- KOTZWINKLE, William
- (1938-)US writer who began his career with several novels for children (see listing below); his genre-crossing FABULATIONS - some of them making use of sf material - created something of a literary stir in the 1970s. These early tales for adults - like Hermes 3000 (1972), Fata Morgana(1977), set in the Paris of 1871 and plausibly describable as proto- STEAMPUNK, and Herr Nightingale and the Satin Woman (1978) - tend to treat genre boundaries as thresholds through which characters pass from more or less everyday realities into fantastic or sf-like worlds which rewrite those realities in allegorical terms, sometimes feyly. Doctor Rat (1976), on the other hand, never shifts from one plane, and seems all the more extraordinary for that consistency. The tale is mostly narrated by an elderly laboratory rat, his mind jumbled by too much maze-running, who sees himself as an active collaborator with the human experimenters; the destiny of the animal world, he feels, is that it be subjected to such experiments for the ultimate good. Crises in the ECOLOGY, however, drive the brutalized animals to form a global consciousness, and war ensues between Man and animals; Doctor Rat heroically quells revolt in the lab, until eventually he is the only animal left alive.WK is best known in the sf world for some excellent film ties. They include E.T., The Extra-Terrestrial, in his Adventure on Earth * (1982) - which appeared atthe same time as a text for younger readers, E.T., The Extra-Terrestrial Storybook * (1982 chap) - and E.T., The Book of the Green Planet * (1985;cut for younger readers 1985 chap), based on a story by Stephen SPIELBERG (E.T.: THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL) and designed to work as a bridge betweenthe first E.T. film and its yet-unmade successor. It too was accompanied by a text for younger readers, E.T., The Storybook of the Green Planet: A New Storybook * (1985 chap), probably derived from the cut version of themain title. A further tie, Superman III * (1983), is perhaps less memorable.At the same time WK continued to produce fabulations, including Christmas at Fontaine's (1982), Great World Circus (1983), Queen of Swords(1984), The Exile (1987), in which a contemporary US actor is transported back to Nazi Germany, where he gets involved in black-market activities, and The Midnight Examiner (1989), a perhaps overbroad comedy in which a journalist - an ideal kind of protagonist for the typical WK novel - becomes tangled in a world of Mafia revenges, voodoo and other sorceries. Short work has been assembled in Elephant Bangs Train (coll 1971), Troublein Bugland: A Collection of Inspector Mantis Mysteries (coll 1983) - Sherlock Holmes pastiches for younger readers - Jewel of the Moon (coll1985), Hearts of Wood and Other Timeless Tales (coll 1986 chap) - mostly fairytales - and The Hot Jazz Trio (coll 1989), which contains 3 long stories, each involving a transgressive journey from "normal" reality into other worlds, including the Land of the Dead. Because he crosses genres with such ease, WK could fairly be accused of frivolity; but the charge itself seems frivolous when his harsher texts are looked at square.JC/PNOther works for children: The Fireman (1969); The Ship that Came Down the Gutter (1970); Elephant Boy: A Story of the Stone Age (1970); The Oldest Man and Other Timeless Stories (coll 1971); The Supreme, Superb, Exalted, and Delightful, One and Only Magic Building (1973); The Leopard's Tooth (1976 chap); The Ants who Took away Time (1978 chap), in which the Solar System must be searched for the ant-dismembered Watch which keeps Time together; Dream of Dark Harbor (1979); The Nap Master (1979); The Empty Notebook (1990).
Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. Academic. 2011.