Today we wish a very Happy Birthday to one of SF’s most original and uncompromising voices, a stalwart of the New Wave and the man whose best-known novel, Bug Jack Barron, led to Michael Moorcock‘s New Worlds magazine being banned from WH Smith: Norman Spinrad.
Spinrad’s razor-sharp satires have seen him nominated for most of the major SF awards. Bug Jack Barron was shortlisted for both the Hugo and Nebula awards, and he also has Nebula nominations for The Void Captain’s Tale and the biting alternate history The Iron Dream, of which The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction says:
The Alternate History frame of the tale features a version of Adolf Hitler who, thwarted as a politician, migrates to New York, where it is easy for him to translate his spite and envy into popular fiction, becoming a well-known Pulp author in the process. Framed within this New York context, the heart of The Iron Dream is “Lord of the Swastika”, a novel-length sf story from Hitler’s feverish pen through which Spinrad is able to mock – effectively if at times unrelentingly – some of the less attractive tendencies of right-wing sf, its fetish with gear, its fascist love of hierarchical display, its philistinism, its brutishness, its racism, its not entirely secret contempt for the people its Heroes or Messiah-figures defend.
In addition to his prose fiction, Norman Spinrad scripted Star Trek episode ‘The Doomsday Machine’ and has written regular reviews and essays over his career and currently writes the book review column for Asimov’s Science Fiction.
Happy Birthday, Norman!