One of the most neglected and underrated writers of the mid-20th Century was Randall Garrett. If he is remembered at all today, it is for his Lord Darcy series, about which more in a bit.
Randall Garrett was born on this day, December 16, in 1927. He passed away in 1987. I’d like to think my knowledge of the early science fiction and fantasy pulp writers is fairly extensive, but on Twitter 1whoknewcthulhu (@srm991) is always posting birthday notices about writers I’ve never heard of. You should follow him if you aren’t already.
Or in this case, a favorite writer whose birthday I didn’t know. (Why wasn’t I aware of this? We share a birthday. At least we did while I was still having birthdays. Ever since I got married, I don’t have birthdays. I have anniversaries. That means I’ll always be [redacted] years old, while my wife will continue to age. For some reason she gets upset when I say this. But I digress.)
As I stated above, Garrett’s best known series is the Lord Darcy series, which is a series of mysteries in a world where magic works. These were primarily published in Astounding Science Fiction in the early 1960s. Not exactly the sort of thing one would expect John W. Campbell, Jr., to publish. Many of these are well crafted mysteries, and in my opinion one of the high points of stories that blend mysteries with the fantastic.
Campbell published a number of Garrett’s best pieces, and they’re worth seeking out. I think one of the reasons Garrett may not be as well remembered today as he should be is that so much of his work was published under pseudonyms. (Kinda reminds me of Henry Kuttner.) It probably doesn’t help that he only wrote a few novels. (Again, reminds me of Kuttner.) Garrett collaborated with Robert Silverberg on various novels and short stories, along with other writers. Garrett was notorious for his puns, and he wrote a number of book reviews in verse.
Garrett stopped writing in the 1960s to attend seminary and be ordained in the Old Catholic Church, which allows married clergy. When he returned to writing, he and his wife Vicki Ann Heydron collaborated on the fantasy adventure series The Gandalara Cycle.
For a good overview of Garrett’s work, along with a recounting of some of his convention shenanigans, go here.