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Tooker, Richard

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1902-1988) US author and editor who wrote also as Dick Presley Tooker; his first sf story, under that name, was the unsophisticated Planetary Romance "Planet Paradise", written when he was fifteen and revised for Weird Tales (February 1924). He wrote one of the prize-winning essays in the contest launched by Hugo Gernsback, "What Science Fiction Means To Me" (June 1929 Wonder Stories). Many of his early sf stories deal with some aspect of human primitivism. He is best remembered for The Day of the Brown Horde (1929), in which cavemen fight one another and the last of the plesiosaurs (see Dinosaurs), and which deals, like much of the Prehistoric-SF subgenre, with the onset of human consciousness (see Origin of Man). The Dawn Boy (1932), a juvenile, revisits a similar venue. With the onset of the Depression and heavy family commitments from 1930 onwards, Tooker established a literary service to help writers develop their manuscripts and, in some cases, to ghostwrite stories. He was approached by Henry Kuttner, who sought his help in rewriting and abridging his early stories, though Tooker refused. Tooker appeared only sporadically in the Pulp magazines. His novelette "The Tomb of Time" (March 1933 Amazing) was revised and expanded as Inland Deep (1936) which imaginatively features man-frogs and other odd creatures in an Underground Lost World. Tooker regarded "The Song from the Dark Star" (September 1936 Astounding) as one of his best stories. It describes creatures of pure thought who are dying out but are searching the universe for other sentient life with which they can reproduce. Tooker's agent, Otis Adelbert Kline managed to place "Zenith Rand, Planet Vigilante" at Mystery Adventure Magazine (June 1936), which had recently been taken over by Harold Hersey. This story and its two sequels, "Revenge on Scylla" (August 1936 Mystery Adventure Magazine) and "Angels of Oorn" (October 1936 Mystery Adventure Magazine) are the ultimate or perhaps the nadir in Space Opera, following the adventures of this heroic but lovelorn space patroller. Tooker's style of sf writing was unpopular after World War Two, though he appeared in Hugo Gernsback's Science-Fiction Plus with "The Ultimate City" (April 1953), where Nuclear Energy provides humanity with all its needs but civilization is nevertheless crumbling. Tooker continued to write in various fields other than sf until his death, and was working on a new sf story (with the help of Richard A Lupoff) in his final months, but it was not published. [MA/JC]

Richard Presley Tooker

born Farina, Illinois: 3 July 1902

died Phoenix, Arizona: 23 September 1988



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