REED, Robert
(1956-)
   US writer who began publishing sf with "Mudpuppies" as by Robert Touzalin for L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future (anth 1986) ed Algis BUDRYS; the story gained the $5000 grand prize awarded in the WRITERS OF THE FUTURE CONTEST for that year. RR has since gradually become productive in short forms, though he remains best known for his novels, beginning with The Leeshore (1987), a tale which combines adventure-sf plotting (a pair of twins, the sole humans left on the eponymous water-covered colony planet, must guide a task force in pursuit of the COMPUTER-worshipping zealots who have killed everyone else) with an almostmystical sense for the genius of place, the intricacies of selfhood. The Hormone Jungle (1988) is set in an entirely different venue, a denselycrowded Solar System drawn in CYBERPUNK colours; but a similar attention to the mysterious depths of his distorted characters saves the book from RR's tendency to indulge in a sometimes choking virtuosity. Black Milk(1989) is set in yet another of sf's familiar 1980s venues, a NEAR FUTURE world threatened by uncontrolled and secret GENETIC-ENGINEERING experiments instigated by a late and movingly presented version of the inventor/entrepreneur who runs the world (EDISONADE); once again, the expertness of the writing and its knowing exploitation of current scientific speculations are balanced by an underlying quiet sanity about how to depict and to illumine human beings. In Down the Bright Way (1991) a group of sentient beings searches through an endless string of PARALLEL WORLDS for the old gods - or sentient beings at the start of things -while fending off others intent on using the pathways for darker purposes. In The Remarkables (1992) a confrontation between the main stream ofhumanity - sequestrated in densely populated local space - and a lost colony leads to a complexly engaging rite of passage involving representatives of both human streams with the eponymous aliens. And in Beyond the Veil of Stars (1994), the sense of claustrophobiacharacteristic of RR's work derives from an image of our Solar System as impacted upon - from beyond a fabricated and deceitful veil of stars - by innumerable similar inhabited systems. We live in a megalopolis of planets, and we communicate with each other by passing through dimensional barriers, which change our bodies so that we resemble natives of the visited world; which is also overcrowded. RR's course to date has been unusual in that he has avoided sequels in his first 5 novels, none of which share any background material or assumptions whatsoever. Today's sf readers tend to expect a kind of brand identity from authors, and it may be for this reason that RR has not yet achieved any considerable fame.
   JC
   See also: ANDROIDS.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. . 2011.

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