Entry updated 9 January 2023. Tagged: Author.
(1960- ) UK author resident in the US from 1989; married to Kelley Eskridge. She began publishing work of genre interest with "An Other Winter's Tale" for Network in Autumn 1987, and attracted wide attention with her first novel, Ammonite (1993), a late and sophisticated traversal of the themes – and the venues through which those themes have typically been expressed – of Feminism in sf. Her female protagonist, who is both agent and victim of an interstellar, imperialist, capitalistic, male-dominated government, is charged to investigate a planet inhabited only by women, because a mysterious virus kills off any males who land there. The protagonist gradually comes to understand the lesbian culture of the planet Jeep – which at points resembles the culture of Whileaway used by Joanna Russ in more than one work – and concurrently comes to realize the transgressive nature of her own sexuality. While men do occupy the background (i.e. surrounding space) and threaten to sterilize Jeep for fear of the virus, the overall feel of Ammonite is that of lessons about human nature learned, and taught, without grievance; and preserved. It won the James Tiptree Jr Award in 1994. Four of her novels have won Lambda Awards (not listed here).
Most of Griffith's subsequent work has not been sf, though Slow River (1995), which won a Nebula award, depicts a Near Future Britain only subliminally, though tellingly, distinct from the present day: the urban Ecology of the East Yorkshire city of Hull being depicted through a remarkably intense narrative analysis of tomorrow's waste management techniques; the tale clearly prophesies the world of Cities only a decade or so later. The plot is humane but at times contorted. The Blue Place (1998) is associational, as are Stay (2002) and Always (2007), all of which share the same protagonist; few of the stories assembled in With Her Body (coll 2004) are of direct sf interest; And Now We Are Going to Have a Party: Liner Notes to a Writer's Early Life (2007 5vols) is a set of interlinked memoirs; Hild (2015) is an historical novel about the young life of Saint Hilda of Whitby, with debatable fantasy elements. The protagonist of So Lucky (2018) suffers from multiple sclerosis, a consequence of which may be the ability, through her peripheral vision (see Perception), to catch sight of an inimical supernatural being. The version of the Matter of Britain addressed in Spear (2022) sets the Arthurian material focused upon – centrally Arthur himself; the female protagonist Peredur who is also known, passing for male, as Perceval or Parsifal; and the "Holy" Grail – in sixth-century Wales [for Arthur, Grail, Matter and Perceval see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy below].
Griffith's three Original Anthologies – the Bending the Landscape sequence which includes Bending the Landscape: Science Fiction (anth 1998) with Stephen Pagel – work as a useful corrective to an assumption that the literatures of the fantastic in America shy clear of Gender issues. There is an amused intensity in Griffith's take on issues of Gender, and a narrative assurance in her choice of modes through which to convey her concerns, that mark her as one of the beneficiaries of the freedoms of the fantastic who has more than amply repaid the gift. [JC]
born Leeds, West Yorkshire: 30 September 1960
- Ammonite (New York: Ballantine Books/Del Rey, 1993) [pb/Bruce Jensen]
- Slow River (New York: Ballantine Books/Del Rey, 1995) [hb/David Stevenson]
- The Blue Place (New York: Avonbooks, 1998) [hb/Amy Halperin]
- Stay (New York: Doubleday/Nan A Talese, 2002) [hb/Terry Karides]
- Always (New York: Riverhead Books, 2007) [hb/Nellys Li]
- Hild (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015) [hb/Anna and Elena Balbusso]
- So Lucky (New York: MCD X FSG, 2018) [pb/]
- Spear (New York: Tordotcom, 2022) [hb/Rovina Cai]
collections and stories
- With Her Body: Short Fiction (Seattle, Washington: Aqueduct Press, 2004) [coll: in the publisher's Conversation Pieces series: pb/Lynne Jensen Lampe]
- Cold Wind (New York: Tor.com, 2014) [novelette: ebook: first appeared 16 April 2014 Tor.com: na/Sam Wolfe Connelly]
- And Now We Are Going to Have a Party: Liner Notes to a Writer's Early Life (Seattle, Washington: Payseur and Schmidt, 2007) [nonfiction: published within descriptive box in five volumes: "Limb of Satan", "We Have Met the Alien", "Dear Diary", "Something New" and "The Writer's Life": illus/pb/Jacob McMurray]
works as editor
Bending the Landscape
- Bending the Landscape: Fantasy (Stone Mountain, Georgia: White Wolf, 1997) with Stephen Pagel [anth: Bending the Landscape: hb/Kevin Murphy]
- Bending the Landscape: Science Fiction (Woodstock, New York: Overlook Press, 1998) with Stephen Pagel [anth: Bending the Landscape: hb/J K Potter]
- Bending the Landscape: Horror (Woodstock, New York: Overlook Press, 2001) with Stephen Pagel [anth: Bending the Landscape: hb/J K Potter]
- Nicola Griffith
- Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- The Encyclopedia of Fantasy: Arthur; Grail; Matter; Perceval.
- Picture Gallery
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