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Percy, Benjamin

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1979-    ) US teacher and author whose first works, focusing intensely on the hard wildness of inland, desert Oregon, had no direct fantastic content, though in some, like "The Woods" (February 2005 Amazing), his first tale of genre interest, that intensity of vision shifted comfortably into the supernatural. His first novel, The Wilding (2011), again with considerable force, conflates the latent violence inherent to an endangered portion of Oregon with clearly less conscionable expressions of human spirit in acts of transgression. Red Moon (2013), set in an Alternate World America, politicizes the Werewolf topos by treating them as the equivalent of innocent Moslems after 9/11. The significance of the tale as Satire and moral lesson is, at times, more than clear.

From the first, The Dead Lands (2015) signals a clear and successful intent to be understood in terms distinct from the usual Near Future Dystopia set in a City ruled by a talkative dictator and surrounded by badlands. All these circumstances obtain, but the protagonists of the tale – whose names are Lewis Meriwether and Wilhelmina Clark – after escaping the claustrophobic Keep at the heart of post-Disaster St Louis re-enact parts of the 1803 Lewis and Clark Expedition, in the course of which the Wilderness beyond America became visible. The ironies of this measurement and inevitable "ownership" of the wild world are encompassed within The Dead Lands, as well as more hopeful markers of human freedom west of Missouri. Percy has described the initial Keep setting for this novel as an ideal venue for what he calls the "fishbowl story", a term particularly applicable to various novels by Stephen KingUnder the Dome (2009) being perhaps the most obvious instance – which have provided models for Percy and others.

The individual tales in Comet Cycle, beginning with The Ninth Metal (2021), variously (see Fantastika) unpack the consequences of a Near Future Disaster, a meteor fall which radically intensifies the speed of Climate Change. In The Unfamiliar Garden (2022), the second, densely told novel in the sequence, a thriller plot with family-romance implications intertwines with a narrative of the unpacking of a further disaster, the spread of a Pandemic-causing fungus. [JC]

Benjamin Percy

born Eugene, Oregon: 28 March 1979



Comet Cycle

  • The Ninth Metal (New York: Harper Collins Mariner, 2021) [Comet Cycle: hb/Chrissy Kurpeski]
  • The Unfamiliar Garden (New York: Harper Collins Mariner, 2022) [Comet Cycle: hb/Chrissy Kurpeski]
  • The Sky Vault (New York: Harper Collins Mariner, 2022) [Comet Cycle: hb/Chrissy Kurpeski]

individual titles

  • Refresh, Refresh: A Graphic Novel (New York: First Second, 2009) [graph: Percy's original story first appeared Winter 2005/2006 The Paris Review: illus/Danica Novgorodoff, James Ponsoldt and Hilary Sycamore: pb/]
  • The Wilding (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Graywolf Press, 2010) [hb/]
  • Red Moon (New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2013) [hb/]
  • The Dead Lands (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 2015) [hb/asmithcompany/Getty]
  • The Dark Net (Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017) [hb/]


  • The Language of Elk (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2006) [coll: pb/]
  • The Dark Net (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017) [coll: hb/]
  • Suicide Woods (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Graywolf Press, 2019) [coll: pb/]



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