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Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Authors

Keith Laumer

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Keith Laumer

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Full Name: John Keith Laumer
Born: June 9, 1925
Syracuse, New York, USA
Died: January 23, 1993
Brooksville, Florida, USA
Occupation: Writer, Diplomat
Nationality: American


John Keith Laumer (9 June 1925–23 January 1993) was an American science fiction author. Prior to becoming a full-time writer, he was an officer in the U.S. Air Force and a U.S. diplomat. His brother March Laumer was also a writer, known for his adult reinterpretations of the Land of Oz (also mentioned in Keith's The Other Side of Time).

Keith Laumer (aka J.K Laumer, J. Keith Laumer) is best known for his Bolo stories and his satirical Retief series. The former chronicles the evolution of juggernaut-sized tanks that eventually become self-aware through the constant improvement resulting from centuries of intermittent warfare against various alien races. The latter deals with the adventures of a cynical spacefaring diplomat who constantly has to overcome the red-tape-infused failures of people with names like Ambassador Grossblunder. The Retief stories were greatly influenced by Laumer's earlier career in the United States Foreign Service. In an interview with Paul Walker of Luna Monthly, Laumer states "I had no shortage of iniquitous memories of the Foreign Service."

Four of his shorter works received Hugo or Nebula Award nominations (one of them, "In the Queue", received nominations for both) and his novel A Plague of Demons was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1966.

During the peak years of 1959–1971, Laumer was a prolific science fiction writer, with his novels tending to follow one of two patterns: fast-paced, straight adventures in time and space, with an emphasis on lone-wolf, latent superman protagonists, self-sacrifice and transcendence or, broad comedies, sometimes of the over-the-top variety.

In 1971, Laumer suffered a stroke while working on the novel The Ultimax Man. As a result, he was unable to write for a few years. As he explained in an interview with Charles Platt published in The Dream Makers (1987), he refused to accept the doctors' diagnosis. He came up with an alternative explanation and developed an alternative (and very painful) treatment program. Although he was unable to write in the early 1970s, he had a number of books which were in the pipeline at the time of the stroke published during that time.

In the mid-1970s, Laumer partially recovered from the stroke and resumed writing. However, the quality of his work suffered and his career declined (Piers Anthony, How Precious Was That While, 2002). In later years Laumer also reused scenarios and characters from his earlier works to create "new" books, which some critics felt was to their detriment:

Alas, Retief to the Rescue doesn't seem so much like a new Retief novel, but a kind of Cuisnart mélange of past books.

-- Somtow Sucharitkul (Washington Post, Mar 27, 1983. p. BW11)

His Bolo creations were popular enough that other authors have written standalone science-fiction novels about them.

Laumer was also a model airplane enthusiast, and published two dozen designs between 1956 and 1962 in the U.S. magazines Air Trails, Model Airplane News and Flying Models, as well as the British Aero Modeler. He published one book on the subject, How to Design and Build Flying Models in 1960. His later designs were mostly gas-powered free flight planes, and had a whimsical charm with names to match, like the "Twin Lizzie" and the "Lulla-Bi". His designs are still being revisited, reinvented and built today.

Works in the WWEnd Database

 Non Series Works



 0. (1990)
 1. (1976)
 2. (1986)
 3. (1990)

 Giants of Sci-Fi

 7. (2020)


 0. (1981)
 1. (1967)
 2. (1965)
 3. (1968)
 4. (1990)

 Lafayette O'Leary

 1. (1966)
 2. (1970)
 3. (1972)
 4. (1984)


 0. (1979)
 1. (1969)
 2. (1965)
 3. (1966)
 4. (1968)
 5. (1969)
 6. (1971)
 7. (1971)
 8. (1975)
 9. (1978)
 10. (1982)
 11. (1983)
 12. (1984)
 13. (1986)
 14. (1989)
 15. (1993)