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Kube-McDowell, Michael P

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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Pseudonym of US author Michael Paul McDowell (1954-    ), who added his wife's name, Kube, in 1975, to make the full surname; some years later this proved useful when both he and the fantasy author Michael M McDowell (1950-1999) were writing scripts for the Television Anthology Series Tales from the Darkside (1983-1988). His first published sf story, "The Inevitable Conclusion" for Amazing in August 1979, also marked the inception of his Trigon Disunity sequence, comprising his first three novels – Emprise (1985), Enigma (1986) and Empery (1987) – along with other tales like "Antithesis" (February 1980 Amazing). Though failing to rise above some of the less attractive assumptions held by many sf writers (Americans in particular) about the comical incompetence of politicians compared to the world-changing nerve of scientific entrepreneurs (see Edisonade; Libertarian SF), the series triumphs through the expansive exuberance of its premise: that an earlier wave of humanity had long ago colonized the Galaxy, and that the apparent Aliens whose probing has reawakened contemporary humanity's interest in the stars – and revitalized a decaying planet – are in fact not Forerunners but our own cousins; the final volume moves, less convincingly, into a vision of the human species melding its differences through a form of communion.

Alternities (1988) similarly combines efficient action, in this case among a number of Parallel Worlds, and marginally vapourish speculations about the human species; but The Quiet Pools (1990), Kube-McDowell's best novel to date, successfully coordinates action and thought in a story about the ambiguous nature of humanity's drive outwards to the stars, carried through the troubled consciousness of a man who is genetically incapable – just as most of humanity has always been – of denying the planet, of leaping into space. The book's genetic determinism, which is much too explicit to have been inadvertent, is both bleak and bracing. Rather more baldly, Exile (1992) takes the sclerotic China of 1988's Tiananmen Square massacre as a model for the construction of a rigid, Terraformed colony world in the throes of a tragic confrontation with its own youth. After some diversions – his Star Wars series [see Checklist for details] is orthodoxly competent, but The Trigger (1999) with Arthur C Clarke is not a convincing collaboration – he regained some focus with Vectors (2002), in which the possible reincarnation of a lover movingly disarrays a scientist's investigation into the nature of the human soul. [JC]

see also: Communications.

Michael Paul Kube-McDowell

born Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 29 August 1954



Trigon Disunity

  • Emprise (New York: Berkley Books, 1985) [Trigon Disunity: pb/Ron Miller]
  • Enigma (New York: Berkley Books, 1986) [Trigon Disunity: pb/Ron Miller]
  • Empery (New York: Berkley Books, 1987) [Trigon Disunity: pb/Ron Miller]

Isaac Asimov's Robot City

Star Wars: Black Fleet Crisis

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