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Butler, Jack

Entry updated 13 September 2021. Tagged: Author.

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(1944-    ) US author and college teacher, much of whose fiction – like his first novel, Jujitsu for Christ (1986) – has dealt in non-fantastic terms with his native US South, though always with a sometimes gonzo sense that the envelope of mimesis must be pushed to capture his native territory. In this he is similar to southern regionalists such as Fred Chappell and Donald Harington, but is more inclined to opt for sf effects, as in his second novel, Nightshade (1989), a bravura and literate Near Future sf novel combining an effective presentation of early twenty-first-century human settlements on Mars with a scientific rationale for Vampires – plus an examination of AI. Dreamer (1998), set at the end of the twentieth century, reintroduces some characters – mainly the argumentative vampire – from the previous book, but its protagonist, the quaintly named Jody Nightwood, a dream researcher whose work, by impacting on AI research, justifies intrusive shenanigans from various government agencies. Although these tales show a sophisticated knowledge of contemporary sf, Butler's publishers marketed them for a non-genre audience; nor were they likely to be mistaken in also addressing the vast Southern Gothic, Living in Little Rock With Miss Little Rock (1993), which is narrated by the Holy Ghost, to the same readership. [GF/JC]

Jack Armand Butler

born Alligator, Mississippi: 8 May 1944

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