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Harris, Rosemary

Entry updated 13 September 2021. Tagged: Author.

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(1923-2019) UK writer who concentrated in her early career on non-fantastic novels for adults, beginning with The Summer-House (1956), but began to publish work of genre interest with "Hamlin" for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in September 1961. Much of her later work for Young Adult readers has been fantasy, beginning with the Reuben sequence comprising The Moon in the Cloud (1968), The Shadow on the Sun (1970) and The Bright and Morning Star (1972). In the first volume, Reuben is tricked by Ham into voyaging into Egypt to acquire animals wanted for Noah's Ark. Luckily, because Ham and his wife have died in the meantime, Reuben and his own wife are allowed on the Ark and survive the Flood; in subsequent volumes they undergo increasingly complex adventures in the service of the Egyptian Pharaoh, the great Merenkere. Much of the overall tale is commented upon by a talking cat named Cefalu [for Cats, Egypt, the Flood, and Talking Animals see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below]. Later fantasy work includes The Seal-Singing (1971), in which the ambiguous influence of an ancestor witch causes some contemporary children to save seals at risk.

Harris is of sf interest for the Orion series comprising A Quest for Orion (1978) and Tower of the Stars (1980), set in a desolately Dystopian Near Future Britain which, after a successful Invasion, is governed by the "Neo-Stalinist 'Freaks'" (ie the Free Association of Kindred States and Nations), which maintains its insanely strict rule through the use of Drugs and a form of thought control (see Telepathy). In the first volume, the young protagonists travel to verboten London in an attempt to rescue a colleague. In the second volume, the tale twists Equipoisally into what may be an Alternate World ruled by figures out of ancient myth; the survivors of the first volume, gaining access to this world through something resembling Timeslip, participate in a defeat of (or at the very least a sidestep around) the terminally diminished Britain which, in the "real" world, may be ruled by fascists forever. [JC]

Rosemary Jeanne Harris

born London: 20 February 1923

died 14 October 2019





individual titles (selected)

  • The Seal-Singing (London: Faber and Faber, 1971) [hb/Antony Maitland]
  • Zed (London: Faber and Faber, 1982) [hb/]

collections and stories (selected)


previous versions of this entry

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