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Swainston, Steph

Entry updated 26 October 2021. Tagged: Author.

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(1974-    ) UK author whose Castle sequence beginning with The Year of Our War (2004), though clearly understandable as Fantasy, does in fact inhabit a Multiverse some of whose iterations are clearly worlds understandable in sf terms. A hint of Medieval Futurism suffuses some of these worlds, and leads to the apprehension that the central story may itself be couched within a larger frame; but one of them is a Wonderland [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below] where words, which are understood literally, create reality: to mispronounce horse as whore generates a whore horse. Ostensibly, the Fourlands, a world invaded by a relentless insect species, is fantasy: one of the protagonists is winged; others seem to be able to control Magic. But the Shift, a kind of multi-Dimensional portal to a wide range of extravagantly different worlds, evokes British sf since 1990 or so, with the influence of authors like M John Harrison and China Miéville beneficially evident. The series does not yet seem to have ended. Although Swainston announced in 2011 that – finding the isolation of a writer's life uncongenial – she was cancelling her current two-book contract with Gollancz and retraining as a teacher of chemistry, a fifth volume in the sequence, Fair Rebel (2016), has since appeared. [JC]

see also: Eastercon.

Stephanie Jane Swainston

born Bradford, Yorkshire: 1974





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