Charles L. Harness

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Charles Leonard Harness (December 29, 1915 – September 20, 2005)[1] was an American science fiction writer. He was born in Colorado City, Texas and grew up just outside it, then later in Fort Worth. He earned degrees in chemistry and law from George Washington University and worked as a patent attorney in Connecticut & Washington, DC from 1947 to 1981.[1] Several of Harness' works draw on his background as a lawyer.

Writing career[edit]

Harness' first story, "Time Trap" (1948), is unusual for a first story in that it shows many of his recurring themes, among them art, time travel, and a hero undergoing a quasi-transcendental experience.

Harness' most famous single novel was his first, Flight into Yesterday, which was published first as a novella in the May 1949 issue of Startling Stories and was later republished as The Paradox Men in 1953.[1][2] The "science-fiction classic"[3] is both "a tale dominated by space-opera extravagances" and "a severely articulate narrative analysis of the implications of Arnold J. Toynbee's A Study of History."[1] Boucher and McComas described it as "fine swashbuckling adventure ... so infinitely intricate that you may never quite understand what it's about."[4] P. Schuyler Miller described it as "action-entertainment, fast-paced enough that you don't stop to bother with inconsistencies or improbabilities."[5]

In his introduction in the 1967 Four Square paperback reprint of the novel, Brian Aldiss terms it a major example of the "Widescreen Baroque" style in science fiction, and John Clute terms it "the kind of tale which transforms traditional space opera into an arena where a vast array of characters can act their hearts out, where anything can be said with a wink or dead seriously, and any kind of story be told."[1] In Trillion Year Spree, Aldiss and Wingrove report the novel "plays high, wide, and handsome with space and time, buzzes around the solar system like a demented hornet, [and] is witty, profound, and trivial all in one breath."[6] The Paradox Men features the concept of force fields which protect people against high-velocity weapons like guns but not against knives or swords, an idea later used in Frank Herbert's Dune (1965).[7]

In 1953, Harness also published his most famous single story, "The Rose", which first appeared in the British magazine Authentic Science Fiction, then as the main novella in a UK mass-market paperback collection. The story did not appear in the United States until 1969.[1]

Among Harness' best known stories are "The Rose", "An Ornament to his Profession", "The Alchemist" and "Stalemate in Time". His story "The New Reality" has been called "SF's best Adam & Eve story" by Brian Stableford. His novel Redworld is one of the very few science fiction novels in which all characters are aliens.

Harness's ideas influenced numerous writers and he continued to publish until 2001, being nominated for multiple Hugo and Nebula awards. In 2004 he was named Author Emeritus by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

Harness died in 2005, at the age of 89, in North Newton, Kansas.[1]

Awards[edit]

  • "The Rose", novella nominated for the Retro-Hugo Award in 2004
  • "The Alchemist", novella nominated for the Hugo and Nebula awards for 1966
  • "An Ornament to His Profession", novelette nominated for the Hugo and Nebula awards for 1966
  • "Probable Cause", novella nominated for the Nebula award for 1969
  • "Summer Solstice", novella nominated for the Hugo award in 1985

Bibliography[edit]

Novels[edit]

  • Flight into Yesterday (1953)[2](reprinted as The Paradox Men in 1955)
  • The Ring of Ritornel (1968)[1]
  • Wolfhead (1978)[1]
  • The Catalyst (1980)[2]
  • Firebird (1981)[2]
  • The Venetian Court (1982)[2]
  • Redworld (1986)[2]
  • Krono (1988)[2]
  • Lurid Dreams (1990)[2]
  • Lunar Justice (1991)[2]
  • Drunkard's Endgame (1999) (in Rings, an omnibus edition of four novels by Harness from NESFA Press ISBN 1-886778-16-7)
  • Cybele, With Bluebonnets (2002)[1]

Collections[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Clute, John. "Unorthodox science-fiction writer." (Charles L. Harness obituary) The Independent, October 11, 2005.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "I Did it For the Money." (Charles L. Harness inverview) Locus, December 1998.
  3. ^ Flight into Yesterday (1953) by Charles Harness - FantasticFiction.co.uk
  4. ^ "Recommended Reading," F&SF, September 1953, p. 101.
  5. ^ "The Reference Library", Astounding Science Fiction, April 1954, p.147
  6. ^ Aldiss & Wingrove, Trillion Year Spree, Victor Gollancz, 1986, p.324
  7. ^ Horton, Rich. The Paradox Men/Dome Around America Ace Double Reviews, 18. Retrieved September 23, 2008.

External links[edit]