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Straub, Peter

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1943-2022) US author who focused throughout his long career on horror novels, most of them ambitious, and almost always fantastic (see Fantastika; Horror in SF), but using very few sf agencies at any point. His collaboration with Stephen King in the Talisman sequence comprising The Talisman (1984) and Black House (2001) verges on sf, however, when its characters enter Underground into a Parallel World cognate with that depicted in King's solo Dark Tower. Straub wrote relatively little short fiction, his first story being The General's Wife (May 1982 Twilight Zone; 1982); Interior Darkness: Selected Stories (coll 2016) assembles a significant range of tales from between 1985 and 2013, some of them of novella length.

Some of Straub's mid-period works, such as the World Fantasy Award-winning Koko (1988), which initiated the Blue Rose sequence, are nonfantastic tales of crime and retribution; the central continuing protagonist of the series is the author Tim Underhill. The savage Godgame manipulations inflicted by Underhill on his characters in the subsequent Underhill sequence, comprising lost boy lost girl (2003) and In the Night Room (2004), are at points Equipoisal with more traditional sf exercises in immurement; the Pocket Universe which encloses at least one of these characters is reminiscent in its cruel imprisoning claustrophobia of Margaret St Clair's Agent of the Unknown (1956 dos). A sense that as his career advanced, Straub increasingly tended to gnomic juxtapositions of material from the overall toolkit of Fantastika, is strengthened through the publication of an apparent fragment like Perdido: A Fragment from a Work in Progress (2015 chap), where disjunct thrusts of story-types muscularly create a vision both raddled and encompassing (see Gothic SF).

Straub won numerous horror and dark fantasy awards, among them a World Fantasy Award for his Library of America anthology American Fantastic Tales: Terror and the Uncanny from Poe to the Pulps (anth 2009). His honours for life achievement include a Bram Stoker Award in 2006, an International Horror Guild Award in 2008 and a further World Fantasy Award in 2010. [JC]

see also: Arthur Machen.

Peter Francis Straub

born Milwaukee, Wisconsin: 2 March 1943

died New York: 4 September 2022




  • The Talisman (New York: Viking, 1984) with Stephen King [Talisman: hb/Neil Stuart]
  • Black House (New York: Random House, 2001) with Stephen King [Talisman: hb/Marc Cohen]

Blue Rose

  • Koko (New York: E P Dutton, 1988) [Blue Rose: hb/Robert Korn]
  • Mystery (New York: E P Dutton, 1990) [Blue Rose: hb/Paul Bacon]
  • The Throat (New York: E P Dutton, 1993) [Blue Rose: hb/Rob Wood]


individual titles

  • Marriages (London: André Deutsch, 1973) [hb/Howard Brown]
  • Julia (New York: Coward, McCann and Geoghegan, 1976) [hb/Paul Bacon]
  • If You Could See Me Now (London: Jonathan Cape, 1977) [hb/]
  • Ghost Story (New York: Coward, McCann and Geoghegan, 1979) [hb/Angela Cummings]
  • Shadow Land (New York: Coward, McCann and Geoghegan, 1980) [hb/Lynn Hollyn]
  • Floating Dragon (San Francisco, California: Underwood-Miller, 1982) [hb/Diane and Leo Dillon]
    • Floating Dragon (New York: G P Putnam's Sons, 1983) [apparently simultaneous with the above: with textual differences: hb/Paul Bacon]
  • Mrs God (West Kingston, Rhode Island: Donald M Grant, 1990) [illus/hb/Rick Berry]
    • Mrs God (New York: Pegasus Crime, 2010) [novella: cut version of the above: reprinting the preferred version: first appeared in Houses Without Doors below: hb/Michael Fusco]
  • Mystery (New York: E P Dutton, 1990) [hb/Paul Bacon]
  • The Throat (Baltimore, Maryland: Borderlands Press, 1993) [preferred text: hb/Ryan Dreimiller]
  • The Hellfire Club (New York: Random House, 1996) [hb/Barnaby Hall]
  • Mr X (New York: Random House, 1999) [hb/Marc Cohen]
  • A Dark Matter (New York: Doubleday, 2010) [see also The Skylark below: hb/Kim Keever]
  • The Skylark (Burton, Michigan: Subterranean Press, 2010) [alternate version of A Dark Matter above, with a different approach to the same material; neither is the preferred text: hb/Susan Bee]
  • A Process (is a Process All its Own) (Burton, Michigan: Subterranean Press, 2017) [chap: hb/Susan Straub]

collections and stories



works as editor

about the author


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