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Locke, George

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

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(1936-2019) UK author, one-time pharmacist, antiquarian bookseller and bibliographer. He began publishing sf with "The Human Seed" for Authentic Science Fiction in October 1957, and under the name Gordon Walters published a number of sf stories in the 1960s, but no sf books; his novel, Pattern of Terror (1987) as by Ayresome Johns, is a detective tale involving an "impossible crime" and the supernatural. He also published several Sherlock Holmes Parodies, including The Ghosts of Eden; Or, the Swarming Wisps (2015 chap), which imports acknowledged riffs from Michael Moorcock's The Whispering Swarm (2015) (the cover, derived from a James Cawthorn illustration, cites Moorcock's retitling of Hilary Bailey's "The Fall of Frenchy Steiner").

Locke's most important publications were in the Bibliography of sf and fantasy, beginning with the Ferret Fantasy's Christmas Annual series which comprises Ferret Fantasy's Christmas Annual for 1972 (anth 1972 chap), Ferret Fantasy's Christmas Annual for 1973 (anth 1974 chap) and Ferret Fantasy's Christmas Annual for 1974 (anth 1975 chap); these short volumes, containing reprinted fiction (often tales he had himself rediscovered) along with short bibliographies of this material, focusing on nineteenth century material, are modest but prophetically innovative exercises in the narrated annotated bibliographic study of the formative years of what is termed Fantastika in this encyclopedia. The series inspired the excellent Science Fiction First Editions: A Select Bibliography and Notes for the Collector (1978 chap), a text whose researches were hugely expanded upon in later years. A later anthology, Sources of Science Fiction: Future War Novels of the 1890s (anth 1998 8vols), though designed for institutions, makes available previously recognized Future War and Invasion texts, almost all set in the Near Future; plus some texts Locke had been instrumental in making visible.

Though his researches were far-ranging, Locke's preferred focus was almost certainly the nineteenth-century interplanetary romance, a term he used in preference to Planetary Romance; the Voyages in Space bibliographic sequence – comprising Voyages in Space: A Bibliography of Interplanetary Fiction, 1801-1914 (1975 chap) and, in enormously expanded and sophisticated form, Voyages in Space: The Interplanetary Theme in Creative Writing to 1914: A Researcher's Companion (2011) – provides an annotated description of works which he deemed to be genuine interplanetary fictions; the second volume in particular included (against his usual practice) a large number of titles not actually in his own possession.

Of greater importance, however, is the Spectrum of Fantasy sequence of annotated Bibliographies which constitute Locke's central accomplishment in the field. The sequence comprises A Spectrum of Fantasy (1980) [for full titles see Checklist below], A Spectrum of Fantasy II (1994) and A Spectrum of Fantasy III (2002), plus two ancillary volumes, Spectrum of Fantasy: Christmas Annual 2002 (2002 chap) and Spectrum of Fantasy: Christmas Annual 2003-2004 (2004 chap). All books here annotated were from Locke's own exceedingly extensive collection, which despite the title of the series in fact consisted mostly of sf titles, with an emphasis on interplanetary tales (see above). Many books not previously understood to merit admission to the canon of sf and fantasy (though comfortably describable as examples of early fantastika), and many others that were completely unknown, are first cited – and their contents sometimes synopsized – in these volumes.

The frequent specific references to Locke in this encyclopedia almost exclusively relate to comments and discoveries contained in Spectrum of Fantasy and to a lesser degree in Voyages in Space, and point to a wider range of background debt detectable in many further entries, an indebtedness that necessarily permeates any subsequent reference work in the field. These works, plus the central bibliographies of Neil Barron, E F Bleiler, Raymond John Howgego, R Reginald and Donald Tuck, have over the past several decades hugely expanded critical understanding of the true range of texts that may be evaluated in terms of sf and the fantastic in general. Any references in this encyclopedia to other works by Locke are so indicated. Locke's Small Press, Ferret Fantasy, having published mainly works he wrote or edited, continued to operate until near the end of his life. [JC]

George Walter Locke

born London: 3 February 1936

died London: 1 February 2019




Voyages in Space

Spectrum of Fantasy

individual titles

works as editor


Ferret Fantasy's Christmas Annual

individual titles


previous versions of this entry

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