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Satirist, writer, reader, artist with eclectic taste in the science fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery/suspense, and forteana. And yeah, some YA. Have zero patience for snobbery of every stripe.


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MAY 30, 2010 2:15PM

Writers you never heard of.... L.P. Davies

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I'm a book collecter.  I collect books that I'm mostly obsessed with.   And a British writer by the name of L.P. Davies is one of my obsessions right now.

Very few facts were known of Leslie Purnell Davies.  Mostly culled from dust jacket bios of him.  No other critical essays were written of him and his works with the exception of S.T. Joshi's chapter in his book, The Evolution of The Weird Tale.

He was born in Crewe, Cheshire, England.  He was gift shop owner, pharmacist, a driver for the medics of RAF, a painter, and a successful writer.  He moved to North Wales, then on to one of Canary islands.

Only three of his books have been adapted for film: Tv film The Paper Dolls was made for a short lived British television series Journey Into the Unknown/Journey to Darkness.  Project X directed by William Castle was based on "The Artificial Man."  "The Alien" was adapted for film titled "The Groundstar Conspiracy."  It starred Michael Sarrazin and George Peppard.  You can check this info at Internet Movie Database aka IMDb.

His books were categorized or marketed as one or a combo of three: science fiction, mystery/suspense, horror.  Very little of his stuff were fantasy.  Most of them have one or three unifying factors:  Things are not always what they seem reality-wise.  In other words, what exactly is the truth or dream?  Your memory is not as reliable as you thought.  And of course, the third factor is how do you know for certain that you are "you" and not somebody else?

So when an amnesiac/protagonist tries to find out a few things about themselves and his environment, you can always be sure someone out there had other ideas, and will go out of their way to run an interference.  Classic examples are: The Artificial Man, The Alien, Who Is Lewis Pinder?, Give Me Back Myself.

Others would try to figure ways to fix reality, sometimes at a whim.  Examples are: Twilight Journey, Genesis Two, Psychogeist, The Paper Dolls, Dimension A.

Davies' work can be compared to another writer by the name of Philip K. Dick.  However, PKD takes these themes to very logical and haluccinogenic extremes.  Davies would be a bit mild in comparison, though they're slightly kafkaesque in a way.  Still, wouldn't you feel a bit uneasy if you didn't know where you really fit in with the scheme of things as they are now?

You might want to check this guy out if you can.  All of his books were out of print right now.  Although I've read some info at a blog somewhere that someone's bringing them back in print.  Hope so.  I'd like to know when.  So far, not seen anything happening.

Two items that are worth mentioning: The short stories he wrote were not collected into a book for some reason or another.  And the last book he wrote, The Morning Walk, is hardly anywhere to be found.  Spotted one on Amazon, yeah, but it's currently unavailable.

So, here are the titles, not necessarily in chronological order:

The Paper Dolls

The Alien

The Artificial Man

Who Is Lewis Pinder?

What Did I Do Tomorrow?

Give Me Back Myself

Assignment: Abacus

Adventure Holidays Ltd.

Stranger In Town

Dimension A


Genesis Two

Twilight Journey

The Land of Leys

The Shadow Before

The White Room

The Reluctant Medium

The Lampton Dreamers

A Grave Matter

The Morning Walk

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Hi, LP Davies is unfortunately largely forgotten, I read him because our local library (I'm British) had quite a few of his books when I was a kid. As you say he's a reminiscent of an English PKD, perhaps John Wyndham channelling PKD. The last couple of his books I've never read and as you say are impossible to find. A new omnibus edition would be good.

I'm glad you remembered the William Castle movie based on the Artificial Man, I've only seen it on very late night TV, and couldn't remember the title, so I've hadn't been able to track it down.
I've not seen the film "Project X". One of these days, one of us will have to search for it. There's a chance it's gonna be pretty cheesy. Moving on, I do agree, Davies is largely forgotten. I think it's 'cuz somebody out there in the publishing biz didn't bother to bring them to print. And here's a real irony for you: He was supposedly a successful writer. In other words, a bestseller. Maybe not a New York Times bestseller but a bestseller nonetheless. There are dozens of writers that are bestsellers back then but largely forgotten nowadays. Robert W. Chambers is one classic example. A bestselling writer back in his time. Right now he's remembered for the King In Yellow stories among the weird tale afficianados.
Addition: According to Robert Reginald's Science Fiction Writers, L.P. Davies wrote 250 short stories to his credit. We're able to nab at least twenty of his novels but not his short stories?! There are people who claimed to have plenty of time but not enough for a single solitary short story which takes about twenty minutes to an hour. There's something seriously wrong with this kind of thinking.