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Weldon, Fay

Entry updated 5 January 2023. Tagged: Author.

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(1931-2023) UK Television and Radio scriptwriter, and author, active from the early 1960s, born Franklin Birkinshaw, granddaughter of Edgar Jepson. She began writing work of genre interest with "Angel, All Innocence" in The Thirteenth Ghost Book (anth 1977) edited by James Hale. Almost all of her work – with considerable passion, anger and a highly charged creative ambiguity – dealt with issues and situations generally conceived of as Feminist. Much of her later fiction verges on the supernatural or edges into the future, or both, sometimes with a tentativeness characteristic of the Mainstream Writer of SF, but with increasing fluency.

In Puffball (1980) a pregnant woman is influenced by Glastonbury Tor; the film adaptation is Puffball: The Devil's Eyeball (2007) directed by Nicolas Roeg. In The Rules of Life (1987 chap), set in 2004, a dead woman communicates her memoirs through a Computer console under the control of a new Religion. After discovering a new planet, the female astronomer who narrates Leading the Band (1988) goes walkabout, skirting the fantastic in her Sex-drenched search for meaning. In The Cloning of Joanna May (1989) a man has his wife "cloned" ("not cloning in the modern sense, but parthenogenesis plus implantation", as the text explains) so that he can enjoy four younger versions of her; the novel was dramatized as a television miniseries, The Cloning of Joanna May (1991). Several of the tales assembled in A Hard Time To Be a Father: A Collection of Short Stories (coll 1998) are sharp Satires, some set in the Near Future. In Mantrapped (2004), a woman awakens to find she has suffered Identity Transfer into a man. Chalcot Crescent (2009), set in a strongly delineated 2013, depicts – through a tangle of memories on the part of a protagonist who is almost a clone of the author herself – a UK government which has responded repressively to continuing economic crisis. Kehua!: A Ghost Story (2010) is set in New Zealand; the eponymous kehua is a Maori ghost.

Weldon was honoured as CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in 2001. [JC]

see also: Clones; Women SF Writers.

Fay Weldon

born Alvechurch, Worcestershire: 22 September 1931

died Northampton, Northamptonshire: 4 January 2023

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