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Mella, John

Entry updated 12 August 2018. Tagged: Author.

(circa 1942-2012) US editor – founder of Light: A Quarterly of Light Verse in 1992, which he edited until his death – and author. Transformations (fixup 1975) is an Alternate-History tale about the quest for a transvestite actor, set in a nineteenth- and twentieth-century USA and Europe transfigured by Time Distortions (the narrator, WS or William Shakespeare, does not die until a movable 1916) and geography; the two continents have been arbitrarily merged, and are haunted by Hollywood (see California). A Fabulation dense with Equipoisal shift, and quotations – from authors extending from Shakespeare himself through Jonathan Swift, Villiers de L'Isle-Adam and W B Yeats down to the Vladimir Nabokov of Pale Fire (1962) and Ada (1969) – Transformations also has clear affinities to the 1970s Jerry Cornelius novels by Michael Moorcock, and Mella's tale presages 1980s literary sf by writers like Angela Carter, Steve Erickson and David Thomson. Most significantly for sf, perhaps, is the similarity between Mella's vision of the UK – a dark, Labyrinth-riddled land, half antique, half transformed by extraordinary inventions – and that typically presented by the writers of Steampunk. [JC]

John Mella

born Chicago, Illinois: circa 1942

died Chicago, Illinois: 16 April 2012


  • Transformations (Chicago, Illinois: Chicago Review Press, 1975) [hb/Joseph Aldefer]


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