Saturday, October 18, 2008

Barrington John Bayley (1937-2008)

Sad to hear that Barrington Bayley, died on Tuesday, 14 October 2008, from complications following bowel cancer, at the age of 71. Barry Bayley was born in Birmingham on 9 April 1937, the son of John Bayley (a toolmaker) and his wife Clarissa Mary (nee Love). Aged around 8, the Bayley family moved to Shropshire where Barry attended Adams Grammar School.

Bayley briefly worked as a reporter and civil servant (1954-55). He also wrote short SF stories, his first story appearing in the Vargo Statten Science Fiction Magazine in 1954 ("Combat's End" as J. Barrington Bayley); more stories appeared in Authentic and the British Space Fiction Magazine (as Vargo Statten became) before Bayley joined the R.A.F. for his National Service (1955-57). He subsequently worked as a public servant in London, clerk, typist and coal miner.

He also returned to writing. After meeting Mike Moorcock in 1958, Bayley began writing (both solo and in collaboration) stories, features and strips for Fleetway Publications. The two collaborated on numerous features for Boy's World (1963-64) and, solo, Bayley wrote "The Astounding Jason Hyde" for Valiant (1965-68) and "Bartok and his Brothers" for Champion (1966).

Unable to sell to New Worlds—editor John Carnell thought him a poor writer—he began submitting stories under the name P. F. Woods and sold over half a dozen to Carnell's magazines. When Moorcock became editor of New Worlds, Bayley contributed regularly to the magazine and to its later incarnation as a paperback anthology. Later stories appeared in two collections, The Knights of the Limit (1978) and The Seed of Evil (1979) and he was a regular in the pages of InterZone.

His first novel, The Star Virus, was published by Ace Books in 1970. His science fiction novels have been described as sophisticated Space Opera, often based around grand staples of the SF genre (time travel in Collision with Chronos, The Fall of Chronopolis; robots in The Soul of a Robot, The Rod of Light). Galactic cultures, futuristic mobsters, alien races were used to explore the themes of power and its abuse and the relationship between man and authority; Jefferson M. Peters comments that Bayley used space opera "both to expose humanity's hunger for power and death and to offer paths of transcendence via empathy and objective knowledge of human history." His work was often pessimistic and his novels did not necessarily conform to what readers expected of galactic adventures. He did, however, gain a small but intensely loyal following.

Barry was married to Joan Lucy Clarke in 1969 and had a son and a daughter.

Obituaries: Locus online (15 October); The Independent (27 October); The Times (13 November); The Guardian (13 November).


The Star Virus. New York, Ace Books, 1970.
Annihilation Factor. New York, Ace Books, 1972; London, Allison & Busby, 1979.
Empire of Two Worlds. New York, Ace Books, 1972; London, Robert Hale, 1973.
Collision Course. New York, DAW Books, 1973; as Collision with Chronos, London, Allison & Busby, 1977.
The Fall of Chronopolis. New York, DAW Books, 1974; London, Allison & Busby, 1979.
The Soul of the Robot. New York, Doubleday, 1974; revised, London, Allison & Busby, 1976.
The Garments of Caean. New York, Doubleday, 1976; revised, London, Fontana, 1978.
The Grand Wheel. New York, DAW Books, 1977; London, Fontana, 1979.
Star Winds. New York, . New York, DAW Books, 1978.
The Pillars of Eternity. New York, DAW Books, 1979.
The Zen Gun. New York, DAW Books, 1983.
The Forest of Peldain. New York, DAW Books, 1985.
The Rod of Light. London, Methuen, 1985.
Warhammer 40,000: Eye of Terror. Nottingham, Games Workshop, 2000.
The Sinners of Erspia. Holicong, PN, Wildside Press, 2002.

The Fall of Chronopolis and Collision with Chronos. London, Pan Books, 1989.
The Pillars of Eternity and The Garments of Caean. London, Pan Books, 1989.

The Knights of the Limits. London, Allison & Busby, 1978.
The Seed of Evil. London, Allison & Busby, 1979.

About Barrington J. Bayley
The Writings of Barrington J. Bayley by Mike Ashley. Harold Wood, Essex, Beccon Committee, 1981.

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