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Preston, Peter

Entry updated 12 August 2018. Tagged: Author.

(1938-2018) UK journalist, editor and author, active in the UK newspaper world from 1959, most prominently as editor of the Guardian 1975-1995; he remained active in executive and other functions with the Guardian group of newspapers, and published actively until his death. Preston is of sf interest for two novels. 51st State (1998) is a Near Future Satire in which an increasingly dysfunctional Britain leaves the European Union and becomes America's 51st state; the plot, in which the UK premier becomes president after the incumbent's death, is perhaps less prescient than the underlying premise. Bess (1999), set further into the Near Future, focuses on the life of a new monarch, the teenaged Bess, elevated to the throne after an air crash has wiped out her elders. The machinations of those around her are treated in sometimes savage Satirical terms. Preston was an uneasy stylist as an author of fiction; but his two novels remain memorable for their grasp of the world to come. [JC]

Peter John Preston

born Barrow upon Soar, Leicestershire: 23 May 1938

died 6 January 2018

works (selected)

  • 51st State (London: Viking UK, 1998) [hb/]
  • Bess (London: Viking UK, 1999) [hb/]


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