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Kilian, Crawford

Entry updated 25 October 2021. Tagged: Author.

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(1941-    ) US-born teacher and author, in Canada from 1967 and a Canadian citizen from 1973 who began publishing work of genre interest with a fantasy for younger children, Wonders, Inc. (1968 chap). He began to publish sf with the first volume of his complex Chronoplane Wars sequence, The Empire of Time (1978), which continued after a gap of years with The Fall of the Republic (1987) and Rogue Emperor: A Novel of the Chronoplane Wars (1988). The protagonist of the series is a Mutant (see Superman) with the ability, along with those similar to him, to absorb knowledge almost instantly; he is faced with a world that demands the most of this ability: in a savagely declining Near-Future America, the Discovery of portals into eleven "chronoplanes" – nine of them being Alternate World versions of Earth history, two of them being desolate, Ruined Earth future eras – inspires the creation of an intrusive time patrol (see Time Police), into which he is recruited. The sequence revolves less around the avoiding of the Disaster that has afflicted future Earths than it does around the ethical conflicts between the protagonist and his interventionist agency, and in the third volume between the protagonist's team and a fundamentalist Christian cadre attempting to change the history of first-century CE Rome, resulting in a genuine Changewar.

Kilian's second sequence, the Icequake series comprising Icequake (1979) and Tsunami (1983), depicts a Near Future world where – after the disappearance of Earth's magnetic field and the eponymous Disaster in Antarctica – violent Climate Change occurs. A group of scientists attempts to survive; and in the second volume, after San Francisco is destroyed (see California), another grouping attempts to maintain civilization in the decimated new world. A third series, comprising Greenmagic (1992) and Redmagic (1996), is fantasy.

Singletons include Eyas (1982), a complicated Far Future tale whose all the fantasy-like exorbitances settle into sf explanations: Genetic Engineering and Terraforming games from long ago have created a florid world in which the eponymous hero must attempt to create a civil society. Brother Jonathan (1985; rev 1995) is a Satire set in the Near Future America dominated by ruthless corporations; experiments in human-animal interfaces, and the oppression of AIs (known as turings), lead to a sometime melodramatic conclusion. Lifter (1986; rev 1992) is a Young Adult novel whose protagonist, suddenly capable of levitation (see Antigravity; Psi Powers), must sort out his life in a precarious world; the structure of the book hearkens, almost certainly deliberately, back to Robert A Heinlein. And Gryphon (1989) is, among other things, a First Contact tale, an Invasion novel and a Space Opera, all set in a Ruined Earth (and elsewhere) facing the threat of imposed species Transcendence under the control of an Alien fundamentalism.

Kilian's work can be analysed in terms of its Canadianness: an emphasis on themes of survival (see Canada); a meliorist mindset. But despite the genuine interest of his arguments, and his clearly articulated advocacy of a less oppressive world, he slips too often into generic dogpaddling – digressive action sequences are common – and his underlying concerns are sometimes deafened. [JC]

Crawford Kilian

born New York: 7 February 1941



Chronoplane Wars


  • Icequake (Vancouver, British Columbia: Douglas and McIntyre, 1979) [Icequake: hb/John Long]
  • Tsunami (Vancouver, British Columbia: Douglas and McIntyre, 1983) [Icequake: hb/Ken Steacy]


  • Greenmagic (New York: Ballantine Books/Del Rey, 1992) [Greenmagic: pb/Romas B Kukalis]
  • Redmagic (New York: Ballantine Books/Del Rey, 1996) [Greenmagic: pb/Mark Harrison]

individual titles

  • Wonders, Inc. (Berkeley, California: Parnassus Press, 1968) [story: chap: hb/John Larrecq]
  • Eyas (Toronto, Ontario: McClelland and Stewart/Seal Books, 1982) [pb/]
  • Brother Jonathan (New York: Ace Books, 1985) [pb/Tricia Zimic]
    • Brother Jonathan (Vancouver, British Columbia: Beach Holme, 1995) [rev of the above: pb/]
  • Lifter (New York: Ace Books, 1985) [pb/James Warhola]
    • Lifter (Vancouver, British Columbia: Beach Holme, 1992) [rev of the above: pb/]
  • Gryphon (New York: Ballantine Books/Del Rey, 1989) [pb/Stephen Hickman]



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