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Lynn, Elizabeth A

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1946-    ) US author who began to publish work of sf interest with "We All Have to Go" in the crime fiction anthology Tricks and Treats (anth 1976) edited by Joe Gores and Bill Pronzini. This was assembled with other early work in The Woman Who Loved the Moon and Other Stories (coll 1981), whose contents were selected for Tales from a Vanished Country (coll 1990), which also includes The Red Hawk (1984 chap). Her early sf stories and her first novel, A Different Light (1978), share certain assumptions about the nature of the Universe, including the existence of Hyperspace, used here both to facilitate storytelling and as an existential cusp for her protagonists – like the cancer-stricken artist in the novel, who must decide whether or not to seize the day by travelling where he needs to go by hyperspace, even though such travel will mortally intensify his illness. In her second and best-received novel, The Sardonyx Net (1981), Lynn applies a similar ironic torsion to a tale whose moral premises seem initially unproblematic – Slavery is bad for a planet, Drugs are bad for society, sadism is bad for the soul – but which become significantly less clearcut in the telling. Although the slavery which obtains in one mercenary planet in the Galaxy is never justified, its operations are seen as complexly interactive; and the sadism of the captain and slavetrader turns out to express so vividly his violated inner state that he almost becomes the protagonist of the book. Throughout her early sf, and in later tales as well, gay characters are clearly (though often undemonstratingly) featured, and her work has been seen as both exemplary in itself and useful (because of its clarity) for the study of Feminism in sf, and for Gender issues overall.

Most of her remaining work – beginning with the effective Chronicles of Tornor sequence, comprising Watchtower (1979), The Dancers of Arun (1979) and The Northern Girl (1980) – has been fantasy, and as the 1980s progressed she wrote less and less sf. The Karadur Atani/Crimson Dragon sequence, comprising Dragon's Winter (1988) and Dragon's Treasure (2004), offers a sophisticated interplay between twins separated by their blood (one dragonish, the other wizardish), in a fairly recognizable Secondary World venue. Given the sophisticated use to which she has put conventional sf-adventure plots and venues, and her continued grasp of fantastic modes as open to illuminating interrogations, her slow departure from sf continues to seem regrettable. [JC]

Elizabeth A Lynn

born New York: 8 June 1946



Chronicles of Tornor

Karadur Atani/Crimson Dragon

  • Dragon's Winter (London: Macmillan, 1988) [Karadur Atani/Crimson Dragon: hb/Jon Sullivan]
  • Dragon's Treasure (New York: Pan Macmillan/Tor, 2004) [Karadur Atani/Crimson Dragon: hb/Steve Stone]

individual titles



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