Randall Garrett (December 16, 1927 December 31, 1987) was a prolific SF author and inveterate punster, who wrote under a bewildering variety of pen names, including David Gordon, Lou Tabakow, Ivar Jorgenson, Darrel T. Langartnote , Jonathan Blake MacKenzie, S. M. Tenneshaw, and Gordon Aghill, as well as his own name. He claimed to need the pseudonyms so that magazine editors could publish more than one of his stories in a single issue. In one two-year period, he sold over eighty stories, many in collaboration with Robert Silverberg.
His solo work notably includes the Lord Darcy series of detective stories set in a gaslamp fantasy alternate history. He wrote many parodies, such as the Lensman takeoff "Backstage Lensman", which were collected in two volumes as Takeoff! and Takeoff! Too.
His collaborations include the Psi-Power trilogy (with Laurence Janifer, as "Mark Phillips"), the Nidor series (with Robert Silverberg, as "Robert Randall"), and the Gandalara Cycle (with Vicki Ann Heydron).
He was a founding member of the Society for Creative Anachronism and active in SF fandom, renowned for his Falstaffian personality and love of puns. Several well-known writers documented some of the more printable stories of Garrett (and Garrett stories) in the tribute collection "The Best of Randall Garrett" edited by Silverberg and released not long before Garrett's death.
Works by Randall Garrett with their own trope pages include:
Other works by Randall Garrett provide examples of:
- Bilingual Dialogue: Played for laughs in "Backstage Lensman". Sir Houston Carbarn is the most brilliant mathematical physicist in the known universe; one of only a handful of living entities who can actually think in the language of pure mathematics.Sir Houston Carbarn smiled. "(-1)(-1) = +1," he informed.
The Starboard Admiral slammed his palm against the desk. "Of course! The principle of the double negative! Two negaspheres make a posisphere! Our Gray Lensman has genius, Sir Houston!"
"?" agreed Sir Houston.
- Bluffing the Advance Scout: In "The Best Policy", alien advance scouts kidnap a human, stick him in a lie detector, and order him to describe Earth. He manages to give them a description in which every sentence is technically true, but the overall effect is a misleading picture of humans who possess immense powers, and the aliens are frightened off.
- Consummate Liar: In "The Best Policy", the human protagonist is interrogated under a lie detector by aliens gathering intelligence for an invasion. He realizes that he can exploit their ignorance with true but misleading statements (e.g. he says that human minds are capable of channeling certain physical energies to travel from place to place — a literal description of walking that gives the impression that humans have the power of psychic teleportation). By the end of the questioning, he has them believing that humans are incredibly powerful beings and that he's only humoring them them to be polite.
- Crazy Sane: Miss Thompson, the title character of "That Sweet Little Old Lady". The only known telepath who is neither catatonic nor a gibbering wreck, she is not only compos mentis, she's arguably the sanest and most sensible character in the book — except that she's unshakeably convinced that she's a 400-year-old immortal who used to be Queen Elizabeth I.
- Demythification: "Frost and Thunder" has the main character time-transported to ancient Scandanavia. He uses his pistol to help the locals defeat the "giants" before being returned to the present. Afterwards, he muses that he was probably assumed to be a god — specifically, Thor, with his "hammer" that creates thunder, kills distant enemies, and returns to his hand.
- Exact Words: Exploited along with an Expospeak Gag and convenient omission of key details in "The Best Policy" to paint an image of humanity as an immensely powerful race with a vast empire and telekinetic powers.
- Fantasy Contraception: In the Gandalara Cycle, the women of a Human Subspecies are completely aware of their own fertility.
- Feghoot: Randall invented his own variant, where the final line would be a pun on the name of another science fiction writer.
- Future Slang: "Backstage Lensmen" dials up the future slang common in the Lensman series to the point where none of the characters actually understand each other. QX, Chief!
- Horse of a Different Color: In the Gandalara Cycle, the only animals big enough to ride are presentient and telepathic pantherids called sha'um (which translates to "great cat").
- Hot Scientist: The backstory of Unwise Child has the robot scientists bring in a child psychologist to help them develop their latest AI. Precocious child, special schooling, early college and doctorate, beautiful skin, curves in all the right places, clear blue eyes, sleek red hair. She is the resident expert on that particular robot, and an assistant to the lead on the project.
- Humans Are Cthulhu: The H. P. Lovecraft takeoff "The Horror Out of Time" starts off as apparently a typical Lovecraftian tale of a first-person narrator having a mind-bending encounter amidst prehistoric ruins, but it eventually becomes clear that the narrator is not human, and that the human race is the horrible creatures depicted on the walls of the ruins.
- Inertial Damping: Spoofed in "Backstage Lensmen":Unfortunately, the Bergenholm, while it could completely neutralize inertial mass, never quite knew what to do with gravitational mass, which seems to come and go as the circumstances require.
- I Want My Jet Pack: Spoofed in "The Masters of the Metropolis", which describes any everyday modern journey as if it were a scenario from a fifty-year-old futurism piece:Threading his way through the crowds which thronged the vaulted interior of the terminal, he came to a turnstile, an artifact not unlike a rimless wheel, whose spokes revolved to allow his passage. He placed a coin in the mechanism, and the marvelous machine — but one of the many mechanical marvels of the age — recorded his passage on a small dial and automatically added the value of this coin to the total theretofore accumulated. All this, mind, without a single human hand at the controls!
- Lie Detector: Featured in "The Best Policy".
- Market-Based Title: The three parts of the Psi-Power trilogy were titled "That Sweet Little Old Lady", "Out Like a Light", and "Occasion for Disaster" when first published in Analog; when they were republished in book form they were renamed Brain Twister, The Impossibles, and Supermind.
- Motherly Scientist: In Unwise Child, Dr. Leda Crannon, a child psychologist, is brought in to help develop an AI after the first two attempts failed. She treats 'Snookums' as her own child, but subverts the usual ending as she realizes he is very much a machine.
- Napoleon Delusion: The title character of "That Sweet Little Old Lady" believes herself to be Queen Elizabeth I.
- Never Found the Body: Invoked by the central character in "The Highest Treason"; facing death or capture, he arranges his death so that no body will be found, deliberately to promote a belief that he somehow got away and one day he'll be back.
- Political Correctness Gone Mad: In "The Highest Treason", humanity has eliminated all forms of discrimination, resulting in a society where you cannot say that one man can be better than another in anything, promotion is strictly according to age, and that society is quickly losing a war against aliens.
- Psychic Static: In The Foreign Hand Tie, a telepathic American spy in Russia uses this to get out of a jam. This novella is also one long beautiful Shout-Out to The Marx Brothers.
- Purple Prose: Spoofed and parodied relentlessly. It's not easy trying to out-purple E. E. Doc Smith.
- Sapient Steed: In The Gandalara Cycle, the protagonist (as well as other characters of the same creed) has a bond creature that is a giant fictional lion-tiger hybrid called a sha'um, that has immense strength and speed. The sha'um, though extremely loyal, are also quite picky on who gets to ride them outside of their bonded, and will get insanely jealous if their selected bonded rides another without their permission.
- Sonic Stunner: The "supersonic whistle" weapon in "The Hunting Lodge".
- Star Killing: Happens completely by accident in "Time Fuze". Humanity invents an FTL engine that, as a side-effect, induces a supernova in the destination system's local star. They don't find out about this until they reach their destination... and on their return trip, they discover that they accidentally blew up Earth's sun as well.
- Terrible Ticking: As explained in "That Sweet Little Old Lady", telepaths invariably go mad from the voices. Most of them wind up comatose or raving — the one notable exception being the little old lady of the title, who would be able to easily pass for sane if she didn't keep confiding in people that she's actually Queen Elizabeth I.
- Three Laws-Compliant: Garrett played around with Asimov's famous three laws in Unwise Child.
- Vibroweapon: In Unwise Child, teenage criminals use "vibroblades" where the blade ejects and retracts into the handle from two hundred to two thousand vibrations per second. A defensive device can magnetically seize the blade part; the handle then tries to move instead, thus melting the motor.
- Zero-Approval Gambit: The Highest Treason is revealed to be this trope at the end.