Paul Edwin Zimmer
(16 October 1943-18 October 1997), was a noted poet and author. He was also an accomplished swordsman and founding member of the Society for Creative Anachronism. His sister Marion Zimmer Bradley was also a science fiction and fantasy author.
He is best known for his Dark Border
series - a set of 4 published books: The Lost Prince
, "King Chondos' Ride
, A Gathering of Heroes
, Ingulf the Mad
and one still awaiting publication, The King who was of Old
. He also co-wrote The Blood of Colyn Muir
with his foster brother Don Studebaker (who writes fantasy under the name of Jon de Cles) and Hunters of the Red Moon
and The Survivors
with his sister. He is also supposed to have collaborated with Bradley without credit on The Spell Sword
and is rumored to have assisted his sister in the fight scenes in some of her other Darkover
Some of his poetry available in the collection "A Woman of the Elf Mounds". His long poem "Logan" appeared in Jerry Pournelle's There Will Be War
vol VIII. The poem is about a 19th Century First Nations leader, so it did not fit into the anthology's theme about future warfare, but Pournelle included it out of respect for its merits.
Zimmer began his writing as a poet, experimenting with Welsh and Old Norse forms before turning to prose. Nonetheless he weaves what sounds like ancient poetry through his stories, such as the ballad of "Pertap's Ride", parts of which are scattered through the Dark Border
series. However, it seems clear that Zimmer had always yearned to write science fiction and fantasy, as according to friends:
Paul had many of the details about his world and characters planned for years. Some, in fact, were sketched out in his teens and have been elaborated on since.
Zimmer was also one of the original members of the Society for Creative Anachronism, where he was known as Master Edwin Berserk, as well as being active in Bay Area poetry and neopagan circles. He is credited with having popularized the bardic circle originated by Karen Anderson, a self-entertainment at parties in which each participant can read, recite or sing, ask someone else to do so, or pass. Whether the creditation is accurate, Zimmer was widely considered one of the best coordinators of bardic circles, and was frequently asked to run them wherever he happened to be.
Although not of Scottish heritage, Zimmer was often seen at conventions and other public occasions dressed in the MacAlpin tartan, complete with sporran. At home, he frequently wore a blue bathrobe, appearing in normal clothing only when needing to deal with officials or others outside his circle. Zimmer habitually wrote at night, and many visitors can attest to him pacing up and down as he thought through plot and wording problems, or pausing to do a martial arts dance with his swords.
Zimmer spent much of his life at Greyhaven, the sprawling communal house in Elmwood district of the Berkeley hills, the home of noted author Diana L. Paxson (among others), and is featured in the (out of print) Greyhaven Anthology
which was edited by Marion Zimmer Bradley.
Some of the characters in Paul Edwin Zimmer's books, such as the Hastur (see below) share names with characters created by Marion Zimmer Bradley (c.f. The Heritage of Hastur (1975)). Zimmer himself claimed that the similarity of names was due only to shared influences.
Many fans believed because of their names that Bradley and Zimmer were married. However, those that knew the pair (ibid) have said that while Paul Edwin Zimmer:
was perfectly willing to collaborate on such books as Hunters of the Red Moon, The Survivors, and The Spell Sword, nobody marries a writer who criticized his early efforts at storytelling - even if she isn't his sister.
Zimmer died while a guest of honor at Albacon, a science fiction convention in Schenectady, New York, which he attended in part so he could visit his older brother on the family farm. He suffered a heart attack and died before help could come. He was cremated and his ashes buried in the family plot in Canandagua, NY.