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Spencer, William Browning

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1946-    ) US author whose first novel, Maybe I'll Call Anna (1990), edges towards but does not embrace the fantastic as its protagonist's obsession with the disturbed eponym of the tale is elaborated in twists of plot and implication that are inherently non-realistic. A play between metaphor and the literal marks, and at points lessens the impact of his second novel, Résumé with Monsters (1994), which shuttles between "simple" horror and Horror in SF, as H P Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos pantheon threatens – it may be successfully – to enter and definitively define the nightmarish suburban world the protagonist occupies as he tries to retain his terrible job. With some comic echoes of Kurt Vonnegut, the Satire here is both evident and telling, though occasionally muffled by an unease characteristic of the Mainstream Writer of SF. Zod Wallop (1995) is a Fabulation containing more than one version of a series of events: the characters in the novel as such are also characters in a book called Zod Wallop, which has created them; its bereaved author also intervenes. As in his previous novels, Spencer's comic timing carries off sequences which might otherwise have seem burdensome. Irrational Fears (1998) reconfigures tropes and themes from the previous novels.

Spencer's short stories have been assembled as The Return of Count Electric and Other Stories (coll 1993) and The Ocean and All Its Devices (coll 2006), and similarly demonstrate intense concerns often best articulated – as the author seems frequently to recognize – through the expressive means made available through the tools of Fantastika. [JC]

William Browning Spencer

born Washington, District of Columbia: 16 January 1946




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