Ken Grimwood

Ken Grimwood

Kenneth Milton Grimwood (February 27, 1944June 6, 2003) was an American author who was born in Dothan, Alabama. In his fantasy fiction Grimwood combined themes of life-affirmation and hope with metaphysical concepts, themes found in his best-known novel, the highly popular "Replay".

Early life

His sister, Teresa Panther-Yates, once described him as "a brilliant, beautiful human being who knew that the best of fiction has a message." On New Year's Day, 2006, she recalled their youth:Grimwood took an interest in EC Comics and radio journalism while growing up in Pensacola. In the early to mid-1960s, he worked in news at WLAK in Lakeland, Florida. Heading north, he studied psychology at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, where he contributed short fiction to Bard's student publication, "Observer" in 1969.

Some of his early novels were written while he was nightside editor at KFWB News 980 radio in Los Angeles, but the success of "Replay" enabled him to leave KFWB News 980 for full-time writing. He wrote under both his own name and several pseudonyms, including Alan Cochran.

Married once with no children, Grimwood had friends on both coasts, including Tom Atwill, who is related to the actor Lionel Atwill. Atwill described his friend's "free spirit lifestyle" and recalled, "He was a loner, almost a recluse. He liked small gatherings of friends. We had many dinner parties with him and some friends, and he would always be the one to keep the evening hilarious; he was a great storyteller. He did not like publicity and was actually quite shy... He was a media junkie. He owned the first BetaMax sold; he had the largest video library I've ever seen. One of his favorite things to do was for he and I to watch some old movie in the afternoon; we did it often."


Grimwood's impressive debut novel, "Breakthrough" (Ballantine, 1976), was heavily influenced by EC Comics, concluding its blend of science fiction, reincarnation and horror elements with a surprising and unpredictable twist ending. Cured of epilepsy by a breakthrough in medical technology, 26-year-old Elizabeth Austin has miniature electrodes implanted in her brain. She can control her seizures by pressing an external remote to activate the electrodes. Adjusting to a normal life, she is ready to patch up a troubled marriage and resume her abandoned career. However, as part of the implant operation, Elizabeth gave her consent for the insertion of extra electrodes, featuring experimental functions unknown to science. When one of those electrodes is stimulated, Elizabeth experiences memories which are not her own. She discovers the remote has given her the ability to eavesdrop on her previous life 200 years in the past, and she keeps this a secret from her doctor. Intrigued, she finds the earlier existence appealing and begins to spend more and more time there. Eventually, she discovers that the woman in the past is a murderer who is plotting to kill Elizabeth's husband in the present.

Although "Breakthrough" went out of print shortly after publication, author Gary Carden ranked it alongside books by Stephen King and Ray Bradbury:

To write this novel, Grimwood did extensive research into brain surgery and epilepsy. Film producer William Castle took an interest in adapting "Breakthrough" for a movie, but the project was never realized. "Breakthrough" has certain parallels with David Williams' "Second Sight" (Simon and Schuster, 1977), coincidentally written the same year and later adapted for the TV movie, "The Two Worlds of Jennie Logan" (1979). Williams has commented, "As the author of "Second Sight", I have to tell you that until I read this Wikipedia page in 2004, I had never heard of Ken Grimwood or his novel "Breakthrough"."

"Two Plus Two"

Grimwood used the pseudonym Alan Cochran on his novel "Two Plus Two" (Doubleday, 1980), but in "Replay" he offered a clue to "Two Plus Two"'s true author with a sequence in which the main character of "Replay" hides his identity by using the name Alan Cochran. Behind Doubleday's cover blurb, "A Terrifying Novel of Murder in a Swinging Social Club," the storyline follows two Los Angeles detectives investigating a trio of murders. Doubleday described the book with this summary:


The 1988 World Fantasy Award went to Grimwood for his novel "Replay" (Arbor House, 1987), the compelling account of 43-year-old radio journalist Jeff Winston, who dies and awakens back in 1963 in his 18-year-old body. He then begins to relive his life with intact memories of the previous 25 years. This happens repeatedly with different events in each cycle. This acclaimed novel, a bestseller in Japan, was an obvious influence on Harold Ramis' comedy-drama "Groundhog Day" (1993), and variations of Grimwood's plot premise can also be seen in the Japanese film "Taan", aka "Turn" (2001), and the 1993 TV movie "", adapted from the Richard A. Lupoff short story "12:01 PM," originally in the December, 1973 issue of "The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction".

Linear descriptions of "Replay" do not convey the book's rich philosophical and spiritual underlying themes. Critic Daniel D. Shade outlined the book's buried messages when he reviewed [] the novel in 2001:

The novel was a selection of the Literary Guild and the Doubleday Book Club, and it was included in several lists of recommended reading: "Modern Fantasy: The Hundred Best Novels" (1988), Aurel Guillemette's "The Best in Science Fiction" (1993), David Pringle's "Ultimate Guide to Science Fiction" (1995) and the "Locus" Reader's Poll: Best Science Fiction Novel (1988). In the "Locus" 1998 poll of the best fantasy novels published prior to 1990, "Replay" placed #32. On the Internet Top 100 SF/Fantasy List, "Replay" was voted to the #43 position in 2000 but climbed to #19 by 2003. [ [ Internet Top 100 SF/Fantasy List] ]

"Into the Deep"

Grimwood's fascination with cetacean intelligence, encounters with dolphins and research into intraspecies dolphin communication gave him the inspiration for "Into the Deep" (William Morrow, 1995), a "spiritual adventure" about a marine biologist struggling to crack the code of dolphin intelligence. It features lengthy imaginative passages written from the point-of-view of several dolphin characters. To research "the willful denial and gratuitous cruelty" involved in tuna fishing, Grimwood secretly infiltrated the crew of a San Diego-based tuna boat.

"Elise" and "The Voice Outside"

Other novels include "The Voice Outside" (1982), exploring mind control and telepathy-inducing drugs, and "Elise" (1979). Born in Versailles in 1683, Elise is immortal due to her DNA, and the story traces her experiences with various lovers and husbands through the centuries.

At age 59, Grimwood died of a heart attack in his home in Santa Barbara, California. At the time of his death, he was writing a sequel to "Replay". He is included in the [ Guide to Santa Barbara Authors and Publishers] at the University of California, Santa Barbara. There is at least one unpublished Grimwood novel, a collaboration with Tom Atwill.


External links

* [ Trisha Lamb's Cetacean Fiction Bibliography]
* [ Ken Grimwood Library]
* [ Remembering Ken Grimwood]
* [ Short story "Static" by Ken Grimwood, Bard "Observer" (March 20, 1969)]
* [ Short story "Feedback" by Ken Grimwood, Bard "Observer" (April 17, 1969)]
* [ World Fantasy Awards]

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