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Stephen Marlowe was the pseudonym of Milton Lesser (1928-2008), an American author of science fiction, mystery novels, and fictional “autobiographies” of historical figures such as Goya, Christopher Columbus, Miguel de Cervantes, and Edgar Allan Poe. He legally changed his name to Marlowe when his detective series featuring Chester Drum—created in 1955 with The Second Longest Night and concluding in 1968 with Drumbeat Marianne—became his most successful endeavor. As the New York Times wrote in his obituary, Chester drum was “known familiarly as Chet...a tough unmarried ex-cop who kept a bottle in his office and a .357 Magnum at his side. Based in Washington, he took on cases involving international intrigue that in nearly two dozen novels took him to exotic locales around the globe.“ Marlowe also wrote as Adam Chase, Andrew Frazer, C.H. Thames, Jason Ridgway, Stephen Wilder, and Ellery Queen.

He attended the College of William & Mary, earning his degree in philosophy, marrying Leigh Lang soon after graduating. He was drafted into the United States Army and served during the Korean War. He and his wife divorced during 1962. With his second wife, Ann, he lived in Williamsburg, Virginia until his death in 2008 from myelodysplastic syndrome, a bone-marrow disorder.

He was awarded the French Prix Gutenberg du Livre during 1988 for The Memoirs of Christopher Columbus, and during 1997 he was awarded a Life Achievement Award by the Private Eye Writers of America. He also served on the board of directors of the Mystery Writers of America.

As Milton Lesser, he was a popular and prolific contributor to science fiction pulp magazines. Slaves of the Metal Horde, with its sensational title and action-adventure, humans-vs-robots theme, is typical of his early work.


—John Betancourt

Cabin John, Maryland

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