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van Scyoc, Sydney J

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1939-    ) US author, active in the Unitarian Church, who began publishing work of genre interest with Shatter the Wall (February Galaxy 1962; 2016 ebook), and afterwards contributed stories regularly to the magazines. She soon became best known for her novels, beginning with the impressive Saltflower (1971), in which Aliens seed Earth to produce a new breed of "men" designed to create Utopia through the elimination of women (see Women in SF). Assignment Nor'Dyren (1973) depicts a Dystopian Earth and a complexly rendered alien planet in trouble. Starmother (1976) and Cloudcry (1977) are Planetary Romances set in a Galaxy dominated by humanity, but on alien worlds which offer fundamental challenges to the human senses of order and rightness, and which ultimately reward attempts to transcend, in a sometimes lukewarmly oceanic fashion, human hierarchies and failures of empathy. The Sunstone Scrolls sequence – Darkchild (1981), Bluesong (1983) and Starsilk (1984), all assembled as Daughters of the Sunstone (omni 1985) – also combine an alien setting, a variety of characters and species and an ultimate sharing of Transcendence, here occasioned by the symbiosis-engendering starsilks. Drowntide (1987) could again be described as fusion sf, depicting the slow coming to communion of a land-based race and an ocean-based race through the agency of a hybrid offspring. Van Scyoc's predilection for one-word titles was resisted in Feather Stroke (1989), a fantasy; and in the Young Adult Deepwater Dreams (1991), in which humans, long ago Genetically Engineered to cope with the aquatic world they have colonized, must undergo rites of passage to gain full adulthood. Though her tales are sometimes damaged by narrative longueurs, van Scyoc's capacity to evoke a sense of the deep strangeness of the Universe – and her iterated attempts to craft tales that persuasively espouse marriages of species and venues – make her work sometimes compelling. She retired from writing around 1990, but has more recently published some short fiction, beginning with "Virgin Wings" (December 2004 F&SF). [JC]

see also: Parasitism and Symbiosis.

Sydney Joyce van Scyoc

born Mt Vernon, Indiana: 27 July 1939



Sunstone Scrolls

  • Darkchild (New York: Berkley Books, 1981) [Sunstone Scrolls: pb/David Hefferman]
  • Bluesong (New York: Berkley Books, 1983) [Sunstone Scrolls: pb/David Hefferman]
  • Starsilk (New York: Berkley Books, 1984) [Sunstone Scrolls: pb/David Hefferman]
    • Daughters of the Sunstone (New York: Nelson Doubleday/Science Fiction Book Club, 1985) [omni of the above three: Sunstone Scrolls: hb/David Hefferman]

individual titles

collections and stories

  • Bimmie Says (no place given: Project Gutenberg, 2015) [story: ebook: first appeared October 1962 Galaxy: na/]
  • Pollony Undiverted (no place given: Project Gutenberg, 2016) [story: ebook: first appeared February 1963 Galaxy: na/]
  • Shatter the Wall (no place given: Project Gutenberg, 2016) [story: ebook: first appeared February 1962 Galaxy: na/]


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