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Lanier, Sterling E

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author, Editor.

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(1927-2007) US editor and author. Lanier did six years' graduate work at the School of Anthropology and Archeology at the University of Pennsylvania before working as an editor, mainly for Chilton Books for periods during 1961-1967; after several trade publishers had refused the book because of its great length (215,000 words), he persuaded the firm to publish Frank Herbert's Dune (fixup 1965). He subsequently turned freelance, working as a sculptor and jeweller, and as a writer.

His first published story was "Join our Gang?" in Analog for May 1961, but the majority of his short work belongs to the Brigadier Ffellowes series published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Like Lord Dunsany's Jorkens stories or Arthur C Clarke's Tales from the White Hart (coll of linked stories 1957), the Ffellowes tales are Club Stories narrated by the eponymous brigadier; they mostly involve the irruption of mythical creatures into the real world. They are assembled in The Peculiar Exploits of Brigadier Ffellowes (coll 1972) and The Curious Quest of Brigadier Ffellowes (coll 1986).

Lanier's first novel was a good children's fantasy, The War for the Lot: A Tale of Fantasy and Terror (1969), about a young boy Telepathically selected to defend a tract or Zone of wilderness from city rats. His second remains his most important: Hiero's Journey: A Romance of the Future (1973) – and its sequel, The Unforsaken Hiero (1983), both being assembled as Hiero Desteen (omni 1984) – is a long and inventive quest tale set in a teeming Ruined Earth world 5000 years after an atomic war. Radiation dangers and recidivist mutant Scientists still haunt this venue, threatening Hiero, a Telepath who undertakes a Fantastic Voyage southwards from Canada, searching for a mythical Computer which might help reconstruct things. In the second volume, which returns to the plot of The War for the Lot, Hiero marshals some animal allies – they are described as Mutants but very closely resemble the typical cast of a Beast Fable [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below] – and fights off an invasion of the Unclean Masters. Not precisely innovative, the sequence succeeds through its author's fluent and ingeniously varied cast of characters. A later singleton, Menace under Marswood (1983), tamely repeats some of the same material on a Terraformed Mars. [JC/MJE]

see also: Mythology.

Sterling Edmund Lanier

born New York: 18 December 1927

died Sarasota, Florida: 28 June 2007



Brigadier Ffellowes

Hiero Desteen

individual titles


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