Beckett, Chris

Tagged: Author

(1955-    ) Former UK social worker, lecturer on this subject at Anglia Ruskin University since 1990, and author of several sf stories and novels (in addition to solo and co-authored textbooks on social work, not listed below). His first sf appearance was "A Matter of Survival" (October 1990 Interzone); further sales to Interzone and Asimov's followed. Fourteen short sf stories were assembled as The Turing Test (coll 2008), which in 2009 caused some stir by winning the £5000 Edge Hill Short Story Prize – not a genre award – against strong non-genre competition. Further short fiction – comprising all Beckett's stories since The Turing Test – was collected in The Peacock Cloak (coll 2013); several stories included here – like "Rat Island" and "Greenland" (both October 2008 Interzone) – explore his usual Near Future terrain in terms of Climate Change, which he treats as inevitable and savage.

Beckett's novel debut was The Holy Machine (2004), opening in a would-be Utopian but nevertheless oppressive enclave of rationalism in a future world dominated by fundamentalist Religion; the protagonist, besotted with a Robot prostitute whose developing sentience is forbidden by the soi-disant rationalists, must travel with her through fundamentalist territory where robots are regarded as anathema on religious grounds. Marcher (October 2001 Interzone; exp 2009; rev 2014) is a tale of migrants and crime crossing the borders of various Parallel Worlds, set mainly in a Dystopian Britain where the have-nots (almost all of us) have no real choice but to shift in search of work. His third novel, Dark Eden (2012), rings interesting changes on the Colonization of Other Worlds tradition with a small, increasingly inbred and ritual-bound human community (all descended from the original stranded Adam and Eve figures) on a sunless planet where light comes only from bioluminescent vegetation that lives on geothermal energy. Local food resources in the one inhabited valley have been depleted; the far from flawless protagonist has a Conceptual Breakthrough and leads a band of dissidents through frozen, inhospitable uplands (the "Snowy Dark") to a guessed-at promised land. Dark Eden won the Arthur C Clarke Award; the sequel is Mother of Eden (2015). Beckett is a talented and versatile author whose reputation seems bound to grow. [DRL]

Chris Beckett

born Oxford, Oxfordshire: 1955





individual titles

  • The Holy Machine (Holicong, Pennsylvania: Wildside Press, 2004) [hb/Wilhelm Steiner]
  • Marcher (New York: Dorchester Publishing/Cosmos Books, 2009) [short version appeared October 2001 Interzone: pb/Ian Field-Richards]
    • Marcher (Alconbury Weston, Cambridgeshire: Newcon Press, 2014) [rev of the above: hb/Ben Baldwin]


  • The Turing Test (Norwich, Norfolk: Elastic Press, 2008) [coll: pb/Eran Cantrell]
  • The Peacock Cloak (Alconbury Weston, Cambridgeshire: Newcon Press, 2013) [coll: hb/Eugene Kapustyanskiy]
  • America City (London: Corvus, 2017) [pb/Raid71]


Previous versions of this entry

Website design and build: STEEL

Site ©2011 Gollancz, SFE content ©2011 SFE Ltd.