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Tea, Michelle

Entry updated 27 May 2021. Tagged: Author.

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(1971-    ) US author who began to publish work of genre interest with "Coke Call" in Noirotica 3: Stolen Kisses (anth 2000) edited by Thomas S Roche, but who had already come to wide notice with The Passionate Mistakes and Intricate Corruption of One Girl in America (1998), a markedly transgressive memoir and analysis of queer culture, Feminism and gender issues in general, race (see Race in SF), and contemporary American civilization overall. It was fifteen years into her career before she began to publish novels describable in terms of Fantastika: the Young Adult Sophie Swankowski sequence beginning with Mermaid in Chelsea Creek (2013) is an Urban Fantasy [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below] set in Chelsea, Massachusetts – a visually dramatic city separated from Boston by the Charles River and by Logan Airport from the rest of the world – where young Sophie, who is visited by a raunchy mermaid in her sleep, may be able through this relationship to instigate a transfiguration of her (and the author's) birthplace.

Tea's first adult tale of sf interest, Black Wave (2015), is structured as a temporally split narrative, told as normally the case with Tea in her own voice and person: a relatively "realistic" narrative set in a 1999 San Francisco (see California) at the verge of disintegration; and what seems to be a Near Future overview narrative set just after the disintegration – seemingly occasioned by a combination of Climate Change and World War Three – has come to pass. Michelle herself passes through dream and adumbration into the arms of the actor Matt Dillon as the world seems to end climactically. [JC]

Michelle Tea

born Chelsea, Massachusetts: 1 January 1971

works (selected)


Sophie Swankowski

individual titles

  • Black Wave (San Francisco, California: City Lights Publishers, 2015) [pb/]


previous versions of this entry

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