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McQuay, Mike

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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Working name of US author Michael Dennis McQuay (1949-1995), who began to publish sf with his first novel, Life-Keeper (1980), which very competently presents the kind of scenario he unrelentingly promulgated in book after book: a noir world governed by corrupt forces; a tough, anarchic, street-wise male protagonist whose powers – and virtue – are very exceptional indeed; and a plot which gives plenty of opportunities for arena-like conflicts between that protagonist and the corrupt forces he will ultimately defeat. The Mathew Swain sequence – Hot Time in Old Town (1981), When Trouble Beckons (1981), The Deadliest Show in Town (1982) and The Odds Are Murder (1983) – makes explicit the generic origins of this hero, who derives from the works of Raymond Chandler (1888-1959) and Chandler's direct successors. As the series develops, Swain fights corruption first on Earth, then on the Moon and then on Earth again, always finding fit targets in the organizations which dominate society. Escape from New York (1981), a film tie (see Escape from New York), if anything intensifies the seamy clangour of the movie version. Jitterbug (1984) interestingly posits an Arab hegemony over a corruptly Dystopian twenty-second-century world. The Ramon and Morgan series – Pure Blood (1985) and Mother Earth (1985) – exploits similar venues without much innovation. McQuay's best novel was perhaps Memories (1987), in which the Weltschmerz inherent in the Chandler tradition is cleverly re-articulated in the story of a woman who arrives by a form of subjective Time Travel from a devastated future, and who embroils the psychiatrist hero in further travels backwards into a somewhat sentimentalized understanding on both their parts of the depth of their deracination from the real world. The Nexus (1989) likewise handles material of considerable complexity, in this case a Near-Future tale of innocence exploited. Richter 10 (1996) with Arthur C Clarke is a stiffish sf novel written from an outline by Clarke. It is secure that McQuay's copious energy would eventually control his equally apparent sentimentality; his early death cut off further speculation about this potentially interesting author. [JC]

see also: Alternate History; Philip K Dick Award.

Michael Dennis McQuay

born Baltimore, Maryland: 3 June 1949

died 27 May 1995



Mathew Swain

Ramon and Morgan

  • Pure Blood (New York: Bantam Books, 1985) [Ramon and Morgan: pb/Luis Royo]
  • Mother Earth (New York: Bantam Spectra, 1985) [Ramon and Morgan: pb/Sequilles]

Book of Justice

McQuay initiated this series; for further titles see Jack Arnett, which became a related House Name.

individual titles

ties under house names

See House Names.


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