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Pears, Iain

Entry updated 26 October 2021. Tagged: Author.

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(1955-    ) UK art historian and author, perhaps best known for his Jonathan Argyll series of nonfantastic detective novels featuring an art historian [not listed below]. His most influential singleton, An Instance of the Fingerpost (1997), scrutinizes the same seventeenth-century intellectual revolution focused on by Neal Stephenson in his Baroque Trilogy: the metaphysics and politics attending the shift from mediaeval philosophies of science to "the scientific method". Of sf interest is Arcadia (2015 ebook; 2015 paper text varies), constructed as typical of this author as a series of interlocking narratives set at different times. In Arcadia three narratives dominate: in a Near Future Dystopia a researcher develops a Time Machine, travelling in it to the period of World War Two, where she has an affair with the central figure of the second narrative strand, an Oxford don who with his colleagues in the 1960s emulates the Inklings – mainly C S Lewis and J R R Tolkien – in the creation of an archaic Utopia known as Anterworld. Complicatedly, Anterworld takes on a kind of reality, perhaps generated through the operations of the time machine; in this world, literary echoes of William Shakespeare's work – and intricate plays with The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia (1590; corrected text 1593) by Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586) – counterpoint plays of interpolation amongst all three "realities" on view. A Gamebook-like Hypertext version, presenting a late twentieth-century "sophistication" of the nature of narrative, exists. [JC]

Iain Pears

born Coventry, Warwickshire [now West Midlands]: 1955

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