(1974- ) UK author primarily associated with fantasy, beginning with her first story, "Geoffrey Says" in Shred of Evidence for November 2004; much of her shorter work is assembled in Witchcraft in the Harem (coll 2013). Her first novel, Mean Mode Median (2004), is nonfantastic, as is Three Things About Me (2006), a contemporary Satire. Though clearly not rooted in sf conventions, her later novels exploit with some Equipoisal sophistication various modes of Fantastika as a field of play. In The Beauty (2014), the topos of the chthonic "campfire", around which Story is told and retold in order to clasp humans into a meaningful world, opens in a mysterious Near Future world where all females have been destroyed by a plague, and the campfire tales begin to ebb: until the arrival of the eponymous beauty. Story again governs the unfolding of Skein Island (2015), where the eponymous Island, offshore from Britain, serves as an ambivalent refuge, as those women who visit it must deposit there a Declaration – a story wrung from each contributor's most intimate self – with no control over its ultimate use to explicate or control the story of Homo sapiens from mythical times till now, for the island may be the home of a Secret Master, or an AI, or "merely" its own Genius loci. The Arrival of Missives (2016), set initially in the aftermath of World War One, shifts tense into sf, with hints of Transcendence.
The Loosening Skin (2018) evokes Horror in SF tropes in its depiction of what may be an Alternate World where everyone loses their skin every seven years; and along with their skin, all significant or emotionally intense memories (see Memory Edit) of their past lives. The protagonist – who suffers from a disease that accelerates the normal moult so that her life is lived in small spasms – engages in a quest with another victim. A new Drug designed to control moulting, thickens the tale. Whiteley is an author whose unfailing adventurousness has already created a mosaical career of considerable interest. [JC]
born Barnstaple, Devon: 1974
collections and stories