Norman Spinrad

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Norman Spinrad, 2006

Norman Richard Spinrad (* 15. September 1940 in New York City ) is an American science fiction - author .

Spinrad is considered to be one of the co-founders of the new wave movement in science fiction in the United States in the 1960s. The "New Wave" began in England when Michael Moorcock became editor of the British SF magazine New Worlds . Norman Spinrad was President of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) from 1980 to 1982 and from 2001 to 2002 . The controversy surrounding his satire The Steel Dream made him known in Germany.


Spinrad was born in New York City to Jewish parents. He spent his childhood and youth, apart from an interlude in Kingston, New York, in the Bronx. Spinrad attended public school and Bronx High School. In 1957 he moved to the College of New York City, from which he graduated in 1960 with a Bachelor of Science. He began writing in his senior year of college, but it wasn't until 1963 that a Spinrad story was published in Astounding . After three more releases, there was a six month hiatus and Spinrad was frustrated. He took a position with the Scott Meredith Literary Agency , where he acquired information about the writing business as he advised some of his idols, including Philip K. Dick , Philip José Farmer , and Theodore Sturgeon .

Spinrad gave up this job after about a year because he did not have enough time for his own writing activities. At that time, Spinrad slowly began to enjoy success. He was able to sell some short stories to Astounding, which has now been renamed Analog , as well as accommodate other work in other magazines such as Gent and Knight . His first novel The Solarians was also published around this time.

Spinrad moved to San Francisco , but following an invitation from Damon Knight , he attended the Milford Science Fiction Writers Conference . Here he met several other science fiction writers, in particular Harlan Ellison . Together with Ellison, Spinrad moved to Los Angeles and stayed there for six months. During his time there, the short story Carcinoma Angels , published in many anthologies, was written . Some time later, Spinrad lived in San Francisco in the Haight Ashbury District , where the story Men in the Jungle was created, which Spinrad established as the "new voice" of science fiction. Eventually Spinrad returned to Los Angeles and his friendship with Ellison enabled him to publish various publications. Among other things, he wrote two stories for the television series Star Trek , but only The Doomsday Machine (Eng. Title Planetenkiller ) was made into a film.

He got a contract from Doubleday for the novel Bug Jack Barron (German Champion Jack Barron ), but after the completion the manuscript was rejected. Doubleday asked Spinrad to write "everything about sex, drugs and politics," then Doubleday would publish the novel. Spinrad offered the manuscript to other publishers, but only Michael Moorcock , whom he met on a second stay in Milford, offered him to publish the novel in New Worlds in six parts. In 1967, Bug Jack Barron appeared in sequels in New Worlds and caused a scandal in Great Britain. The magazine was removed from the distribution list of the largest magazine distributor and Norman Spinrad was referred to in the House of Commons as a degenerate. According to Brian W. Aldiss, a "... remarkable, if not unique, honor". At the same time, state funding for New Worlds was extended by one year.

Eventually the novel was published by Avon Books and Walker Books. The novel was nominated for both the Nebula Award and the Hugo Award , and Spinrad is one of the founders of the so-called New Wave in science fiction. Timothy Leary said of him, "Norman Spinrad is the authentic classic American novelist ... he ... has enriched our understanding of the present."

Spinrad now lives in Paris.

The asteroid (186835) Normanspinrad was named after him in 2004.


Spinrad became famous for his novel Champion Jack Barron (English: Bug Jack Barron ), which is about the entanglements between media and politics. The novel Agent of Chaos , which has not been translated into German, is considered a classic in which the freedom of the individual is weighed against the claim to the power of order. In 1975 he received the Jupiter Award for Riding the torch .

The background story of his novel The Iron Dream ( The Iron Dream ) plays in an alternative world . Herein has Adolf Hitler never politically active in Germany, but shortly after the First World War in the United States emigrated. There he became an important science fiction writer, whose novel The Lord of the Swastika is highly recognized. This supposed novel by Hitler and the review of this novel make up the main part of the book.

The book, which was conceived as a satire on the quality and attitude of science fiction and fantasy authors, was nominated for the American Nebula Award and was awarded the Prix ​​Apollo in France . In Germany, where it appeared nine years after it was first published, it was highly controversial. At the request of Werner Remmers , the book was indexed in 1982 as the first science fiction novel ever by the Federal Testing Office for writings harmful to minors. Opinions by Rainer Eisfeld and Dietrich Wachler , who recommended refraining from indexing, were not taken into account. The reasoning stated that the novel approved the crimes of the National Socialists and portrayed Hitler as a sympathetic father figure. In the opinion of the examiners, the book should not be classified as satire.

At the time, the sealed book was accompanied by a red piece of paper: This book was placed on the list of writings harmful to minors by the Federal Inspectorate and is subject to the provisions of § 3 to 5 of the Act on writings harmful to minors. This book may be sold to adults over the age of 18 within business premises. It was only after 25 years that the book was deleted from the list of media harmful to minors on January 31, 2007 in accordance with Section 18 (7) JuSchG , although the Federal Administrative Court had already declared the indexing to be illegal in 1987 and enabled the book to be sold again.

The novels That me the great Nothing should embrace ( The Void Captain's Tale ) and child of happiness ( Child of Fortune ) playing in the same 'universe', the time of the 'second space age'. Spaceships move through the universe in leaps of several light years without wasting time. These jumps are made possible by coupling a pilot to a misunderstood device in the spaceship. Only women are able to fulfill this guiding function, in which they simultaneously experience the feeling of highest sexual fulfillment. All spaceships are also equipped with a palace in which the realms of the worlds indulge in their hedonistic pleasures. These palaces serve to distract the spaceship crew from the reality of the surrounding 'nothing' of space; otherwise they are threatened with psychological instability.

The first of these two novels follows the voyage of the spaceship "Dragon Zephyr" under the command of Captain Geno Kane Gupta. In an atmosphere full of eroticism in the palace of the celebrating rich, he realizes that he is giving his pilot Dominique Alia Wu sexual pleasures through the jump order of his pilot, which he could not give as a man. The growing relationship between the captain and the pilot, who wants to enter the 'nothing' herself, creates a fatal situation for the spaceship and passengers: the spaceship runs aground when the pilot's psyche escapes into 'nothing'.

In 1994, Spinrad returned to the topic of Bug Jack Barron and wrote Bilder um 11 a keen-sighted analysis of the medium of television, based on the current state of the 1990s. In the novel, terrorists raid a television station to draw attention to covered up nuclear accidents; Among the hostage-takers are an East German ex-lecturer, an RAF member, a cyberpunk and other more or less failed existences. Instead of harnessing the medium for their own purposes, however, the occupiers themselves gradually become prisoners of the broadcaster. The audience ratings and the people behind the scenes force the terrorists to end up blowing themselves up in front of the cameras. The book is dedicated to Angela and Karlheinz Steinmüller , who supported Spinrad with the German background of the story (Berlin, GDR, RAF). Ralf Reiter wrote about pictures at 11 :

"The novel is a dialogue-heavy, 700-page chamber play that takes place mainly in three rooms (studio, executive office, cafeteria), but which hooks so many hooks and integrates various influences from the outside world (via live connection or telephone) that the breakneck dynamic is the reader without lying, the drops of sweat on the forehead. […] Bilder um 11 is an exciting, entertaining, cheeky and yet absolutely uncomfortable book. A cynical as well as ingenious attack against media naivety, against the belief that one could keep such a medium as television (especially: private television) under control and make it usable for the world. "

At the end of 2001, Norman Spinrad sold his work He Walked Among Us under the title Die Transformation for one dollar to Heyne Verlag . In English, the novel is only available in electronic form or as a book on demand . The first two chapters are available as 'freeware'.

His novel The Druid King was written parallel to the script for the film Druids . The theme is the revolt of the Gauls under Vercingetorix against the Roman occupation by Julius Caesar .


  • The Solarians (1966)
  • The Men in the Jungle (1967)
    • English: The Brotherhood of Pain. Moewig Science Fiction # 3574, 1982, ISBN 3-8118-3574-2 .
  • Agent of Chaos (1967)
  • Bug Jack Barron (1967, 1969)
    • German: Champion Jack Barron. Moewig Science Fiction # 3562, 1982, ISBN 3-8118-3562-9 . Also as: Heyne Science Fiction & Fantasy # 8008, 1998, ISBN 3-453-14889-4 . Also as: Champion Jack Barron. Translated by Joachim Körber. Heyne Science Fiction & Fantasy # 8008, 1998, ISBN 3-453-14889-4 .
  • The Iron Dream (1972)
    • German: The steel dream. Heyne Science Fiction & Fantasy # 3783, 1981, ISBN 3-453-30684-8 .
  • Passing Through The Flame (1975)
  • A World Between (1979)
    • German: A world in between. Heyne Science Fiction & Fantasy # 3963, 1983, ISBN 3-453-30895-6 .
  • Songs from the Stars (1980)
    • German: Songs of the Stars. Bastei Lübbe Science Fiction Special # 24025, 1981, ISBN 3-404-24025-1 .
  • The Mind Game (1980)
  • The Void Captain's Tale (1983)
    • German: That the great nothing surrounds me. Bastei Lübbe Science Fiction Special # 24050, 1983, ISBN 3-404-24050-2 .
  • Child of Fortune (1985)
    • German: Kind des Glücks: A fantastic journey through a universe full of eroticism and danger. Translated by Jürgen Langonski. Bastei Lübbe Science Fiction Special # 24139, 1991, ISBN 3-404-24139-8 .
  • Little Heroes (1987)
  • Russian Spring (1991)
    • German: Russian Spring. Heyne Science Fiction & Fantasy # 4944, 1992, ISBN 3-453-06189-6 .
  • The Children of Hamelin (1991)
  • Pictures at 11 (1994)
  • Greenhouse Summer (1999)
    • German: The tropical millennium. Heyne Science Fiction & Fantasy # 6378, 2001, ISBN 3-453-18835-7 .
  • He Walked Among Us (2002)
    • German: The transformation. Heyne Science Fiction & Fantasy # 6419, 2002, ISBN 3-453-21352-1 .
  • The Druid King (2003)
    • German: The Druid King. Translated by Andreas Brandhorst. Goldmann Science Fiction # 24222, 2003, ISBN 3-442-24222-3 .
  • Mexica (2005)
  • Osama the Gun (2011)
  • The People's Police (2017)
  • Welcome to Your Dreamtime (2018)
  • The Last Hurray of the Golden Horde (1970)
  • No Direction Home (1975)
  • The Star-Spangled Future (1979)
  • Other Americas (1988)
  • Deus X and Other Stories (2003)
Short stories
  • The Last of the Romany (1963)
  • Subjectivity (1964)
  • Outward Bound (1964)
  • The Realized Man (1964)
    • German: Ambassador of the future. In: Walter Ernsting (Ed.): Galaxy 5. Heyne Science Fiction & Fantasy # 3068, 1966.
  • Your Name Shall Be ... Darkness (1964, also called The Ersatz Ego , 1970)
  • The Equalizer (1964)
  • The Rules of the Road (1964)
  • A Child of Mind (1965)
  • Deathwatch (1965)
  • The Age of Invention (1966)
  • Technicality (1966, also called Down the Rabbit Hole )
  • Neutral Ground (1966)
  • It's a bird! It's a plane! (1967)
    • German: A bird! An airplane! In: Science Fiction Jahrbuch 1983. Moewig Science Fiction # 3600, 1982, ISBN 3-8118-3600-5 .
  • Carcinoma Angels (1967)
  • A Night in Elf Hill (1968)
  • Once More, with Feeling (1969)
  • The Conspiracy (1969)
  • The Last Hurray of the Golden Horde (1969)
  • The Entropic Gang Bang Caper (1969)
    • English: The entropic multifick end-time panorama. In: Joachim Körber (Ed.): New Worlds. Sphinx (Edition 23), 1983, ISBN 3-85914-410-3 .
  • The Big Flash (1969)
    • German: The great lightning. Translated by Wolf-Dieter Heller and Ute Steinbicker. In: Damon Knight (Ed.): Damon Knight's Collection 6. Fischer Taschenbuch (Fischer Orbit # 12), 1972, ISBN 3-436-01577-6 . Also as: The super show. Translated by Rudolf Mühlstrasser. In: Walter Spiegl (Ed.): Science-Fiction-Stories 40. Ullstein 2000 # 75 (3072), 1974, ISBN 3-548-03072-6 . Also called: The great lightning bolt. Translated by Winfried Czech. In: James Gunn (ed.): From Ellison to Haldeman. Heyne (Library of Science Fiction Literature # 96), 1991, ISBN 3-453-05024-X .
  • Dead End (1969)
  • Heroes Die But Once (1969)
  • The Weed of Time (1970)
  • The Lost Continent (1970)
  • No Direction Home (1971)
  • Heirloom (1972)
  • The National Pastime (1973)
  • A Thing of Beauty (1973)
  • World of Gray (1973)
  • All the Sounds of the Rainbow (1973)
  • Riding the Torch (1974)
    • English: The way of the flame. Translated by Birgit Reß-Bohusch . In: Wolfgang Jeschke (Ed.): The big clock. Heyne Science Fiction & Fantasy # 3541, 1977, ISBN 3-453-30434-9 . Also as: Flame ride. Translated by Birgit Reß-Bohusch. Bastei Lübbe (Bastei Lübbe Science Fiction Adventure # 23003), 1981, ISBN 3-404-23003-5 .
  • In the Eye of the Storm (1974)
  • Holy War on 34th Street (1975)
  • Sierra Maestra (1975)
    • German: Sierra Maestra. In: Wolfgang Jeschke (Ed.): Science Fiction Story Reader 9. Heyne Science Fiction & Fantasy # 3574, 1978, ISBN 3-453-30469-1 .
  • The Perils of Pauline (1976)
  • Blackout (1977)
  • Prime Time (1980)
    • German: The channel is full! In: Werner Fuchs (Ed.): Light of the day, light of death. Droemer Knaur (Knaur Science Fiction & Fantasy # 5749), 1982, ISBN 3-426-05749-2 .
  • Perchance to Dream (1983)
  • Street Meat (1983)
  • The Man Who (1984)
  • The Tale of the (Man) Who (Met) (God) (1984)
  • Brain Salad (1985)
  • World War Last (1985)
  • Journals of the Plague Years (1988)
  • La Vie Continue (1988)
  • The Helping Hand (1991)
  • What Eats You (1991)
  • Deus X (1993)
  • New Cathedrals (1993)
  • They Call Me Mad (1993)
  • Vampire Junkies (1993)
  • Where the Heart Is (1993)
    • German: Where the heart beats. In: Hardy Kettlitz (Ed.): Alien Contact, number 34. Edition Avalon, 1999.
  • Voice Over (1994)
  • The Fat Vampire (1997)
  • The Year of the Mouse (1998)
    • German: The year of the mouse. In: Wolfgang Jeschke (Ed.): The year of the mouse. Heyne Science Fiction & Fantasy # 6320, 2000, ISBN 3-453-15651-X .
  • New Ice Age, or Just Cold Feet? (2000)
  • Entities (2001)
  • A Man of the Theater (2005)
  • Maker of Worlds (2008)
  • Right You Are If You Say You Are (2008)
  • The Brown Revolution (2008)
  • Float Like a Butterfly (2009)
  • The Woman of Your Dreams (2009)
  • Where No Man Pursueth (2010)
  • Lighter Than Air (2010)
  • The Silver Bullet and the Golden Goose (2010)
  • Out There (2011)
  • The Music of the Sphere (2011)
  • Far Distant Suns (2013)
  • Raising Hell (2014)
  • Google Car Takes the Test (2014)
  • The Crashing of the Cloud (2015)
  • Water Worlds (2015)
  • TimeOut (2016)
  • Mr Singularity (2017)
  • The Sword of Damocles (2017)
  • The Nanny Bubble (2017)
Anthologies (as editor)
  • The New Tomorrows (1971)
  • Modern Science Fiction (1974)
  • Riding the Torch / Tin Soldier (1990, with Joan D. Vinge)
  • Experiment Perilous (1976, with Marion Zimmer Bradley and Alfred Bester)
  • Staying Alive: A Writer's Guide (1983)
  • Science Fiction in the Real World (1990)
  • La Cuisine Humaine: How to Cook Like a Human Being (2018)


  • 1967: The Doomsday Machine , German planet killer , 35th episode of the TV series Raumschiff Enterprise
  • 1974: Tag Team , German fight for survival , 5th episode of the TV series In the Land of the Saurians
  • 1988: Gray Wolf , 28th episode of the TV series Werewolf (no German version)



Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Wolfgang Jeschke: "The steel dream" and the Germans in Heyne Science Fiction Magazine 3 . Heyne, Munich 1982. p. 231 ff.
  2. Published in the Federal Gazette No. 21 of January 31, 2007 according to the brief information from the Federal Inspectorate for Media Harmful to Young People, January 2007.
  3. ^ Judgment of the Federal Administrative Court of March 3, 1987; Ref .: 1 C 16.86.
  4. Wolfgang Jeschke (Ed.): The Science Fiction Year 1998 . Heyne, Munich, ISBN 3-453-13313-7 , pp. 816, 818.