(1982- ) US author whose first works were Graphic Novels, beginning with the Young Adult Cairo: A Graphic Novel (graph 2007), a tale which incorporates aspects of her own life story – she converted to Islam while teaching in Cairo during 2003 – into contemporary Urban Fantasy [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below], combining noir encounters with organized crime, and djinns. The Air sequence of connected stories and larger tales, beginning with Air Vol 1: Letters from Lost Countries (graph 2009) illus M K Perker, moves from nonfantastic adventures of an air attendant into encounters with unregistered countries and fantasticated Inventions which include flight without Machines, and, once again, organized terrorism.
Wilson is of strongest sf interest for Alif the Unseen (2012), which again incorporates into an Urban Fantasy rendering of the contemporary Middle East an Equipoisal jostle of elements, as the protagonist, an Internet hacker, becomes embroiled with the venomous and internet-savvy secret police of the unnamed Dystopian state where the action is set. The entwining of Computer-fomented Virtual Reality and the supernatural in general (see Supernatural Creatures in particular), though not new, seems fresh in this new context, which all the same occasionally reflects aspects of George Alec Effinger's Budayeen universe. Alif the Unseen won the World Fantasy Award for best novel in 2013. A memoir, The Butterfly Mosque: A Young American Woman's Journey to Love and Islam (2010), interestingly weaves together her life and her work. The Bird King (2019) is an historical quest fantasy, set just before Christopher Columbus "discovered" "America", with the eponymous object of a complex quest subject to discrepancies of Perception between Muslim and Christian aspirants to enlightenment and power (see Religion).
In 2014 Wilson began a new Comic: Ms. Marvel, whose young female Muslim Superhero from Pakistan fits well in the Marvel Comics long-time focus on heroes and heroines with tormented childhoods. The first Graphic Novel assembly of this work, Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal (graph 2014), received the Hugo award for best graphic story. [JC]
Gwendolyn Willow Wilson
born Long Branch, New Jersey: 31 August 1982
Previous versions of this entry