Entry updated 11 August 2018. Tagged: Author.
(1969- ) London-born software engineer and author, in USA from the age of four, who began publishing work of genre interest with "The Executioner" in Warrior Wisewoman 2 (anth 2009) edited by Roby James. The apparent over-complicatedness of her first novel, Elysium (2014), dissolves in the unpacking of the intricate but lucid story, which is initially set in an unnamed (but identifiable) version of New York, where a trio of figures interact with one another in what seems to be a set of Alternate Worlds but which the reader is soon meant to understand is in fact a set of Thought Experiment environments, some set in the present, some in the past, some in a Near Future world suffering depopulation through what may be Disaster or Alien assault. The cast are Avatars of the voice-over Computer in its long search – a task initiated by Adrian's Secret-Master ancestors (see Godgame) – for a solution to Earth's suicide. These experiments are taking place Underground; the Ruined Earth above has been desert for aeons. Depending on the iteration, characters constantly change sex and the nature of their relationships. The central protagonist, Adrian or Adrianne (see Feminism; Gender; Sex), attempts again and again to save his/her lover Antoine/Antoinette as the devastation intensifies, but always loses him/her (after the model of the historical Hadrian's demented search for his lost Antinous); this loss mirrors the loss of the planet.
Brissett's tale clearly draws on the SF Megatext, including elements from Virginia Woolf's Orlando: A Biography (1928), from Temporal Adventuress passages in various works by Michael Moorcock, from Samuel R Delany in general, from The Matrix (1995); and shares some of the doom-laden urgency of Kate Atkinson's Life After Life (2013). The mix is cogent. [JC]
Jennifer Marie Brissett
born London: 16 February 1969
- Elysium (Seattle, Washington: Aqueduct Press, 2014) [pb/Kathryn Wilham]
previous versions of this entry