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Preuss, Paul

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1942-    ) US author who worked in film production for a decade before beginning to write popular-science articles. He began to publish sf with The Gates of Heaven (1980) which, with Re-Entry (1981), comprises a very loose sequence, its main linkage being the assumption that Black Holes may be used to travel through both space and time. The second volume in particular demonstrates considerable virtuosity in its presentation of a Space-Opera venue which is opened up – though at times rendered almost incomprehensibly complicated – through a plot which encompasses various timelines, the protagonist's discovery that he is his own beloved guru (see Godgame), and much action. Later novels, more rigorously Hard SF in their construction, back away sharply from such exuberance, gearing themselves more strictly ito extrapolations based on contemporary science. The first volume of the loose Peter Slater sequence – comprising Broken Symmetries (1983) and Secret Passages (1997) – concerns the human and political implications of the markedly plausible discovery by Scientists of a subatomic particle of explosive military potential; the tone of the book has several times been compared with that of Gregory Benford's Timescape (1980). Human Error (1985) similarly examines the ethical implications of a development in Genetic Engineering, bearing some resemblance to the practically simultaneous Blood Music (June 1983 Analog; exp 1985) by Greg Bear. The second volume is a Godgame tale whose protagonists, drawn to a Greek Island by a famous but mysterious physicist, find that their quests for personal redemption have been guided towards a regenerative understanding of history as being dependent upon the realities we create.

Rather less interestingly, Preuss then became involved in the Venus Prime sequence of novels tied to works and some concepts generated by Arthur C Clarke. The sequence – Breaking Strain (1987), Maelstrom (1988), Hide and Seek (1989), The Medusa Encounter (1990), The Diamond Moon (1990) and The Shining Ones (1991) – features the long hegira of its bio-engineered protagonist, Sparta, in her search through the solar system, beginning with a vast Space Habitat orbiting Venus, for the secret of her birth (or, perhaps, fabrication), as part of an aeons'-long scheme to Uplift Homo sapiens. It closes with the sixth volume, and it was hoped – after the relatively routine Starfire (1988), which gives a verismo view of a Near-Future space expedition featuring an unusual Asteroid – that the 1990s would see Preuss once again apply his sharp abilities to fully independent work. But his most recent singleton, Core (1993) – in which scientists penetrate the Earth's core in an attempt to reset the electromagnetic field of the planet, and prevent possibly terminal Disasters – did not break new ground. The innovative Secret Passages (see above) was the end for now; Preuss has published no fiction since 1997. [JC/DRL]

see also: Biology.

Paul Preuss

born Albany, Georgia: 7 March 1942



Peter Slater

Arthur C Clarke's Venus Prime

These franchised works are based on short stories by Arthur C Clarke – for example, the first volume draws on Clarke's "Breaking Strain" (December 1949 Thrilling Wonder as "Thirty Seconds – Thirty Days"; vt in No Place Like Earth, anth 1952, ed John Carnell) – but are Ties rather than collaborations.

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