Bayley, Barrington J(ohn) (UK, 1937- )
P(eter).F. Woods, Alan Aumbry, John Diamond, Michael Barrington (when writing with Michael Moorcock), Simon Barclay

English Science fiction author, who apparently never made it into the mainstream (or perhaps he did, and I'm too young). Author of several novels and numerous short stories, as well as juveniles and non SF work. As far as I know, all of his SF novels play in the far future; several of them are space operas.

Bayley's SF is idea-driven. Novels with interesting ways to treat time travel, or about robots that have no consciousness but could get it from human souls, or about clothes that "make the man" in a very direct way. His endings aren't always cheerful

Fanatics of hard SF will sometimes have to shut their eyes; hard science doesn't play a big role in BJB's books, but sometimes he's just being weird - in The Grand Wheel, a book about gambling and other games, there are people who study "randomatics", a science beyond our own statistics. Nowadays people cannot find a pattern in the sequence of numbers of, say, a roulette table, but...

But that was before the advent of randomatics, the modern science of chance and number, had rendered all such devices obsolete. They were now regarded as primitive, almost prehistoric. Scarne could have walked into any old-style casino or gambling arcade and, armed with the randomatic equations, would have been guaranteed to win, moderately but consistently, over the space of an hour or two.

Randomatics rested on certain unexpected discoveries that had been made in the essential mystery of number. It had been discovered that, below a certain very high number, permutating a set of independent elements did not produce a sequence that was strictly random. Preferred sub-structures appeared in any 'chance' run, and these could be predicted. Only when the number of independent elements entered the billions - the so-called 'billion bracket' - did predictability vanish. This was the realm of 'second-order chance', distinguished from first-order chance in that it was chance in the old sense: pure probability, unadulterated by calculable runs and groupings.

(from The Grand Wheel, p. 8)

That doesn't sound like someone who knows what he's talking about. But then - it doesn't matter, it's a good book! The book is about the tricks and cheats involved in cards gambling with a superior alien race, and how to work out what sort of ideal game to play in the first place, the randomatics bit isn't actually important for the plot. Other original ideas are. It's a bit unfair to be quoting only this, but showing a flaw is easy in a quote, showing a good idea would mean too many spoilers.

What I like about BJB's books - he can avoid the cliches, write a good story with an interesting premise. This is even true of the time travel books (Collision Course and Fall of Chronopolis).

Bibliography (only novels for now):

Sources: the bibliography and pseudonyms were copies from Astounding Worlds of Barrington Bayley!, at
. The rest is my own opinion.

*: So how did I get to know BJB? I was an Angband addict, and saw The Rod of Light for 2 Dutch guilders, at the book market in Deventer. And rods of light are very useful in Angband, so I had to have it...

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