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Price, Susan

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1955-    ) UK author, mostly of fantasies for younger children and for Young Adult readers, from around 1973. The Ghost World sequence beginning with The Ghost Drum (1987) is a powerful evocation of Arctic cultures, in which shamanistic beliefs (and other elements) are taken as literal descriptions of the world. She is of strong sf interest for two late series. The Sterkarm sequence, comprising The Sterkarm Handshake (1998) and A Sterkarm Kiss (2003), contrasts a twenty-first century Earth distorted by Ecological deterioration, and by a neoliberal Economic system desperate for new territories to appropriate, with an Alternate History version of the disputed lands between England and Scotland. A form of Time Travel allows teams from the future to attempt to exploit the marches – as they enter a different history of the world, they do not risk raping the Earth they travel from – and attempt to manipulate the tough Sterkarm clan; the complex story, which in the second volume incorporates travel to yet another version of the world, exposes a series of moral contrasts and similarities between the two main periods focused on. The love story between a Sterkarm heir and a young woman from the future is exceedingly gritty and sexually explicit (see Sex); the marketing of the sequence as Young Adult may have had a dissuasive effect on the wide potential audience for the long tale.

Price's second series of sf interest – the Odin/Mars sequence comprising Odin's Voice (2005), Odin's Mother (2006) and Odin's Son (2008) – is set in an Equipoisally conceived Near Future, where a Dystopian societal split between the upper class, almost all of whom are Genetically Engineered, and an enslaved majority is rendered as in part almost Cyberpunk and in part as a mythological fantasy, with gods taking active roles. On Mars and beyond, the story turns into a baroque Space Opera, though Price keeps the narrative under unusually strict control. Neither of her series, though each is thematically loaded, flounders at any point; each of them embodies some of the most skilled storytelling in the contemporary field. [JC]

Susan Price

born Brades Row, Round's Green, Worcestershire: 8 July 1955



Ghost World



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