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Bear, Elizabeth

Entry updated 16 January 2023. Tagged: Author.

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Working name of Sarah Bear Elizabeth Wishnevsky (1971-    ), US author who began publishing work of genre interest with "e e 'doc' cummings" for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in March 2003, and who has released at least fifty stories since; she won the 2005 John W Campbell Award for best new writer, and the Hugo award for "Shoggoths in Bloom" (March 2008 Asimov's). She is best known for her sharp-tongued, noirish Jenny Casey sequence of Military SF/police procedural sf (see Crime and Punishment) tales comprising Hammered (2004), Scardown (2005) and Worldwired (2005), set in a grim late twenty-first-century urban world. Her protagonist is an ex-military special operative, so geared up with hardware that she could be defined as a Cyborg; the America in which she works as a private enforcer is dominated by a fundamentalist Christian government (see Religion), whose actions are realistically depicted by Bear as exceedingly unpleasant, though the eventual appearance of the twentieth-century physicist Richard Feynman, Uploaded into an AI, lightens the tone for a bit. By the end of the final volume, the action has moved, via Canada, into space, where it may be humanity will survive. Carnival (2006), though it features similarly tough-minded, slangy, sharply likeable protagonists, is set in a more expansive, interstellar Space Opera venue.

She has since concentrated mainly on series, mostly fantasy, such as the New Amsterdam sequence beginning with New Amsterdam (coll of linked stories 2007), the Eternal Sky sequence beginning with Bone and Jewel Creatures (coll 2010), and the connected Lotus Kingdoms sequence beginning with The Stone in the Skull (2017). Also taking off from a New York setting, the Promethean Age Saga comprising Blood and Iron (2006) and Whiskey and Water (2007), along with its pendant, the Stratford Man Duology comprising Ink and Steel (2008) and Hell and Earth (2008), along with the more ambitious One-Eyed Jack (2014), which is set in an icon-choked Los Angeles (see California) evocative of Tim Powers. Also fantasy is the Companion to Wolves sequence comprising A Companion to Wolves (2007) with Sarah Monette, The Tempering of Men (2011) with Sara Monette and An Apprentice to Elves (2015) with Sara Monette. The Karen Memory sequence beginning with Karen Memory (2015) is Steampunk set in Seattle with Western plot elements.

The Edda of Burdens sequence, comprising All the Windwracked Stars (2008), By the Mountain Bound (2009) and The Sea Thy Mistress (2011), interestingly combines sf and fantasy: the sequences set in the deep past are mythological fantasy, while the sequences set in the Far Future, in a desolate Dying Earth venue (see also Ruined Earth), are Science Fantasy that unpacks ambiguously towards an sf explanation for the fate of the world. Marginally more sf-like, the Jacob's Ladder sequence, comprising Dust (2008; vt Pinion 2015), Chill (2010; vt Sanction 2015) and Grail (2011; vt Cleave 2015), subtends its fantasy-like post-scarcity Far Future setting – a wrecked Starship in orbit around a mysterious Star – with sf-like explanations: the exorbitant crew of "angels" are in fact Avatars of the ship AI, though the action within the ship itself has all the lineaments of fantasy. The White Space sequence, which shares the Jacob's Ladder underlying backstory, begins with Ancestral NIght (2019), an interstellar Space Opera epic involving the possibility of a Forerunner species which may have left artefactual evidence (see Time Abyss) of its existence long before, along with hints as to the building of a liveable post-scarcity culture for Homo sapiens. When she is not so engaged in unpacking her long intricately reliable plots in her brisk competent narrative voice, Bear's ruthless use of Equipoisal shock effects sometimes generates a sense of a hard mind at work, attempting to tell it as it is.

Bear is one of several editors of the Audiozine SF Squeecast, which in 2012 was the first winner of the newly introduced Hugo category Best Fancast. Her collection Shoggoths in Bloom (coll 2012) won a Locus Award. [JC]

see also: Strange Horizons.

Sarah Bear Elizabeth Wishnevsky

born Hartford, Connecticut: 22 September 1971



Jenny Casey

  • Hammered (New York: Bantam Spectra, 2004) [Jenny Casey: pb/Paul Youll]
  • Scardown (New York: Bantam Spectra, 2005) [Jenny Casey: pb/Paul Youll]
  • Worldwired (New York: Bantam Spectra, 2005) [Jenny Casey: pb/Paul Youll]

The Promethean Age Saga

  • Blood and Iron (New York: Roc, 2006) [The Promethean Age Saga: pb/Paul Youll]
  • Whiskey and Water (New York: Roc, 2007) [The Promethean Age Saga: pb/Paul Youll]
  • Ink and Steel (New York: Roc, 2008) [The Promethean Age Saga: Stratford Man Duology: pb/Paul Youll]
  • Hell and Earth (New York: Roc, 2008) [The Promethean Age Saga: Stratford Man Duology: pb/Paul Youll]
  • One-Eyed Jack (Rockville, Maryland: Prime Books, 2014) [The Promethean Age Saga: pb/Timothy Lantz]

Companion to Wolves

New Amsterdam

  • New Amsterdam (Burton, Michigan: Subterranean Press, 2007) [coll of linked stories: New Amsterdam: hb/Patrick Arrasmith]
  • Almost True (Burton, Michigan: Subterranean Press, 2007) [story: chap: New Amsterdam: pb/Patrick Arrasmith]
  • Seven for a Secret (Burton, Michigan: Subterranean Press, 2009) [novella: New Amsterdam: hb/Jean-Sebastian Rossbach]
  • The Tricks of London (Burton, Michigan: Subterranean Press, 2009) [novelette: chap: New Amsterdam: hb/Patrick Arrasmith]
  • The White City (Burton, Michigan: Subterranean Press, 2010) [novella: New Amsterdam: hb/Patrick Arrasmith]
  • Twilight (Burton, Michigan: Subterranean Press, 2011) [novelette: chap: New Amsterdam: pb/]
  • Underground (Burton, Michigan: Subterranean Press, 2012) [novelette: chap: New Amsterdam: pb/]
  • ad eternum (Burton, Michigan: Subterranean Press, 2012) [novelette: chap: New Amsterdam: hb/Patrick Arrasmith]
  • Garrett Investigates (Burton, Michigan: Subterranean Press, 2012) [coll of linked stories: ebook: New Amsterdam: na/Patrick Arrasmith]

Edda of Burdens

Jacob's Ladder

  • Dust (New York: Bantam Spectra, 2008) [Jacob's Ladder: pb/Paul Youll]
    • Pinion (London: Gollancz, 2015) [ebook: vt of the above: Jacob's Ladder: na/]
  • Chill (New York: Bantam Spectra, 2010) [Jacob's Ladder: pb/Philip Lee Harvey]
    • Sanction (London: Gollancz, 2015) [ebook: vt of the above: Jacob's Ladder: na/]
  • Grail (New York: Bantam Spectra, 2011) [Jacob's Ladder: pb/Carl Galian]
    • Cleave (London: Gollancz, 2015) [ebook: vt of the above: Jacob's Ladder: na/]

Eternal Sky

Karen Memory

  • Karen Memory (New York: Tor, 2015) [Karen Memory: hb/Cynthia Sheppard]
  • Stone Mad (New York:, 2018) [novella: Karen Memory: pb/Micah Epstein]

Lotus Kingdoms

White Space

  • Ancestral Night (New York: Simon and Schuster/Saga Press, 2019) [White Space: hb/Getty Images]
  • Machine (New York: Simon and Schuster/Saga Press, 2020) [White Space: hb/Jae Song]

individual titles

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