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The Star Seeker:
Francis G. Rayer
by Andrew Darlington
He turned his gaze upwards. A myriad stars twinkled in the sky.
Familiar constellations in familiar groupings, he thought.
Yet how very little about them anyone on Earth knows...
(Thou Pasture Us)
Saturday afternoon, January 15th 1952. In a perfectly iconic snapshot of pre-TV family
life, Barnaby Smith and his 10-year old son Jimmie are settling down to listen to the
latest exciting instalment of Revellers Of The Range on the radio. While - unbeknown
to them, deep within the fictional subtext, a number of strange things are occurring. The
serial that they eagerly anticipate listening to is an oblique reference to Riders Of
The Range - a real-life wild west radio show created by Charles (Journey Into Space)
Chilton which transferred to picture-strip form to become a long-running feature of Britain's
legendary national comic-strip weekly Eagle. While, according to the textual evidence,
Barnaby Smith has assembled the radio they're listening to himself. Hence it is 'always
reliable'. And so - when the station they've tuned into becomes inaudible but for 'a bubbling
frying sound', the 'interrupted radio communication' is not the result of his faulty
craftsmanship, but is caused by an alteration in the laws of physics itself. A sudden
'state of non-conduction'. "Civilisation seems to be faltering..." and we are
by now confident that the writer know exactly what he's talking about.
With this issue the editor of Authentic Science Fiction - H.J. Campbell, welcomes 30-year-old author Francis G. Rayer "into the fold of our first-class science fiction writers." But Rayer is not only an impressive fictioneer, he's also a technical journalist specialising in radio. He will even go on to write a regular column as a sometime trouble-shooting 'Agony Aunt' providing electronic solutions to problematic readers queries for the specialist radio market. And the interference that Barnaby Smith is picking up - "drawn by Hertzian waves" on the shortwave band too, is the electronic precursor to bizarre alien incursions into their sleepy seaside hometown. A world which will shortly 'falter', and then be erased forever by the arrival of the Darakua. While, taking an even longer perspective - even the starkly monochrome 1950s' realm that father and son Smith know, has now become genuinely time-lost.
Elsewhere, Rayer's Thou Pasture Us is a perfectly X-Filed story of empty warehouses which mysteriously fill themselves as part of a programme of alien infiltration devised by the Cyenids, 'controlling entities' from Sirius. But in this story - sympathetically illustrated by Alan Hunter's unique cover-art, the time-frame remains inescapably the 1950s. The streets become "as quiet as during the black-out," a reference Rayer obviously expects his audience to recognise - but which is now only an archaic image from TV sitcom Dad's Army. Similarly, Heavenly Toys Co are selling "..every type of toy which a child could want," listing a 1950s' Xmas-stocking full of "locomotives, automobiles, tanks, Noah's Arks (!), model garages" (but no Playstations!), all "too beautiful to resist." And all lethally addictive. The evocation of time and place could not be more precise. We now inhabit their distant future. But it is one they would scarcely recognise, a future stranger and more alien than anything the most extravagant imaginings of their time were capable of predicting. Now, it is almost impossible to see our future as an extension of their present. Like the attempted precise measurement of sub-atomic particles, we have succeeded in eluding their best best-guess predictions.
This future is one that F.G. Rayer himself would never live to see, and one in which he is virtually forgotten. Yet 'Frank' George Rayer (6th June 1921 - July 1981) was one of the most prolific and popular writers of the 1950s' British science fiction mini-boom, even though now, when remembered at all, he is frequently reviled. SF-academic John Clute opines that "most of his (Rayer's) work is routine." While Brian Aldiss makes pretty much the same point - but with even greater derisive vehemence. Yet Rayer was one of the most visible faces of a unique generation of fantasists who shaped unsophisticated dreams through academically disreputable publications. And sometimes, they could be more than that.
His This Night No More remains a perfect fable of atomic Cold War paranoia of the Dr Strangelove era. As with John Wyndham's similarly tribal post-apocalypse The Chrysalids it's not difficult to empathise with the resonances such tales must have provoked at the time - is this really the future I will live through? Rayer's novelette comes complete with a blurb garishly announcing that while "Earth lay devastated by a cataclysmic war - the remnants of mankind desperately face an alien invasion," appropriately illustrated in Harry Turner's classicist woodcut-style art. Simple in its construction, with mannered dialogue, it nevertheless conveys its wonderful strangeness in ways that spark all the correct nerve-endings of its time. Protagonist Ashley Traderson ignores 'legends of lost cities' and the craters "over which hang a faint blue luminosity," their legacy from the "black dark evil night of man... when death fell from the skies," to leave his cave village and seek out the 'Wise Ones'. In the ravaged world beyond he encounters new companions, nests of alien sentinels, a blind subterranean tribe, and beings capable of moving through 'time-stuff' itself, who he eventually induces to alter history. So that - in the story, the nuclear war of 1975 now never happened. As of course - post-Gorbachev and the fall of the Berlin Wall, we know that it didn't!
His characters have neatly escaped the relentless restrictions of their own time. Unlike Rayer himself. But do such stories have any relevance outside their unique time-fix? Perhaps the time is now right to seek a reappraisal...?
MAN'S QUESTING ENDED
Dear Editor: is there any real danger of the 'electrical rot' postulated in F.G. Rayer's Beacon Green? - Allan Muir, London W4.
* I suppose anything is possible in our age of scientific change and discovery, Allan, but I wouldn't lose too much sleep over it I were you.
(Nebula #23, letter column)
Although I never got to meet him, I read F.G. Rayer frequently, throughout my adolescence, and enjoyed his fiction. But, seeking clues to the man behind the initials, I was eventually fortunate enough to track down his cousin, writer E.R. James, who still lives, and still writes in Skipton, North Yorkshire. From his descriptions, I am now able to flesh out some idea of Rayer's physical presence. He was tall, "almost six feet, well-proportioned, with a fresh complexion, dark hair with some natural curl." And to fill out details of his life. He was "the second son of a farmer ('my uncle' explains James). He was brought up in a large, quite beautiful house with a long drive, near the village of Longdon on the Worcestershire-Gloucestershire border. Not an average farmer's son. I believe he had unhappy schooldays, but not long after the outbreak of war, his life was to change completely. He was helping make more room for staple crops by clearing trees from one of their three orchards, when he suffered a heart attack. The doctors, acting on the best medical opinion available at that time, warned that his only chance of living more than a few months was to spend six months in bed and, after that, to avoid all strenuous activity for the remainder of his life. It was advice that he followed."
So "when he could get about again, being no longer able to do farmwork, he developed several alternate ways of earning. He followed his natural inclination and became a self-taught expert in radio. And he taught himself to touch-type, helped by the gift of an old but serviceable Imperial typewriter." This enabled him, more specifically, to initiate a writing career. Juggernaut emerged through Link House Publications in 1944, followed by his first SF novel, Realm Of The Alien five years later. "At the same time, and as the war was drawing to a close (he was exempt from service), we learned of new science fiction magazines being kick-started by Walter Gillings (Fantasy) and Ted Carnell (New Worlds). I'd corresponded with him ever since his illness began, and we both commenced submitting stories and mostly we had them accepted." An early sale to the former - Basic Fundamental, is a slight, amusing story involving two rival classical composers, Leonovitch and Kreman, and their invention of a supersonic Ultraudion proto-synth. It also includes what is presumably the unconscious pun "he composed himself"! Later, Rayer got to collaborate with James for an Authentic SF story, thus helping to accelerate his cousin into his own highly successful career, although "he was more successful than I, partly because - unlike Francis, I had a job to hold down! But while, unfortunately Walter Gillings soon lost his financial backer, Carnell expanded steadily. And later we also both contributed to other magazines such as Nebula." Indeed - by 1952 editor Herbert J. Campbell, was able to celebrate Rayer as a writer "whose short stories are well known to readers of New Worlds, Science Fantasy, and other SF magazines..." and although, as Campbell suggests, Rayer was closely associated with the burgeoning New Worlds ("his backgrounds are invariably scientific and more suited to New Worlds" comments Carnell himself), he wrote extensively elsewhere, including contributing fiction to non-professional, but highly rated fanzines such as Fission #1 (1954), and Slant - produced in Belfast by the legendary tyro-triumvirate of Walter Willis, James White and Bob Shaw. But he also had a number of significant lead novels in the early years of Authentic SF.
In fact, during its first 30 issues Authentic SF took the form of a numbered novel-series, rather than a magazine as such. And three such issues produced in rapid succession within the same year - The Coming Of The Darakua, Earth Our New Eden and We Cast No Shadow were all by Rayer, with the third of them showing him capable of achieving a fine balance between familiarity and strangeness. It was blurbed "the infiltration of the aliens onto this planet was one of the most unexpected yet disastrous events of the 20th century. No Earthmen ever knew their names, or whence they came..." It begins a with steam train station which suddenly becomes mysteriously-domed, it "has become a junction. But between Earth and what?" As the narrative develops it becomes clear that Vale End station has become a dimensional intersection where "human and alien skies coincide, leaving a way through", the scenario becoming effectively weirder as adventuring Glen reaches the elevating sunken city on the bleak red-sunned world beyond.
Earth Our New Eden is equally as strong. While it opens in a supposedly futuristic 'brave new world' subterranean 'Workers City' spattered with Orwellian newspeak - "production brings happiness and plenty", it is a location that remains a strangely retro place of lathes, presses, and the smell of oil. Yet the novel rapidly assumes elements of Wyndham's school of 'cosy disaster' as the Earth is seeded by alien plants, producing a 'Green Twilight'.
"The tops of the plants spread like giant ferns, each interlacing with its neighbours. Behind the precipice of alien growth, away to his right, the sun was outlined as a dull red orb. The patchy cloud above was ruby tinted, fading away to purple and black in the east. The whole made a scene so strange, so terrifying, that Peter felt his limbs grow cold."
The machines stop, with "Earth rapidly becoming uninhabitable for men." As protagonists Peter Wrey and Judy Kimble struggle to survive in this re-made world of final blackout they encounter images that eerily anticipate Thomas Disch's New Wave classic The Genocides of 1965, an effect heightened by the imprecisely-glimpsed but never-quite-seen extraterrestrial denizens of the alien jungle that Earth has become.
"Never since prehistoric times had there been such plants on the Earth, he thought, amazed. Now, once again, was an abundance of such vegetation as had existed when the great coal-beds of the planet had been laid down. He might have imagined himself plunged back millions of years into prehistory, but for one thing - the plants were alien..."
Anticipating J.G. Ballard's psychological morphing in tune to his transfigured worlds, the arrival of the alien plants gradually become a strong metaphor for the reassertion of cleansing nature, a liberating process from human totalitarianism, its near-Ballardian sweep of vision undermined only slightly by what Michael Moorcock would call the 'Shaggy God' denouement of the survivors crawling out of the wreckage to repopulate the 'New Eden' that their world has become. There are similar elements present in The Coming Of The Darakua, which also offers a link between Wyndham's eco-catastrophes, and Ballard's reality-transformations. While the novel - despite its mere 109 pages, little more than a novella by today's reckoning, even takes on something of the quality of George R. Stewart's Earth Abides. A shipload of refugees fleeing the vast descending gaseous sphere of the Darakua and the zone of ice it imposes, become shipwrecked, and endure no less than seven years as castaways on an offshore island as young Jimmie matures sufficiently to become an adult protagonist, safely insulated from a world descending into barbarity through the 'death of electricity'. When the exiles finally re-emerge the world is different, no longer the domain of humankind who are now supplanted by two mutually antagonistic alien life-forms, the 'ethereal' Darakua, and nameless swarms of flame-like translucently-radiant energy-cones who erect inexplicable tripods to mine the Earth's core.
"Frank also wrote one hardcover novel called Tomorrow Sometimes Comes, which was considered good enough to be reprinted in the Science Fiction Book Club" continues E.R. James. Critically, this was probably his best received work, even gaining the favourable attention of SF giant Olaf Stapledon (whose Last And First Men Rayer is on record as calling "one of the most advanced and finest SF novels ever produced"). And sure, hadn't H.J. Campbell already pointed out that Rayer "refuses to write tales that are merely gruesome and terrifying"? An opinion with which Peter Hamilton - of Nebula, concurs, "as a designer of electronic equipment, this is the kind of theme with which the author can deal with authority." Tomorrow Sometimes Comes also forms the central core of Rayer's 'Mens Magna' story-series about an 'Artificial Intelligence' machine which achieves self-awareness and "ultimately rules the human race." An 'electronic calculating entity' based "as it was upon its possession of all human knowledge (which) brought peace and prosperity to the planets under man's domain." Stapledon admires "the vivid conception of the mechanical superbrain, which is a brilliant symbol of man's domination by machinery", while SF historian Brian Ash goes as far as conceding this cycle to be "a convincing series of stories" which assume elements of a space opera future history.
The machine makes its first appearance - acting as an electronic judge and jury in a court case, in the short story "Deus Ex Machina" (1950). The theme is developed in the novel, where the computer takes control when atomic warfare devastates the Earth threatening the human race with extinction. At the novel's climax the Mens Magna's own experiments in 'temporal extension' allow Jack Mantley Rawson to go back in time and alter history. By rectifying his previous mistakes, he is able to avoid unleashing the accidental nuclear war which will bring into being the post-holocaust world of radioactive craters, telepathic mutants, the scientifically regulated city of Kaput - and the Mens Magna itself. Hence the Mens Magna is instrumental in 'un-creating' itself! Rayer's novel is commended for this illustration of 'reversible time' by no less an authority than TV astronomer Patrick Moore in his 1957 book Science And Fiction (despite miscrediting it to an 'F.C. Rayer'!). While accepting that it is 'scientifically inaccurate', Moore claims that the novel succeeds because it is "skilfully written".
But, despite having apparently pre-terminated itself, the Mens Magna is soon up and working for the good of humanity again - despite appearances. In The Peacemaker (1952), its logical motives actually lead it to assist an alien invasion. Subsequent cycle-tales include Adjustment Period (1960) which is set on a planet in the Praesepe Cluster with an etiquette of truth in a world of cannibalism. And in Contact Patterns (1961) a human colony on Umbra is domed by an impenetrable barrier to protect it from flyby alien-incursions, but again it's not the never-seen alien 'Bernies' who are the villains, but corrupt humans scheming as the hero plans to recreate the disappearance of a similarly protected Earth ship which accidentally impacts the barrier. Here, intuitive risk-taking triumphs over electronic limitations, for when 'irresistible force meets immovable object' a tense and cleverly plotted shift through time occurs.
Brian Ash emphasises that in such stories "an emotionless machine will always take the logical, necessary step even though it may appear to be working against man." Implying that human actions are precipitated by powerful psychological - and even pathological drives which are neither rational nor necessarily logical. This is to deconstruct Rayer's stories in a way that he was probably unable to - firstly because he was too close to achieve the necessary detachment, but even more obviously because the critical method of deconstruction had yet to be devised! Yet it is tempting to see a fictional polarisation taking place that mirrors the contradictions of Rayer's own life. He repeatedly erases technological civilisation in order to usher in a new, simpler, less tainted life-style more attuned to the values of the farmer in him -
"nothing moved except a slow vehicle that puffed smoke and steam, laboriously ascending a hill. On the slopes beyond, men worked with sickles, reaping corn... gone the stink and rush of industry, gone the smoke of great factories and the busy streets of traffic..." (Beacon Green).
In such stories it is technological hubris which most often leads to its own eradication, although it is Rayer's own fascination with electrical science which provides this other vital ingredient in the first place. The one interest both complements - and devours the other. Nuclear war is certainly a component. But more tellingly, the "direct-fission flash-over" in Beacon Green - which results from the activation of a nuclear electric pile, so that now, "agitated into electrical isolation, no atom would conduct" throughout the world. The death of electricity equates the rise of a new agrarian society. Yet John Clute in The Encyclopaedia Of Science Fiction persists in judging most of Rayer's work as 'routine'. While Brian Aldiss recounts a personal history of how he bought a copy of Nebula - including fiction by Rayer, and found "the stories were so amateur I believed I might do better." And sure enough, Aldiss and the 1960s' generation he represents did take SF to new levels of sophistication with their more academic literary approach. They bring a maturity and openness to experiment and innovation which revolutionised and evolved the genre into greater literary respectability. Yet the writers they left in their wake - like E.R. James, Philip E. High, F.G. Rayer, Sydney J. Bounds, and even the mighty E.C. Tubb, the writers who submitted all those two-fisted space operas to 1950s' magazines like Nebula or Authentic SF were different. Less considered perhaps. And it's tempting - but unfair to suggest, less middle-class and less educated too.
But for these early writers it is the pulp genre which most often defines the fictional conventions within which the storytelling occurs. Their publishers have tight turnaround schedules, with target audiences who have precise expectations which must be met. The magazines and low-rent publishing houses they write for carry few pretensions and have zero-tolerance for arty aspirational indulgences. Yet there's a naive honesty in their work which is hardwired directly into the everyday lives and escapist dreams of their readers. And although - with few exceptions (Aldiss is particularly dismissive of them all), without their pioneering work in establishing the market, the magazines and the audiences that Aldiss & Co would operate through, would never have existed. Of course, angry young(ish) rebels need an older establishment to kick against. It's just unfortunate that they chose to kick Rayer, and kick him so hard. To his readers - in which category I'm happy to place my juvenile self, F.G. Rayer provides glimpses of enticing strangeness locked into highly readable, if occasionally genre-formulaic cut 'n' paste plotlines. And while 1950s' rock 'n' roll was a bastard music-form, not quite respectable, aimed at dysfunctional teens, 1950s' SF was its literary counterpart. Both have now grown up to become omnipresent, absorbed into the mainstream, no longer exclusive - and perhaps, not quite so exciting?
Meanwhile, although Rayer holds a diploma in the universal language Esperanto, he keeps his own sound-bites to a minimum. In a rare author's profile he waxes unusually philosophical, telling Nebula's Peter Hamilton that "man, as a tool-making animal, has no limitations except those of the techniques and materials he employs." He sees his SF readership as "the most far-seeing and quick-minded section of humanity," suggesting that the "younger of those living today should have the opportunity of space-flight before they die." Rayer would at least live to see the fulfilment of this prophecy.
E.R. James pauses reflectively, then resumes his reminiscence. In later years Rayer's "income from writing was enough to enable him to buy a large cottage - 'the Reddings', and be independent. He married a rather beautiful young woman - Elizabeth, who was a teacher in a private school for girls, and he fathered two fine sons. And then - when TV killed the demand for the kind of science fiction we had been writing, and when New Worlds under its new editor (Michael Moorcock) had no further use for us, Frank was able to concentrate on non-fiction. He eventually contributed to a host of nonfiction outlets, focusing particularly on all the radio magazines of the day. In one of these he even merited a regular column answering queries (writing as call-sign 'G30GR' in Practical Wireless from 1939 on, while contributing to others including Radio Constructor). He also wrote and had published books on radio and various other nonfiction, while contributing to such works as a Reader's Digest DIY manual, continuing to be successful, until the end..."
Space is big. There is an infinity of stars and there may be innumerable other worlds on which evolution, and the whole process of life, may differ from Earth standard.
(The Coming Of The Darakua)
Sometimes, in the stories F.G. Rayer leaves in his wake, the themes seem to be fully interlocking. They link into each other. Earth's first interstellar ship - 'The Solar Royal', operating on the principle of 'continuum-shift' (in Beacon Green), is one of "the two greatest projects ever attempted during the long, varied history of mankind." The pilot is Rick Deeping, who's "strong humorous lips" twitch contemplatively as he thinks of the other great project, the Eglington nuclear-electric pile (which neatly anticipates the problems of nuclear waste with Rayer's prescient observation that "the disposal of their by-products had become almost impossible"). As Rick's crew navigate the Solar Royal to the arid 'Martian' world of Beta, poignant with dead cities, helped in their struggle with wandering galactic aliens by the wise surviving Betians, a 'flash-over' at the Eglington plant induces a terrestrial 'death of electricity'. Fortunately the evil alien's ship - constructed of ten interconnected spheres, operates on electrical principles, so that when it finally lands with hostile intent on Earth, their technology literally vanishes, and - helpless, they are devoured by a pack of feral dogs! In Firstling a single ship also escapes a disaster-ravaged world to establish a colony eight lightyears away on planet N7. Only this time they are escaping a Great Flood caused by an asteroid-storm which induces Lunar 'wobble'. While Beacon Green's eradication of electrical conductivity can be seen as a re-run, with variations, of the apocalyptical consequences of the arrival of the Darakua. While the alien plants which are incidental in ..Darakua become the focus of ..Eden. Similarly the lone-human-stowaway-on-an-alien-saucer sequence from Darakua is closely re-run in Thou Pasture Us. Meanwhile, like Ashley Traderson in This Night No More, Kenneth Watcherson - son of the son of the Watcher in Firstling, visits the legendary 'Silted Cities' where danger comes, not from the benevolent aliens who are easing the painful evolution of latent human psi-powers, but from human Espuns who plan to monopolise it. While human civilisation is destroyed again. And again.
While Rayer specialises in alien life-forms of a decidedly non-humanoid nature. They tend to be impenetrable spheres of light, or energy-beings beyond organic comprehension. As in Firstling where they are "constituted of radiation and energy alone... a mental entity with no physical body." This linking continuity hints that just possibly the universe will be a far stranger place than the cosy Gene Roddenberry humanoid-uniformity of our time suggests it to be. For although the starkly monochrome 1950s' world that F.G. Rayer wrote for may have now become genuinely time-lost, just occasionally, it still retains the power to surprise us.
I grateful acknowledge the kind help and generous assistance of E.R. James in researching this article. Other sources include THE ENCYCLOPAEDIA OF SCIENCE FICTION edited by Peter Nicholls, THE VISUAL ENCYCLOPAEDIA OF SF edited by Brian Ash, and the innumerable issues of long-defunct but much-loved magazines I still re-read with such great pleasure. - Andrew Darlington
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F.G. RAYER -
Star Seeker file:
(Link House, 1944)
From Beyond The Dawn
(New Worlds #3, 1947)
Basic Fundamental (Fantasy: The Magazine
of Science Fiction #3, August 1947)
Worlds At War (editor,
from Tempest, 1949) - featuring Edward Hannah and Somerset Draco... both E.R. James pseudonyms, plus a
long story by Rayer.
(New Worlds #5, 1949)
Realm Of The Alien (1949)
(New Worlds #6,
Quest (New Worlds #7, Summer 1950)
Deus Ex Machina *
(New Worlds #8,
(Science Fantasy #2,
Fearful Barrier (1950)
(New Worlds #10,
Tomorrow Sometimes Comes * (Home &
Van Thal, 1951) -
reprinted by Science Fiction Book Club.
(New Worlds #12,
The Undying Enemy (Science Fantasy #3, Winter 1951-2)
Plimsol Line **
(Science Fantasy #4, Spring 1952)
Man's Questing Ended
(New Worlds #16,
The Peacemaker *
(New Worlds #17,
The Coming Of
Earth Our New Eden
We Cast No Shadow
Trader's Planet **
(Science Fantasy #6,
Thou Pasture Us
(New Worlds #21,
The Star Seekers
(Tit-Bits SF Library, Pearson Press, 1953)
(Liverpool SF Society,
- a 35-page fan-produced debate on 'Sex & Sadism in SF' led off by John Christopher, with contributions from E.C. Tubb and J.F. Burke as well as Rayer.
Laurie's Space Annual
(T. Warner Laurie,
- Rayer contributes
what 'Authentic' calls an uncredited "clever little piece" to this one-off juvenile book.
Firstling (Nebula #6, December 1953)
Fission #1 - fanzine
fiction (March 1954),
- also prose features in Space Diversions fanzine.
Seek Earthmen No More
(Science Fantasy #7,
The Lava Seas Tunnel
- with E.R. James
Space Prize **
(Science Fantasy #8,
Pipe Away, Stranger
(New Worlds #25,
(Science Fantasy #10,
Come Away Home
(New Worlds #27,
(Science Fantasy #11,
Kill Me This Man
(New Worlds #31,
Ephemeral This City *
(New Worlds #33,
This Night No More (Nebula #13,
(New Worlds #40,
The Voice Beyond
(New Worlds #41,
The Jakundi Moduli
(New Worlds #42,
(New Worlds #45,
(New Worlds #46,
(New Worlds #47,
Period Of Quarantine
- with E.R. James
(New Worlds #48,
(New Worlds #50,
(New Worlds #52,
(New Worlds #60,
Painters Of Narve
(New Worlds #69,
(Science Fantasy #30,
(New Worlds #83,
Sands Our Abode
(New Worlds #84,
(New Worlds #91,
Adjustment Period *
(SF Adventures #16,
Spring Fair Moduli
(New Worlds #103,
Contact Pattern *
(SF Adventures #19,
(New Worlds #119,
(New Worlds #120,
(New Worlds #121,
(New Worlds #125,
(New Worlds #128,
The Iron And The Anger (1964)
Cardinal Of The Stars (1964)
Journey To The Stars (1964)
From the mid-1970s F.G. Rayer wrote over 30 technical books on radio (for Newnes) and other electrical projects (for Babani Ltd). He "made sure he built everything he wrote about, and made sure it worked... he always tested the projects, drew the diagrams and proofread the books" according to William Rayer, and "there can't be many radio amateurs over the age of 50 who haven't read or come across one of his many projects" adds Rob Mannion (of Practical Wireless).
Mr Project: The F.G. Rayer G30GR Story - is a biographical feature by son William Rayer published in Practical Wireless (20th October 2002).
* parts of the 'Mens Magna' story-cycle.
** stories featuring Mactavish and Kennedy.
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