Ray Nelson (1931-2022)

SF writer and illustrator Ray Nelson, 91, died November 30, 2022 in El Cerrito CA. He was a prolific author of SF and mystery fiction and longtime member of fandom.

Radell Faraday Nelson was born October 31, 1931 in Schenectady, New York. He became involved in fandom as a teenager in Cadillac MI. He claimed to have invented the propellor beanie in 1947, and popularized the headgear as a symbol of science fiction in his cartoons. Nelson attended the University of Chicago and then spent four years studying in Paris, where he met many literary luminaries of the time, including Sartre, de Beauvoir, and Beat writers, Burroughs and Ginsberg among them. While living in Paris, he assisted Michael Moorcock in smuggling banned Henry Miller books out of France. Nelson was married four times, to Lisa Mulligan, Perdita Lilly, Kirsten Enge, and Helene Knox; the latter survives him, along with a son from his marriage to Enge.

His first work of genre interest was “Turn Off the Sky” in F&SF (1963). Story “Eight O’Clock in the Morning” (1963) was later adapted as John Carpenter’s film They Live (1988). Debut novel The Ganymede Takeover, a collaboration with Philip K. Dick, appeared in 1967, and was followed by Blake’s Progress (1975; as Timequest, 1985). The Beggars duology is Then Beggars Could Ride (1976) and The Revolt of the Unemployables (1978). The Prometheus Man: A Nrobook (1982) received a Philip K. Dick Award special citation. Other novels include The Ecolog (1977, as R. Faraday Nelson) and Virtual Zen (1996). He wrote Dimension of Horror (1979) under house name Jeffrey Lord.

He was a prolific fan artist, producing work from the 1940s, was a Retro Hugo finalist for Best Fan Artist in 2001, and won a Rotsler Award for his illustrations in 2003. He was presented with the Fanzine Activity Achievement Award in 2014, and was inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame in 2019.

For more, see his entry in the Encyclopedia of Science Ficiton.

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