Search SFE    Search EoF

  Omit cross-reference entries  

Kilworth, Garry

Entry updated 14 November 2022. Tagged: Author.

Icon made by Freepik from


(1941-    ) UK author who began to publish sf and fantasy stories and novels in the mid-1970s, having retired after eighteen years' service as a cryptographer in the RAF; raised partly in Aden, he has travelled and worked in the Far East and the Pacific; he has also published as by Richard Argent, Garry Douglas, Kim Hunter and F K Salwood [a name used for historical novels, not listed below; nor is the Jack Crossman series of historical adventures as by G D Kilworth listed below]. He began to publish work of genre interest with "Let's Go to Golgotha!" in the Sunday Times Weekly Review for 15 December 1974, this ironic tale of Time Travel (which see) having won an associated competition. Most of his many stories have been assembled in various collections [for full titles see checklist below] including The Songbirds of Pain (coll 1984), In the Hollow of the Deep-Sea Wave (coll 1989), Dark Hills, Hollow Clocks: Stories from the Otherworld (1990), In the Country of Tattooed Men (coll 1993), Hogfoot Right and Bird-Hands (coll 1993), Moby Jack and Other Tall Tales (coll 2006), Tales from the Fragrant Harbour (coll 2010), Phoenix Man (coll 2011 ebook; exp vt The Fabulous Beast 2013), The Best Short Stories of Garry Kilworth (coll 2016), ­Elemetal Tales (coll 2019) and Blood Moon (coll 2021).

Kilworth's first sf novel, In Solitary (1977), is set on an Earth whose few remaining humans have for over 400 years been dominated by birdlike Aliens, and deals with a human rebellion whose moral impact is ambiguous; the novel is the first of several combining generic adventurousness – indeed opportunism, for Kilworth seldom accords his full attention to the raw sf elements in his tales – and an identifiably English dubiety about the roots of human action. Consequences of such action in a Kilworth novel are seldom simple, rarely flattering, usually ironized. The Night of Kadar (1978) places humans whose culture has an Islamic coloration and who are hatched from frozen embryos, on an alien planet where they must attempt to understand their own nature; Split Second (1979) similarly incarcerates a contemporary human via Timeslip in the mind of a Cro-Magnon; Gemini God (1981) again uses aliens to reflect the human condition; and A Theatre of Timesmiths (1984) isolates a human society in an ice-enclosed city (see Pocket Universe) as Computers fail and questions about the meaning of human life must be asked, by a protagonist so isolated from this restricted environment that her Perception of that world becomes problematic. After a break – during which he wrote two landscape-dominated nonfantastic novels, Witchwater Country (1986) and Spiral Winds (1987) – Kilworth returned to some further coercive sf landscapes in Cloudrock (1988), which pits brothers – he often evokes kinship intimacies in his work, of whatever category – against themselves and each other in a further pocket-universe setting. Abandonati (1988), set in a desolate Near-Future London, reflects grittily upon the implications for the UK of the last decades of the twentieth century.

At the end of the 1980s, in what turned out to be a lasting break with his sf career, Kilworth began to publish primarily in other genres, beginning prominently with three Animal Fantasies [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below]; they are Hunter's Moon: A Story of Foxes (1989; vt The Foxes of First Dark 1990), Midnight's Sun: A Story of Wolves (1990) and Frost Dancers: A Story of Hares (1992), in all of which nonhuman terrestrial life is scrutinized with an unblinking eye. He also moved into contemporary Horror with Angel (1993) and its sequel, Archangel (1994). The impressive Navigator Kings sequence, comprising The Roof of Voyaging (1996), The Princely Flower (1997) and Land-of-Mists (1998), is fantasy, drawing on Polynesian material in an Alternate World geography where Britain occupies the position of New Zealand. At the same time, he began publishing Young Adult fantasy in quantity, with more than twenty-five titles since 1990. This became his main focus as a writer.

It may be that, as an sf author, Kilworth found himself incapable of ignoring a clearly realistic but ultimately dispiriting sense of the constrictions of the actual world. There is very little escape in Kilworth's sf, unlike his fantasy or his Young Adult work in general, though the late The Sometimes Spurious Travels Through Space and Time of James Ovit (2016) is a Time Opera that plays lightly with Time Travel to the past and the future. It is fortunate that, in his career, he has been able to work out modes of storytelling that provide, perhaps deceivingly, some narrative egress. Fortunately, his very considerable skills have been exuberantly utilized for over two decades providing that gift. [JC]

see also: Christ; Interzone; Islands; Religion.

Garry Douglas Kilworth

born York, Yorkshire: 5 July 1941

works for adults (selected)



  • Angel (London: Victor Gollancz, 1993) [Angel: hb/Peter Mennim]
  • Archangel (London: Victor Gollancz, 1994) [Angel: hb/Peter Mennim]

The Navigator Kings

The Red Pavilions

individual titles

collections and stories

works for young adults



Hotwire and Blindboy

  • The Electric Kid (London: Bantam Press, 1996) [Hotwire and Blindboy: pb/John Avon]
  • Cybercats (London: Bantam Press, 1996) [Hotwire and Blindboy: pb/Paul Young]

Welkin Weasels

Knights of Liöfwende

individual titles



previous versions of this entry

This website uses cookies.  More information here. Accept Cookies