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Harrow, Alix E

Entry updated 11 October 2021. Tagged: Author.

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(1989-    ) US author who began to publish work of genre interest with "A Whisper in the Weld" in Shimmer for November 2014; The Autobiography of a Traitor and a Half-Savage (2016 ebook), a novelette, is set in an Alternate World version of a reality where the land itself organically intertwines with the maps that attempt to draw it; she won a Hugo award for "A Witch's Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies" in Apex Magazine for February 2018.

Harrow's first novel, The Ten Thousand Doors of January (2019), serves both as an exploration of a world similar to C S Lewis's Narnia while at the same time examining, with some metafictional estrangements, a range of cultural precepts (see Imperialism; Women in SF; Race in SF) that may underly tales in which penetrating a Portal [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below] is felt as empowering. Her traversal through various worlds, some sf-like, some of them Wonderlands, is fluently Equipoisal (see also Fantastika). The influence of Ursula K Le Guin's Changing Planes (coll of linked stories 2003) may be detected here; but Harrow's use of nested stories told by narrators variously connected to the primary protagonist January Scaller is distinctive. Her command of the stories she lives through gives some sense, well before the end of the tale, that the ten thousand portals – here called Doors – are subject to her telling them.

Her second novel, The Once and Future Witches (2020), does not – despite its cover, which channels at least one reprint of The Once and Future King (1958) – subject T H White to the same interrogation. Set in an Alternate History version of relatively recent Europe, the tale conflates witches (see Feminism) and suffragettes: the anger a twenty-first century author might feel dealing with either is here cogently shaped into a positive outcome for both. Harrow has published some nonfiction as by Alix Heintzman. [JC]

Alix E Harrow

born Idaho: 9 November 1989

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