Gateway Essentials: Richard M. McKenna

Richard Milton McKenna was born in Idaho on this day in 1913. He left his rural roots in search of bigger opportunities and joined the US Navy in 1931. This is where he spent most of his adult life, serving 22 years, including 10 years of active duty at sea. Serving in the Second World War and the Korean War, McKenna then retired to a civilian life and studied creative writing at the University of North Carolina. His first story was ‘The Fishdollar Affair’, but his first published story was ‘Casey Agonistes’ for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in September 1958. During his lifetime he was to publish only five more stories, with a further six appearing posthumously. The five strongest were published as a collection in 1973 under the title Casey Agonistes and other Fantasy and Science Fiction Stories, with the central theme being the power of the mind over the environment. His major work was the successful non-SF title The Sand Pebbles, inspired by his experiences in the Navy, and he died soon after writing it.