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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Richard A. Gordon (1947-2009)

Richard A. Gordon, a.k.a. Stuart Gordon and Alex R. Stuart, who wrote science fiction novels, biker novels, travel guides and books on the paranormal, died on 7 February 2009, aged 62.

The son of a Scottish laird, Richard Alexander Steuart Gordon was born in Banff, Scotland, on 18 May 1947. As the eldest son, he was expected to take the title on his father's death but refused. Rich Gordon was a member of the BSFA in the early 1960s and his first stories appeared (as by Richard A. Gordon, to distinguish himself from Richard Gordon, the pen-name under which Gordon Ostlere wrote the Doctor novels) in New Worlds and Science Fantasy in 1965. He also sold two stories to Vision of Tomorrow.

His first novel, The Bikers, was published under the pen-name Alex Stuart to further distance him from Richard Gordon, although the byline became Alex R. Stuart on later books after complaints from Violet Vivian Stuart, who wrote historical novels as Alex Stuart. (Gordon's subsequent use of Stuart Gordon as a pen-name has also required bibliographers to note that he is not to be confused with Stuart Gordon the film director, the two being born the same year.)

The Bikers was the first of a series of novels inspired by stories of Hell's Angels and exploited by New English Library following the highly successful reprinting of The Black Leather Barbarians by Pat Stadley and Freewheelin' Frank by Frank Reynolds in 1969; Alex R. Stuart was used as a byline on four further novels, two of which were sequels to The Bikers, featuring a hook-handed outlaw biker called Little Billy, and two further novels featuring 'the devil's biker'.

As Stuart Gordon, he wrote a number of science fiction novels, starting with Time Story, published by New English Library in 1972. One-Eye, Two-Eyes and Three-Eyes was a post-holocaust trilogy, followed by a second trilogy, the 'Watchers' (Archon, The Hidden World and The Mask), involving time travel between medieval and near future eras. Stuart said of his books, "The label 'science fiction' is used to cover many different approaches to storytelling, most of which have little to do with 'science' as such, save in a romantic, generalized way. The thrust of my own work has typically been occult or mythic in its main concern, and can be defined as science fiction only insofar as it has been characterized (I hope) by that 'sense of wonder' which romantically typifies the genre as a whole." His interest in the occult and myths resulted in a number of books on the paranormal under the Stuart Gordon byline.

Gordon lived for some years in a commune in Wales. In the late 1990s, under his own name, he wrote a number of well-illustrated travel books relating the history of areas of Scotland.

In 2005 he began teaching at the Shanghai High School. His death was the result of a heart attack at the Lianhua Road Subway Station in Shanghai.

Novels as Alex R. Stuart
The Bikers. London, New English Library, Nov 1971.
The Outlaws. London, New English Library, Aug 1972.
The Last Trip. London, New English Library, Nov 1972.
The Devil's Rider. London, New English Library, Jan 1973.
The Bike from Hell. London, New English Library, Jun 1973.

Novels as Stuart Gordon
Time Story. London, New English Library, 1972.
One-Eye. New York, DAW Books, Oct 1973; London, Sidgwick & Jackson, 1974.
Two-Eyes. New York, DAW Books, Oct 1974; London, Sidgwick & Jackson, 1975.
Three-Eyes. New York, DAW Books, Nov 1975; London, Sidgwick & Jackson, 1976.
__The "Eyes" Trilogy (omnibus of above three titles). London, Sidgwick & Jackson, 1978.
Suaine and the Crow-God. London, New English Library, May 1975.
Smile on the Void. The mythhistory of Ralph M'Botu Kitaj. New York, Berkley Books, Mar 1981; London, Arrow, 1981.
Fire in the Abyss. New York, Berkley Books, 1983.
Archon!. London, Macdonald, 1987.
The Hidden World. London, Macdonald, 1988.
The Mask. London, Orbit, 1988.

Non-fiction as Stuart Gordon
Down the Drain: Water, Pollution and Privatisation, with Jennie Smith. London, Optima, 1989.
The Paranormal: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. London, Headline, 1992.
The Encyclopedia of Myths and Legends. London, Headline, 1993.The Book of Curses: True tales of Voodoo, Hoodoo and Hex. London, Headline, 1994; as The Book of Spells, Hexes and Curses: True tales from around the world, Secaucus, N.J., Carol Pub. Group, 1995.The Book of Hoaxes: An A-Z of famous fakes, frauds and cons. London, Headline, 1995.The Book of Miracles: From Lazarus to Lourdes. London, Headline, 1996.

Non-fiction as Richard Gordon
Round Inverness, the Black Isle and Naim. Walks and history. Buckie, Boar's Head Press, 1998.
Round Moray, Badenoch and Straphspey. Walks and history. Buckie, Boar's Head Press, 1999.
Round Aberdeen, from Deeside to the Deveron. Walks and history. Buckie, Boar's Head, 2000.

Note:
Gordon's Contemporary Authors entry (probably the source of his Wikipedia entry) lists a fourth novel in the 'Watchers' series, Eye in the Stone (Macdonald, 1990), although the book, if written, was never published.

(* Photo by Dave Straub, used under Wikipedia Commons license.)

1 comment:

Rob said...

I still think that the first half of 'One-Eye' is a fantastic book, with a great cover as well on the Panther paperback, unfortunately it totally lost me in the second half. Can't remember a thing about 'Two-Eyes' and 'Three-Eyes' other than the fact that I've read them! Will try 'One-Eye' again sometime soon.