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Purdom, Tom

Entry updated 4 March 2024. Tagged: Author.

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(1936-2024) US music critic and author, involved in Philadelphia Fandom for much of his life, who began to publish work of genre interest with "Grieve for a Man" in Fantastic Universe for August 1957 as Thomas E Purdom. His sf novels, beginning with I Want the Stars (1964 dos), were unpretentious but competent adventures, generally set on challenging Alien worlds. The Tree Lord of Imeten (1966 dos) vividly puts two human colonists into a crisis situation in the jungle while two native races fight one another. The Barons of Behavior (1972) mixes Politics and social conditioning in a Dystopian future Earth.

After a period of relative inactivity, Purdom began in 1990 to publish frequently in shorter forms, with at least thirty-five tales in Asimov's, the last to appear before his death being "Exit Contract" (May-June 2023 Asimov's); a selection has been assembled as Lovers & Fighters, Starships & Dragons: Twelve Science Fiction Stories (coll 2014). The best of them manifest a fierce adherence to issues and narrative procedures which have governed Hard SF for many decades, so that Thought Experiments tend to dominate, and Conceptual Breakthroughs are assiduously achieved. At the same time, however, an innovative coldness, a sense that unexpected perspectives are constantly unfolding, gave to his work an estranged clarity. Though Purdom was far stricter in his application of scientific method, and his ultimate take on the universe considerably more serene, his work sometimes evoked the outsider surrealism of a writer like Barrington J Bayley. [JC]

see also: Psychology.

Thomas Edward Purdom

born New Haven, Connecticut: 19 April 1936

died Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 14 January 2024


collections and stories


works as editor


previous versions of this entry

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