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(1965- ) UK author, also raised in South Africa and the USA. He has published sf and horror under his full name, and thrillers as by Michael Marshall [see Checklist below]. He has also worked as a writer for radio and film. His first publication of genre interest was "The Man Who Drew Cats" in Dark Voices 2 (anth 1990) edited by David Sutton and Stephen Jones; it won the British Fantasy Award in 1991. Since then, he has continued to produce stories, mostly in the horror mode, which have been collected in volumes beginning with What You Make It (coll 1999); The Best of Michael Marshall Smith (coll 2020), containing thirty-one stories from 1987 to 2017, provides a powerful conspectus of his work..
His first sf novel, Only Forward (1994) garnered considerable notice on publication for its depiction of a City fragmented into variously bizarre affinity groups. Its vision of a high-rise world drained of human warmth might be thought to owe something to J G Ballard or Cyberpunk, but the fierce narrative drive of the book marked Smith out as an author of distinctive imagination, as did the increasingly complex interplay of dream or nightmare and reality (see also Dream Hacking). Only Forward won the August Derleth Award – the novel category of the British Fantasy Award – and, following its US publication in 2000, the Philip K Dick Award. Its unrelated successor, Spares (1996), depicts a future in which techniques of Medicine have been used to create Clones of the rich who can be harvested for their organs; it thus anticipates Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go (2005) as well as following a number of sf works that have considered the potential for organs to become commodified (see Organlegging). Again, Smith illuminates this premise through a taut thriller plot that gives his work a very different affect from Ishiguro's. One of Us (1998) similarly pays homage to Philip K Dick – particularly Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said (1974) – with its narrative of memory loss (see Amnesia) and shifting realities.
Smith has since found considerable success through his thrillers, beginning with The Straw Men (2001) as by Michael Marshall. These works often share with his sf a sense that the city is a dangerous environment, only to be navigated safely by those protagonists attuned and adapted to its demand. Of the Michael Marshall novels, We Are Here (2013) is especially noteworthy for its vision of a Wainscot Society world of shadow-people intersecting with the mundane. All of Smith's work has a thoroughly professional polish and drive that makes his wide success entirely understandable. [GS]
born Knutsford, Cheshire: 3 May 1965
as Michael Marshall
collections and stories
works as editor
about the author
Entry from The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (2011-current) edited by John Clute and David Langford.
Accessed 13:49 pm on 22 May 2022.