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Sallis, James

Entry updated 26 December 2022. Tagged: Author, Editor.

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(1944-    ) US musician, poet and author, briefly active in New Worlds during its Michael Moorcock-directed New-Wave phase; he began to publish work of genre interest in this context, with "Kazoo" (August 1967 New Worlds). His clearly acknowledged models in the French avant garde and the gnomic brevity of much of his work limited his appeal in the sf world, though he received some critical acclaim for A Few Last Words (coll 1970). Though he never stopped publishing sf and fantasy in short form, he was not regarded as an active writer for some years, though this lack of notice now seems odd, given the stories assembled as Limits of the Sensible World (coll 1995 chap), Time's Hammers (coll 2000) and A City Equal to My Desire (coll 2004); the best of these stories, like "Autumn Leaves" (in the last volume listed), are pure Horror in SF: providing apocalypse without redemption. In any case, his career took a different course at the beginning of the 1990s, and he became well-known and highly respected as a novelist of crime fiction, initially the Lew Griffin sequence beginning with The Long-Legged Fly (1992); a later tale, Drive (2005), has been filmed under that name. His fifteen or so novels in this broad category, none of which are fantastic, are not discussed or listed here.

Sallis's two early sf anthologies, The War Book (anth 1969) and The Shores Beneath: Novellas (anth 1971), were strongly edited. Ash of Stars: On the Writing of Samuel R Delany (1996) is a study of Samuel R Delany; he also co-wrote "They Fly at Çiron" (June 1971 F&SF), an original novelette much expanded by Delany into They Fly at Çiron (fixup 1993).. [JC]

James Sallis

born Helena, Arkansas: 21 December 1944

works (highly selected)



works as editor


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