Books by Neal Barrett, Jr.

Book Categories

In order to be the most help to both the casual reader and the Neal Barrett Jr. book collector, I have divided Mr. Barrett's books into periods and categories. My goal is to capture all of them, and there is a rough chronological order to the categories, but I thought the categories would be more interesting and useful than a long chronological list. For each book, the U.S. first edition is noted. I welcome any contributions to this list, especially information related to non-U.S. editions, shorter works published in periodicals, or one-of-a-kind editions.
Here are the categories, covering all appearances of Neal Barrett Jr. in book form. The list is broken up chronologically, but the sections are not listed in exact chronological order. We start with what I have called Barrett's own "Off Center" subgenre, featuring works from the 1990's-2000's. Then, we highlight six classic speculative fiction novels from the late 1970's and 1980's. Following that is Neal's run of excellent and fun crime novels, plus two young adult fantasy novels, from the 1990's and 2000's. We then come back a listing of additional science fiction and fantasy novels from the 70's-80's. Next, we list Neal's story collections, anthology appearances, and non-fiction books. And finally, we close with what we believe to be complete list of pseudonymous and franchise-related novels by Neal Barrett Jr.
 

1990's-2000's "Off Center" Fiction

Somewhere along the way, Barrett started to create a sub-genre of his own. I've chosen the term off-center to describe this style, in reference to the book that Barrett has identified as a favorite from his bibliography: Slightly Off Center.
The Hereafter Gang cover image

The Hereafter Gang

1991 Mark V. Ziesing hardcover (limited and trade)
"On a hot summer Texas afternoon, Cindy Nance introduces young Doug Hoover to the two great secrets of life. Doug likes the first secret a lot. The second, that guys grow up and go to work, doesn't appeal to him at all. A series of meaningless marriages and do-nothing jobs prove Cindy was right. Turned off by the present, Doug tries to recapture the joys of his past Captain Marvel and cinnamon squares, Dr. Pepper and window-peeking fun.

"Nothing goes right until Doug meets Sue Jean, the culmination of a lifetime enchantment with mean-eyed Southern girls, his all-time carhop queen. Reality takes a hard right and never slows down. Doug, Sue Jean, and readers who can hang on tight are swept through an indescribable romp that gives new meaning to life, death, and roadside romance.

"There are enough bizarre characters here to fill several institutions: Crime czars,proctologists, Western outlaws, dog-fighting aviators and trout-fishing Huns. The Hereafter Gang is a literary accomplishment of rare insight and pure pleasure. Barrett's sense of humor is unexcelled. His ability to stir fantasy and reality into a delightful souffle redefines the term "magic realism." (from the 1999 Mojo Press trade paperback edition)

Slightly Off Center: Eleven Extraordinarily Exhilarating Tales cover image

Slightly Off Center: Eleven Extraordinarily Exhilarating Tales

1992 Swan Press trade paperback
A collection of 11 distinctively Barrett tales, ranging from the early 60's to the early 90's, with an introduction by Joe R. Lansdale. Stories include "A Day at the Fair", "Tony Red Dog", "The Last Cardinal Bird in Tennessee", and "Stairs". This collection has been cited by Barrett himself as a personal favorite.

Interstate Dreams cover image

Interstate Dreams

1999 Mojo Press trade paperback
"This book is ostensibly about Dreamer, a back-from-the-war kind of guy with the unusual ability to make himself invisible to any and all security devices in his immediate area. So far, he's been using his newfound power for good (he burgles, sure, but only from people who have already stolen something from his clients). Now, Dreamer has it made. He sells tropical fish, he spends a lot of time at Mama Lucy's Vishnu and Jesus Barbecue, and he has a beautiful, stacked-up lawyer girlfriend named Eileen. What could possibly go wrong?...

"Interstate Dreams is a book about genetics, organized (and not-so-organized) crime, fish, colors, and the different kinds of love. Inside its covers you'll find kidnapping, philosophy, a dogfight, sex, and a whole lot of what makes this book such fun to read: personality." (from review by Mark Finn)

PIGGS cover image

PIGGS

2002 Subterranean Press hardcover
"PIGGS is a love story about people who think with just about every other body part other than their heads. The joy of Barrett's writing is, as in past books like the collection Perpetuity Blues and the short novel "Ginny Sweethips' Flying Circus", in his ability to make readers care for these sorry semi-humans, against all odds, warts and scabs and all. Veering often from ludicrous hickoid humor to trenchant (semi-trenchant, anyway) observations on the inhuman condition, the fine folks of PIGGS topless bar are kith and kin to Joe R. Lansdale's celebrated Hap and Leonard novels." (from review by Marc Savlov)

Prince of Christler-Coke

2004 Golden Gryphon Press hardcover
"Asel Iacola is the newly come-of-age Prince of Christler-Coke, one of the corporations that dominates America East. The book opens with his arranged wedding to the rather dim Loreli, from the family of Pepsicoma-Dodge. But almost at this hour his family is attacked, a scheme of Asel's hated rival Ducky Du Pontiac-Heinz as well as a power from the West, Califoggy State's Peter Cee, of Disney-Dow. Asel's family is obliterated, and Asel is sent to prison in Oklahomer, forced to wear tacky middle class clothing and feed himself. ... an enjoyable satirical SF novel, well worth the read." (from a review by Rich Horton)
 

The Aldair Quartet

While Neal Barrett Jr. published a worthy and eclectic mix of novels during this period (see below), the Aldair quartet are to this reader the most fully successful. Collectively, they are my favorite from Barrett's 70's - early 80's novels. There is an engaging and ultimately satisfying story arc.
Quoting from a story by Mike Shea in The Austin Chronicle: "Joe Lansdale offers testament to their influence on a generation of fans, 'I liked his Aldair books because they had a Mark Twain sensibility but the main characters were pigs. He could take the most bizarre subject and give it humanity.'"
Aldair in Albion book cover

Aldair in Albion

1976 DAW paperback
"On the day that Aldair found that his world had abruptly turned upside down, his history-changing quest began. And he did not even then know that it was to be a quest. Aldair had been a true acolyte of the Faith when it happened. And then he found himself an accursed outcast, the one against whom all hands were raised. His only friends were those who had been his most vicious enemies. His only course led to the lands of horror. And his final goal had to be--that most forbidden of all lands, the dwelling place of the dead, that island of total terror known as Albion." (from the cover of the DAW edition)

"The novel succeeds through its strong characterizations, its brisk pace, its colorful settings, and its giving the reader a slight sense of superiority over the protagonists without in any way making them seem stupid or inferior. Best handled are the characterizations, especially the almost reluctantly-growing friendship between Aldair and Rheif, who by rights should slay each other on sight. (When they meet Aldair is wearing boots made of the fur of one of Rheif's kinsmen, while Rheif has doubtlessly eaten some of Aldair's relatives.) Barrett also convincingly handles the tricky task of manipulating an essentially comic-book cast of talking, clothes-wearing animals and making the story seem like real science fiction rather than fantasy." (from a review written in 1976 by Fred Pattern, originally published in Delap's F&SF Review #20)

Aldair, Master of Ships book cover

Aldair, Master of Ships

1977 DAW paperback
Second book in the Aldair series.

Aldair, Across the Misty Sea book cover

Aldair, Across the Misty Sea

1980 DAW paperback
Third book in the Aldair series.

Aldair: The Legion of Beasts book cover

Aldair: The Legion of Beasts

1982 DAW paperback
Fourth book in the Aldair series.

The following excerpt from an interview with Neal Barrett Jr. on the topic of Aldair.
Crescent Blues: Your Aldair novels posit pigs in charge of things. Were you inspired by George Orwell's Animal Farm, or did something else motivate this series?
Neal Barrett, Jr.: Did you notice pigs are still in charge of things? And no, it wasn't Orwell. I'm not sure where the idea came from. Probably a lot of places. The idea was that Man had become so debased he created parodies of himself for his amusement. ... Then, Man disappeared, and these creatures were on their own, having no idea how they came about. So, they proceeded to make all the mistakes their creator made. ... I loved doing the Aldair series. It was a hell of a lot of fun. I still think some enlightened publisher will put these four books out again. Maybe someone over there in Aldair's Albion, or in the Colonies themselves.

Aldair action figure

A blogger who's name I can't figure out has created a very cool custom action figure of Aldair that is worth a look.
 

Darkest and Dawn

Through Darkest America book cover

Through Darkest America

1987 Cogdon & Weed hardcover (Isaac Asimov Presents)
"Twilight Zone [Magazine] reviewer Edward Bryant called it 'a book of astonishing power...simply one of the best books I’ve read this year'." (sourced from this page from the 1997 Worldcon). The essay "The Bitter End" by Isaac Asimov included in this edition.

Dawn's Uncertain Light book cover

Dawn's Uncertain Light

1989 Signet (NAL) paperback
Sequel and conclusion to Through Darkest America.
 

1990's Crime Fiction

To clear up a common point of confusion: the first two "Blues" novels, Pink Vodka Blues and Dead Dog Blues, are each standalone novels, and neither features the character Wiley Moss. There were two Wiley Moss novels: Skinny Annie Blues and Bad Eye Blues.
Pink Vodka Blues cover image

Pink Vodka Blues

1992 St. Martin's Press hardcover, 276 pages
"Neal Barrett wrote some of the funniest, wildest, and most idiosyncratic crime novels of the '90s, of which Pink Vodka Blues was the first. It's a hilarious take on a classic situation. Russell Murray is the editor of a literary magazine in Chicago. He drinks way too much. And he's in big trouble when he wakes up in a hotel room with a beautiful woman just before two men come into the room and kill her. They try to kill Murray, too, but he gets away. Things never slow down after that." (from a review by Bill Crider)

Dead Dog Blues cover image

Dead Dog Blues

1994 St. Martin's Press hardcover
"DEAD DOG BLUES is a very funny, mordant, and fine story. It's full of mayhem, keenly observed characters, sex, casual racist talk from some characters, brutality, and lots of humor. The writing is excellent, and fits subject and characters like a fine leather glove, the likes of which you aren't likely to find in old Pharaoh, Texas. The pace is that of a runaway train. This book is unlike anything I've read in many years, and it was a great read. Oh yes, there's also a chicken-killing badger. Let's hear it for Badger Bob." (from a 1997 review by Carl Brookins)

Skinny Annie Blues cover image

Skinny Annie Blues

1996 Kensington Books hardcover
The first of two Wiley Moss mysteries. "Publisher's Weekly recently said that Austin author Neal Barrett, Jr. writes like 'Robert Ludlum on laughing gas.' What a ridiculous thing to say. Robert Ludlum couldn't write anything like Barrett no matter what kind of drugs he took. Barrett's latest mystery, Skinny Annie Blues, is in many ways his most off-beat, outrageous yet. And, coming on the heels of his last two, Dead Dog Blues and Pink Vodka Blues, that's saying a lot.

"This time out, Barrett tells a fish-out-of-water story, with the unlikely hero, Wiley Moss, an entomologist (he draws bugs for the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.) who flies down to Galveston to find out who murdered his father. ... Skinny Annie Blues is not your typical tough-guy mystery novel and Barrett is not your typical tough-guy mystery writer. But when it comes to what he does, he's the best there is." (from Austin Chronicle review by Jesse Sublett)

Bad Eye Blues cover image

Bad Eye Blues

1997 Kensington Books hardcover
The second of two Wiley Moss mysteries. "Waking up on an interstate bus among rank strangers would be a grim experience at best. For the endearingly hapless Moss, it is a downright gruesome awakening since he has no memory of boarding the bus and he is in the company of two characters from the lower rungs of the evolutionary ladder. Going home is not an option they are offering him.

"Barrett portrays Moss lovingly -- he's no detective -- just a beleaguered artist who can only shake his head in bewilderment at his circumstances. Like a 20th-century Job abandoned in the heartland, Moss' troubles mount on troubles as he tries to make his way back to a safe and sane place. Wiley is not born to adventure; he has adventure thrust upon him. ... The storytelling is never less than top-shelf and Barrett serves up his double shot of wry straight, no chaser." (from a review by Mike Shea)

 

2000's Young Adult Fiction

Neal Barrett Jr. published two novels that were marketed for the young adult market. Per usual, Barrett was at the front side of a trend, as the 2000's would see young adult genre fiction become a very hot category. These two novels featuring The Lizard Shoppe (originally featured in a story in Dragon magazine) and the character Finn, the Master Lizard Maker. The books feature a human-animal hybrid race called Newlies, which we can possibly interpret as an evolutionary stepping stone on the way to the even farther-future time of Barrett's Aldair novels.
As one reader noted, when asked for a recommendation of humorous novels, "I always recommend The Prophecy Machine and The Treachery of Kings, by Neal Barrett, Jr. They're about a professional lizard maker who's in love with a mouse, travels in a sausage-shaped balloon, and goes on all sorts of crazy missions for an insane prince. But if you're feeling down right now, you might want to save these books for later. They're not feel-good humor, more like feel-depressed-at-how-nuts-the-world-is humor. They are wonderful books, though."
The Prophecy Machine cover image

The Prophecy Machine

2000 Bantam Spectra Paperback
"The Prophecy Machine opens with a Master Lizard Maker named Finn on a ship, taking a vacation with his wife, the 'Mycer' Letitia Louise, and with an intelligent mechanical lizard named Julia Jessica Slag, an illegal creation of Finn's. Things have already gone bad, as the ship is crewed by "Yowlies" (uplifted cats), and Letitia Louise can't stand them, for obvious reasons.

"Things take several turns for the worse when Finn arouses the enmity of a fellow passenger who is abusing a Foxer servant, and then when Finn, Letitia Louise, and Julia are marooned in the strange country of Makasar, unfortunately also the home of Sabatino Nucci, the strange man whose enmity Finn had aroused on the ship." (from a review by Rich Horton)

The Treachery of Kings cover image

The Treachery of Kings

2001 Bantam Spectra paperback
"Obeying a royal command can be hazardous to your health....In a magical world where animals have been given human form and chaos can often be the nature of the day, some universal truths remain. Like the futility of war and the foolishness of leaders. And, of course, the lingering prejudice against the Newlies, the humanized animals.

"But Master Lizard Maker Finn has no quarrel with creatures of any sort. Just returned from a highly traumatic vacation, he wants nothing more than a period of prolonged peace with his fetching Newlie lover, Letitia, and his greatest creation, a sassy mechanical lizard named Julia Jessica Slagg.

"But the Fates, in the form of the capricious Prince of Fyxedia, have other plans in store for Finn. Fyxedia’s leader has commissioned Finn to build a fantastical lizard timepiece for his archrival, the mysterious King of Heldessia — an odd enough request since Fyxedia and Heldessia have been at war for 700 years. Worse, Finn has been ordered to deliver the clock himself: a mission that involves flying over the war zone in a rickety and badly patched balloon.

"Finn can hardly refuse the commission, but the journey is the least of his problems. For Heldessia is a land as odd as any he’s encountered, and he can’t help but wonder what foul plot these monarchs have in store for each other. How can one lone lizard maker, his lover, and his mechanical creation foil a plot they don’t even understand — and still manage to come out of it alive?" (from the publisher's description)

 

1970's and 1980's Science Fiction and Fantasy

The Gates of Time book cover

The Gates of Time

1970, Ace Double paperback
"The Last Earthman vs. the Empire that died before Earth was born" Barrett's short novel (140 pages) The Gates of Time appears opposite Dwellers of the Deep, by K. M. O'Donnell, a pseudonym of Barry N. Malzberg.

Kelwin book cover image

Kelwin

1970, Lancer paperback
"From the Great Midsee to the two Calfrei's, the year 2906 saw Nordland in upheavel. There were rumors of war as the pseudo-Sioux pushed south from the Indian confederation in a strange alliance with the yellow-skinned wizards of Hunan, far to the North...and for the first time since the Disaster of a thousand years earlier, all of Nordland seemed poised on the brink of annihilation..."

The Leaves of Time book cover

The Leaves of Time

1971, Lancer paperback
"The Gorgon came from some time line far across the multiple worlds. It moved among men, looking always as though it was one of them. But it was not a man; it was a destroyer! This creature would willingly destroy the universe, in all its alternate world-lines. It could not tolerate other forms of life, could not permit them to exist. The first a world knew of the beast in its midst was when its citizens began dying, horribly, and then it was alread too late."

Highwood book cover

Highwood

1972, Ace Double paperback
Barrett's short novel (122 pages) Highwood appears opposite Annihilation Factor by Barrington J. Bayley.

Stress Pattern book cover

Stress Pattern

1974 DAW paperback
"The essence of a truly null-Earth logic may never be as clearly defined as in this novel-length package of interplanetary surprises. Consider this marooned astronaut. His spaceship and supplies are swallowed in one gulp by something beneath the featureless plain of an unknown world. The natives are not hostile but they seem incurious. He is welcome to use their free railroad system - the "alimentary express" of a world-grinding Wormway. Those he regards as sane are considered to be crazy. The culture techniques he is sure are crazy turn out to be quite normal - by that world's standards. He fathers a child without ever touching the mother. It's when he does spring that he gets his most startling surprise. Stress Patten is a deceptively easy novel. Delightful reading, it will turn out to be something you will not forget in a hurry."

The Karma Corps book cover

The Karma Corps

1984 DAW paperback
"Captain Lars Haggart was a soul waiting to be reborn...but before that blessed event he had been inducted into the Arm of God Regiment fighting for the beleaguered Churchers on a newly colonized planet. Their foe - demons who could pop into existence, slay and pop out of existence the next instant. The demons were winning that war, sending their Unborn opponents back to limbo, driving the living colonists toward extermination. But this was no fantasy, no business of the religious imagination. The fight was real, blood was blood, and swords cut sharp, for the Unborn were very much alive. Haggart was aware that this was frighteningly contradictory but first he had to fight the demons on their own terms - learn how to appear behind their lines and do to them what they were doing to the humans.An unusual science fiction novel of a space colony in deepest trouble and of aliens who knew planetary secrets that were never on anyone's Holy Book."
 

Collections and Anthologies

This list of anthologies collecting Neal Barrett short fiction is probably incomplete at this stage. What are we missing?
 

Pseudononymous/Franchise Fiction by Neal Barrett Jr.

Neal Barrett, Jr. has never been shy about the fact that he has often written less "serious" work for hire, including taking on work for franchises such as Hardy Boys, Daniel Boone, Dungeons and Dragons, Judge Dread, Spiderman, Batman, and even Pamela Anderson's Barb Wire--sometimes under a pseudonym, but often using his real name.
The author of this site can attest, as a reader, that Barrett generally brings his best to these jobs. He says so himeself in an interview quoted elsewhere on this page/site. If you are considering purchasing or reading one of Barrett's franchise or pseudonymous work, I would advise this: If the subject of the book itself interests you, from Daniel Boone to Dungeons & Dragons, take the plunge. The book will probably satisfy.
Mr. Barrett has written the following pseudononymous works and franchise-related books.
  • Tom Swift...The Invisible Force, 1983, Simon & Schuster, as Victor Appleton II
  • Tom Swift...Ark Two, 1983, Simon & Schuster, as Victor Appleton II (it is possible that this book had a working title of Tom Swift...The Space Ark)
  • Indications from Mr. Barrett's papers and notes on the Tom Swift article on Wikipedia indicate that Barrett also wrote two additional Tom Swift books that were never published: Chaos on Earth and The Micro World. The note on Wikipedia indicated that these were available for reading at the New York Public Library.
  • Long Rider...Snaketown (as Clay Dawson)
  • Long Rider #22...Crazy Knife (as Clay Dawson)
  • Lone Star...and the Renegade Comanches #10 as Wesley Ellis
  • Lone Star...the San Antonio Raid #17 as Wesley Ellis
  • Lone Star...and the Texas Gambler #22 as Wesley Ellis
  • Lone Star...and the Buffalo Hunters #35 as Wesley Ellis
  • Lone Star...and the Kansas Wolves as Wesley Ellis
  • Lone Star...and the School for Outlaws as Wesley Ellis
  • Lone Star...and the Alaskan Guns as Wesley Ellis
  • Lone Star...and the Cherokee Strip as Wesley Ellis
  • Lone Star...and the Mountain Man as Wesley Ellis
  • Lone Star...and the Denver Madam as Wesley Ellis
  • Daniel Boone...Westward Trail, 1982, Dell, as himself
  • The River Beauty, 1982, Banbury Books, as Chad Calhoun
  • Hard Chains, Soft Women, 1981, Playboy Paperbacks, as J.D. Hardin
  • Coldhearted Lady, 1981, Playboy Paperbacks, as J.D. Hardin
  • Bobbies, Baubles, and Blood, 1982, Playboy Paperbacks, as J.D. Hardin
  • Valiant Wings, 1983, Dell, as Rebecca Drury
  • The Hardy Boys #83: Swamp Monster, as Franklin W. Dixon
  • The Hardy Boys #85: The Skyfire Puzzle, 1985, Wanderer Books, as Franklin W. Dixon
  • Powell's Army: Missouri Woodhawks, 1989, Zebra, as Terence Duncan
  • Batman in the Black Egg of Atlantis, short novel for young readers, 1992, Little, Brown
  • Judge Dredd, movie novelization, 1995, St. Martins (US), Boxtree (UK)
  • Spider-Man Super-Thriller: Lizard's Rage, novel, 1997, Pocket Books, paperback original
  • Barrett is credited as the author of Spider-Man Super-Thriller: Warrior Returns, a standalone 1997 Spiderman novel from Pocket Books; however, there is more to this tale, as explained by writer Steven A. Roman in this blog post about the novel; in his bio, Roman writes, "In 1997, Steve was the "ghost" author of the Young Adult novel Spider-Man Super-Thriller: Warrior’s Revenge (the book was credited to Neal Barrett Jr.)." Two additional items from Barrett's papers at Texas State University also point to both Barrett's early involvement and the completion of the project by another writer: "Box 1069 folder 19 ... 'Warrior’s Revenge' – includes typed list of characters including the Fantastic Four along with numerous hand written sheets" and "Box 1073 folder 6 ... Page proofs for Warrior’s Revenge NOT by Barrett but written and signed by someone else; includes note by Barrett on page 1"
  • Alaskan Gold, 1998, Bantam, as Robert Reese
  • Dungeons & Dragons: The Movie, movie novelization, 2000, Wizards of the Coast, as Neal Barrett Jr.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: The Movie, movie novelization, 2000, Wizards of the Coast, (young adult edition) using pseudonym Steve Atley
According to the notes from Mr. Barrett's papers in the Wittliff Collection at Texas State University, Neal also wrote an article called "Confessions of a Western Series Writer" under the pseudonym Zack Zane. In the papers, it was labeled "Gorman Article," no doubt referring to Ed Gorman.
 

Non-Fiction Books

"LONG DAYS AND SHORT NIGHTS, A CENTURY OF TEXAS RANCHING ON THE YO 1880-1980" Hardcover, 1980 "A PICTORIAL HISTORY OF TEXAS A & M" Hardcover, with Ruth Barrett

Acknowledgements

Thanks go out to Bill Crider and James Reasoner for assistance with some of the harder to identify psuedononymous novels.
It is also important that I acknowledge the Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDB), the premiere online bibliographic resource for speculative fiction. In preparing this list of Neal Barrett Jr.'s books, I depended heavily on my own collection of Barrett works, but really it would not have been possible without ISFDB. In addition, many of the book cover images you see on this page are linked from the ISFDB website, shared under the terms of Creative Commons "share alike" copyright terms (see the footer of this page for more information--NealBarrettJr.com is a fan-maintained site, not a commercial endeavor). Please support and contribute to the ISFDB, which depends on the efforts of book lovers and readers.

In-Print Books and E-Books

Aldair Book 1: Aldair in Albion

Aldair in Albion e-book
Biting Dog Publications ebook edition, with new introduction by Neal Barrett Jr.

Aldair Book 2: Master of Ships

Aldair: Master of Ships e-book
Biting Dog Publications ebook edition, with new introduction by Neal Barrett Jr.

Aldair Book 3: Across the Misty Sea

Aldair: Across the Misty Sea e-book
Biting Dog Publications ebook edition, with new introduction by Neal Barrett Jr.

Aldair Book 4: The Legion of Beasts

Aldair: The Legion of Beasts e-book
Biting Dog Publications ebook edition, with new introduction by Neal Barrett Jr.