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(1945-2017) US author, almost exclusively of short stories, who was born in New York State but raised in Wyoming, whose geography and culture consistently informed his work, a circumstance to which he paid his respects in Wyoming Sun (coll 1980), which assembles fictions affected by that visually superb region. Bryant began to publish work of genre interest with "They Come Only in Dreams" for Adam and "Sending the Very Best" for New Worlds, both stories published in January 1970, and remained prolific for the next three decades; after 2000 he published almost no new fiction, though he remained more active as a book reviewer and writer of Convention reports, almost exclusively for Locus 1989-2006. In his early career he was assisted by Harlan Ellison, whom he met at the Clarion Science Fiction Writers' Workshop in 1968 and 1969. With Ellison, Bryant began a Generation-Starship series with Phoenix without Ashes (1975), which works into novel form the pilot for an abortive Ellison Television series, The Starlost; the book is short and perfunctory; projected continuations did not appear. Two of Bryant's stories won Nebula awards: "Stone" (February 1978 F&SF) in 1979 and "giANTS" (August 1979 Analog) in 1980.
His first book, Among the Dead and Other Events Leading up to the Apocalypse (coll 1973; rev 1974), made a considerable stir for the wide variety of stories included and the technical facility they display. His conversational, apparently casual style sometimes conceals the tight construction and density of his best work, like "Shark" (in Orbit 12, anth 1973, ed Damon Knight), a complexly told love story whose darker implications are brought to focus in the girl's decision to have her brain transplanted into a shark's body, ostensibly as part of a research project; in the story, symbol and surface reality mesh impeccably. The setting for many of the stories in this collection is a California transmuted by sf devices and milieux into an image, sometimes scarifying, sometimes joyful, of the culmination of the American Dream, an image further developed and intensified in Cinnabar (coll of linked stories 1976), whose eponymous city of the Far Future is a dreamlike re-enactment of an essentialized Dying-Earth world where Entropy washes up against ocean; it is one of the very best of the rather common books of this description, largely perhaps because of the sophisticated interplay between Utopia and Dystopia which structures it. The earlier stories of the sequence intricately develop a strangely moving vision of the rococo, many-shaped life by which mankind is ultimately destined to explicate itself (see also Leisure), though the end of the book presents stories with a somewhat reductive plottiness. Later stories – collected in Particle Theory (coll 1981), Trilobyte (coll 1987 chap), Neon Twilight (coll 1990) and The Baku: Tales of the Nuclear Age (coll 2001) – continue slyly to urge sf into fable, myth and horror, with an increasing emphasis on the latter. Ultimately, Bryant suggests that the face of Fantastika is the face of the Minotaur.
Bryant published some stories as Lawrence Talbot. He also edited an anthology of original stories and some poems, 2076: The American Tricentennial (anth 1977). [JC]
see also: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction; Messiahs; Perception; Wild Cards.
born White Plains, New York: 27 August 1945
died Denver, Colorado: [on or before] 10 February 2017
collections and stories
works as editor
Entry from The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction edited by John Clute, David Langford, Peter Nicholls and Graham Sleight.
Accessed 14:27 pm on 8 December 2021.