Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Bach, Richard

(1936-    ) US writer who began publishing work of genre interest with "Cat" in 1962, collected in A Gift of Wings (coll 1974). He is known mostly for Jonathan Livingston Seagull (1970), filmed as Jonathan Livingston Seagull (1973), an Animal Fantasy about a philosophical gull who is profoundly affected by flying (see Talents), but who demands too much of his community and is cast out by it. He becomes an extremely well behaved Accursed Wanderer, then dies, and in Posthumous-Fantasy sequences – though he is too wise really to question the fact of death, and too calmly confident to have doubts about his continuing upward mobility – he learns greater wisdom. Back on Earth, he continues to preach and heal and finally returns to Heaven, where he belongs. There's No Such Place as Far Away (1979), even more tendentiously sentimental than its predecessor, offers lessons in living from Birds to the narrator of the tale, who then gives a young girl, on her birthday, a Ring which will enable her to receive the same wisdom. Of more interest to adults may be a thematic trilogy – Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah (1977), The Bridge Across Forever: A Lovestory (1984) and One (1988). The first recounts the frustrations of a failed human Messiah who – like the famous gull – has difficulty in conveying his message; the second, cast in the form of a fictionalized autobiography, contains factual-seeming references to material exposited as fantasy in the first and third volumes; and One carries its protagonists in a flight across a vast sea where versions of the main characters inhabit points in a huge Archipelago of Alternate Realities. Running from Safety (1994) is a loose sequel to One where RB goes back in Time to meet his nine-year-old self. RB's style has become less choked, and his range has broadened; but an almost solipsistic concentration on individual salvation continues to attenuate the impact of his best work. [JC]

Richard David Bach


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.