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Leigh, Stephen

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1951-    ) US author and musician who began publishing sf with "A Rain of Pebbles" in Analog for April 1977, and who sometimes releases short stories as Lee Stevens. The first novel of his NewEden sequence – Slow Fall to Dawn (1981), Dance of the Hag (1983) and A Quiet of Stone (1984) – brought him into some prominence through its depiction of the attractive feudal culture obtaining upon the eponymous planet, whose name seemed, initially, only moderately ironic. Later episodes, however, demonstrate the fragility of Neweden mores in a Space-Opera context that dissipates the network of mutual obligations which makes the assassins' guild at the sequence's heart so attractive a vehicle for sf adventures. Further novels of interest include: The Bones of God (1986), an interplanetary tale pitting a solitary prophet against the oppressive Judeo-Christian Religion that dominates Old Earth; The Crystal Memory (1987), a complex novel in which problems typical of sf adventures – a female space-freighter pilot attempts to recover her erased memories and to avenge the death of her young son – are placed in a context featuring interestingly depicted Mars colonies, Alien incursions, Zombies, intrigue and loss; The Abraxas Marvel Circus (1990), a humorous fantasy, choked with variously comic characters and rock musicians, about reviving the dead; Alien Tongue (1991) is a First Contact tale in The Next Wave series of unconnected novels presented by Isaac Asimov, this volume introduced by Rudy Rucker. Leigh has contributed extensively to the Shared World of Wild Cards since its inception in 1986 (latterly writing as S L Farrell), and wrote several Ties in the 1990s. These include the Dinosaur Planet sequence under the aegis of Ray Bradbury, which features Time Travel: all volumes are by Leigh either solo or in collaboration with John J Miller. He returned to his own work with the Dark Water's Embrace sequence comprising Dark Water's Embrace (1998) and The Speaking Stones (1999), set in a lost colony world (see Colonization of Other Worlds) where the population is suffering from birth defects caused by the alien Ecology.

More recently, as Matthew Farrell, he published Thunder Rift (2001), a Space Opera featuring the first penetration of a Wormhole. As S L Farrell, he published the conventional Cloudmages fantasy sequence, beginning with Holder of Lightning (2003); and the rather more interesting Nessantico Cycle comprising A Magic of Twilight (2008) and A Magic of Nightfall (2009), in which Planetary Romance joins with Urban Fantasy – as that term is used in The Encyclopedia of Fantasy, to point to works set in Cities which may themselves be conceived as animate, as part of the story being told. The city of Nessantico is one of those. [JC]

Stephen Walter Leigh

born Cincinnati, Ohio: 27 February 1951




Dark Water's Embrace


  • Holder of Lightning (New York: DAW Books, 2003) as by S L Farrell [Cloudmages: hb/Gordon Crabb]
  • Mage of Clouds (New York: DAW Books, 2005) as by S L Farrell [Cloudmages: hb/Gordon Crabb]
  • Heir of Stone (New York: DAW Books, 2005) as by S L Farrell [Cloudmages: hb/Gordon Crabb]

Nessantico Cycle

Sunpath Cycle

individual titles

ties and shared world titles


Dinosaur Planet

individual titles

collections and stories


previous versions of this entry

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