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Swindells, Robert E

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1939-    ) UK translator and author who has concentrated for most of his career on Young Adult novels, several of them set in his native Yorkshire. Although most of his work has been fantasy, sf novels of interest have appeared at various points over this career, beginning with When Darkness Comes (1973), a Prehistoric SF tale movingly depicting the consequences of the incursion of Homo sapiens on the early world, and Brother in the Land (1984; vt Fallout 1993), which in a sense reverses field on When Darkness Comes, for the young protagonist in this Post-Holocaust tale, must adapt Neanderthal tactics to survive. A Serpent's Tooth (1988) segues between apprehensions of World War Three and the Black Death; Daz 4 Zoe (1990) is a full-blown Near Future Dystopia set in a UK dominated by the ultra-rich who live in fortified Keeps; the young protagonists in Hydra (1991) discover that a crop circle in rural England contains the imago form of an Alien (see also First Contact) whose mature form could devastate the planet; Timesnatch (1994), set in the Near Future, describes the Discovery of a Time Machine which is used to extract extinct animals from the deep past, but which attracts the attention of criminal entrepreneurs.

More recent titles included two Timeslip tales, Blitzed (2002), whose protagonists find themselves in a grimly depicted World War Two, and In the Nick of Time (2007) sets its young protagonist in a school for sick children in the early 1950s, where her coming of age proves difficult to achieve. Sometimes overcongenial with his target markets, Swindells remains at the same time an author repeatedly capable of confronting serious issues with tact and clarity. His non-fantastic Stone Cold (1993) won the Carnegie Medal. [JC]

Robert Edward Swindells

born Bradford, Yorkshire: 20 March 1939





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