Parke Godwin (1929-2013)

Parke Godwin

Parke Godwin

Fantasist Parke Godwin died June 19 at the age of 84 reports Connor Cochran, his business manager. Godwin had been in declining health for a couple of years.

He was particularly known for his novels placing Arthur and Robin Hood in realistic historical settings.

The excellent discussion of Godwin’s literary output by Maria Nutick at Green Man Review begins with a selected quote from the Arthurian novel Firelord that epitomizes the writer’s style. King Arthur tells the reader —

A king should write his own story, especially a Briton. We’re a race of musical liars, and who you are may depend on who’s singing your song.  Many’s the tree-spirit come tripping out of yesterday to find itself a saint today and rudely surprised by the change. I’ve been called Artos and Artorius Imperator, but it seems to stick at Arthur, the way the monks write and the bards sing. That’s unimportant; what matters is who we are and what we did. I want to write of us the way we were before some pedant petrifies us in an epic and substitutes his current idea for ours. As for poets and bards, let one of them redecorate your life and you’ll never be able to find any of it again.

However much his novels were praised, Godwin received the most accolades for his ghost story “The Fire When It Comes,” a novella published in 1981. It was nominated for a Hugo and Nebula, and won the World Fantasy Award.

Besides writing,  Godwin worked at times as a radio operator, a research technician, a professional actor, an advertising man, a dishwasher and a maitre d’ hotel.

He published his first novel, Darker Places, in 1973. And during the early stages of his career he collaborated with Marvin Kaye on Masters of Solitude, Wintermind, and A Cold Blue Light.

Godwin’s two favorite volumes, according to a guest of honor intro published by the 2011 World Fantasy Con, were his controversial religious satires Waiting for the Galactic Bus and The Snake Oil Wars, containing such scenes as a meeting between the protagonists and Yeshua of Nazareth who says, “They’ve spent two thousand years turning me into something out of Oxford or a Tennessee Bible college. Both my parents were Hebrews, I look like an Arab, spent all my life in the desert, and if they let me into one of their nice ‘white’ restaurants at all, I’d get the table by the kitchen door.” The author was reported at work on the third book in the series, Is There A God in the House?

Godwin’s short story “Influencing the Hell out of Time and Teresa Golowitz,” was the basis of an episode of the television series The Twilight Zone.

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