Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Grabien, Deborah

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(1954-    ) US writer, partly resident in the UK, where most of her work is set. She began publishing work of interest with Woman of Fire (1988; vt Eyes in the Fire 1989 US), a tale whose two female protagonists – one in contemporary England, one from pre-Roman times – begin to have Timeslip experiences of one another's worlds, though neither makes a transition. The action is muted, but under the surface of events pulses a vision of the Land.

Her second novel, Plainsong (1990), a Millennial Fantasy, much intensifies the sense of the Land of England as being a central theatre upon which the drama of the world may be played. Though it is again quietly told, the story itself is a deeply blasphemous – and, with regard to the usual action of the Fantasy text, structurally intriguing – assault on normal expectations. For 2000 years, the patriarchal rule of God (the Father) and Christ has caused a disastrous Thinning of Reality. The novel opens some time after a plague has eliminated almost all adults; the world is beginning to recover (see Healing), the land to burgeon, and animals to reclaim the gift of nonvocal speech. The wheel has come full circle, and it is time for Christ to be evicted from the patriarchal solitude of his reign. To accomplish this, the Wandering Jew – whose Shadow Jesus is – sleeps with a woman, who becomes pregnant with the new (female) Messiah, who is due to be born in rural Wiltshire. In his attempts to have the new holy family murdered, Jesus behaves almost like a Dark Lord, though a Beast-Fable episode in a zoo, when the animals refuse to kill for him, chastens him; and the Secret Guardians of the Cycle of the world – Gad the Cat, Grandfather Trout and Simon the sheep, all three being immortal Liminal Beings – also ensure his frustration. In the end, everyone is reconciled; and Jesus and the Wandering Jew, revelling in their dawn-fresh mortality, go off arm-in-arm.

And Then Put Out the Light (1993), describes a romance in terms evocative of Supernatural Fiction. She is not a powerful writer, but can, once the essentially nondramatic flow of her stories is accepted, convey a considerable charge. [JC]

other works: Fire Queen (1990).

Deborah Grabien


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.