Wed
Oct 22 2008 4:54pm
Barrington J. Bayley, 1937-2008

Barrington J. Bayley (Barry Bayley) died on October 14. Of the important writers in the launch of the British New Wave in SF in the 1960s, Bayley was among the best, and in later decades, the most neglected. Chip Delany told me an anecdote about attending a meeting/party at Mike Moorcock’s in the mid-sixties in London. It was clear that Bayley was one of Moorcock’s notable supporters in the New Wave overthrow of science fiction.

To the best of my knowledge, I was the last editor to publish him commercially in the US (The Rod of Light, Arbor House, 1987). It was a companion to his earlier The Soul of the Robot (1974). His reputation in the US suffered from the publication of his early novels by Ace, at a low point in their reputation in the early 1970s, and later frequently by DAW. Even with Doubleday hardcovers of two of his best novels, The Soul of the Robot and The Garmets of Caen, and some good reviews, no one paid much atttention in the US to this intelligent and accomplished writer.

I was delighted to find in the mid-1980s that Bruce Sterling was a fan of Bayley’s work, but I couldn’t find many others. There’s a good bibliography of his work and I recommend you try one of the novels mentioned above. His work deserves better than to be marginalized as merely of historical interest.

3 comments
Jo Walton
1. bluejo
He was a lovely man, too, and I was sorry to hear of his death. He was one of the best people I ever met to toss an idea around with, and one of the fastest at picking them up and running with them. I was fortunate enough to be present when he was brainstorming with John Brunner once, it was absolutely marvellous.
Angus McIntyre
2. angusm
I remember very much enjoying "The Fall of Chronopolis". I'd read enough time-travel SF full of grandfather paradoxes and high-tech/low-tech collisions to think that the whole subgenre was pretty much tapped-out, and then Bayley put a whole new spin on the idea.
James Nicoll
3. James Davis Nicoll
Someone on rasfw said that Bailey had finished a novel recently. Would you happen to know that novel's status?

Ritual admission that publishing is big and that question is vague enough to be a "Say, you're from Canada. Do you know if Bob in Calgary resurfaced his driveway yet?"

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