L. Sprague de Camp

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L. Sprague de Camp (centre) with Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov

Lyon Sprague de Camp, (November 27 1907 – November 6 2000) was a science fiction and fantasy author born in New York City. In a writer career spanning fifty years he wrote over 100 novels, along with notable works of nonfiction, including biographies of other important fantasy authors.


Trained as an aeronautical engineer, De Camp received a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology in 1930 and Master of Science degree in Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology in 1933.

He married Catherine Crook in 1940, with whom he collaborated on numerous works of fiction and nonfiction beginning in the 1960s.

During World War II, de Camp worked at the Philadelphia Naval Yard with fellow authors Isaac Asimov and Robert A. Heinlein. He rose to the rank of Lieutenant Commander in the Naval Reserve.

He was a member of the all-male literary banqueting club the Trap Door Spiders, which served as the basis of Isaac Asimov's fictional group of mystery solvers the Black Widowers. De Camp himself was the model for the Geoffrey Avalon character.

The de Camps moved to Plano, Texas in 1989. De Camp died there on November 6, 2000, seven months after the death of his wife of sixty years, Catherine Crook de Camp. He died on what would have been her birthday, three weeks shy of his own 93rd birthday. His ashes were interred with those of his wife in Arlington National Cemetery.

De Camp's personal library of about 1,200 books was acquired for auction by Half Price Books in 2005. The collection included books inscribed by fellow writers such as Isaac Asimov and Carl Sagan, as well as de Camp himself.

Works (Fiction)

De Camp's first published story was "The Isolinguals" in the September 1937 issue of Astounding Science Fiction. He went on to write numerous novels, short stories and non-fiction works in his long career.

De Camp was a materialist who wrote works examining society, history, technology and myth. His science fiction is marked by a concern for linguistics and historical forces. His most highly regarded works in the genre are his time-travel stories, including Lest Darkness Fall (1939), The Wheels of If (1940), and The Glory That Was (1960). His most extended work was his Viagens Interplanetarias series, set in a future where Brazil is the dominant power, particularly the subseries of planetary romances set on the planet Krishna. De Camp wrote a number of less-known but significant works that explored such topics as racism, which he noted is more accurately described as ethnocentrism. He pointed out that no scholar comparing the merits of various ethnicities has ever sought to prove that his own ethnicity was inferior to others.

De Camp was best known for his light fantasy, particularly the "Harold Shea" series and "Gavagan's Bar" series, both written in collaboration with his longtime friend Fletcher Pratt. He was also known for his sword-and-sorcery, a subgenre he was instrumental in reviving through his editorial work on and continuation of Robert E. Howard's "Conan" cycle.

De Camp also wrote Historical Fiction, that is, books that were historically accurate as far as the time the events took place, but in which the story itself was false. Most of his work in this genre was set in the era of classical antiquity. One of his most famous historical novels was The Dragon of Ishtar Gate.

Works (Nonfiction)

De Camp enjoyed debunking doubtful history and claims of the supernatural, and to describe how ancient civilizations produced structures and architecture thought by some to be beyond the technologies of their time, such as the pyramids of ancient Egypt]. Works in this area include Citadels of Mystery and The Ancient Engineers. Among his many other wide-ranging non-fiction works were Lost Continents, The Great Monkey Trial (about the Scopes Trial), The Ragged Edge Of Science, Energy and Power, Heroes of American Invention. The Day Of The Dinosaur (which argued, among other things, that evolution took hold after Darwin because of the Victorian interest spurred by recently popularized dinosaur remains, corresponding to legends of dragons), The Evolution Of Naval Weapons (a American governmental textbook) and Teach Your Child To Manage Money.

The author also wrote biographies of many key fantasy writers, most as short articles, but two as full-length studies of the prominent but personally flawed authors Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft. The latter, the first major independent biography of the now-famous writer, was criticized by some fans of Lovecraft as unflattering and unbalanced. Lovecraft scholar S.T. Joshi characterises this as de Camp's failure to understand his subject and Joshi's own biography is highly critical of de Camp's approach.


L. Sprague de Camp was the guest of honor at the 1966 World Science Fiction Convention and won the Nebula Award as a Grandmaster (1978) and the Hugo Award in 1997 for his autobiography, Time and Chance. In 1976, he received the World Science Fiction Society's Gandalf Grand Master award. In 1995, he won the first Sidewise Award for Alternate History Lifetime Achievement Award.


Science Fiction


Viagens Interplanetarias
  1. The Continent Makers and Other Tales of the Viagens (----)
  2. Rogue Queen (1951)
  3. The Stones of Nomuru (1988) (with Catherine Crook de Camp)
  4. The Venom Trees of Sunga (1992)
Krishna Novels

Other Novels



Harold Shea
  1. The Incomplete Enchanter (1941) (with Fletcher Pratt)
  2. The Castle of Iron (1941) (with Fletcher Pratt)
  3. Wall of Serpents (1953) (with Fletcher Pratt)
  4. Sir Harold and the Gnome King (1991)
  5. The Enchanter Reborn (1992) (with Christopher Stasheff)
  6. The Exotic Enchanter (1995) (with Christopher Stasheff)
Novarian Series
  1. The Goblin Tower (1968)
  2. The Clocks of Iraz (1971)
  3. The Fallible Fiend (1973)
  4. The Unbeheaded King (1983)
  5. The Reluctant King (omnibus) (1985)
  6. The Honorable Barbarian (1989)
Incorporated Knight
  1. The Incorporated Knight (1987)
  2. The Pixilated Peeress (1991)

Other Novels

Historical Novels






External links

  • [1] - the official L. Sprague de Camp website

Original Wiki source: Wikipedia