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Cobley, Michael

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1959-    ) UK author long resident in Scotland. His first books, the Shadowkings trilogy beginning with Shadowkings (2001), were fantasy. However, the subsequent Humanity's Fire trilogy – comprising Seeds of Earth (2009), The Orphaned Worlds (2010) and The Ascendant Stars (2011) – is full-blooded Space Opera of considerable scope and ambition. Its starting point is that First Contact turns into a devastating rout for humanity, forcing emigration from Earth. Exiled on the planet Darien (see Colonization of Other Worlds), they discover galactic secrets and become involved in a human/machine War. Cobley's grasp of the tropes of his chosen field is impressive, from AIs to Gaia and the Singularity. Ancestral Machines (2016) is a standalone novel set in the Humanity's Fire universe, featuring a kind of Macrostructure comprising 200 worlds and an artificial sun; Splintered Suns (2018), set in the same universe, features a heist and at least one ancient artefact.

Cobley's short fiction was collected in Iron Mosaic (coll 2004), and demonstrates the considerable range of his interests. At this point in his career, Cobley can be understood as part of the British tradition of large-scale sf epitomized by Alastair Reynolds and Iain M Banks. In future, his energy may well find wider fields of play. [GS]

see also: New Moon Quarterly.

Michael R A Cobley

born Leicester, Leicestershire: 10 October 1959




Humanity's Fire


  • Iron Mosaic (Stafford, Staffordshire: Immarion Press, 2004) [coll: hb/Bruce Wells]

works as editor


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