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Temple, William F

Entry updated 6 February 2023. Tagged: Author, Fan.

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(1914-1989) UK author who began his activities in the sf world before World War Two as an active fan, a member of the British Interplanetary Society and editor of its Bulletin, and a flatmate of Arthur C Clarke. He began to publish work of genre interest with "The Kosso" in Thrills (anth 1935) edited anonymously by Charles Birkin (1907-1986), a Horror in SF tale in which a tree, given Intelligence by a scientist, rebels; other early fiction includes an Amateur Magazine appearance with "Mr. Craddock's Life-Line" (October 1937 Amateur Science Stories as by Temple Williams; vt "Mr. Craddock's Amazing Experience" February 1939 Amazing as by Temple); "Lunar Lilliput" (Spring 1938 Tales of Wonder), a fictional account of the British Interplanetary Society's first expedition to the Moon; and "The Smile of the Sphinx" (Autumn 1938 Tales of Wonder), in which Cats are revealed as the Secret Masters of Earth. World War Two service interrupted his career for more than half a decade. His first and best-known novel, Four-Sided Triangle (November 1939 Amazing as "The 4-Sided Triangle"; exp 1949), is a love story in which a girl who is loved by two men is duplicated (see Matter Duplication) by the one she has refused, who discovers to his dismay that both versions of her are attracted to the same man; this was filmed as Four-Sided Triangle (1952) from a script co-written by Paul Tabori. After World War Two Temple became active in the magazines for about a decade, continuing to produce at a moderate rate until 1970 (with only two subsequent magazine appearances in 1978 and, posthumously, 1992), though it cannot be suggested that he built his post-War career with anything like the energy of more famous colleagues like Clarke or John Wyndham, nor during this period were his book-length fictions remarkably distinguished.

The Martin Magnus series of Children's SF tales – Martin Magnus, Planet Rover (1954), Martin Magnus on Venus (1955) and Martin Magnus on Mars (1956) – was followed by some undistinguished sf adventures: The Automated Goliath (fixup 1962 dos), The Three Suns of Amara (July 1961 Science Fiction Adventures UK as "A Trek to Na-Abiza"; exp 1962 chap dos) and Battle on Venus (January 1953 Authentic as "Immortal's Playthings"; vt "Field of Battle" February 1953 Other Worlds; rev 1963 dos). Temple's last two novels, however, are far more impressive. Shoot at the Moon (1966), which Parodies many of the more routine sf conventions concerning trips to the Moon and the gallery of characters usually involved, is a Ship-of-Fools extravaganza of some hilarity. The Fleshpots of Sansato (1968; cut 1970) is a remarkable Space Opera replete with interstellar agents, a corrupt City in the stars, and much symbolism.

Temple's semi-autobiographical fictionalization of his pre-war flat-sharing with fellow fans Arthur C Clarke (here known by his fan nickname "Ego") and Maurice K Hanson was first written in the 1940s as «Bachelor Flat» but despite rewrites failed to interest publishers; this gentle comedy of science- and Fandom-obsessed life eventually appeared as the title piece of 88 Gray's Inn Road: A Living-Space Odyssey; and Other Stories (coll 2000). Further posthumous assemblies are A Niche in Time and Other Stories: The Best of William F. Temple Volume 1 (coll 2011), which includes the short story "The 4-Sided Triangle", and Temple at the Bar (coll 2017 ebook; exp rev 2022), presenting his mostly humorous writing in Fanzines from 1938 to 1960. [JC/DRL]

see also: Amateur Magazine; Clones; Eastercon.

William Frederick Joseph Temple

born Woolwich, London: 9 March 1914

died Folkestone, Kent: 15 July 1989



Martin Magnus

The Best of William F Temple

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