Robert Conquest (1917-2015)

Author Robert Conquest, 98, died August 3, 2015 in Stanford CA of pneumonia. Though best known as a historian and one of the foremost experts on Russia and the Soviet Union, he was also a dedicated SF fan, writer, editor, critic, and poet. From 1961-66 he edited five volumes of the Spectrum anthology series with Kingsley Amis. He wrote memorable verse, including this famous couplet:

“SF’s no good,” they bellow till we’re deaf.
“But this looks good.” — “Well then, it’s not SF.”

He also edited The Robert Sheckley Omnibus (1973). His essay collection The Abomination of Moab (1979) includes work of SF interest. He wrote one SF novel, A World of Difference: A Modern Novel of Science and Imagination (1955).

George Robert Acworth Conquest was born July 15, 1917 in Great Malvern, Worcestershire, UK. Conquest worked for the British diplomatic corps from 1946-56, and produced important works Power and Politics in the USSR (1960), The Great Terror: Stalin’s Purge of the Thirties (1969) and The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine” (1986), among many other books on the country. Conquest was one of the Movement poets in the ’50s, along with Philip Larkin and Kingsley Amis. In 1977 he became a senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and eventually relocated full-time to live in Stanford CA.

He was married four times, and is survived by his wife Elizabeth (née Neece), plus two sons from his first marriage, a stepdaughter, and five grandchildren.

For more, see his entry in the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. See the September issue of Locus for a complete obituary.