Bretnor photo

Reginald Bretnor

© Story Books, 1997

Reginald Bretnor (1911-1992) was born Alfred Reginald Kahn in Vladivostok, Siberia. He was the son of a Latvian Jewish banker and an English governess. The family moved to Japan in 1917, then to San Diego, California, in 1920. Bretnor, whose name was taken from the maiden name of his maternal grandmother and who many acquaintances thought to be the perfect English gentleman, never left the United States in the 72 years he lived here and did not once set foot in Great Britain.

Bretnor wrote fantasy, science fiction, mysteries, children's stories, military theory and public affairs articles. For half a century he also wrote stories and articles about cats, and was credited as the translator for the first book that we know of ever published on the subject: Moncrif's "Les Chats" (1727).

Bretnor wrote with a good sense of humor and was fascinated by puns. Under the pseudonym of Grendel Briarton, he authored "Through Time and Space with Ferdinand Feghoot," a series of shaggy-dog-story-like science fiction puns which ran for years in Fantasy & Science Fiction, Venture and Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction magazines. Paradox Press published a paperback Feghoot collection in 1962. The Mirage Press published two more recent editions: The Compleat Feghoot and The (Even More) Compleat Feghoot.

Bretnor penned a mystery novel, "A Killing in Swords," published by Pocket Books in 1978. A science fiction novella, "Gilpin's Space," which appeared as the lead story in Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine, was later expanded into a full novel. His most recent novel was "Schimmelhorn's Gold." A collection of Bretnor's stories about an oversexed octogenarian idiot/genius, "The Schimmelhorn File," was published by Ace Books.

Bretnor's first science fiction story, "Maybe Just a Little One," appeared in Harper's Magazine in August, 1947. After that his fiction was published in all the major science fiction magazines and in Esquire, Today's Woman, Southwest Review, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock Magazine and many other publications.

As a science fiction writer, editor and authority, Bretnor was interested in known and unexplained phenomena, and writings on the subject filled three of the books he edited: "The Craft of Science Fiction" (Harper & Row, 1976), "Science Fiction Today and Tomorrow" (Harper & Row, 1974) and a three-volume anthology, "The Future at War" (Ace Books). "Science Fiction, Today and Tomorrow" was also published as a Penguin paperback. "The Craft of Science Fiction" was published as a paperback by Barnes & Noble. These books contain chapters by Asimov, Clarke, Boucher, Herbert, Pohl, Clement, Ellison, Anderson and many other leading science fiction writers, including Bretnor himself. Bretnor was the author of the article on science fiction in two editions of the Encyclopedia Britannica.

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