Douglas, L. Warren 1943-
DOUGLAS, L. Warren 1943-
PERSONAL: Born November 3, 1943; married, 1970 (divorced, 1981); married second wife, Sue, 1989; children: (first marriage) three, including Sophia. Education: Grand Valley College, B.A. (anthropology); studied English, art, anthropology, and history at Kalamazoo College, 1962-65; attended the Universite d'Aix-Marseille; attended graduate level courses in archaeology and physical anthropology at Michigan State University. Hobbies and other interests: Art, playing the guitar, skiing.
CAREER: Toledo University, Toledo, OH, archaeology field crew supervisor, 1967; University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, anthropology and prehistory instructor, beginning 1972; regional planning commission artist, beginning c. 1973; woodcarver, beginning c. 1973. Has also worked in a museum, as an archaeologist, a sidewalk chalk artist, and, while a college student, as a taxicab driver. Military service: U.S. Army, beginning 1967.
MEMBER: Creston Neighborhood Association.
A Plague of Change, Del Ray (New York, NY), 1992. Bright Islands in a Dark Sea, Del Ray (New York, NY), 1993.
Cannon's Orb, Del Ray (New York, NY), 1994.
Simply Human, Baen (New York, NY), 2000.
"ARBITER" SERIES; NOVELS
Stepwater, Roc (New York, NY), 1995.
The Wells of Phyre, Roc (New York, NY), 1996.
Glaice, Roc (New York, NY), 1996.
"THE SORCERESS'S TALE" SERIES; NOVELS
The Sacred Pool, Baen (New York, NY), 2001.
The Veil of Years, Baen (New York, NY), 2001.
The Isle beyond Time, Baen (New York, NY), 2003.
Work has been translated into Russian.
SIDELIGHTS: L. Warren Douglas often draws on his expertise in archaeology, anthropology, history, folklore, and religion in his many science-fiction and fantasy novels. According to Kliatt contributor Howard G. Zaharoff, for example, the author's science-fiction novel A Plague of Change is loosely based on the Biblical story of Joseph. The novel's protagonist, Vassily "Bass" Cannon, returns home on a vacation from space academy, but his new arrogance prompts his friends to sell him to members of a traveling spacecraft. They deposit Bass on a planet full of the Psatla, creatures who are unpopular with human beings but who have the means to conduct biological engineering without machinery. When additional treachery lands Bass in prison, he discovers a plan to save humankind using biological engineering. Kliatt contributor Zaharoff noted that although "the plot often slows to a crawl," he added that he "will be looking for Mr. Douglas's next novel." Discussing A Plague of Change in Locus, Carolyn Cushman concluded that "Douglas is a very promising new writer, if he can only rein in his tendency to tell all in lumps, and to preach."
Bright Island on a Dark Sea features alien beings who rule Earth. The human inhabitants of Earth also worship the ruling aliens. Much of the control of this alien church hinges on the assumed fact that human beings can no longer fly spaceships. When a teacher and his student uncover information proving otherwise, alien religious figures try to suppress this information. Fearing reprisal from the aliens, the student flees and meets witches also wanted by the church. In another Locus review, Carolyn Cushman called Bright Islands in a Dark Sea "an exciting adventure in a divertingly strange future."
Another planet faces powerful aliens in Cannon's Orb. Science Fiction Chronicle contributor Don D'Ammassa stated that while he found some of the ideas in Cannon's Orb "disingenuous," the novel contains "an interesting political struggle," as well as "some tantalizing ideas."
Douglas's Stepwater is the first book in a series of novels about a universe controlled by the Arbiter. The Arbiter heads a huge spaceship fleet and controls enough information to make him the most powerful entity in the universe. He rules many worlds populated by a variety of living creatures, including lands where human beings and genetically engineered species live uneasily with each other. The novel's protagonist, Barq, must aid a new Arbiter by retrieving stolen information while searching for a way to resolve conflicts closer to his home. Science Fiction Chronicle contributor D'Ammassa commented that Stepwater contains an "interesting" setting and "reasonably engaging" characters. Writing in Analog, Tom Easton questioned the busy Arbiter's omnipotence and observed that the quick-moving conclusion appears to lack information, as if the narrative is "skipping over whole chapters." Yet Easton also called the novel "a very entertaining tale based on an interesting setup and blessed with a number of believable characters."
Glaice, another novel in Douglas's Arbiter series, features a genetically engineered human race called the Inutkak who live on a frozen planet. The Inutkak have been ordered to travel to other planets to establish power, but must fight for legal recognition for equality as human beings. Booklist contributor Dennis Winters called the Inutkaks' struggle "a well-crafted, exciting, multidimensional conflict," and Glaice "an intelligent, fast-moving undertaking."
With 2001's The Sacred Pool Douglas began a new trilogy, "The Sorceress's Tale," set in medieval and ancient France. The first book, described in Publishers Weekly as a "highly literate, intricately allusive" tale that "ingeniously explores the evolution of myths that sprang from various pagan roots to blossom into Christian tradition," revolves around Pierrette, a young woman who learns how to use magic from studying the religion of the Christians, Muslims, and pagans. The author draws on his knowledge of archaeology to add historic realism to a fantasy tale that at one point also journeys a million years into the future world of Midicor IV. Pierrette's adventures are continued in The Veil of Years, in which the threat of the coming Dark Time looms over the land. The world's only hope lies in Pierrette's ability to travel through time to stop a chain of events that began when Rome first conquered Gaul and an evil king named Teutomalas ruled with the help of his sorcerer. In the last installment of the series, The Isle beyond Time, Pierrette finds that she can trust no one in a world that has been turned upside down by her influence on course of time. The threat of the Dark Time remains, and the only person Pierrette might be able to trust is the original source of evil—the Eater of Gods.
While some critics were impressed by the clearly evident knowledge of history and folklore that has gone into Douglas's "The Sorceress's Tale," others felt that his scholarly references added little to a tale that needed better plotting and characterization. On the former side is Jackie Cassada, who wrote in a Library Journal review of The Veil of Years that Douglas displays "meticulous historical research" that should appeal to most fans of fantasy fiction. On the other hand, a Publishers Weekly contributor writing about the same book felt that details that "should be fascinating" become somehow "uninteresting," and the reviewer further complained that Pierrette "doesn't seem to actually do anything" in the story to carry the plot. Expressing both views, Booklist critic Roland Green, writing about The Sacred Pool, felt that the author's "narrative technique is less impressive" than the "dazzling displays" of scholarship that create the book's setting.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Analog, March, 1996, pp. 151-152.
Booklist, December 15, 1996, p. 713; December 15, 2000, Roland Green, review of The Sacred Pool, p. 794; May 15, 2001, Roland Green, review of The Veil of Years, p. 1738.
Kliatt, January, 1993, p. 16.
Library Journal, January 1, 2001, Jackie Cassada, review of The Sacred Pool, p. 163; July, 2001, Jackie Cassada, review of The Veil of Years, p. 131.
Locus, October, 1992, p. 50; November, 1992, p. 63; July, 1993, pp. 32, 49-50; August, 1993, p. 44; August, 1994, p. 54.
Publishers Weekly, November 27, 2000, review of The Sacred Pool, p. 59; June 18, 2001, review of The Veil of Years, p. 64.
Science Fiction Chronicle, September, 1994, p. 38; February, 1996, p. 44.
L. Warren Douglas Home page,http://www.iserv.net/~ldouglas/bio.html (May 26, 1999).*