1942

died Oxford, Oxfordshire: 10 February 2000



Simon Rack


  • The Prisoner (London: Sphere Books, 1983) as by James Darke [Witches: pb/]
  • The Trial (London: Sphere Books, 1983) as by James Darke [Witches: pb/]
  • The Torture (London: Sphere Books, 1983) as by James Darke [Witches: pb/]
  • The Escape (London: Sphere Books, 1984) as by James Darke [Witches: pb/]
  • The Meeting (London: Sphere Books, 1985) as by James Darke [Witches: pb/]
  • The Killing (London: Sphere Books, 1985) as by James Darke [Witches: pb/]
  • The Feud (London: Sphere Books, 1986) as by James Darke [Witches: pb/]
  • The Plague (London: Sphere Books, 1986) as by James Darke [Witches: pb/]



  • The Farm (London: Grafton, 1984) as by Richard Haigh [Pigs: pb/Les Edwards]
  • The City (London: Grafton, 1986) as by Richard Haigh [Pigs: pb/Les Edwards]

Deathlands as by James Axler House Name (only titles by James are listed)

Survival 2000

Dark Future

  • The Revengers (London: Bantam UK, 1992) [Dark Future: pb/John Avon]
  • Beyond the Grave (London: Bantam UK, 1992) [Dark Future: pb/John Avon]
  • The Horned God (London: Bantam UK, 1992) [Dark Future: pb/John Avon]
  • The Plague (London: Bantam UK, 1992) [Dark Future: pb/John Avon]

Earth Blood

individual titles

  • The Road (London: New English Library, 1983) [pb/]

works as editor


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