M. A. R. Barker

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Muhammad Abd-al-Rahman Barker (born November 3, 1929 as Phillip Barker[2]) is a retired professor of Urdu and South Asian Studies who created one of the first roleplaying games, Empire of the Petal Throne, and has authored several fantasy/science fantasy novels based in his associated world setting of Tékumel.

Contents

Early life

Born in Spokane, Washington, descended from ancestors who had originally settled in America in 1626, Barker's childhood was spent around Washington and Idaho.[1] As a youth he had an interest in "fairy stories, history and literature" which would be further influenced by such films as The Thief of Bagdad; all of which helped to turn his casual "wargames" with toy soldiers more towards fantasy. From this his fictional lands of Tsolyanu and others, in what was later to become Tékumel, emerged and were embellished further in middle and high school years during which time he commenced construction of armies of hand-carved figures to represent his creations. Also at an early age, Barker's interest in languages was piqued by neighboring children of Basque origin who were able to exclude others from their secret conversations in their native tongue.[3][4]

Academic life and creative networking

In, and just before 1950, while Barker was studying at the University of Washington under Melville Jacobs, he became involved with small press publications, writing articles, short stories and contributing reviews to Fanscient and the local clubzine Sinisterra;[5] the latter of which contained his review of, and content from, Jack Vance relating to his recently published book, The Dying Earth.[6][7][8][9] Also at this time, Barker corresponded with other authors who contributed to those same publications, including Lin Carter in whose writings and linguistic experiments[10] he took an interest and with whom he finally put to paper the story line of his own created world.[11][12][13]

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