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Kincaid, Paul

Entry updated 12 June 2023. Tagged: Author, Critic.

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(1952-    ) UK critic, award administrator and author; partner of Maureen Kincaid Speller from 1986 until her death in 2022 (they married in 1993). After an early sale to New Writings in SF which remains unpublished because the series ended, his first short story, "The Second Coming" appeared in a semi-professional magazine, Orbis, in 1984. His first fully professional publication was "The Song of Women" for Arrows of Eros (coll 1989) edited by Alex Stewart. Since then he has published fiction only intermittently.

Kincaid became active in Fandom in the mid-1970s, contributing book reviews to fanzines from the late 1970s. He began reviewing regularly in the British Science Fiction Association's critical journal, Vector, in the late 1970s; most of his nonfiction over the next two decades appeared there. He has served as Features Editor, Editor and twice as Reviews Editor for Vector, and also spent a period as news editor of Matrix (under the editorship of his wife, Maureen Kincaid Speller), and as administrator of the BSFA. In the early 1980s he co-edited two short critical anthologies with Geoff Rippington, the first on Bob Shaw, British Science Fiction Writers, Volume One: Bob Shaw (1981 chap), and the second on Keith Roberts, British Science Fiction Writers, Volume Two: Keith Roberts (1983 chap). In 1989 he conducted a survey of British-based writers on how they saw the state of Science Fiction and Fantasy and their place in it. The results were initially published in the programme book for the Mexicon III Convention. A second survey along the same lines was conducted for the BSFA by Niall Harrison in 2009 and the results of both surveys combined as British Science Fiction and Fantasy: Twenty Years and Two Surveys (2010). Also in association with the BSFA he wrote A Very British Genre: A Short History of British Fantasy and Science Fiction (1995 chap) (see History of SF). Beginning in 2000 he co-edited the first three issues of Steam Engine Time with Bruce Gillespie and Maureen Kincaid Speller.

His criticism, mostly in the form of reviews, has tended to concentrate on the history and characteristics of British science fiction and also on specific authors, most notably Brian W Aldiss, Iain M Banks, Christopher Priest and Keith Roberts, on whom he has written extensively. Reviews have appeared in Foundation, Science Fiction Studies, Interzone, The New York Review of Science Fiction, SF Site, Strange Horizons, Times Literary Supplement, Literary Review, New Scientist and elsewhere. Longer essays, which in addition to the interest in British science fiction have also examined such topics as the language and nature of science fiction which he regards not as a unified and therefore definable entity (see Definitions of SF) but as a collection of tropes and characteristics linked by family resemblances (a notion he took from the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein), have appeared in these publications and also in Extrapolation and a number of reference works on science fiction and fantasy. Some of these essays and reviews are collected in What It Is We Do When We Read Science Fiction (coll 2008), and a further selection in Call and Response (2014). In 2011 he won the British Science Fiction Association Award for Non-Fiction for his extended essay "Blogging the Hugos: Decline" (14-17 July 2010 Big Other) which argued that several of the novels shortlisted for that year's Hugo Award portrayed American decline in terms of influence and self-confidence.

In the mid-1980s he was involved in setting up the Arthur C Clarke Award and in 1995 he took over as administrator of the award, a position he held for more than a decade, stepping down in April 2006. During this time he was instrumental in transforming the award from one that was considered, at best, idiosyncratic, into one of the most widely recognized and respected awards in science fiction. In 2006 he edited a collection of essays on each of the first 18 award winners, The Arthur C. Clarke Award: A Critical Anthology (anth 2006). Also in 2006, at least partly in recognition of his work on the Arthur C Clarke Award, he was presented with the Thomas D Clareson Award. His study of Iain M Banks, Iain M Banks (2017), won him a second BSFA Award for nonfiction; The Unstable Realities of Christopher Priest (2020) is evenhanded and adroit; Brian W Aldiss (2022) thoroughly transacts that author's huge oeuvre, with wit. [PKi]

see also: Eastercon; Fan Funds.

Paul Kincaid

born Oldham, Lancashire: 22 September 1952




works as editor


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