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Masson, David I

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1915-2007) Scottish rare books librarian and author, long resident in England, with an MA in English language and literature. From 1945 to 1955, he was Curator of Special Collections at the University of Liverpool – where from 1993 the Science Fiction Foundation Collection has been housed – and from 1955 to 1979 was Curator of the Brotherton Collection at Leeds University. After some critical essays, Masson began publishing sf with "Traveller's Rest" for New Worlds in September 1965, an extraordinarily virtuoso study in the compression of time (see Time Distortion) in the real world and in the Perceptions of soldiers in mortal combat on a useless front in an unnamed war. His fiction – including this – was assembled in The Caltraps of Time (coll 1968; exp 2003), which single volume established and has maintained his strong reputation as a writer of vigorously experimental, vivid, often scientifically sound stories. Notable among them, and reflecting his close and informed interest in phonetic Linguistics, are "Not so Certain" (July 1967 New Worlds) and the brilliant Time-Travel story "A Two-Timer" (February 1966 New Worlds), told entirely in language appropriate to 1683, the year from which an inadvertent time traveller is whisked into the future. Each of Masson's stories seems to be a solution to some cognitive or creative problem or challenge, and he appeared little inclined to repeat any of his effects. He published almost no newly-written fiction after 1967. The last of his three further stories, "Doctor Fausta" (in Stopwatch, anth 1974, ed George Hay), is an interesting Satire. Masson also contributed to Speculation and reviewed sf occasionally during the 1970s in Foundation. [JC]

see also: Dimensions; Mathematics; Timeslip.

David Irvine Masson

born Edinburgh, Scotland: 6 November 1915

died Leeds, West Yorkshire: 25 February 2007



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