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Van Greenaway, Peter

Entry updated 13 May 2024. Tagged: Author.

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Almost certainly the working name of UK lawyer, actor, scriptwriter and author Arthur Greenaway (1927-1988), according to information obtained by Steve Holland; he focused on fiction from about 1960. Though he never became known as a genre writer, much of his work was sf (see Horror in SF), including his first novel, The Crucified City (1962), a Post-Holocaust story set in a devastated London after a nuclear bomb has been dropped, and his second, The Evening Fool (1964), which carries its protagonist into an unviable Utopia. The Man Who Held the Queen to Ransom and Sent Parliament Packing (1968) features a Near-Future coup in the UK, told in the astringent, side-of-the-mouth pessimistic voice which became a trademark.

The Medusa Touch (1973), first of six books linked by the series character Inspector Cherry of Scotland Yard, is a tale of Telekinesis featuring an obsessed, misanthropic Antihero whose last act is the destruction of Westminster Abbey, terminating the Royals; it was filmed as The Medusa Touch (1977) directed by Jack Gold. Other books in this sequence touch on fantastic tropes [see Checklist below], such as the Doppelganger theme in Doppelgänger (1975) and seeming Precognition in "Cassandra" Bell (1981).

In various non-series novels Van Greenaway's dubiety about the human animal became visibly more inflamed, most evidently in tales like Judas! (1972; vt The Judas Gospel 1972); Take the War to Washington (1974), in which Vietnam veterans, traumatized by the war and the Amnesia of the American people about their experience, crash a passenger plane into the Pentagon; Suffer! Little Children (1976); and The Dissident (1980). His last novels are perhaps even darker: Manrissa Man (1982) makes savage play with the ape-as-human (see Apes as Human) theme; in graffiti (1983), another Post-Holocaust tale, survivors of a nuclear war revenge themselves upon its perpetrators, while one survivor scratches his story on half-demolished walls; and in Mutants (1986) the UK is infested by Mutant Mice. The increasingly solitary, disaffected, evasively narrated, uncompromisingly dark work of his later years made it unlikely that Van Greenaway would ever be read with comfort as a genre writer. [JC/DRL]

Arthur L Greenaway

born London: 1927

died Inverness, Scotland: 30 July 1988



Inspector Cherry

  • The Medusa Touch (London: Victor Gollancz, 1973) [Inspector Cherry: hb/Colin Hay]
  • Doppelgänger (London: Victor Gollancz, 1975) [Inspector Cherry: hb/nonpictorial]
  • The Destiny Man (London: Victor Gollancz, 1977) [Inspector Cherry: hb/uncredited]
  • "Cassandra" Bell (London: Victor Gollancz, 1981) [Inspector Cherry: hb/uncredited]
  • The Lazarus Lie (London: Victor Gollancz, 1982) [Inspector Cherry: hb/uncredited]
  • The Killing Cup (London: Victor Gollancz, 1987) [Inspector Cherry: hb/uncredited]

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