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Creator / Algis Budrys

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Algirdas Jonas "Algis" Budrys (January 9, 1931 – June 9, 2008) was a science fiction writer and editor. The son of a Lithuanian diplomat, he lived in the United States from the time he was five. Early in his career, he frequently used the pen name "John A. Sentry", an anglification of his Lithuanian name.

He published several novels and numerous short stories. His best-known were the novels Who? (1958) and Rogue Moon (1960), both of which were nominated for the Hugo Award, and Hard Landing (1993), which was nominated for a Nebula. Who? was adapted for film in 1973. The movie starred Elliott Gould and Trevor Howard.

In addition to his writing, he worked as an editor for a number of companies over the years, including a stint as book editor at Playboy.

Tropes in his works:

  • Advanced Ancient Acropolis: Rogue Moon centers around a mysterious (and deadly) labyrinth left behind on the moon by long-absent aliens.
  • Alternate Self: In Rogue Moon, teleportation is done in the Star Trek way of decomposition and reconstitution. (Star Trek came out later.) Rogue Moon is more interested in the implications though: two copies of the same person genuinely are the same person, so much so that they can communicate with each other using telepathy until they diverge enough. This is useful in investigating an alien machine that kills its occupants. Simpler things (like ores) can be sent back from the moon easily by the process of decomposition. For humans? The decomposition is lethal, no ifs, ands, or buts. The scan can then be reconstituted any number of times, but this is a separate process. Original scan is usually not lethal, but is done in a completely isolated black pods, no sound or even feeling of touch. Why? So the "original" doesn't get any new memories too different from the "copy" and divergence from the "copy" doesn't happen too fast. The problems happen when the "copy" dies. Human mind goes insane from the experiencing death so there are "originals" who ended up in insane asylum. At one point, a scientist who has a month to live due to cancer and was working on the scanner part of the machine asks the leader of the project to reconstitute an older copy of him and is refused, because the copy is three years old and they changed the machines and operating procedures during that time so the copy won't be useful for the project. Rogue Moon is messed up.
  • The Blank: In Who?, a scientist kidnapped by the Soviets is returned to the West as a cyborg after suffering severe injuries during his kidnapping. His face is just a blank metal mask, one arm is mechanical and the other might be a transplant, so how do the authorities know if he really is the scientist or a well-briefed spy impersonating him?
  • ET Gave Us Wifi: Hard Landing, in which a bunch of crash landed alien Joes have to get by on Earth, and one of them decides to sell alien tech to the US.
  • One-Steve Limit: Lampshaded in Who?, when Lucas Martino goes off to live with his uncle Lucas Maggiore. His uncle immediately says, "Lucas and Lucas—-that's too many Lucases in one store." Lucas Martino is promptly nicknamed Tedeschino, but the narration continues to use his original name.
  • Soviet Superscience: In the novel sci-fi novel Who?, the Soviets kidnap an American scientist after he was horribly injured in an accident. To help him recover, they perform extensive surgery on him. When he returns to the west he has a robotic face, head and arm, which makes him difficult to identify and extremely suspicious.
  • Teleportation: In Rogue Moon, teleportation is done the Star Trek way of decomposition and reconstitution. The book is more interested in the implications: two copies of the same person genuinely are the same person, giving them telepathy until they diverge enough.
  • We Can Rebuild Him: The central conceit of Who?. Except, it's an American scientist, who is rebuilt by Dirty Commies, which makes the Americans very suspicious when he returns.