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Mason, Lisa

(1953-    ) US author who began publishing sf with "Arachne" for Omni in December 1987, a tale she expanded into her first novel, Arachne (1990; rev 2017), a tightly composed narrative set in and out of Cyberspace after an earthquake Disaster has devastated San Francisco; the narrative includes knowledgeable scenes set in the heart of a complex corporate world, with a tough female lawyer as protagonist who suffers a fall from grace, a maimed AI personality as trickster and dubious colleague, cyberspace-haunting Avatars representing various humans. The sequel, Cyberweb (1995; rev 2017), though it continues to track the AI and its aspiring after what it understands to be the unprogrammed flavour of consciousness, ultimately focuses on the female protagonist as she regains purchase on the City and the Virtual Realities interfusing the urban jungle.

Mason's immersion in the honeypot culture of California intensifies if anything in her second series, the Zhu Wong sequence comprising Summer of Love (1994; rev vt Summer of Love: A Time Travel 2017) and The Golden Nineties (1995; rev vt The Golden Nineties: A Time Travel 2017), in which a time traveller (see Time Travel) from half a millennium hence spends time with some rather attractive 1960s countercultural San Franciscans, though darker realities loom: the future is due to suffer radical Climate Change and other crises, and the visitor from the future is in fact engaging in a Changewar to save the world; in the sequel, a second visitor from twenty-first century China travels back to San Francisco before the Fire in a continuation of the battle. Mason's third series, the Pangaea sequence comprising Pangaea, Book 1: Imperium Without End (1999) and Pangaea, Book 2: Imperium Afire (2000), combines some of the complex interweavings of her first series with the "soft" focus on character that marks her second. Set in an Alternate History version of San Francisco, somewhere fairly deep in the future, the series gradually unveils a punitively Dystopian government, with regimented Sex and a rigid caste system. In the second volume, all falls apart (see End of the World), without a clear resolution.

Stories from the first decade of her career are assembled as Strange Ladies: 7 Stories (coll 2013); later shorter work includes the novella Illyria, My Love (2017 ebook). Mason may now seem significant for her competent handling of the SF Megatext in the kitchen-sink manner found in some of the best Genre SF authors who came to prominence in the late twentieth-century. Equally important, however, is the warmth and intensity of her vision of California in its prime. [JC]

Lisa Susan Mason

born Cleveland, Ohio: 24 May 1953




Zhu Wong


individual titles

collections and stories



Entry from The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (2011-current) edited by John Clute and David Langford.
Accessed 05:37 am on 24 May 2022.