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Ransmayr, Christoph

Entry updated 13 November 2023. Tagged: Author.

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(1954-    ) Austrian editor and author, active from the late 1970s, mostly in Ireland 1994-2006. His first novel, Die Schrecken des Eises und der Finsternis (1984; trans John E Woods as The Terrors of Ice and Darkness 1991) verges upon but does not engage with the aura of Fantastika that tends to influence novels set in unexplored Arctic regions. His second, Die letzte Welt (1988; trans John E Woods as The Last World: A Novel with an Ovidian Repertory 1990), is an allegorical fantasy in which a search for Ovid in exile metamorphoses into a dialogue between the authoritarian terror of Rome and the Water Margins of life on the frontier of things; contemporary images intersect constantly with images from Ovid's dying world [for Ovid and Water Margins see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below]. Of sf interest is Morbus Kitahara (1995; trans John E Woods as The Dog King 1997), an Alternate History in which, after World War Two, Germany is deindustrialized, though the focus of the tale is the small city of Moor (see Keep), whose inhabitants are required yearly to perform in pantomime the horrors of the Holocaust.In Der fliegende Berg (2006; trans Simon Pare as The Flying Mountain 2018), two brothers exorbitantly seek Transcendence in the shape of a nameless mountain, the last feature left untracked, and perhaps untrackable (see Zone), on the planet. In Cox oder Der Lauf der Zeit (2016; trans Simon Pare as Cox, or The Course of Time 2020), Alister Cox, famed fabricator of clocks and Automata, travels to eighteenth century China to create for the Emperor Qiánlóng (1711-1799) a perpetuum mobile timepiece capable of encompassing the course of time. Alister is based on the real James Cox (1723-1800), but the novel explores a fantastic understanding of his craft and the emperor's ukases. Der Fallmeister: eine kurze Geschichte vom Töten ["The Waterfall's Master: A Brief History of Killing"] (2021) is set in an inundated Near Future Ireland ravaged by Climate Change.

There is a Modernist defiance in Ransmayr's transformations of the clichés that designate the contemporary world that may share roots of inspiration with the early paintings of Gerhard Richter (1932-    ); though he is by no means a comfortable creator of Fantastika, he cannot, all the same, be thought of as a Mainstream Writer of SF. [JC]

Christoph Ransmayr

born Wels, Austria: 20 March 1954

works (selected)


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