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F. M. Busby

F. M. Busby

     Author

LibertyCon 8 Author Guest of Honor (1994)

(1921-2005)

US communications engineer, long-time sf fan (from 1950) and writer; co-editor with his wife Elinor Busby of the 1950s-1960s Fanzine Cry of the Nameless, which won a Hugo award in 1960, producing some of this early work as by Renfrew Pemberton. He began publishing sf stories with "A Gun for Grandfather" for Future Science Fiction in Fall 1957 - a story which appears in Getting Home (coll 1987) - but he did not become active until the early 1970s. He attended the Clarion Science Fiction Writers' Workshop in 1972, at which point he went freelance as a writer, publishing short fiction frequently, and beginning his career as a novelist with the Space-Opera Demu series about a hijacked human, Barton, and his war against the Alien Demu: Cage a Man (1974) and The Proud Enemy (1975), both assembled with "The Learning of Eeshta" (September-October 1973 If) plus the book-length "End of the Line" as The Demu Trilogy (omni 1980). The first, superior, instalment is particularly effective in its depiction of Barton's imprisonment and eventual escape. Busby's second sequence, which shifted tone and protagonists over the years, began with Rissa Kerguelen (1976) and The Long View (1976), which two were actually a single extremely long novel and were republished as such, reset and with minor revisions, as Rissa Kerguelen (1977; vt 3vols as Young Rissa [1984], Rissa and Tregare [1984] and the original second volume, The Long View [1984]). Ambitious, and featuring a rather diffuse character portrait of its female protagonist to justify its length, the Rissa Kerguelen story is, in essence, a stylistically awkward tale of bureaucratic oppression on Earth, flight to the stars, interstellar conflict and eventual revenge. The rhythm picks up somewhat but the portents of significance tend to fade in later volumes, which sooner or later connect with the earlier tale: Zelde M'Tana (1980), which is something of an offshoot, and the Bran Tregare/Hulzein Dynasty novels, about Rissa's eventual husband: The Star Rebel (1984) and Rebel's Quest (1985), both assembled as The Rebel Dynasty, Volume I (omni 1987), and Alien Debt (1985) and Rebel's Seed (1986), both assembled as The Rebel Dynasty, Volume II (omni 1988).

Two late singletons were of interest. The Breeds of Man (1988) is a serious attempt to deal imaginatively with AIDS, though with a perhaps exaggerated belief in the ethical pureheartedness of the international bioconglomerate called Phoenix where much of the action takes place; driven by a domineering magnate (on lines made familiar by Robert A Heinlein), the folk at Phoenix generate a succession of world-changing solutions to the original problem. It is clear throughout that Busby himself advocates the enablement of human breeding. Altogether more lightheartedly, The Singularity Project (1993) interpenetrates a detective plot into an sf disquisition of Matter Transmission. Busby's last sequence, the Slow Freight books beginning with Slow Freight (1991) (see Checklist below), expands the implications of Matter Transmission congenially into Space Opera, with Aliens and Sex and more. [JC]

(From Mr. Busby's page at the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction)