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Kenneth Milton Grimwood, 59; Fantasy Novelist Known for Book on Time Travel

June 18, 2003|Myrna Oliver | Times Staff Writer

Kenneth Milton Grimwood, a fantasy genre novelist best known for the book "Replay" which features a protagonist who repeatedly relives the period from 1963 to 1988, has died. He was 59.

Grimwood died June 5 at his home in Santa Barbara of an apparent heart attack.

"Replay," published in 1987, earned the World Fantasy Award the following year and assured Grimwood's status as a favorite among speculative fiction readers. Grimwood's agency said he was working on a sequel to the book before he died.

The author of five novels dealing with time travel, immortality or telepathy, Grimwood earned praise from various reviewers of his works for being able to elevate themes lesser writers might merely exploit or trivialize.

Grimwood began "Replay" with the death of his hero, Jeff Winston, news director of fictional WFYI all-news radio in New York, of a heart attack at 43 in 1988.

Inexplicably, Winston wakes in 1963 as an 18-year-old student back in his old dorm room at Emory University. He repeats that quarter-century over and over, each time with full memory of every life passage. In the first replay, for example, he uses his knowledge of future Kentucky Derby and World Series winners, among other facts, to become an influential billionaire -- only to drop dead again at 43.

When the book appeared in paperback in 1988, novelist David Brin reviewed it for The Times, commenting: " 'Replay' features one of the more thorough explorations of a theme one might ever hope to find.... [The book] challenges us to take fresh views of that inexorable force, time."

Grimwood shared some traits with the fictional Winston. Brought up in Pensacola, Fla., the author attended Emory University and Bard College, and once worked as a news director at KFWB-AM (980) news radio in Los Angeles.

His other books were "Breakthrough" in 1976, which also dealt with time travel; "Elise" in 1977, a study in immortality and eternal youth; and "The Voice Outside" in 1982 and "Into the Deep" in 1995, both dealing with telepathy. The 1995 book involved telepathy between children and dolphins cooperating to save the environment.

Grimwood's novels have been printed in 13 languages and are especially popular in Japan, his agency said.

He is survived by his father, Dr. Floyd M. Grimwood of Pensacola, a sister and a brother.

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