Barry N. Malzberg

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Barry N. Malzberg
Photograph from the back-cover of Beyond Apollo (1972)
Born (1939-07-24) July 24, 1939 (age 75)
Pen name Nathan Herbert, K. M. O'Donnell,
Occupation Novelist
Language English
Nationality United States
Genre Recursive science fiction

Barry Nathaniel Malzberg (born July 24, 1939) is an American writer and editor, most often of science fiction and fantasy.


Malzberg attended Syracuse University from 1956 to 1960. He worked as an investigator for the New York City Department of Welfare from 1961–62, and 1963-64. In 1963 he was employed as a reimbursement agent for the New York State Department of Mental Health. He married Joyce Zelnick in 1964. Initially in his post-graduate work Malzberg sought to establish himself as a playwright as well as a prose-fiction writer. He was awarded a Schubert Foundation Playwriting fellowship from 1964-1965 at Syracuse University. In 1965 he was awarded the Cornelia Ward Creative writing fellowship but he found he was unable to sell his work to any of the literary magazines.[1] In 1965, he had begun working for the Scott Meredith Literary Agency, and would intermittently continue with SMLA through the next several decades, being one of its last caretakers.

His first published story was “The Bed” under the pseudonym “Nathan Herbert” in the men’s magazine “Wildcat”.[2] His first science fiction sale was “We're Coming Through the Window” in Galaxy, August 1967. He repurposed existing stories for his next science fiction sales. He first found commercial and critical success with publication of his surreal novelette "Final War" in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction under the name K. M. O'Donnell in 1968.

He had been writing erotic novels using the pseudonym “Mel Johnson” but began writing erotic novels under his under his own name in 1968 for Maurice Girodias’ Olympia Press.[3] Many of his science short stories and novels in the late 1960s were published under the pseudonym "K. M. O'Donnell", derived from the surnames of Henry Kuttner, C. L. Moore, and their joint pseudonym "Lawrence O'Donnell.[4]

He was an editor at “Escapade”, a men’s magazine in early 1968. In the latter half of 1968 he edited Amazing Stories and Fantastic science fiction magazines.[5] He was the editor of the Science Writers of America Bulletin in 1969 until he was asked to resign because of a critical editorial he wrote about the NASA space program.[6]

Malzberg's writing style is distinctive, with frequently long, elaborate though carefully constructed sentences and under-use of commas. Most of his science fiction books are short, present-tense narratives concerned exclusively with the consciousness of a single obsessive character. His themes, particularly in the novels Beyond Apollo (1972) and The Falling Astronauts (1971) about the US space exploration programme, include the dehumanisation effects of bureaucracy and technology; his treatment of these themes sometimes exhibits strong resemblances to Kafka, accompanied by Unreliable narrator techniques. In novels like Galaxies (1975) and Herovit's World (1973), Malzberg uses metafiction techniques to subject the heroic conventions and literary limitations of space opera to biting satire.

He has edited numerous anthologies such as Final Stage (with Edward L. Ferman) and several with Bill Pronzini, among others. In interviews and memoirs he details how many of his novels have been written within weeks or even days. At the beginning of 1973 he was commissioned to write a series of novels “The Lone Wolf” and had completed 10 by October 1973.[7] He has been an enormously prolific writer, particularly in the early 1970s, in a variety of fields, most often in crime fiction and fantastic fiction, with notable, ambitious work published in other fields, as well, under his own name, as O'Donnell, and as Mike Barry and under other pseudonyms. He has also often written in collaboration with Pronzini, Kathe Koja, and others. He wrote the novelization of the Saul Bass-directed 1974 film Phase IV. At the end of 1975 he made numerous public statements that he was retiring from science fiction [8]

A devotee of classical music, he is also a violinist, and performed in the premiere performance of work by Somtow Sucharitkul; he has also been nominated several times for the Hugo Award, and won the Locus Award for his collection of historical and critical essays, The Engines of the Night (1982).

Malzberg's work has been widely praised by critics, while being attacked by proponents of hard science fiction for its pessimistic, anti-Campbellian tenor. The dystopian and metafictional elements of Malzberg's work have led to numerous parodies inside science fiction, including Paul Di Filippo, whose first published story, "Falling Expectations," was a parody of Malzberg. Theodore Sturgeon said of Malzberg in 1973, "I look forward eagerly to his byline, snatch joyfully at it when I see it and he has never let me down."[9]

For years, Malzberg has collaborated with friend and fellow science fiction writer Mike Resnick on a series of more than 50 advice columns for writers in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America's quarterly magazine SFWA Bulletin. They have been collected as The Business of Science Fiction.

Malzberg was a regular contributor to the SFWA Bulletin published by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. In 2013, articles he wrote for the Bulletin with Mike Resnick triggered a controversy about sexism among members of the association. Female authors strongly objected to comments by Resnick and Malzberg such as references to "lady editors" and "lady writers" who were "beauty pageant beautiful" or a "knock out." Bulletin editor Jean Rabe resigned her post in the course of the controversy.[10]

He has been a resident of Teaneck, New Jersey for many years.[11]

Partial bibliography[edit]


  • 1968 Screen
  • 1968 Oracle of the Thousand Hands
  • 1969 The Empty People (writing as K M O'Donnell)
  • 1970 Dwellers of the Deep (writing as K M O'Donnell)
  • 1971 Confessions of Westchester County
  • 1971 The Falling Astronauts
  • 1971 Gather in the Hall of the Planets (writing as K M O'Donnell)
  • 1971 In My Parents' Bedroom
  • 1971 The Spread
  • 1972 Beyond Apollo
  • 1972 Overlay
  • 1972 The Horizontal Woman
  • 1972 The Masochist
  • 1972 The Men Inside
  • 1972 Revelations
  • 1973 Phase IV, adapted from the screenplay by Mayo Simon
  • 1973 Herovit's World
  • 1973 In the Enclosure
  • 1973 Tactics of Conquest
  • 1973 Opening Fire
  • 1973 The Way of the Tiger, The Sign of the Dragon [Kung Fu #1] (writing as Howard Lee)
  • 1974 The Destruction of the Temple
  • 1974 On a Planet Alien
  • 1974 The Sodom and Gomorrah Business
  • 1974 Guernica Night
  • 1974 The Day of the Burning
  • 1974 Underlay
  • 1975 The Gamesman
  • 1975 Galaxies
  • 1975 Conversations
  • 1976 The Running of Beasts (with Bill Pronzini)
  • 1976 Chorale
  • 1976 Scop
  • 1977 The Last Transaction
  • 1977 Lady of a Thousand Sorrows (writing as Lee W. Mason)
  • 1977 Acts of Mercy (with Bill Pronzini)
  • 1979 Night Screams (with Bill Pronzini)
  • 1980 Prose Bowl (with Bill Pronzini)
  • 1982 The Cross of Fire
  • 1985 The Remaking of Sigmund Freud

As "Mike Barry" – The Lone Wolf series[edit]

  • 1973 Night Raider
  • 1973 Bay Prowler
  • 1973 Boston Avenger
  • 1974 Desert Stalker
  • 1974 Havana Hit
  • 1974 Chicago Slaughter
  • 1974 Peruvian Nightmare
  • 1974 Los Angeles Holocaust
  • 1974 Miami Marauder
  • 1975 Harlem Showdown
  • 1975 Detroit Massacre
  • 1975 Phoenix Inferno
  • 1975 The Killing Run
  • 1975 Philadelphia Blow-Up

Pseudonymous erotic novels[12][edit]

  • 1967 Love Doll (Softcover - as Mel Johnson)
  • 1968 I, Lesbian (Midwood - as M.L. Johnson)
  • 1968 Just Ask (Midwood - as Mel Johnson)
  • 1968 Instant Sex (Midwood - as Mel Johnson)
  • 1968 Chained (Midwood - as Mel Johnson)
  • 1968 Kiss and Run (Midwood - as Mel Johnson)
  • 1969 Nympho Nurse (Midwood - as Mel Johnson)
  • 1969 The Sadist (Midwood - as Mel Johnson)
  • 1969 Diary of a Parisian Chambermaid (Midwood - as Claudine Dumas)
  • 1969 Do It To Me (Midwood - as Mel Johnson)
  • 1969 Born to Give (Midwood - as Mel Johnson)
  • 1969 Campus Doll (Midwood - as Mel Johnson)
  • 1969 The Box (Oracle - as Mel Johnson)
  • 1969 A Way With All Maidens (Oracle - as Mel Johnson)
  • 1969 The Circle (Olympia - as Francine di Natale)
  • 1969 Southern Comfort (Olympia 460 - as Gerrold Watkins)
  • 1970 A Bed of Money (Olympia 474 - as Gerrold Watkins)
  • 1970 A Satyr's Romance (Olympia 476 - as Gerrold Watkins)
  • 1970 Giving It Away (Olympia 479 - as Gerrold Watkins)
  • 1970 The Art of the Fugue (Olympia 483 - as Gerrold Watkins)


  • 1969 Final War: And Other Fantasies (writing as K M O'Donnell)
  • 1971 In the Pocket: And Other SF Stories (writing as K M O'Donnell)
  • 1971 Universe Day (writing as K M O'Donnell)
  • 1974 Out From Ganymede
  • 1975 The Many Worlds of Barry Malzberg
  • 1975 The Best of Barry N. Malzberg
  • 1976 Down Here In The Dream Quarter
  • 1979 Malzberg At Large
  • 1980 The Man Who Loved the Midnight Lady: A Collection
  • 1982 The Engines of the Night: Science Fiction in the Eighties (Essays, with some fiction)
  • 1994 The Passage of the Light—The Recursive Science Fiction of Barry N. Malzberg (with Tony Lewis and Mike Resnick)
  • 2000 In the Stone House
  • 2001 Shiva: And Other Stories
  • 2003 Problems Solved (all stories collaborations with Bill Pronzini)
  • 2007 Breakfast in the Ruins (A much expanded version of "The Engines of the Night")
  • 2013 The Very Best of Barry N. Malzberg


  1. ^ Charles Platt. ‘Barry Malzberg’ in The Dream Makers. Berkley, 1980. pp77-86.
  2. ^ Debut Science Fiction and Fantasy
  3. ^ Barry Malzberg, ‘Repentance, Desire, and Natalie Wood’, eI22 -- October 2005
  4. ^ Barry Malzberg’s entry at the Science Fiction Encyclopedia
  5. ^ Barry Malzberg. ‘In The Hall of the Mountain King’, Amazing Stories, 4 February 2013
  6. ^ Barry Malzberg,'Is the Most Speculative Form of Fiction Afraid to Gamble Anymore . . . ?', Amazing, Stories, July 1981
  7. ^ Barry Malzberg. ‘Some Notes on the Lone Wolf’, Breakfast in the Ruins, Baen Books, 2007. Pp296-298
  8. ^ collected in Barry Malzberg, ‘…And a Chaser’, in Fantastic Lives edited by Martin H. Greenberg, Southern Illinois University Press, 1981. pp102-117.
  9. ^ "Galaxy Bookshelf", Galaxy Science Fiction, October 1973, p.103
  10. ^ Anders, Charlie Jane (6 June 2013). "The editor of SFWA's bulletin resigns over sexist articles". io9. Retrieved 7 June 2013. 
  11. ^ Page, Jeffrey. "RAMPAGING COMPUTERS", The Record (Bergen County), March 1, 1993. Accessed September 10, 2009. "Malzberg, of Teaneck, opened the mail and found a warrant had been issued for his arrest because, the computer's microchips insisted, hehad failed to pay a parking ticket 9½ years ago."
  12. ^ St. James Guide to Science Fiction Writers, 4th ed. St. James Press, 1996

External links[edit]