PANGBORN, Edgar


PANGBORN, Edgar
(1909-1976)
   US writer whose publishing career began with A-100: A Mystery Story (1930) as by Bruce Harrison, and other non-genre work. He published his first sf story, the famous "Angel's Egg", for Gal as late as 1951. In his first sf novel, West of the Sun (1953), six shipwrecked humans found a UTOPIAN colony on the planet Lucifer in association with two nativespecies. When the rescue ship eventually arrives, they decide to stick with the society they have constructed. The reflective conclusion of this novel was typical of EP's work. In A MIRROR FOR OBSERVERS (1954), which won the 1955 INTERNATIONAL FANTASY AWARD, Mars has been guiding humanity into the light of civilization for thousands of years, but matters approach crisis in the 20th century when two Martian observers contest for control over a human boy genius, a potential ethical innovator; the good Martian wins. In both novels-but not always in his career - EP's graciousliteracy usually overcomes a tendency towards cloying sententiousness.After two fine non-genre novels - Wilderness of Spring (1958) and The Trial of Callista Blake (1961), a moving courtroom drama -EP created his most successful and sustained work, the Davy sequence, comprising, by rough internal chronology, The Company of Glory (coll of linked stories 1975), most of the stories assembled in Still I Persist in Wondering (coll 1978), the loosely related The Judgment of Eve (seebelow), and DAVY (fixup 1964). The sequence is set in a USA devastated by a nuclear HOLOCAUST, whose immediate consequences dominate - at times harshly - the first volumes. By the time of Davy's birth, 250 years later, the land has long been balkanized into feudal enclaves, rather romantically conceived, and Davy's picaresque adventures (which he recounts in retirement) generate what might be called a kind of nostalgia for a livable future, though at the same time it is clear that Davy, and those he inspires, will necessarily begin to rebuild a more complex world. Set in the same universe, The Judgment of Eve (1966) is less convincinglyconstructed in mythopoeic terms, as Eve tries to choose among the lifestyles of her disparate male suitors. The trek on which she consequently sends them, in order to find out the meaning of love, probably represents the deepest of EP's frequent descents into distinctly uneasy bombast. When, however, he was able to control himself - the early novels, most of Davy, and most of the stories in Good Neighbors and Other Strangers (coll 1972) sidestep these pitfalls - the inherent thoughsometimes selfconsciously rural decency of his view of life won through.
   JC
   About the author: Edgar Pangborn: A Bibliography (1985 chap) by Gordon BENSON Jr.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. . 2011.

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