|Born||Radell Faraday Nelson
October 3, 1931
Schenectady, New York
|Other names||R. Faraday Nelson, R. F. Nelson, Jeffrey Lord, California Ray and the "Old Beatnik"|
|Known for||"Eight O'Clock in the Morning"|
|Spouse(s)||Perdita Lilly, Kirsten Enge|
Radell Faraday "Ray" Nelson (born October 3, 1931) is an American science fiction author and cartoonist most famous for his 1963 short story "Eight O'Clock in the Morning", which was later used by John Carpenter as the basis for his 1988 film They Live.
Nelson was born October 3, 1931 in Schenectady, New York, the son of Walter Hughes Nelson and Marie Reed. He became an active member of science fiction fandom while still a teenager at Cadillac High School in Cadillac, Michigan. After graduation, he attended the University of Chicago (studying theology), then spent four years studying in Paris, where he met Jean-Paul Sartre, Boris Vian and Simone de Beauvoir, as well as Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, William Burroughs and other Beat Generation icons. In Paris, he worked with Michael Moorcock smuggling then-banned Henry Miller books out of France. While there, he also met Norwegian Kirsten Enge, who became his second wife October 4, 1957. Their only child, Walter Trygve Nelson, was born September 21, 1958 in Paris. He had previously been married to fellow fan Perdita Lilly, subject of his first book, the 23-page poetry collection Perdita: Songs of Love, Sex and Self Pity, who would later marry John Boardman.
Nelson had begun his writing (and creating cartoons) for science fiction fanzines. In addition to "Eight O'Clock in the Morning", Nelson wrote many other professionally-published short stories including "Turn Off the Sky" and "Nightfall on the Dead Sea".
Nelson collaborated with Philip K. Dick on the 1967 alien invasion novel The Ganymede Takeover. At the 1982 Philip K. Dick Awards, Nelson's novel The Prometheus Man gained a Special Citation (runner-up). His 1975 book Blake's Progress, in which the poet William Blake is a time traveler, has been the author's greatest critical success. Richard A. Lupoff described it as "a revelation," saying "Nelson's style is sharply focused and carefully colored . . . His plotting is exactly as complex as it ought to be [and] his characters are nicely drawn." It was rewritten and republished as 1985's Timequest.
Nelson was friends with Philip K. Dick starting in childhood, and in a documentary about Dick, Nelson says that the only times that Dick tried LSD were the two times that he gave it to him. That biographical documentary about Dick, in which Nelson is a featured interviewee, is The Penultimate Truth About Philip K. Dick produced in 2007.
Ray Nelson has professed that his greatest claim to fame is to be the creator of the iconic propeller beanie as emblematic of science fiction fandom while a 10th-grader at Cadillac High School. He also claims to have invented the "Beany" character in a 1948 contest for what would become Time for Beany while visiting relatives in California. "I think it's probably my best bet of being remembered," Nelson says. "I've never been on the New York Times best seller list."
- Perdita: Songs of Love, Sex, and Self Pity
- The Ganymede Takeover (with Philip K. Dick), 1967
- Blake's Progress, 1975
- Then Beggars Could Ride, 1976
- The Ecolog, 1977
- Revolt of the Unemployable, 1978
- The Prometheus Man, 1982
- Timequest, 1985
- Dog-Headed Death (Gaius Hesperian Mysteries), 1989
- Virtual Zen, 1996
- Text of "Eight O'Clock in the Morning
- "Radell Faraday Nelson: A Brief Biography" on his website
- 1951 cover of fanzine Fanvariety #9 by "Perdita Nelson"
- Vegas Fandom Weekly #103, with 1952 photo of Nelson and Lilly on p. 11
- Worldcat listing for Perdita: Songs of Love, Sex and Self Pity
- Fanzine Index listing for 1967–1968 fanzines by "John & Perdita Boardman"
- The Official Philip K. Dick Awards Home Page: List of all works nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award March 08, 2003
- "Lupoff's Book Week", Algol 28, 1977, p.48.
- http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1461696/ IMDb listing for The Penultimate Truth About Philip K. Dick
- "Richard Lupoff's Book Week," Algol 17, 1977, p.29
- Killingbeck, Dale. "Local spin on propellor beanie", Cadillac News, October 13, 2005.
- Ray Nelson at the FictionMags Index