Sellings, Arthur

Pseudonym of UK bookseller and author Arthur Gordon Ley (1921-1968), who began publishing sf stories with "The Haunting" for Authentic Science Fiction in October 1953; the best of his output of about thirty tales was assembled in Time Transfer (coll 1956; with five stories cut 1966) and The Long Eureka (coll 1968). In the 1960s his productivity increased; he died (suddenly, of a heart attack) just as he was gaining more and more notice.

His first novel, Telepath (1962; vt The Silent Speakers 1963), is typical of all his best work in the complexity of its protagonist (who must deal with his discovery of his own limited power of Telepathy), the careful realization of venue, and a sense that, although it may be intrusive, the unknown must be faced and lived with; the similarities between his work and that of contemporaries like D G Compton or Richard Cowper are clear but not confining.

Later novels, quite variously but competently expressing this quietly adult point of view, include:

The Uncensored Man (1964), whose protagonist is transferred via LSD into a Parallel World similar to Earth where he develops previously masked Psi Powers and meets dubiously superior forms of life.

The Quy Effect (1966), in which a man faces the consequences attendant upon his invention of Antigravity while at the same time falling in love.

Intermind (1967 US as Ray Luther; 1969 UK as Sellings), in which a secret agent is injected with another person's memory to pursue a complex case.

The Power of X (1968), which sets an art dealer – perhaps a self-portrayal – into a world where material objects can be perfectly duplicated, calling into question the nature of the authentic work of art.

Sellings's finest novel was his last: Junk Day (1970), a Post-Holocaust tale set in the ruins of London and peopled with engrossing character types, is perhaps grimmer than his previous work but pointedly more energetic.

(Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, JC)


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