- WILSON, Colin (Henry)
- (1931-)UK writer of speculative works best known for his first book, The Outsider (1956) (in which he gave graphic expression to the brilliant autodidactism, the erratic system-building mentality, and the voracity for new mental sensations that would mark the very numerous titles he would produce over the next several decades, many of them of indirect interest to sf and fantasy writers and readers), for his numerous books on crime, notably A Criminal History of Mankind (1984) and Written in Blood: A History of Forensic Detection (1989), and for his investigations of theparanormal, of which the most important are The Occult (1971), Mysteries: An Investigation into the Occult, the Paranormal, and the Supernatural(1978), Poltergeist! (1981) and Beyond the Occult (1988). Sf critics have not generally responded with much warmth to CW's later work, perhaps because his eagerness to penetrate the barriers of "orthodox" science has led him into assumptions about and formulations of the nature of consciousness that seem to lurch dangerously far into the realms of PSEUDO-SCIENCE; that is, the science he uses as underpinning for his sf isoften not generally accepted as such. A further difficulty is that, as his total oeuvre has grown, it has become harder to work out which texts are deeply considered, which are blarney, and which are potboilers.Nevertheless, his sf is of considerable interest. The Return of the Lloigor (in Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos, anth 1969 US; rev 1974 chap UK) is fantasy. His only sf short story is "Timeslip" (in Aries 1 [anth1979] ed John Grant [Paul BARNETT]). His first sf novel, The Mind Parasites (1967), combines the long temporal perspectives of H.P. LOVECRAFT's Cthulhu Mythos with the transcendental solipsism of A.E. VAN VOGT and the metabiological pathos of George Bernard SHAW in a tale which suggests that humanity has for eons been deliberately hampered by ALIEN entities, and that these shackles could be cast off. The Philosopher's Stone (1969), perhaps the most intellectually stimulating of his novels,with an appealingly ramshackle construction, again invokes Cthulhu to suggest that the Old Ones who seem to be keeping humanity in thrall are in fact asleep and indifferent. The Space Vampires (1976; vt Lifeforce 1985 US), filmed as LIFEFORCE (1985), promulgates the same message in the formof a partly SPACE-OPERA horror tale featuring, once again, parasitic aliens and a human race of thwarted (but infinite) potential. A similar dynamic of oppression and release serves as the philosophical base underlying the boys'-fiction dramaturgy of the later Spider World sequence - Spider World: The Tower (1987; vt in 3 vols as Spider World 1: TheDesert 1988 US, Spider World 2: The Tower 1989 US and Spider World 3: The Fortress 1989 US), Spider World: The Delta (1987) and Spider World: The Magician (1992) - set in a FAR-FUTURE Earth whose human remnants live in thralldom to giant arachnids.JC/JGrOther works: Many works including the Gerard Sorme series - Ritual in the Dark (1960), Man Without a Shadow: The Diary of an Existentialist (1963; vt The Sex Diary of Gerard Sorme1963 US and 1968 UK) and The God of the Labyrinth (1970; vt The Hedonists 1971 US)-of which the 2nd is borderline fantasy and the 3rd fantasy proper; The Black Room (1971), about sensory deprivation; the Chief Superintendent Gregory Saltfleet series of psi/occult whodunnits, beingThe Schoolgirl Murder Case (1974) and The Janus Murder Case (1984); The Personality Surgeon (1985).Nonfiction: Many works including The Strength to Dream: Literature and the Imagination (1962); The Strange Genius of David Lindsay (1970; vt The Haunted Man 1979 US) with E.H. VISIAK and J.B.Pick, on David LINDSAY; Tree by Tolkien (1973 chap); Science Fiction as Existentialism (1978 chap); Starseekers (1980); Frankenstein's Castle (1980); The Quest for Wilhelm Reich (1981); Afterlife (1985).As Editor: Dark Dimensions: A Celebration of the Occult (anth 1978 US); The Book of Time (anth 1980) with John Grant; The Directory of Possibilities (1981), also with Grant; The Mammoth Book of the Supernatural (anth 1991) with Damon Wilson.About the author: Colin Wilson: The Outside and Beyond (1979)by Clifford P. Bendau; The Novels of Colin Wilson (1982) by Nicolas Tredell; The Work of Colin Wilson: An Annotated Bibliography and Guide(1989) by Colin Stanley.
Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. Academic. 2011.