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Spruill, Steven G

Entry updated 29 October 2021. Tagged: Author.

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(1946-    ) US psychologist and author, who has also written as by Steven Harriman and Steve Lyon. In his first sf novel, Keepers of the Gate (1977; rev 1978), a complicated adventure tale rather in the mode of Keith Laumer, the alien Proteps of Eridani turn out to be an advanced form of Homo sapiens, and have been suppressing mankind's urge to the stars for selfish reasons; the generic cues for revelling in such a tale are deployed with some competence. He is best known for his Elias Kane sequence – even the protagonist's name seems to be a homage to Isaac Asimov's earlier detective Elijah Bailey – about an intelligently moody detective and his Superpowered sidekick: The Psychopath Plague (1978), The Imperator Plot (1982) and Paradox Planet (1988). The series seems incomplete; but although a template interminability attends Kane's repeated assignments, granted him by the current Imperator who rules Earth and a small Galactic Empire to boot, the passage of time is clearly marked throughout, and seems to hint at a conclusion: the woman Kane falls in love with and marries in the first volume – whose deadly plague has been induced by Aliens – is murdered in the second; and the Imperator who is beheaded, but remains alive, in the second volume – which concerns this attempted assassination – has been succeeded in the third volume, which is set on a heavy-gravity colony planet, where a complex plot against the empire must be foiled by the heartsick Kane. The series ends with undelivered hints of more to come.

Most of Spruill's later work – including the Darkness sequence beginning with Rulers of Darkness (1995) – is horror. But The Genesis Shield (1985) involves an Immortality serum, and My Soul to Take (1994) is a Near Future medical thriller. Spruill may have departed sf for good. [JC]

Steven Gregory Spruill

born Battle Creek, Michigan: 20 April 1946



Kane and Pendrake


individual titles

  • Keepers of the Gate (Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Company, 1977) [hb/Gary Friedman]
  • The Janus Equation (New York: Dell Publishing, 1980) [chap: dos: Binary Star #4: pb/George Tsui]
  • Hellstone (Chicago, Illinois: Playboy Paperbacks, 1981) [pb/]
  • The Genesis Shield (New York: Tor, 1985) [pb/]
  • Painkiller (New York: St Martin's Press, 1990) [hb/]
  • Before I Wake (New York: St Martin's Press, 1992) [hb/]
  • My Soul to Take (New York: St Martin's Press, 1994) [hb/Joe Burleson]
  • Nightkill (New York: Tor/Forge, 1997) as by Steve Lyon, with F Paul Wilson [hb/Robert Santora]
  • Sleeper (New York: Berkley Books, 2003) as by Steven Harriman [pb/Ben Perini]
  • The Gift Moves (Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin, 2004) as by Steve Lyon [hb/]


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