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Darbyshire, Peter

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1967-    ) Canadian journalist and author who began to publish work of genre interest with "The Roadkill Man" for On Spec in March 1995. Most of his work under his own name – including three novels, Please (2003), The Warhol Gang (2010) and I'd Never Been Shot for Real Before (2014 ebook) – presents hallucinated but essentially nonfantastic visions of urban life, though the descriptions of Virtual Reality mazes at the heart of the contemporary Media Landscape in The Warhol Gang edge into more dangerous territory.

Writing as by Peter Roman, Darbyshire is of some sf interest for the Book of Cross sequence, comprising The Mona Lisa Sacrifice: Book One of the Book of Cross (2013), The Dead Hamlets (2015) and The Apocalypse Ark (2016). The gonzo Equipoise of the telling of the life of the Immortal Cross, an Antihero Reincarnation of the dead Christ, is evoked through some productive clashes between fantasy, horror and sf topoi; the three tales to date, though essentially capers, occasionally edge into more transgressive realms of Fantastika. In The Mona Lisa Sacrifice, Cross combats the Trickster God Judas [for Gods and Trickster, see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below], whose antipathy to humanity is fundamental. In The Dead Hamlets what may be the suborned ghost of William Shakespeare has been killing the residents of Faerie, who had established Wainscot Society enclaves in this world; Alice, from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland (1865), makes an appearance.

The sequence edges closer to the gravity of the world in The Apocalypse Ark, where the Biblical Noah, here transformed into a maddened version of the Flying Dutchman figure (see Wandering Jew), roams the seas in search of those of God's creations he deems monstrous, in order to kill them. Captain Nemo, from Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea (1870) and its sequels, appears in passages from Under the Sea, as, it seems, does Atlantis. Moments of routine frivolity, told in a hardboiled first-person voice, only occasionally mar the flow. [JC]

Peter Darbyshire

born 1967



The Book of Cross

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