- December 31
) was an American science fiction
author. He was a prolific contributor to Astounding
and other science fiction magazines of the 1950s and 1960s. He instructed Robert Silverberg
in the techniques of selling large quantities of action-adventure science fiction, and collaborated with him on two novels about Earth bringing civilization to an alien planet.
Biography and writing career
Garrett is best known for the Lord Darcy
books—the novel Too Many Magicians
and two short story collections—set in an alternate world
where a joint British
empire still led by a Plantagenet
dynasty has survived into the twentieth century and where magic works and has been scientifically codified. The Darcy books are rich in jokes, puns, and references (particularly to works of detective
and spy fiction
: Lord Darcy is himself partially modelled on Sherlock Holmes
), elements that often appear in his shorter works. Michael Kurland
would continue to write Lord Darcy stories.
Garrett wrote under a variety of pseudonyms including: David Gordon, John Gordon, Darrel T. Langart (an anagram of his name), Alexander Blade, Richard Greer, Ivar Jorgensen, Clyde Mitchell, Leonard G. Spencer, S. M. Tenneshaw, Gerald Vance. He was also a founding member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, as "Randall of Hightower" (a pun on "garret"). The short novel Brain Twister, written by Garrett in conjunction with author Laurence Janifer (using the joint pseudonym Mark Phillips) was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1960.
An inveterate punster (defining a pun as "the odor given off by a decaying mind"), he was a favorite guest at science fiction conventions and friend to many fans, especially in Southern California.
Garrett suffered an attack of encephalitis in the early 1980s and was not able to write after that; he spent the last years of his life in a coma.
In 1999, Randall Garrett won the Sidewise Award for Alternate History Special Achievement Award for the Lord Darcy series.
He was also ordained in the Old Catholic Church.
- Too Many Magicians (1979, magazine serialization 1966)
- Murder and Magic (1979, collection of 1964–1973 stories)
- Lord Darcy Investigates (1981, collection of 1974–1979 stories)
- Lord Darcy (2002) (contains the contents of the three books above plus 2 uncollected stories, with minor editing to remove repetitions of the backstory)
with Robert Silverberg, as Robert Randall
- Pagan Passions (1959) (with Laurence Janifer as "Larry M. Harris")
- Unwise Child (1962)
- Anything You Can Do (1963) (as Darrel T. Langart)
- Takeoff! (1980), composed of tongue-in-cheek imitations of a number of other authors and universes, such as E.E. "Doc" Smith's Lensman series and Reginald Bretnor's Ferdinand Feghoot (who is "Benedict Breadfruit" in Garrett's treatment).
- The Best of Randall Garrett (1982) (edited by Robert Silverberg)
- Takeoff Too! (1987)
Notable short fiction
- Probability Zero (1944) first published science fiction story.
- The Best Policy (1957), in which a smart Earthling manages to convince a reconnaissance group of hostile aliens who abduct him that the earthlings are far more advanced and superior race, and instead of a hostile takeover, they send humble ambassadors. The catch is the aliens have a perfect truth detector and the hero has to phrase every line carefully so that while being literally honest he can pull off such a huge lie.
- Despoilers of the Golden Empire, in which he spun a pulp yarn of space flight, swordplay, and derring-do, only to reveal it to be a deception, an account of the conquest of Peru by Francisco Pizarro with careful misdirection in the text.
Complete list of publications
Novels and anthologies
Novelles and Short stories