Neal Barrett, Jr., author of the fantasy The Hereafter Gang (1991), an acknowledged masterpiece that “almost no one has ever heard of,” and a number of other celebrated SF and fantasy novels and short stories. He was born in San Antonio, Texas, and grew up in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He was 84.
Barrett began publishing SF with “To Tell the Truth” in Galaxy (August, 1960). His notable short fiction includes “Perpetuity Blues” (1987), Hugo and Nebula Award finalist “Ginny Sweethips’ Flying Circus” (1989), Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award finalist “Stairs” (1989), “Cush” (1993), and “Radio Station St. Jack” (2008). His short work has been collected in Slightly Off Center: Eleven Extraordinarily Exhilarating Tales (1992), World Fantasy Award finalist Perpetuity Blues and Other Stories (2000), A Different Vintage (2001), Way Out There (2004), and Other Seasons: The Best of Neal Barrett, Jr. (2013). His literary fantasy, Interstate Dreams (1999), won the Texas Institute of Letters Award, the year he was inducted into that organization.
His first genre novel, Kelwin, appeared in 1970, followed by The Gates of Time (1970), The Leaves of Time (1971), Highwood (1972), Stress Pattern (1974), The Karma Corps (1984), The Hereafter Gang (1991), Interstate Dreams (1999), PIGGS (2001), and Prince of Christler-Coke (2004). Series work included the popular but strange “Aldair” series (four novels about the adventures on a future Earth of a genetically engineered, humanoid pig, 1976 - 1982), the “Through Darkest America” duology about a ruined future United States, and the “Finn, the Lizard Master” books. Barrett also wrote mysteries (including the “Wiley Moss” novels), comic and media tie-ins, and non-fiction.
He used several pseudonyms, including Victor Appleton (“Tom Swift” YA science fiction novels), Chad Calhoun, Franklin W. Dixon (“Hardy Boys” YA mysteries), Terrence Duncan, Rebecca Drury, Wesley Ellis, and J. D. Hardin.
In the early 1980s Barrett was part of a group of SF writters living in Austin, Texas, that included Chad Oliver, Howard Waldrop, Bruce Sterling, Leigh Kennedy, Steven Utley, Lewis Shiner, and Lisa Tuttle. In a 1985 interview Oliver called them “gifts from the gods.”
Michael Moorcock, a onetime member of the Austin group, has described Barrett's work as follows: “His stories were extraordinary, marked by his wry, sardonic eye, his ear for dialogue, his quirky slant on life.”
An appreciation of Barrett by Jon D. Swartz was published in the March, 2014, issue of Paperback Parade.
Awards, Honors and GoHships: