Keith Roberts

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For the American dancer, see Keith Roberts (dancer). For the New Zealand rugby league player, see Keith Roberts (rugby league). For the American academic, see Keith J. Roberts.
Keith Roberts
Born (1935-09-20)20 September 1935
Kettering, Northamptonshire
Died 5 October 2000(2000-10-05) (aged 65)
Salisbury, Wiltshire, England
Pen name Alistair Bevan, John Kingston, David Stringer
Occupation Writer, artist, graphic designer
Nationality British
Genre Science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, thriller
Notable works Pavane

Keith John Kingston Roberts (20 September 1935 – 5 October 2000), was an English science fiction author. He began publishing with two stories in the September 1964 issue of Science Fantasy magazine, "Anita" (the first of a series of stories featuring a teenage modern witch and her eccentric granny) and "Escapism.[1][2]

Several of his early stories were written using the pseudonym Alistair Bevan. His second novel, Pavane, which is a collection of linked stories, may be his most famous work: an alternate history novel in which the Roman Catholic Church takes control of England following the assassination of Queen Elizabeth I.[3]

Roberts wrote numerous novels and short stories, and also worked as an illustrator. His artistic contributions include covers and interior artwork for New Worlds and Science Fantasy, later renamed Impulse. He also edited the last few issues of Impulse although the nominal editor was Harry Harrison.[3]

Roberts' first novel, "The Furies," makes an important appearance in the American TV series Bones in the third season's third episode "Death in the Saddle" (9 October 2007). In one of the episode's subplots (but a continuing story arc), Angela Montenegro, a forensic artist (played by Michaela Conlin), is trying to find the man she married during a vacation in Fiji. She never thought that the ceremony that her and Grayson Barasa went through was an actual wedding ceremony. In fact, she barely remembers it or him (almost always referring to him by a nickname -- Birambau -- that she barely recalls); but since her marriage to a colleague (Dr. Jack Hodgins, an entomologist -- played by T.J. Thyne) was stopped when a records search turned up the Fiji wedding and marriage certificate. Now, Angela is trying to remember his name so that a private investigator can find him and get his signature on an annulment. One method Angela tries is regression hypnosis. All that happens is that she finds herself on a Fiji beach with a red door in front of her. When she opens it, a giant wasp flies in at her and she screams. This makes her remember the book she was reading during the Fiji vacation -- "The Furies" by Keith Roberts. She finds the book at home, brings it in to work, and shows it to Jack. The cover of the paperback book (edition unknown) features a giant wasp. When Jack opens the book to a bookmarked place, he finds that the bookmark is actually a Polaroid of Angela and Grayson with their first names printed on the back. It is this picture that allows Angela to recall Birambau's "real" name (and moves the story arc on).

Roberts described himself as a political conservative and an anti-communist.[3]

In later life, Roberts lived in Salisbury. He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1990, and died of its complications in October 2000. Obituaries recalled him as a talented but personally 'difficult' author, with a history of disputes with publishers, editors and colleagues.[4][5][6][7]

Partial bibliography[edit]


  • The Furies (1966) – a traditional UK disaster tale
  • Pavane (1968) – a collection of linked short stories
  • Anita (1970) – a collection of linked short stories
  • The Inner Wheel (1970) – a collection of linked short stories
  • The Boat of Fate (1971) – a historical novel set in Britain at the end of the Roman Empire's power
  • The Chalk Giants (1974) – a collection of linked short stories
  • Molly Zero (1980) – a novel set in a dystopian future
  • Kiteworld (1985) – originally published as linked short stories
  • Kaeti & Company (1986) – linked short fiction
  • Gráinne (1987) – slipstream fiction
  • The Road to Paradise (1989) – a thriller, without fantastic elements
  • Kaeti on Tour (1992) – linked short fiction
  • Drek Yarman (2000) - a novel set in Kiteworld, serialized in Spectrum SF[8]


  • Machines and Men (1973)
    • "Escapism" (1964)
    • "Therapy 2000" (1969)
    • "Manscarer" (1966)
    • "Boulter's Canaries" (1965)
    • "Sub-Lim" (1965)
    • "Synth" (1966)
    • "The Deeps" (1966)
    • "Breakdown" (1966)
    • "The Pace That Kills" (1966)
    • "Manipulation" (1965)

  • The Grain Kings (1976)
    • "Weihnachtsabend" (1972)
    • "The White Boat" (1966)
    • "The Passing of the Dragons" (1972)
    • "The Trustie Tree" (1973)
    • "The Lake of Tuonela" (1973)
    • "The Grain Kings" (1972)
    • "I Lose Medea" (1972)

  • The Passing of the Dragons (1977) - selected stories from Machines and Men and The Grain Kings

  • Ladies from Hell (1979)
    • "Our Lady of Desperation" (1979)
    • "The Shack at Great Cross Halt" (1977)
    • "The Ministry of Children" (1975)
    • "The Big Fans" (1977)
    • "Missa Privata" (1976)

  • The Lordly Ones (1986)
    • "The Lordly Ones" (1980)
    • "Ariadne Potts" (1978)
    • "Sphairistike" (1984)
    • "The Checkout" (1981)
    • "The Comfort Station" (1980)
    • "The Castle on the Hoop" (1986)
    • "Diva" (1986)

  • A Heron Caught in Weeds (1987) – poetry collection, edited by Jim Goddard

  • Winterwood and Other Hauntings (1989) – ghost story collection, with an introduction by Robert Holdstock
    • "Susan" (1965)
    • "The Scarlet Lady" (1966)
    • "The Eastern Windows" (1967)
    • "Winterwood" (1974)
    • "Mrs. Cibber" (1989)
    • "The Snake Princess" (1973)
    • "Everything in the Garden" (1973)


  • The Natural History of the P.H. (1988) – short essay about the "Primitive Heroine"
  • Irish Encounters: A Short Travel (1989) – essays about a trip to Ireland in 1978
  • Lemady: Episodes of a Writer's Life (1997) – autobiography, with fictional elements

Awards and nominations[edit]


  • British Science Fiction Association Award 1982 – Short fiction: "Kitemaster" (Interzone, Spring 1982)[9]
  • British Science Fiction Association Award 1986 – Short fiction: "Kaeti and the Hangman" (Kaeti & Company)[9]
  • British Science Fiction Association Award 1986 – Artist: Keith Roberts[9]
  • British Science Fiction Association Award 1987 – Novel: Gráinne[9]



  1. ^ Clute, John; Nicholls, Peter (1993). The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. Orbit Books. pp. 1012–1013. ISBN 1-85723-124-4. 
  2. ^ Smith, Curtis C. (1981). Twentieth-Century Science-Fiction Writers. Macmillan Publishers. ISBN 0-312-82420-3. 
  3. ^ a b c Cox, F. Brett. "Keith Roberts." British fantasy and science-fiction writers since 1960. 261 (2002): 336.
  4. ^ Holland, Steve (16 October 2000). "Obituary: Keith Roberts". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 August 2009. 
  5. ^ Adrian, Jack (17 October 2000). The Independent. p. 6.  Missing or empty |title= (help);
  6. ^ David Langford – Keith Roberts, 1935–2000 Ansible #160 (November 2000)
  7. ^ David Langford – A Nice Derangement of Epitaphs SFX magazine #73 (January 2001)
  8. ^ "The Worlds of Keith Roberts". Solaris Books. Retrieved 28 January 2015. 
  9. ^ a b c d "British Science Fiction Association Awards – Past Awards". British Science Fiction Association. Retrieved 27 November 2010. 
  10. ^ a b "The Nebula Awards". Retrieved 28 November 2010. 
  11. ^ "1980 Award Winners & Nominees"., LLC. Retrieved 28 November 2010. 
  12. ^ "1981 Hugo Awards". World Science Fiction Society. Retrieved 28 November 2010. 
  13. ^ "1985 Award Winners & Nominees"., LLC. Retrieved 28 November 2010. 
  14. ^ "The John W. Campbell Memorial Award". Center for the Study of Science Fiction, Department of English, University of Kansas. Retrieved 28 November 2010. 
  15. ^ "The Arthur C. Clarke Award 1988". DotNetNuke Corporation. Retrieved 28 November 2010. 

External links[edit]