LAKE, David J(ohn)
(1929-)
   Indian-born Australian writer (he emigrated in 1967), originally a UK citizen; his education (a Jesuit school in India, a BA in English at Cambridge, a diploma in linguistics and a PhD in English) is reflected inthe texture of his sf work, as is his teaching in Vietnam, Thailand and India (1959-67). After publishing several works of criticism, includingthe strongly argued, somewhat controversial The Canon of Thomas Middleton's Plays (1975) and a volume of poetry, Hornpipes and Funerals(coll 1973), which deals with some of the themes of his fiction, he began publishing sf with the first of his Breakout Novels sequence, Walkers on the Sky (1976 US). It was followed by The Right Hand of Dextra (1977 US) and The Wildings of Westron (1977 US), both set on Dextra; by The Gods of Xuma, or Barsoom Revisited (1978 US) and Warlords of Xuma (1983 US), whichconstitute a riposte to the sexism and crudity of E.R. BURROUGHS's Barsoom novels; and by The Fourth Hemisphere (1980), set on yet another planet. All the books in the sequence share certain fundamental premises: in WWIV(AD2068) Earth destroys itself, and by AD2122 the colonies of the Moon are also in the throes of terminal conflict; but, before the final collapse, interstellar ships break out of the Solar System in search of suitable planets for COLONIZATION. The novels to date are set on various of these planets and share comparatively simple, action-packed surface narratives matched with considerable complexity of implication, some of it Jungian. Walkers on the Sky, set AD12117, entertainingly carries a young man acrossa terraformed world irradiated by planes of force whose operation explains the dreamlike behaviour indicated by the title. The Right Hand of Dextra, set earlier, in AD2687, intermingles biological, religious and colonization themes in the story of the reconciliation between incompatible forms of biological organization on a planet whose human colonists are religious fundamentalists insensitive to the vital questions surrounding Dextra's weird ECOLOGY.Of books lying outside this central sequence, the most interesting is perhaps The Man who Loved Morlocks (1981). Ostensibly a sequel to H.G. WELLS's THE TIME MACHINE (1895), italso works as a sustained and loving critique of that book, of its author and of the late-19th-century mind-sets which shaped both. Ring of Truth (1982; vt The Ring of Truth 1984 US) is a POCKET-UNIVERSE tale of surrealintensity whose climax - unusually for this sort of book - provides no soothing explanation for the shape of the world. The Changelings of Chaan (1985) and West of the Moon (1988) are juveniles. Despite an occasionaltruculent stiffness of diction, DJL is a writer of fully realized fictions whose work, almost always, flows with thought.
   JC

Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. . 2011.

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