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Engh, M J

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1933-    ) US librarian and author whose first sf novel, Arslan (1976; vt A Wind from Bukhara 1989), established a strong underground reputation in its first incarnation as a paperback original; a hardbound edition was released a decade later. Arslan, a young warlord from Near-Future Turkestan, has enigmatically conquered both the USA and the USSR. He personally occupies the small Illinois town of Kraftsville, mentally and physically seducing a teenage boy while at the same time driving the book's protagonist into a state of powerful ambivalence about the cunning rape of his land. The book is subtle, seductive and very frightening. The House in the Snow (1987) is a juvenile of marginal interest. Wheel of the Winds (1988), a complex Planetary Romance set on an alien world and told from an Alien perspective, perhaps inevitably lacks the hypnotic grip of Arslan, but the deadpan narrative "face" of this superficially cold novel conceals layers of passion. The main Conceptual Breakthroughs offered by the novel will be those experienced by the reader. Rainbow Man (1993) incorporates a sharp Satire on Religion into a tale whose star-hopping female protagonist displays an implausible and incorrigible innocence in the face of extremely clear warnings about the rigidly fundamentalist nature of the society she has (rather implausibly) decided to make her home (see Gender; Religion); but in the end she does manage to escape the place.

In 2009 Engh was honoured by SFWA as Author Emerita (see SFWA Grand Master Award). [JC]

Mary Jane Engh

born McLeansboro, Illinois: 26 January 1933



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