Entry updated 24 August 2020. Tagged: Author.
(1931-2017) UK-born author, in Australia from 1955, who began publishing sf with "There is a Crooked Man" for Analog in February 1967, and who after that contributed actively (though less prolifically since the 1970s) to magazine markets, both in Australia and in America, specializing in clear-cut tales about problem-solving; he primarily focused on short fiction, with over seventy stories published before 1999, when he stopped. His cold style is sometimes marred by facetiousness, in the Sunday-writer manner typical of many Hard-SF figures. Although the four novelettes assembled in Future War (coll 1982) were original to that volume, the thrust of his Analog style can still be felt in tales whose overwhelming message is one of bleak disdain for sf's own visions of the Wars of the future (see Future War; Military SF). His solo novels are The Authentic Touch (1971), Looking for Blücher (1980) and Ryn (1982). The first, perhaps rather hopefully, suggests that things might get out of control in a planet made over into theme parks, as entertainment Androids begin to dysfunction; Looking for Blücher investigates similar material in a loose-structured narrative about shared dreams, this time in a Keep-like park housed in a vast Spaceship. Ryn, probably his best novel, tells of a sixty-two-year-old Black Zimbabwean reincarnated, to his bafflement, as a white baby in the Brisbane of a reticently depicted Near-Future Australia (see Identity Transfer).
Wodhams's hard-bitten Humour can be tiresome at novel length, and he structured longer works imperfectly; but his short fiction is proficient, often witty, and good on military matters. Notable and typical is "Mostly Meantime" (February 1981 Analog), about the difficulties of ordering replacement Computer parts over galactic distances. The late collaboration The Vanilla Slice Kid (2015) with Adam Wallace is a comic fantasy for children, whose young hero has the unusual Superpower of being able to materialize and shoot sticky cakes or similar comestibles from the palms of his hands. [PN/JC/DRL]
Herbert Jack Wodhams
born Dagenham, Essex [London]: 3 September 1931
died Corinda, Queensland: 3 August 2017
- The Authentic Touch (New York: Curtis Books, 1971) [pb/]
- Looking for Blücher (St Kilda, Victoria: Void Publications, 1980) [hb/Franchesco Turko]
- Ryn (St Kilda, Victoria: Void Publications, 1982) [pb/Rowena Cory]
- The Vanilla Slice Kid (Ormond, Victoria: Hybrid Publishers/Ford Street Publishing, 2015) with Adam Wallace [illus/Tom Gittus: pb/]
- Future War (St Kilda, Victoria: Void Publications, 1982) [coll: pb/Rowena Cory]
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