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(1950-2012) US author with a BA in Chinese Studies who spent several years in the Far East. His first published sf was "The Hand Is Quicker" (October 1973 Analog), and over fifty short stories followed before the turn of the century. His first novel, Bander Snatch (1979), curiously blends pulp Clichés and real inventiveness in its tale of a ghetto mobster who has telepathic powers and learns to use them responsibly. Mayflies (1979), which shows a significant advance in narrative skill, is a Generation-Starship story where ephemeral human lives flit past the hero, an immortal human brain embedded in the ship's Computer and fighting for control. O'Donnell was perhaps best known for the amusing series The Journeys of McGill Feighan, beginning with The Journeys of McGill Feighan: Book I: Caverns (1981) and ending with The Journeys of McGill Feighan: Book IV: Cliffs (1986). Feighan is a flinger – he can instantaneously transport objects, including other people and himself, via Teleportation – who, though based on Earth, solves problems on various planets; his quest is for the godlike Far Being who has interfered with his life since birth. Like most of O'Donnell's fiction, these are interesting, light-hearted books, casual in their tone of voice, like a hybrid of Ron Goulart and Jack Vance. ORA:CLE (1984), complexly plotted, features an expert on Asian history, brain-linked with a Computer, in a future where people live indoors because Climate Change has fouled the air, and Aliens hunt those who venture into the open. Fire on the Border (1990), a Space Opera with interstellar warfare and a Japanese general, is crammed with almost too much incident. It would have been interesting to see what O'Donnell could do if his novels proceeded less breathlessly; but he published no extended fictions after the mid-1990s. [PN]
see also: Cyborgs; Spaceships.
born Cleveland, Ohio: 29 November 1950
died Campbell, Ohio: 7 November 2012
The Journeys of McGill Feighan
Entry from The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (2011-current) edited by John Clute and David Langford.
Accessed 21:26 pm on 5 July 2022.