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Hall, Sarah

Entry updated 17 January 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1974-    ) UK author whose second novel, The Electric Michelangelo (2004), skirts Fantastika through the life story of a tattooist. Of direct sf interest is her third novel, The Carhullan Army (2007), comprises the fragmented record (laid down long before its discovery) of a young woman brought up in a Near Future British Dystopia where women are scapegoated (see Women in SF); she escapes into the Lake District, where a commune of Feminists and environmental activists has evolved into a revolutionary cadre. The depiction of their determined though hardscrabble life is vivid, tough, assured; less assured is a hint of some hope for them and for Britain as the novel closes at a point of fracture. It won the James Tiptree Jr Award. The Wolf Border (2015) is set in a less conspicuously foregrounded Near Future, though the existence of an independent Scotland, where the privatizing of the land that had asphyxiated England has been countered, genuinely opens the story to the real world. That story, whose protagonist is involved in the reintroduction of wolves to England, modestly intersects with the outward gaze of its setting. Burntcoat (2021) savagely breaks in two halfway through: the first part of the tale detailedly follows the life of an artist and her family, her success signalled by her purchase of the eponymous live-in workshop; then a very Near Future Pandemic, which begins fairly slowly, becomes universally virulent, killing huge numbers outright, a Disaster which radically changes the world, perhaps for good.

Mrs Fox (in The BBC National Short Story Award 2013, anth 2013; 2014 chap) is a reworking of David Garnett's Lady Into Fox (1922); with other tales, including two Dystopian efforts in the mode of the Carhullan Army (see above), it was also assembled as Madame Zero (coll 2017). [JC]

Sarah Hall

born Carlisle, Cumbria: 1974

works (selected)

collections and stories

  • Mrs Fox (London: Faber and Faber, 2014) [novelette: chap: first appeared in The BBC National Short Story Award 2013 (anth 2013): pb/]
  • Madame Zero (London: Faber and Faber, 2017) [coll: pb/]
  • Sudden Traveler (New York: HarperCollins/Custom House, 2019) [coll: hb/Mumtaz Mustafa]


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