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Vonarburg, Élisabeth

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author, Editor.

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(1947-    ) French-born Canadian teacher, editor, critic and author, in Quebec from 1973, naturalized 1976. She was fiction editor 1979-1990 and editor 1983-1985 of Solaris; and began publishing sf with "Marée haute" for Requiem in 1978; the tale appeared as "High Tide" in Twenty Houses of the Zodiac (anth 1979) edited by Maxim Jakubowski. Many of her stories (some award-winning) have been assembled as L'Oeil de la nuit ["The Eye of Night"] (coll 1980) and Janus (coll 1984), most being set in either of two cycles (with great gaps in the published chronology), the more important being the Baïblanca/Mothers' Land series, in which a semi-decadent society in a far-future Europe sees the gradual appearance of Shapeshifting Mutants (the "métames"). The series continues in Le Silence de la cité (1981; trans Jane Brierley as The Silent City 1988), whose young female protagonist leaves her Underground Keep and goes to the surface, with its wild tribes, where she begins to transform the benighted world. Revelations of the artificial nature of the feminist governance of Mothers' Land sharpens the rite of passage story at the heart of Chroniques du Pays des Meres (1992; trans [may precede French-language publication] Jane Brierley as The Maerlande Chronicles 1992; vt In the Mothers' Land 1992). A singleton, Les Voyageurs malgre eux (1992; trans Jane Brierley as Reluctant Voyagers 1995), in a sense grounds her first series (and her subsequent work as well) through its depiction of a teacher/writer whose travels to Alternate Worlds are engineered through the stories she writes.

The Tyranaël series – the main sequence of which begins with Tyranaël 1: Les Rêves de la mer (1996; trans Howard Scott and Elisabeth Vonarburg as Dreams of the Sea 2003) and ends with Tyranaël 5: La Mer allée avec le soleil (1997) – is a Planetary Romance set on the eponymous Living World, though it may be that only the circumambient ocean is sentient. The large cast – reduced through the circumstance that many are Reincarnations of earlier protagonists – gains through Telepathy and other means a gradually intensifying symbiosis with their planet. The later Reine de Mémoire sequence [for titles see Checklist] is fantasy.

Vonarburg is a very deliberate writer who brings great care and thought to her work, and to the depiction of characters and background. [LP/JC]

see also: Canada.

Élisabeth Ferron-Wehrlin Morché Vonarburg

born Paris: 5 August 1947

works (selected)


Baïblanca/Mothers' Land

  • Le Silence de la cité (Paris: Denoel, 1981) [Baïblanca/Mothers' Land: binding unknown/]
    • The Silent City (Toronto, Ontario: Press Porcépic, 1988) [trans by Jane Brierly of the above: Baïblanca/Mothers' Land: pb/Ken Campbell]
  • Chroniques du Pays des Mères (Montreal, Quebec: Quebec/Amerique, 1992) [Baïblanca/Mothers' Land: binding unknown/]
    • The Maerlande Chronicles (Victoria, British Columbia: Beach Holme, 1992) [trans by Jane Brierley of the above: may precede French language edition: Baïblanca/Mothers' Land: pb/]
      • In the Mothers' Land (New York: Bantam, 1992) [vt of the above trans: Baïblanca/Mothers' Land: pb/]


Reine de Mémoire

individual titles


  • L'Oeil de la nuit ["The Eye of Night"] (Paris: Denoel, 1980) [coll: contains some Baïblanca/Mothers' Land material: binding unknown/]
  • Janus (Paris: Denoel, 1984) [coll: contains some Baïblanca/Mothers' Land material: binding unknown/]
  • Ailleurs et au Japon ["Elsewhere and in Japan"] (Montreal, Quebec: Québec/Amerique, 1991) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Slow Engines of Time (Edmonton, Alberta: Tesseract Books, 2002) [coll: trans from various sources: hb/Robert Woodbury]
  • Le Jeu des coquilles de nautilus (Beauport, Quebec: Editions Alire, 2003) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Blood Out of a Stone (Montreal, Quebec: Nanopress, 2009) [coll: hb/nonpictorial]


works as editor

  • TesseractsQ (Edmonton, Alberta: The Books Collective/Tesseract Books, 1996) with Jane Brierley [anth: Tesseracts: Tesseracts: pb/Jean-Pierre Normand]


previous versions of this entry

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