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L. Sprague de Camp

L. Sprague de CampAKA Lyon Sprague de Camp

Born: 27-Nov-1907
Birthplace: New York City
Died: 6-Nov-2000
Location of death: Plano, TX
Cause of death: Stroke
Remains: Buried, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Author

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Lest Darkness Fall

Science fiction and fantasy author L. Sprague de Camp is remembered as one of the major authors of the Golden Age of science fiction literature. Responsible for continuing the Conan the Barbarian saga begun by friend Robert E. Howard, de Camp also produced a broad rage of other fiction and non-fiction works, including biographies of both Howard and H. P. Lovecraft as well as a variety of popular science works. Many of the latter were aimed at debunking non-scientific beliefs and included such titles as The Ancient Engineers (1974), The Great Monkey Trial (1968) and Lost Continents: The Atlantis Theme in History, Science, and Literature (1970). Some of de Camp's most popular works of fiction include Lest Darkness Fall (1941), The Wheels of If (1940), The Glory That Was (1960), and The Dragon of Ishtar Gate (1961) as well as numerous novels created in collaboration with author Fletcher Pratt in the Harold Shea and Enchanter series.

Born in New York City on November 27, 1907, de Camp received his early education both in New York and in the American South. He went on to earn his BS in Aeronautical Engineering from Cal Tech in 1930, and his MS from Stevens Institute in 1933. Afterwards, he went to work for a company that dealt with patenting, eventually making his authorial debut with a textbook on the same subject. His first book of fiction was Genus Homo, written with P Schuyler Miller, but the work could not find a receptive editor until 1950.

However, in 1937, de Camp's first short fiction piece, "The Isolinguals", was accepted by Astounding Science Fiction. He made further contributions to Astounding (working especially well with it's later editor John W. Campbell), as well as to a variety of other pulps. His most notable works from this period include the Johnny Black stories (about an intelligent bear), as well as a number of others later gathered in his The Best of L. Sprague de Camp collection (1978).

In 1939 de Camp married Catherine Crook who would also serve as his re-write editor and sometimes collaborator during the rest of their years together. In 1942 he joined the U.S. Naval Reserve, serving, as Lieutenant Commander, in the same Philadelphia Naval Yard as friends and fellow science fiction authors Isaac Asimov and Robert A. Heinlein. Like Heinlein and Asimov (as well as A. E. van Vogt, Frederik Pohl, Arthur C. Clarke, and others), de Camp would eventually become one of the principle authors of what is now referred to as the Golden Age of science fiction. De Camp's work was part of an explosion of titles and ideas that transformed the tiny emerging sci-fi genre (once defined almost entirely by H.G. Wells and Jules Verne) into a broad, rich and burgeoning body of literature.

De Camp himself (both singly and in collaboration with others) produced nearly 100 titles, not to mention scores of short stories -- and a number of edited anthologies. But although his first forays into fiction were largely sci-fi (especially time travel tales), he began in the 1950s to produce more straightforward sword & sorcery/fantasy novels. The impetus for this may have been his massive involvement with Robert E. Howard's Conan tales. De Camp compiled and rewrote the unpolished and often unfinished material left by the self-murdered Howard. Adding his own fill where needed, he brought the tales into a publishable book format and before handing them off to Gnome Press. The end result of this Howard/de Camp post mortem collaboration was a highly successful series, later enhanced even further by fresh installments created by de Camp, often in collaboration with Lin Carter and others. New authors, including Robert Jordan, have continued the Conan series, and in 1982 Conan made his move to the big screen, embodied in the person of actor (and now California governor) Arnold Schwarzenegger as Conan the Barbarian (1982). The film was successful enough, by Hollywood standards, to generate the 1984 sequel Conan the Destroyer.

De Camp died on November 6, 2000. He was preceded, seven months earlier, by death his wife, Catherine Cook de Camp. His companion for some of sixty years, he passed away on the day that would have been her birthday. L. Sprague De Camp's accolades and distinctions include Guest of Honor at the 1966 World Science Fiction Convention, the Nebula Grand Master Award (1978), the World Science Fiction Society's Gandalf Grand Master award (1976), and the Hugo Award for Time and Chance (1997), his autobiography. De Camp was also awarded the first Sidewise Award for Alternate History Lifetime Achievement in 1995. Extremely active even into his ninth decade, one of de Camp's last adventures was an Easter sojourn with Catherine in 1994 to the South Pacific's remote Easter Island. He is remembered, not only as an author of considerable achievement, but also as a world traveler who spoke several languages and who participated in a number of scholarly, professional, literary, and social organizations.

Wife: Catherine Adelaide Cook de Camp (m. 12-Aug-1931, d. 9-Apr-2000)
Son: Lyman Sprague de Camp
Son: Gerard Beekman de Camp
Brother: Lyman Lyon de Camp

    University: BS Aeronautical Engineering, California Institute of Technology (1930)
    University: MS Engineering, Stevens Institute of Technology (1933)

    World Fantasy Award 1984 Lifetime Achievement

Official Website:

Author of books:
Lest Darkness Fall (1941)
Land of Unreason (1942, with Fletcher Pratt)
The Carnelian Cube (1948, with Fletcher Pratt)
Divide and Rule (1948)
The Stolen Dormouse (1948)
Genus Homo (1950, with P Schuyler Miller)
Rogue Queen (1951)
The Undesired Princess (1951)
The Great Monkey Trial (1968, non-fiction)
Lost Continents: The Atlantis Theme in History, Science, and Literature (1970, non-fiction)
Al Azif: The Necronomicon (1973, non-fiction, with Abdul Alhazred)
The Ancient Engineers (1974, non-fiction)
Dark Valley Destiny: The Life of Robert E. Howard (1975, biography)
H. P. Lovecraft: A biography (1975, biography)
The Ape-man Within (1995, non-fiction)
Time and Chance: An Autobiography (1996, memoir)
Cosmic Manhunt (1954)
Solomon's Stone (1957)
An Elephant for Aristotle (1958)
The Tower of Zanid (1958)
The Bronze God of Rhodes (1960)
The Glory That Was (1960)
The Dragon of the Ishtar Gate (1961)
The Search for Zei (1962, The Floating Continent)
The Hand of Zei (1963)
The Arrows of Hercules (1965)
The Golden Wind (1969)
The Fallible Friend (1973)
The Fallible Fiend (1974)
The Virgin and the Wheels (1976)
Conan of Aquilonia (1977)
The Hostage of Zir (1977)
The Queen of Zamba (1977)
Conan the Swordsman (1978, with Lin Carter and Björn Nyberg)
The Great Fetish (1978)
Footprints on Sand (1981)
Conan le Barbare (1982)
The Prisoner of Zhamanak (1982)
The Fringe of the Unknown (1983)
The Bones of Zora (1983, with Catherine Crook de Camp)
The Stones of Nomuru (1988, with Catherine Crook de Camp)
The Undesired Princess and the Enchanted Bunny (1990, with David Drake)
The Swords of Zinjaban (1991, with Catherine Crook de Camp)
The Venom Trees of Sunga (1992)
The Wheels of If (1948)
The Tritonian Ring: And Other Pusadian Tales (1951)
The Undesired Princess and Mr Arson (1951)
Continent Makers: And Other Tales of the Viagens (1953)
Sprague de Camp's New Anthology (1953)
Tales from Gavagan's Bar (1953, with Fletcher Pratt)
Heroes and Hobgoblins (1962)
Gun for Dinosaur: And Other Imaginative Tales (1963)
The Best of L Sprague de Camp (1969)
Demons and Dinosaurs (1970)
The Reluctant Shaman: And Other Fantastic Tales (1970)
Phantoms and Fancies (1972)
Scribblings (1972)
Tales Beyond Time: From Fantasy to Science Fiction (1973, with Catherine Crook de Camp)
The Compleat Enchanter (1975, with Fletcher Pratt)
The Purple Pterodactyls (1979, with James Baen)
The Virgin of Zesh and the Tower of Zanid (1982)
Blond Barbarians and Noble Savages (1986)
The Intrepid Enchanter (1988, with Fletcher Pratt)
The Complete Compleat Enchanter (1989, with Fletcher Pratt)
Rivers of Time (1993)
Down in the Bottomlands: And Other Places (1999, with Harry Turtledove)
Aristotle and the Gun: and Other Stories (2002)
Time-Travel Stories (2004)
Tales of Conan (1955, with Robert E. Howard)
The Return of Conan (1957)
Conan the Adventurer (1965, with Robert E. Howard)
Conan the Usurper (1967, with Robert E. Howard)
Conan the Warrior (1967author, with Robert E. Howard)
Conan of the Isles (1968, with Lin Carter)
Conan the Freebooter (1968, with Robert E. Howard)
Conan the Buccaneer (1971, with Lin Carter)
Conan the Liberator (1979, with Lin Carter)
Conan and the Spider God (1980)
The Treasure of Tranicos (1980, with Robert E. Howard)
Sagas of Conan (2004, with Lin Carter and Björn Nyberg)

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