Edmund Cooper (April 30, 1926 - March 11, 1982) was an English poet and prolific writer of speculative fiction, romances, technical essays, several detective stories, and a children's book. These were published under his own name and several pen names.
Born in Marple, near Stockport, Cheshire, Cooper left school at age 15. He became engaged at 16 to a teacher four years older than him, and married her three years later. He worked as a labourer, then civil servant, and later in 1944 joined the Merchant Navy. After World War II, he trained as a teacher, and began to publish poetry and then short stories. His first novel to appear under his own name, Deadly Image (later republished revised as The Uncertain Midnight), was completed in 1957 and published in 1958. The Uncertain Midnight was adapted without authorisation for Swiss Television in 1969. His 1956 short story, The Brain Child, was adapted as the movie The Invisible Boy (1957) which featured the return of Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet.
Cooper reviewed science fiction for the Sunday Times from 1967 until his death in 1982.
Work and criticism
Cooper was an atheist and an individualist. His science fiction often depicted unconventional male heroes facing unfamiliar and remote environments. His first novel The Uncertain Midnight was noted for its treatment of the subject of Androids, which was considered original at the time of writing. Also uniquely treated is the subject of the colonisation of planets which is the basis of Edmund's Expendables series, published under the pen name of Richard Avery (the name of the hero of Transit). The Expendables is notable both for the diversity of its cast of characters and for the frank nature of their conversations and attitudes on racial and sexual topics.
Two of his books depicted future Earths dominated by women after the genetic or physical need for men has been reduced. His attitude to women is said to have been controversial. Cooper was quoted as saying: “let them have totally equal competition … they'll see that they can't make it”. The theme of both books is actually a need to retain both sexes. Five to Twelve ends with the phrase “if we do not make any more mistakes, we can create a balanced world of men and women”. The more cynical Who Needs Men? ends by asking whether love of woman for man is worth death for that love. Yes, says the heroine.