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Yarbro, Chelsea Quinn

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1942-    ) US composer and author, more active in and better known for her occult and mystery tales than for her early sf, which is mostly restricted to work from the 1970s; she has also written as Quinn Fawcett (with Bill Fawcett), Camille Gabor, Trystam Kith and Vanessa Pryor. After around 1980 she became (and has remained) identified with the Saint-Germain sequence of fantasies about a sympathetic immortal Vampire of aristocratic birth. Set in Europe and elsewhere over a span of centuries, the main sequence begins with Hôtel Transylvania: A Novel of Forbidden Love (1978) and more than two dozen volumes have since appeared [see Checklist], with further titles expected. There are two subsidiary sequences, the Atta Olivia Clemens books about Saint-Germain's vampire lover beginning with A Flame in Byzantium (1987); and the Madelaine de Montalia books beginning with Out of the House of Life (1990). As these interlinked sequences have progressed, Yarbro has decreasingly concentrated upon the vampirism of her protagonists and spent much more energy establishing some historical verisimilitude for the territories visited, sticking more and more frequently to the end of the Roman Empire, where she has also set some nonfantastic historical novels. Other non-sf series include the Ogilvie, Tallant & Moon detective sequence with fantasy elements, beginning with Ogilvie, Tallant & Moon (1976; vt Bad Medicine 1990 as C Q Yarbro); and the Mycroft Holmes pastiches (see Sherlock Holmes; Steampunk) beginning with Against the Brotherhood: A Mycroft Holmes Novel (1997) with Bill Fawcett, writing together as Quinn Fawcett.

In other words, Yarbro soon moved a significant distance from sf – which she began publishing with "The Posture of Prophecy" for If in 1969 – and seems unlikely to return except casually, with the exception of a tale like Taji's Syndrome (1988), a Near Future medical thriller. Her most significant sf work, most of it decidedly more pessimistic about the world than her tales set in the past, include the stories assembled in Cautionary Tales (coll 1978), which share an energetic starkness, a tendency for her characters – as James Tiptree Jr remarked in her introduction to the book – to engage in rather arousing operatic duets and tirades, and a genuinely Dystopian vision of times to come; other tales of interest, though with decreasing sf content, were assembled in Signs & Portents (coll 1984) and Apprehensions and Other Delusions (coll 2004). Her first sf novel, Time of the Fourth Horseman (1976) – in which a plan to head off Overpopulation by reinfecting children with various diseases gets radically out of hand – confirmed this sense of the darkness of her work; as did False Dawn (in Strange Bedfellows, anth 1973, ed Thomas N Scortia; exp 1978), which is set further into a slightly more distant Post-Holocaust future, and likewise deals with a world ravaged by mutated diseases. Nor did Hyacinths (1983), set in a Near-Future Dystopian America characterized by a wrecked economy and mind control, modify the sense that Yarbro was an author entirely in control of what she wished to say, and in what genre. Sf has been a genre which enabled her to look forward into the dark, on occasion. For the most part, she has gazed away from the darknesses she perceived in the times to come. She was honoured as a World Horror Grandmaster in 2003, and with the World Fantasy Award for life achievement in 2014. [JC]

see also: Arts; Disaster; Gothic SF; Immortality; Leisure; Medicine; Music; Psi Powers; Psychology; Survivalist Fiction.

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

born Berkeley, California: 15 September 1942



Ogilvie, Tallant & Moon

  • Ogilvie, Tallant & Moon (New York: G P Putnam's Sons, 1976) [Ogilvie, Tallant & Moon: hb/]
    • Bad Medicine (New York: Jove Books, 1990) as C Q Yarbro [vt of the above: Ogilvie, Tallant & Moon: pb/]
  • Music When Sweet Voices Die (New York: G P Putnam's Sons, 1979) [Ogilvie, Tallant & Moon: hb/]
    • False Notes (New York: Jove Books, 1991) as C Q Yarbro [vt of the above: Ogilvie, Tallant & Moon: pb/]
  • Poison Fruit (New York: Jove Books, 1991) as C Q Yarbro [Ogilvie, Tallant & Moon: pb/]
  • Cat's Claw (New York: Jove Books, 1992) as C Q Yarbro [Ogilvie, Tallant & Moon: pb/]


Saint-Germain: Atta Olivia Clemens

Saint-Germain: Madelaine de Montalia


Sisters of the Night

Mycroft Holmes

Trouble in the Night

Vildecaz Talents

  • Nimuar's Loss (New York: Juno Books, 2007) as by Camille Gabor [Vildecaz Talents: pb/Timothy Lantz]
    • The Vildecaz Talents (Bethel, Pennsylvania: Avalerion Books, 2014) as by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro writing as Camille Gabor [omni of the above and two previously unpublished novels Deceptive Oracle and Agnith's Promise: Vildecaz Talents: pb/James Abel]

individual titles

collections and stories

works as editor


previous versions of this entry

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