(? - ) UK geophysicist, teacher, editor and author who also writes as S J Morden. He began to publish work of genre interest with "Bell, Book and Candle" in Scaremongers 2: Redbrick Eden (anth 1998) edited by Steve Savile, which was included in his first collection, Thy Kingdom Come (coll 2002 multimedia CD; 2012), which comprises two linked sequences, one set in a darkening Near Future America, the other in a Europe after nuclear devastation (see Holocaust; Post-Holocaust).
Morden's first novel, Heart (2001), ostensibly a thriller set in a 1980s world, slowly unpacks a chthonic understory to explain its Hero's role as the avatar of a contrary story of the world, with Atlantis something of a sidebar. Another War (2005 chap) is horror. The Lost Art (2007) is a Young Adult sf story set in a medievalized Ruined Earth where Technology is a myth from long ago; forbidden knowledge in the form of an ancient artefact is fought over after the young protagonist confronts the ruling theology (see Religion) with its power of change. Arcanum (2014) is fantasy, set in a Europe where Magic once worked. Extracted from a life sentence for killing a drug dealer, the protagonist of One Way (2018) becomes part of a Dirty Dozen team [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below] sent to Mars to build a base under surreal circumstances (they will be d using prefabricated material, rather than printing it); betrayals ensue.
The protagonists of the Down sequence comprising Down Station (2016) and The White City (2016), after escaping a mysteriousDisaster that has engulfed London in flames, find themselves Underground, where a Portal [again see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below] leads to another Dimension, guided by gnomic maps towards a City that may contain within it an answer to the nature of reality.
Of stronger sf interest in Morden's varied career is the Samuil Petrovich/Metrozone series – the main sequence comprising Equations of Life (2011), Theories of Flight (2011) and Degrees of Freedom (2011), the whole winning the Philip K Dick Award in 2012; plus The Curve of the Earth (2013) – set in a Near Future world whose political and cultural balance has been disturbed by the destruction of Japan in a great Disaster. Samuil Petrovich, a London-based Antihero of Russian birth, becomes embroiled in various intrigues, most of them ultimately shaped by a complex scheme to re-found Japan (post-catastrophe Japanese diasporas with revanchist longings are not difficult to find in Japanese sf). In the final volume, Petrovich – who has en passant invented an Antigravity device, acquired an artificial heart, and is by now fully Cyborgized – engages in complex adventures with an AI sidekick. A political edge is provided through his fundamental relationship with the Metrozone, an anarchically subversive multi-national organization treated by America as anathema. The One Way sequence beginning with One Way (2018), set on a Near Future Mars dominated by private enterprise conglomerates, follows the increasingly complicated tactics necessary if the abandoned protagonist is to survive.
A need to entertain keeps Morden from the dolorousness that his dark view of the world might encourage; but an underlying clarity of vision could at any moment break through unblinkered. [JC]
born Gateshead, Tyne and Wear
- Heart (Cardiff, Wales: RazorBlade Press, 2001) [pb/]
- Another War (Tolworth, Surrey: Telos Publishing, 2005) [chap: pb/Simon Moore]
- The Lost Art (Oxford, Oxfordshire: David Fickling Books, 2007) [hb/Henry Steadman]
- Arcanum (London: Orbit, 2014) [pb/]
- At the Speed of Light (Alconbury Weston, Cambridgeshire: NewCon Press, 2017) [in the publisher's NewCon Press Novellas series: hb/Chris Moore]
- Macsen Against the Jugger (Alconbury Weston, Cambridgeshire: NewCon Press, 2019) [novella: chap: in the publisher's NewCon Novellas series: hb/Peter Hollinghurst]
- Bright Morning Star (Alconbury Weston, Cambridgeshire: NewCon Press, 2019) [hb/Ben Baldwin]
- Thy Kingdom Come (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: Lone Wolf Publications, 2002) [coll: multimedia CD: illus/na/Marge Simon]
- Thy Kingdom Come (London: Jurassic London, 2012) [coll: rev of the above: lacking multimedia content: hb/Joey Hi-Fi]
- Brilliant Things (Bristol, England: Subway Writer's Group, 2004) [coll: pb/]
Previous versions of this entry