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Gunn, Eileen

Entry updated 7 November 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1945-    ) US editor and author who began publishing work of genre interest with "What Are Friends For?" for Amazing in November 1978, though most of her work of interest dates from at least a decade later; the work assembled in Stable Strategies and Others (coll 2004) is mostly contemporary with or later than "Stable Strategies for Middle Management" (June 1988 Asimov's), while Questionable Practices (coll 2014) assembles later work. The first volume is appositely introduced by William Gibson and given an afterword by Howard Waldrop, two writers whose work represents two of the broad streams of influence she has evolved within: Cyberpunk as a convenient structuring device for her tales of children (see Children in SF) trapped in coercive situations, often fatally to them or their mates; and the surreal combinations of Satire and Fabulation typical of Waldrop's tales of immersion in a dream and/or Alternate World America. Much of Gunn's work, which (totalling around thirty-five stories) is not copious, could not be described as sf. "Stable Strategies for Middle Management", her best-known tale, has been compared by Gary K Wolfe to Franz Kafka and Thomas Ligotti (1953-    ) [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below], for its use of tropes from metamorphic horror to describe the quite literal transmogrifications required of middle management in a corporate environment. The most playfully virtuoso of these transfigurative works may be "Green Fire" (1 January-9 February 1999 Event Horizon) with Andy Duncan, Pat Murphy and Michael Swanwick, in which Isaac Asimov and Robert A Heinlein are translated from their World War Two work into other Dimensions and other stories, with an effect rather like a late Heinlein novel told at its ideal length, as a racy, melancholic scherzo.

As an editor, Gunn founded and ran the influential Online Magazine, The Infinite Matrix (2001-2008). Her longtime partner is John D Berry. [JC]

Eileen Katherine Gunn

born Dorchester, Massachusetts: 23 June 1945


works as editor


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