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Bell, Matt

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

(1980-    ) US editor and author who began to publish work of genre interest with "Mario's Three Lives" in Barrelhouse for 2007; several of his early tales, some gonzo and some coldly lucid, have been assembled as How the Broken Lead the Blind (coll 2009 chap) and How They Were Found (coll 2010). Wolf Parts (coll of linked stories 2010) comprises a set of forty twice-told fragments circumambulating the Little Red Riding Hood topos [for Twice-Told see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below]. Bell came to wider notice with a novella, Cataclysm Baby (2012), structured as a bricolage-heavy mosaic of small chapters featuring twenty-six various fathers as they attempt to narratize, in veneration and terror, the Near Future fates of their children.

Bell's first full-length fiction, In the House upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods (2013), partly set in a soon-to-be-soiled wilderness Eden, is a kind of myth of origin of an American nuclear family. Scrapper (2015) is set in the ruins of Near Future Detroit, where a young man scavenges through a region called The Zone (see Zone), searching for some hidden artefact that may bring riches or revelation, or not. The Rounders and the Tallers (2020) and The Jellies and the Crunchers (2020) are thematically linked fantasies designed for the younger Young Adult market.

More conspicuously ambitious than his previous work, Appleseed (2021) is constructed as a panorama through time depicting the fate of an America whose Utopian aspirations are again and again betrayed by the incapacity of modern Homo sapiens to refrain from self-privileging exploitation of the planet. The first section, which focuses on John (Johnny Appleseed) Chapman (1774-1845), imagines gardens blooming in a "wilderness" at the verge of suffering domestication; then, in the Near Future, an agribusiness empire poisons the planet through excesses of supposedly benevolent Genetic Engineering; finally, in a desolate Ruined Earth landscape, "entities" scour frozen deserts for traces of extractable life, with muted success. [JC]

Matt Bell

born Saginaw, Michigan: 29 August 1980


collections and stories

nonfiction (selected)


previous versions of this entry

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