Mack Reynolds (1917-83) was born in Corcoran, California, the second of four children of Verne La Rue Reynolds and Pauline McCord. When the family moved to Baltimore in 1918, his father joined the Socialist Labor Party so that from an early age Reynolds was raised to accept the tenets of Marxism and Socialism. In 1935, while still in high school in Kingston, New York, Reynolds joined the SLP and became an active advocate of the party’s goals. The following year, he toured the country with his father giving lectures and speeches, and became recognized as a significant force in advocating the SLP.
After graduating from high school, Reynolds worked as a reporter for the Catskill Morning Star from 1937-38 and as editor of the weekly Oneonta News from 1939-40. In 1937, he married his first wife, Evelyn Sandell, with whom he had three children, Emil, La Verne, and Dallas Mack Jr. From 1940 to 1943 Reynolds worked for IBM at the San Pedro, California Shipyards. He also worked actively as an organizer for the SLP, campaigning with SLP presidential candidate John Aiken in 1940. After attending the U.S. Army Marine Officer’s Cadet School and the U.S. Marine Officer’s School, he joined the U.S. Army Transportation Corps in 1944 and was stationed in the Philippines as a ship's navigator until 1945. Upon returning home from the Corps, Reynolds learned that Evelyn had become involved with another man. They divorced and she took their children with her.
From 1946-49, Reynolds worked as a national organizer for the SLP. In 1946, he made his first fiction sale, “What is Courage?”, to Esquire magazine. A year later, he met a woman who shared his radical politics, Helen Jeanette Wooley. They were married in September of 1947, and Jeanette agreed to support Reynolds for two years while he pursued a career as a writer for the detective pulps. After searching for a place with a low cost of living, they moved to Taos, New Mexico, where Reynolds met science fiction writers Walt Sheldon and Fredric Brown. Brown, later one of Reynolds’ frequent collaborators, convinced Reynolds to shift from writing detective stories to writing science fiction. Reynolds’ first sale of a science fiction story, “Last Warning” (also known as "The Galactic Ghost"), sold to Planet Stories in June 1949 but was not printed until 1954. His first published science fiction story, “Isolationist” appeared in Fantastic Adventures in June of 1950. His career soon took off, resulting in a sale of 18 stories in 1950 alone. In 1951, he published his first novel, The Case of the Little Green Men, a mix of the murder-mystery and science fiction genres that became "an instant classic of science-fiction-fan related fiction."
In 1953, the Reynolds moved to San Miguel de Allende, in Guanajuato, Mexico, where they lived for only eighteen months before embarking on a journey through Europe and the East that lasted almost ten years and included stays in Greece, Yugoslavia, Algeria, Morocco, Spain, Eastern Europe, Finland, India, Japan, and Hong Kong. In 1955, Reynolds became a correspondent for Rogue magazine and began making money writing about his travels as well as from his science fiction stories, whose socioeconomic speculations now reflected the insights gained from his encounters with other cultures. In 1958, he became a choice writer for John W. Campbell’s Astounding Science Fiction, remaining its "most prolific contributor" for the next ten years. The same year, the publication of How to Retire without Money, to which Reynolds contributed under the byline Bob Belmont, led the National Executive Committee of the SLP to charge Reynolds with "supporting the fraudulent claims of capitalist apologists, viz, that capitalism offers countless opportunities to those who are 'alert'" and caused Reynolds to resign his membership from the SLP.
The 1960s saw some of Reynolds' best work, including the short stories "Revolution," "Combat," "Freedom," "Subversive," and "Mercenary" (which became the first installment of the Joe Mauser series), the Homer Crawford serials "Black Man's Burden" and "Border, Breed nor Birth," and the novellas "Adaptation," "Ultima Thule" (both part of the United Planet series), and "Status Quo" (a Hugo nominee). In 1963, he published The Expatriates, a mix of travel memories and autobiographical material emphasizing the benefits of living outside the United States. From 1961-64, Reynolds, at the request of his agent, wrote five sex novels: Episode on the Riviera, A Kiss before Loving, This Time We Love, The Kept Woman, and The Jet Set.
In 1965, the Reynolds returned to San Miguel de Allende to live. Their house on Nuñez 32 soon became a familiar haunt of the artistic community, often frequented by renowned authors. While Reynolds continued to write and sell science fiction stories, by 1969 his sales began to decline and several of his novels were held back during a takeover of Ace Books in 1970 and not published until 1975. During this difficult period of his life, Reynolds wrote two romance novels, The House in the Kasbah and The Home of the Inquisitor under the byline Maxine Reynolds. He also began his most ambitious undertaking, a series of stories envisioning life in the year 2000. Looking Backward from the Year 2000 and Equality: In the Year 2000 updated and critiqued the socialist utopias created by Edward Bellamy in Looking Backward: 2000-1887 and Equality, which had helped shape Reynolds’ radical worldview at an early age. Commune 2000 A.D., The Towers of Utopia, and Rolltown and the Lagrangia series explored marginal utopian colonies on earth and in space, respectively. In 1976, the short story collection The Best of Mack Reynolds was published.
By the end of the 1970s, Reynolds was having trouble getting his manuscripts published. One month before his death in 1983, as he was recuperating from cancer surgery, his new agent negotiated a contract with Tor Books. By 1986, eleven of his books had been published posthumously, five of them revised and co-authored by Dean Ing. After his death, The New England Science Fiction Association, which had invited Reynolds to be its Guest of Honor at Boskone XX, had the collection Compounded Interests published in his memory. In it, Reynolds identifies his Star Trek novel Mission to Horatius as his "bestseller."