US writer who began publishing sf with his first novel, The Cold Cash War (1977), which alarmingly conflates Game-World antics (like fake Wars between mercenaries representing rival corporations on rented turf - Brazil, for instance, being visualized mainly as an arena for world-dominating firms to play games in) and a political rationale to legitimize the corporate control of Earth. Asprin's later novels continued to chafe against similar real-life constraints, and it was not until the invention of the Thieves' World universe that he came into his own. The individual volumes in the sequence - a Shared-World fantasy enterprise crafted by a number of writers - were designed by Asprin to comprise a number of stories written (or edited) so that they read as Braids; he may have been the first sf or fantasy editor to create a significant braided anthology or novel. The sequence begins with Thieves' World * (anth 1979) and ends with Stealer's Sky (anth 1989). Six Graphic-Novel versions of material from the sequence were published, all with Lynn Abbey and Tim Sale, beginning with Thieves' World Graphics 1 (graph 1985), #2 (graph 1986) and #3 (graph 1986). Other fantasy sequences include the M.Y.T.H. sequence and the Elfquest sequence).
Since 1979 almost all of Asprin's work was fantasy, mostly comic. An exception is his Phule's Company sequence - beginning with Phule's Company (1990) and ending with Phule's Company #5: No Phule Like an Old Phule (2003) with Peter J Heck - which deploys the eponymous passel of ragbag soldiers in a Space-Opera universe. A more recent series, Wartorn, begins with Wartorn: Resurrection (2005) with Eric Del Cario. Asprin's reputation lies mainly in the ingenuity of his braiding activities as editor, but his comic fiction was craftsmanlike. [JC]