Donald Westlake

(July 12, 1933 — December 31, 2008)

Donald Edwin Westlake was an American writer with over a hundred novels and non-fiction books to his credit. He specialized in crime fiction, especially comic crime capers, but he also wrote science fiction. His SF/fantasy writing includes over 30 short stories written between 1954 and 1984 — some of which were collected in The Curious Facts Preceding My Execution and Other Fictions (1968) and in Tomorrow's Crimes (1989) — and the novels Anarchaos (1967/as by Curt Clark), Humans (1992), and Smoke (1995).

Westlake wrote under several pseudonyms, including Richard Stark, Tucker Coe, Samuel Holt, Edwin West, John B. Allan, Judson Jack Carmichael, Timothy J. Culver, J. Morgan Cunningham, Sheldon Lord, Alan Marshall, and the already mentioned Curt Clark. Most of his SF was written under his own name. He was also an occasional contributor to SF fanzines, including Xero.

His SF short stories appeared in such SF magazines as Amazing ("Meteor Strike"/November 1961), Astounding ("Look Before You Leap"/May 1962), The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction ("Hydra"/March 1984), Galaxy ("The Earthman's Burden"/October 1962), Science Fiction ("Flurocarbons Are Here to Stay"/March 1958), If ("Call Him Nemesis"/September 1961), and Universe Science Fiction ("Or Give Me Death"/November 1954).

His stories were reprinted in Elsewhere and Elsewhen ("The Earthman's Burden," edited by Groff Conklin, 1968), 100 Great Science Fiction Short Stories ("The Question," edited by Isaac Asimov, et al., 1978), and in Mysterious Visions ("The Winner," edited by Charles G. Waugh, et al., 1979).

Westlake's mystery fiction is highly thought of, especially his John Dortmunder series, but his SF has not received much critical notice. In an interview in the 1990s, he was asked why he no longer wrote SF. He replied: "I've been out of sf 8 years. If was too hidebound, conservative, and Campbell-ridden. Probably still is."

Westlake once stated that the main subject of his stories was bewilderment.

See http://www.sf-encyclopedia.com/entry/westlake_donald_e for more on his career.

pro