Thursday, October 16, 2008

Barrington Bayley

Just learnt that British SF's dark star died two days ago. A very fine writer whose work was playfully serious and packed with ideas and an anarchic surrealism that was both mordant and biting witty. He was often called an 'SF writer's SF writer' - much admired, but never achieving the kind of fame enjoyed by people with a quarter of his talent. He was also a consummate professional. Kim Newman and I published one of his short stories, 'Don't Leave Me', in our anthology In Dreams. A wonderful satire on the excesses of academic scholarship, it required extensive quotes from the eponymous track that was the subject of dissection by far-future scholars. Kim and I thought it word-perfect wonderful, but with some trepidation raised with Barry one possible difficulty - he would need to obtain copyright clearance. Barry assured us that it was no problem, and within a couple of weeks had sorted it out, paying for clearance to quote selected lyrics out of his own pocket. As we wrote in our introduction:
'We're particularly pleased to present one of his stories here, because, with novels such as The Zen Gun and The Rod of Light, he is a link between the fine old days of New Worlds' trippy gedanken experiments in literary speculative fiction and the ideological gurus of the current radical SF fringe.'


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still treasure the phrase "voluntary early death" from that story. Brings on a twisted smile just thinking about it now...

My personal favorite Bayley story might well be "Sporting with the Chid", simply because it's so wonderfully demented.

October 19, 2008 3:50 pm  
Blogger Paul McAuley said...

He most definitely had a marvellous facility for pursuing ideas far beyond what most would consider their logical conclusion - and somehow sustaining an entirely consistent internal logic.

October 19, 2008 4:00 pm  

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