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21 May 2013

Grant David Callin was born in 1941. Callin graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1963, and retired from the service in 1984. He holds a bachelor’s degree in basic sciences, and advanced degrees in space physics, physiology and biophysics. From 1986, he worked for Boeing as a research analyst, and was also involved with work on the NASA Space Station programme. He is currently in retirement in Washington. And in 1986 and 1987 while doing that, he also had two excellent books published. I discovered A Lion on Tharthee in 1987, bought it, read it, and added it to my permanent library, since which time it’s been read half a dozen times, with enjoyment each time. This however, is (sigh) a case of an author who wrote very well, but who for some reason, produced a miniscule amount of work over a short period, and then ceased writing. Callin had two books and four short stories out between 1982 and 1992 and that was it. His two books were listed as \The First and Second books in the Saturnalia series, which to me implied there were intended to be more, but maybe Baen Books decided against that, or perhaps the author lost interest. But it’s a real pity as his characters, plots, and dialogue were great. (I’m still hoping to lay hands on a copy of Saturnalia some time if anyone out there can offer one free or for moderate price?) Of course it isn’t too late for Mr callin to write more, he’s only in his early ’70s and SF authors have a long tradition of producing books much later than that.

A Lion on Tharthee tells how it was discovered that a space ship was waiting to be found once Terrans ventured far out from Earth. Then it offered a ride to another planet where they might find friendly allies. The offer is taken, and the book details who was chosen and how, and then tells of the trip to Tharthee. The Lion of the story is the captain, the oddly named Kurious Whitedimple. The race they find when they arrive are called Hexies by the Terrrans, who find that the two races have both a lot in common and some interesting differences.The depiction of the Hexies is great, sufficiently alien to be believable, and sufficiently ‘people’ to be fascinating. The crew of the High Boy are a mixed bunch, all highly intelligent and educated, but they have their own personalities, and the minor frictions and the ultimate trouble on their return are very well depicted. Callin clearly used all his technical and scientific knowledge in writing his work and it shows, there is such an air of solid believability about this book. Recommended.

Bibliography

Novels:

Saturnalia (1986)

A Lion on Tharthee (1987)

Short fiction:

The Turtle and O’Hare (1982)

Deborah’s Children (1983)

Saturn Alia (1984) – the short story upon which the novel was based.

The Carhart Shale (1993)

also The Didactics of Mystique (Part 2 of 4) (1984) [as byFlash Richardson a pseudonym of Callins. This title suggests that it is one of a series, in fact it was a one-off parody and the other three sections never existed.]

 

1 Comment »

  1. My Daughter told me that I ought to Google myself, which is how I found your website. I also found that my Wikipedia bio was a little strange, and assumed that Flash Richardson was a pseudonym. But somehow, you knew the truth (or at least part of it; the full story was that Stan Schmidt created a spoof issue, to which I contributed a spoof of Part 2 of Gordon Dickson’s novel Tactics of Mistake, which had appeared in Analog as a 4-part serial a year or two before. The name Flash (Gordon) Richardson (Dickson) followed quite naturally). How did you know? If you tell me, and send me a copy of your favorite work, I’ll mail you a used copy of Saturnalia.

    GDC

    Comment by Grant Callin — 27 July 2014 @ 20:34

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