BULMER, Kenneth


BULMER, Kenneth
(1921-)
   UK writer, who also signs himself H.K. Bulmer, as well as using a number of pseudonyms for his books, including Alan Burt Akers, Ken Blake (not sf), Ernest Corley (not sf), Arthur Frazier (not sf), Adam Hardy (for his successful Hornblower-like novels of the sea) Philip Kent, Bruno Krauss (not sf), Neil Langholm (not sf), Manning Norvil, Charles R. Pike (not sf), Dray Prescot, Andrew Quiller, Richard Silver (not sf), Tully Zetford, the collaborative pseudonym Kenneth JOHNS (with John Newman) and the house name Karl Maras, under which he wrote two novels; there have also been several names restricted to magazine stories. After a career as an active fan dating from before WWII (editing various fanzines from 1941), KB began publishing sf with Space Treason (1952) and Cybernetic Controller (1952), both with A(ubrey) V(incent) Clarke (1922), and Encounter in Space (1952), and was soon involved in producing material for NW, Authentic and Nebula, the three major magazines among those proliferating in the volatile UK sf scene of the first post-WWII decade, though he sold few stories to US magazines. His first solo novels, like Space Treason (1952) and Zhorani (Master of the Universe) (1953 as by Karl Maras), and much of his ensuing work were either SPACE OPERAS or adventure plots laid on simplified versions of future Earths. Notable among these were several novels published in the USA from 1957, including City Under the Sea (1957 dos US), The Secret of ZI (1958 dos US; vt The Patient Dark 1969 UK), The Earth Gods are Coming (1960 dos US; vt with one story added as coll Of Earth Foretold 1961 UK), The Wizard of Starship Poseidon (1963 dos US), Demons' World (1964 dos US; vt The Demons 1965 UK), Worlds for the Taking (1966 US), possibly the best of them, a relatively sustained and dark-toned portrait of the costs of being a "competent man" in an environment of interstellar corporate intrigue, and The Doomsday Men (1965 If; exp 1968 US).In the period of his most interesting work, approximately 1955-68, KB was notable for the adept use he made of a wide range of sf themes, from underwater CITIES (UNDER THE SEA) to giant ALIEN invaders (GREAT AND SMALL) to TIME TRAVEL and MONSTERS - in Cycle of Nemesis (1967 US) - to PARALLEL WORLDS. The latter theme is the sustaining conceit of the Keys to the Dimensions series: Land Beyond the Map (1961 Science Fantasy as "The Map Country"; 1965); "The Seventh Stair" (1961 Science Fantasy) and "Perilous Portal" (1962 Science Fantasy), both as by Frank Brandon; The Key to Irunium (1967 US); The Key to Venudine (1968 US); The Wizards of Senchuria (1969 US); The Ships of Durostorum (1970 US); The Hunters of Jundagai (1971 US), The Chariots of Ra (1972 US) and The Diamond Contessa (1983 US). Much of KB's later fiction under his own name has seemed to flounder somewhat in attempts to handle a more "contemporary" style and subject matter, as in The Ulcer Culture (1969; vt Stained-Glass World 1976), On the Symb-Socket Circuit (1972) and Roller Coaster World (1972 US). As the Dray Prescot series would show, KB's forte lies in the transparency of the pulp tale truly told.It was with the Dray Prescot sequence of Edgar Rice BURROUGHS pastiches - set in a SCIENCE-FANTASY interstellar venue and written either as by Alan Burt Akers or as told to Akers by Dray Prescot - that KB reached his largest and most faithful audience. To date the series comprises: Transit to Scorpio (1972 US), The Suns of Scorpio (1973 US), Warrior of Scorpio (1973 US), Swordships of Scorpio (1973 US), Prince of Scorpio (1974 US), Manhounds of Antares (1974 US), Arena of Antares (1974 US), Fliers of Antares (1975 US), Bladesman of Antares (1975 US), Avenger of Antares (1975 US), Armada of Antares (1975 US), The Tides of Kregen (1976 US), Renegades of Kregen (1976 US), Krozair of Kregen (1977 US), Secret Scorpio (1977 US), Savage Scorpio (1977 US), Captive Scorpio (1977 US), Golden Scorpio (1978 US), A Life for Kregen (1979 US), A Fortune for Kregen (1979 US), A Victory for Kregen (1979 US), Beasts of Antares (1980 US), Rebel of Antares (1980 US), Legions of Antares (1981 US), Allies of Antares (1981 US), Mazes of Scorpio (1981 US), Delia of Vallia (1982 US), Fires of Scorpio (1983 US), Talons of Scorpio (1983 US), Masks of Scorpio (1984 US), Seg the Bowman (1984 US), Werewolves of Kregen (1985 US), Witches of Kregen (1985 US), Storm over Vallia (1985 US), Omens of Kregen (1985 US) and Warlord of Antares (1988 US). The books are unfailing in their delivery. With John CARNELL's death in 1972, KB took over the long-running anthology series NEW WRITINGS IN SF from \#22 (anth 1973), producing in short order \#23 (anth 1973), \#24 (anth 1974), \#25 (anth 1975), \#26 (anth 1975), \#27 (anth 1975), \#28 (anth 1976) and \#29 (anth 1976) before the series was terminated, and maintaining the generally traditionalist content of the books; some of the volumes under his editorship were later assembled as NEW WRITINGS IN SF Special (1) (omni 1975), which included \#21 (ed Carnell), \#22 and \#23, NEW WRITINGS IN SF Special (2) (omni 1978), which included \#26 and \#29, and NEW WRITINGS IN SF (3) (omni 1978), which included \#27 and \#28. As fan, writer and editor, KB has been one of the mainstays of UK sf for more than four decades; he served as a council member of the SCIENCE FICTION FOUNDATION from its inception to 1988. Though much of his work is routine, especially that written under pseudonyms, he has consistently shown himself to be one of the most competent, though not perhaps the most original, workers in the field.
   JC
   Other works: Empire of Chaos (1953); Galactic Intrigue (1953); Space Salvage (1953); The Stars are Ours (1953); Challenge (1954); World Aflame (1954); The Changeling Worlds (1959 dos US); Beyond the Silver Sky (1961 dos US); No Man's World (1961 dos US; vt with 1 story added as coll Earth's Long Shadow 1962 UK); The Fatal Fire (1962); The Wind of Liberty (coll 1962); Defiance (coll of linked stories 1963); The Million Year Hunt (fixup 1964 dos US); Behold the Stars (1965 dos US); To Outrun Doomsday (1967 US); Kandar (1969 US); The Star Venturers (1969 dos US); Quench the Burning Stars (1970; exp vt Blazon 1970 US); Star Trove (1970); Sword of the Barbarians (1970); The Electric Sword-Swallowers (1971 dos US); The Insane City (1971 US).As Philip Kent: Mission to the Stars (1953 chap); Vassals of Venus (1953 chap); Home is the Martian (1954 chap); Slaves of the Spectrum (1954 chap).As Karl Maras: Peril from Space (1954).As Manning Norvil: A series starring Odan the Half-God and comprising Dream Chariots (1977 US), Whetted Bronze (1978 US) and Crown of the Sword God (1980).As Tully Zetford: The Hook sequence comprising Whirlpool of Stars (1974), The Boosted Man (1974), Star City (1975) and The Virility Gene (1975).
   About the author: The Writings of Henry Kenneth Bulmer (2nd edn 1984 chap) by Roger ROBINSON.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. . 2011.

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