ROBINSON, Frank M(alcolm)


ROBINSON, Frank M(alcolm)
(1926-)
   US writer, also active in publishing, who began writing sf stories in 1950 with "The Maze" in ASF and was for a time fairly prolific, soon publishing his first (and for decades his only) solo novel, The Power (1956). This effectively combines sf and thriller in the story of thesearch for a malignant SUPERMAN with undefined powers, including the ability to seem different to everyone who looks at him. The protagonist, himself paranormally gifted, kills the bad superman and contemplates being a good one. It was filmed as The POWER in 1967. FMR then fell relatively silent-fewer than half the stories assembled in A Life in the Day of . . . and Other Short Stories (coll 1981) were written after The Power - and concentrated on editorial jobs, working for a variety of publications including Rogue (1959-65) and Playboy) (1969-73). In the 1970s he changed direction and, in collaboration with Thomas N. SCORTIA, produced a series of DISASTER novels which, though sf devices and explanations are occasionally invoked, most closely resemble the TECHNOTHRILLER. The first of these, The Glass Inferno (1974), was filmed - along with Richard Martin Stern's The Tower - as The Towering Inferno (1974); further titles wereThe Prometheus Crisis (1975), which deals with the failure of a vast nuclear reactor, The Nightmare Factor (1978), about biological warfare, The Gold Crew (1980) and Blow Out! (1987). The Great Divide (1982), by FMRwith John Levin, is set in the NEAR FUTURE, when a coup threatens the USA. FMR's concentration on these lucrative but unchallenging books tended toblur the early critical sense that he was a sharp and incisive writer, and The Dark Beyond the Stars (1991) came as a welcome reminder of his gifts.It is - perhaps rather late in genre history - a GENERATION-STARSHIP tale, told with much of the claustrophobia and dramatic irony typical of POCKET-UNIVERSE narratives. In keeping with its late composition, theironies dominate: the family romance that the protagonist must decode in order to mature is unfruitful, and the ship turns homeward. The book itself was a welcome signal of its author's own return to the genre.
   JC
   See also: ESP.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. . 2011.


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