Ken Grimwood

Ken Grimwood

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Kenneth Milton Grimwood (February 27, 1944 – June 6, 2003) was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 author who was born in Dothan, Alabama
Dothan, Alabama
Dothan is a city located in the southeastern corner of the US state of Alabama, situated approximately west of the Georgia state line and north of Florida. It is the seat of Houston County, with portions extending into nearby Dale County and Henry County...

. In his fantasy
Fantasy is a genre of fiction that commonly uses magic and other supernatural phenomena as a primary element of plot, theme, or setting. Many works within the genre take place in imaginary worlds where magic is common...

 fiction Grimwood combined themes of life-affirmation and hope with metaphysical concepts, themes found in his best-known novel, the highly popular Replay
Replay (novel)
Replay is a novel by Ken Grimwood first published by Arbor House in 1987. It won the 1988 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel.The novel tells of a 43-year-old man 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...

. He sometimes wrote under pseudonyms, including Alan Cochran.

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
EC Comics
Entertaining Comics, more commonly known as EC Comics, was an American publisher of comic books specializing in horror fiction, crime fiction, satire, military fiction and science fiction from the 1940s through the mid-1950s, notably the Tales from the Crypt series...

 and radio journalism while growing up in Pensacola, Florida
Pensacola, Florida
Pensacola is the westernmost city in the Florida Panhandle and the county seat of Escambia County, Florida, United States of America. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 56,255 and as of 2009, the estimated population was 53,752...

. He attended Emory College
Emory University
Emory University is a private research university in metropolitan Atlanta, located in the Druid Hills section of unincorporated DeKalb County, Georgia, United States. The university was founded as Emory College in 1836 in Oxford, Georgia by a small group of Methodists and was named in honor of...

 from 1961 to 1963. In the mid-1960s, he worked in news at WLAK in Lakeland, Florida
Lakeland, Florida
Lakeland is a city in Polk County, Florida, United States, located approximately midway between Tampa and Orlando along Interstate 4. According to the 2008 U.S. Census Bureau estimate, the city had a population of 94,406...

. Heading north, he studied psychology at Bard College
Bard College
Bard College, founded in 1860 as "St. Stephen's College", is a small four-year liberal arts college located in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.-Location:...

 in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York
Annandale-on-Hudson, New York
Annandale-on-Hudson is a hamlet in Dutchess County, New York, USA, in the Hudson Valley in the town of Red Hook, across the Hudson River from Kingston....

, where he contributed short fiction to Bard's student publication, Observer in 1969, graduating in 1970.

Some of his early novels were written while he was nightside editor at KFWB News 980 radio in Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

, but the success of Replay enabled him to leave KFWB News 980 for full-time writing. Married once with no children, Grimwood had friends on both coasts, including Tom Atwill, who is related to the actor Lionel Atwill
Lionel Atwill
Lionel Atwill was an English stage and film actor born in Croydon, London, England.He studied architecture before his stage debut at the Garrick Theatre, London in 1904. He become a star in Broadway theatre by 1918, and made his screen debut in 1919. He acted on the stage in Australia but was most...

. 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
Betamax was a consumer-level analog videocassette magnetic tape recording format developed by Sony, released on May 10, 1975. The cassettes contain -wide videotape in a design similar to the earlier, professional wide, U-matic format...

 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."

Towards the end of his life, Grimwood maintained a brief email correspondence with Hellboy
Hellboy (film)
Hellboy is a 2004 supernatural superhero film, starring Ron Perlman, John Hurt and Selma Blair, directed by Guillermo del Toro. The film is based on the Dark Horse Comics work Hellboy: Seed of Destruction by Mike Mignola. It was produced by Revolution Studios, and distributed by Columbia Pictures...

 screenwriter Peter Briggs
Peter Briggs
Peter Briggs is a British born and based director, producer, screenwriter, and concept artist; hired generally by overseas Hollywood motion picture studios. Although having worked in the motion picture industry for close to 20 years, he is best known for his work on the acclaimed film Hellboy...

, whom he contacted after seeing Briggs' review of "Replay" on the book's Amazon feedback page, revealed in an interview with Briggs in 2004.


Grimwood's impressive debut novel, Breakthrough (Ballantine, 1976), was heavily influenced by EC Comics, concluding its blend of science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

, reincarnation
Reincarnation best describes the concept where the soul or spirit, after the death of the body, is believed to return to live in a new human body, or, in some traditions, either as a human being, animal or plant...

 and horror
Horror fiction
Horror fiction also Horror fantasy is a philosophy of literature, which is intended to, or has the capacity to frighten its readers, inducing feelings of horror and terror. It creates an eerie atmosphere. Horror can be either supernatural or non-supernatural...

 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
Stephen King
Stephen Edwin King is an American author of contemporary horror, suspense, science fiction and fantasy fiction. His books have sold more than 350 million copies and have been adapted into a number of feature films, television movies and comic books...

 and Ray Bradbury
Ray Bradbury
Ray Douglas Bradbury is an American fantasy, horror, science fiction, and mystery writer. Best known for his dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 and for the science fiction stories gathered together as The Martian Chronicles and The Illustrated Man , Bradbury is one of the most celebrated among 20th...

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 Twos 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
World Fantasy Award
The World Fantasy Awards are annual, international awards given to authors and artists who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in the field of fantasy...

 went to Grimwood for his novel Replay
Replay (novel)
Replay is a novel by Ken Grimwood first published by Arbor House in 1987. It won the 1988 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel.The novel tells of a 43-year-old man 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...

 (Arbor House, 1987
1987 in literature
The year 1987 in literature involved some significant events and new books.-Events:*Tom Wolfe was paid $5 million for the film rights to his novel, The Bonfire of the Vanities, the most ever earned by an author, at the time.-Fiction:...

), 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. The premise was explored earlier by Richard A. Lupoff
Richard A. Lupoff
Richard Allen Lupoff is an American science fiction and mystery author, who has also written humor, satire, non-fiction and reviews. In addition to his two dozen novels and more than 40 short stories, he has also edited science-fantasy anthologies. He is an expert on the writing of Edgar Rice...

 in his 1973 short story "12:01". The novel was a bestseller in Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, and its time-loop concept has been referenced as a precursor of Harold Ramis
Harold Ramis
Harold Allen Ramis is an American actor, director, and writer, specializing in comedy. His best-known film acting roles are as Egon Spengler in Ghostbusters and Russell Ziskey in Stripes , both of which he also co-wrote...

' comedy-drama Groundhog Day  (1993).

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.

In 1986, the agent Irene Webb sold the film rights to Replay to United Artists for a $100,000 option against a $400,000 purchase.

Into the Deep

Grimwood's fascination with cetacea
The order Cetacea includes the marine mammals commonly known as whales, dolphins, and porpoises. Cetus is Latin and is used in biological names to mean "whale"; its original meaning, "large sea animal", was more general. It comes from Ancient Greek , meaning "whale" or "any huge fish or sea...

n intelligence, encounters with dolphin
Dolphins are marine mammals that are closely related to whales and porpoises. There are almost forty species of dolphin in 17 genera. They vary in size from and , up to and . They are found worldwide, mostly in the shallower seas of the continental shelves, and are carnivores, mostly eating...

s and research into intraspecies dolphin communication gave him the inspiration for Into the Deep (William Morrow, 1995), 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. The publisher described the book:
Grimwood's environmental concerns were also evident in a letter he wrote to Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles Times is a daily newspaper published in Los Angeles, California, since 1881. It was the second-largest metropolitan newspaper in circulation in the United States in 2008 and the fourth most widely distributed newspaper in the country....

 in 2002:
August 31, 2002, Saturday
Getting Those Nasty Butts Off the Streets

As an ex-smoker, I am also disgusted by the idea of thousands of cigarette butts littering the streets and ultimately being swept into the ocean ("Litterbugs and Butts," letter, Aug. 26). I am confused, however, about what smokers in largely pedestrian areas such as Westwood, Venice, the promenades in Santa Monica and Pasadena, and State Street in Santa Barbara are supposed to do with their smoldering butts.

Your letter writer suggests putting them in trash cans. Just how many trash fires per block would he like to see on an average day?

On a recent trip to Sydney, Australia, I noticed that the city has placed hotel-style ashtrays filled with sand on sidewalks throughout the central business district and the historic area called "the Rocks." Smokers obviously use them; I almost never saw cigarette butts crushed out on the streets or sidewalks in this delightfully clean and friendly city.

I know it may smack of "enabling" to rabidly anti-smoking Californians, but if we really want to keep the streets clean of this noxious litter, it might be a good idea to give smokers (including many foreign tourists) a safe and handy place to dispose of their used cigarettes.

Ken Grimwood
Santa Barbara

Other works

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. Elise is now regarded as a rare book and sells at collector prices.


At age 59, Grimwood died of a heart attack
Myocardial infarction
Myocardial infarction or acute myocardial infarction , commonly known as a heart attack, results from the interruption of blood supply to a part of the heart, causing heart cells to die...

 in his home in Santa Barbara, California
Santa Barbara, California
Santa Barbara is the county seat of Santa Barbara County, California, United States. Situated on an east-west trending section of coastline, the longest such section on the West Coast of the United States, the city lies between the steeply-rising Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean...

. 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