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Marley, Louise

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1952-    ) US musician and author who has also written as by Toby Bishop and as by Cate Campbell, the latter pseudonym used for historical romances [not listed below]; she began to publish work of genre interest with "Body and Blood" in Divine Realms (anth 1998) edited by Susan MacGregor, which was assembled with other early work as Absalom's Mother & Other Stories (coll 2007). Much of her work is fantasy and romance, though her first series, the Planetary Romance Singers of Nevya sequence beginning with Sing the Light (1995) is Science Fantasy set on an ice planet, the rigours of whose Great Year, caused by the binary Suns it orbits, threaten its human inhabitants (see Colonization of Other Worlds). Fortunately the Mutant Gift Singers are able to use their powers of Telepathy and Telekinesis to keep the colonists alive, through a modified form of singing (see Music). Marley, a professional opera singer, has interwoven musical themes into much of her work since, though it is not evident in her second series, which is fantasy, the Young Adult Horsemistress Saga as by Toby Bishop, beginning with Airs Beneath the Moon (2007), set in a world where – in a sense reconverting dragons back to ponies – winged horses exist, create lifetime bonds with only one female, and are owned by royalty.

Marley's first singleton, The Terrorists of Irustan (1999) is of sf interest; set on the eponymous desert planet, where male colonists (see Colonization of Other Worlds) have maintained an intense Religion-sanctioned hegemony over females (see Feminism; Women in SF); the darkness of the tale is somewhat alleviated through the gradual empowerment of its female protagonists, who begin to fight back. The Maquisarde (2001) – set in a Near Future Paris at the heart of a Europe which has barricaded itself against the world's poor pressing northwards from the heart of the devastated planet – sharply prefigures Wolfgang Jeschke's Das Cusanus-Spiel (2005; trans Ross Benjamin as The Cusanus Game 2013), though it ends of a more hopeful note. The Child Goddess (2004) is again set on a colony planet, in this case one abandoned long enough for apparent mutations (see Mutants) to generate a Pariah Elite of abhorred Immortals; the anthropologist protagonist, on arriving there, must attempt to frustrate the attempts of an interstellar corporation to monetize these internal exiles.

Of less direct sf interest, though clearly told within an arguably sf frame, are several novels about music. The Glass Harmonica (2000) is a Timeslip tale set both in the eighteenth century, with a focus on the glass harmonica's actual inventor Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), and in Near Future Seattle, where a young prodigy struggles both with the instrument and the young girl whose life in Franklin's time elicits some sharp Feminist discourse. Further novels involving genuine musical figures and contemporary dramas include Mozart's Blood (2010), The Brahms Deception (2011) and The Glass Butterfly (2012) (the composer here being Puccini). Marley is an author of very considerable intelligence, the sharpness of whose work is sometimes obscured by the seeming gentleness with which she addresses pressing issues. [JC]

Louise Marley

born Ross, California: 15 August 1952



Singers of Nevya

Horsemistress Saga

  • Airs Beneath the Moon (New York: Ace Books, 2007) [an ebook version may precede: Horsemistress Saga: pb/Allen Douglas]
  • Airs and Graces (New York: Ace Books, 2008) [an ebook version may precede: Horsemistress Saga: pb/Allen Douglas]
  • Airs of Night and Sea (New York: Ace Books, 2009) [an ebook version may precede: Horsemistress Saga: pb/Allen Douglas]

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