Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Salmonson, Jessica Amanda

(1950-    ) US editor, poet and writer, born Jesse Amos Salmonson, who began publishing work of interest with several simultaneously released items for The Literary Magazine of Fantasy and Terror (1973), which she edited as Amos Salmonson; her fiction in the first issue included "A Great Experience" as by Patrick Lean and "Youngin" as by Josiah Kerr. Over its seven issues the journal published increasingly competent fiction and served as a forum for issues of Feminism; while editing it, JAS went through a sex and consequent name change, an experience which she recorded openly in the journal. At the same time she continued writing stories. Her first significant publication was Amazons! (anth 1979), which won the 1980 World Fantasy Award and – along with its sequel, Amazons II (anth 1982) – presented a number of Heroic-Fantasy tales featuring female warriors. Other anthologies with a similar remit, though not restricted to women warriors, include Heroic Visions (anth 1983) and Heroic Visions II (anth 1986). JAS's interest in Amazons led eventually to The Encyclopedia of Amazons: Women Warriors from Antiquity to the Modern Era (1991), which has over 1000 entries on figures real and fictional.

Much of JAS's work – including her first book, Tragedy of the Moisty Morning (1978 chap), a novella – has appeared from Small-Press outlets, in which she has always taken a very active interest; most of her poetry has been released through small firms. Her first novel sequence, however, Tomoe GozenTomoe Gozen (1981), The Golden Naginata (1982) and Thousand Shrine Warrior (1984) – appeared from a trade house. Set in a Land-of-Fable medieval Japan, it recreates in Oriental-Fantasy terms the life of a woman Samurai: the exploits are not unusual, but the complexly delineated god- and demon-saturated "Naipon" in which they are set is evocative. Ou Lu Khen and the Beautiful Madwoman (1985), also set in the East (China this time), carries its two protagonists into a Time Abyss where an ancient Evil lurks. Anthony Shriek, or Lovers of Another Realm (1992) is Horror.

Full-length collections include A Silver Thread of Madness (coll 1989), John Collier and Fredric Brown Went Quarrelling Through My Head: Stories (coll 1989), The Mysterious Doom and Other Ghostly Tales of the Pacific Northwest (coll 1992) – containing Twice-Told Native American tales and some investigations into supernatural matters conducted by Occult Detective Penelope Pettiweather, on the same basis as the tales which were earlier assembled as Harmless Ghosts: The Penelope Pettiweather Stories (coll 1990 chap UK) – Phantom Waters: Northwest Legends of Rivers, Lakes, and Shores (coll 1995) and The Eleventh Jaguarandi and Other Mysterious Persons (coll 1995). But, although JAS remains prolific in her fiction, it may be that her editorial work has in recent years been more influential.

After Tales by Moonlight (anth 1983) and Tales by Moonlight II (anth 1989), both presenting original fantasies, she began to publish titles which reflected her strong interest in 19th- and early-20th-century writers of Supernatural Fiction, assembling The Faded Garden: The Collected Ghost Stories of Hildegarde Hawthorne (coll 1985), by Nathaniel Hawthorne's granddaughter, The Haunted Wherry and Other Rare Ghost Stories (anth 1985), The Supernatural Tales of Fitz-James O'Brien #1: Macabre Tales (coll 1988) and #2: Dream Stories and Fantasies (coll 1988), What Did Miss Darrington See?: An Anthology of Feminist Supernatural Fiction (anth 1989) with an introduction by Rosemary Jackson, Wife or Spinster: Short Stories by 19th Century American Women (anth 1991) with Isabelle D Waugh and Charles G Waugh, From Out of the Past: The Indiana Ghost Stories of Anna Nicholas (coll 1991 chap UK), assembling the work of Anna Katherine Nicholas (1917-    ) and Master of the Past: Complete Supernatural Stories of Vincent O'Sullivan (coll 1994 UK), assembling scattered work of Vincent O'Sullivan. Mr Monkey and Other Sumerian Fables (anth 1995), which stands somewhat aside from its predecessors, assembles Sumerian Beast Fables (see also Mesopotamian Epic), which may be the earliest extant examples of the form. The scholarship in these collections and anthologies is thorough and secure, and the adventurousness is evident.

Throughout her work – some experimental – JAS constantly attempts to use the forms of fiction as weapons of discovery. [JC]

other works: The Swordswoman (1982); Young Tyrone: A Melodrama (coll 1983 chap); Ten Magnificent Peonies Presents SLIDE SHOW (coll 1983 chap); Hag's Tapestry (coll 1986 chap UK); Mystic Women: Their Ancient Tales and Legends Recounted by a Woman Inmate of the Calcutta Insane Asylum (coll 1991); Bibliography (1992 chap dos); Twenty-One Epic Novels (coll 1995 chap), very short stories.

other works (poetry): The Black Crusader and Other Poems of Horror (coll 1979 chap); Moonstill Tulip Wine and Others (coll 1979 chap); Cheap Present (1980 chap); On the Shores of Eternity (coll 1981 chap); Feigned Death and Other Sorceries (coll 1983 chap); In this Vent (1983 chap); Innocent of Evil: Poems in Prose (coll 1984 chap); The Patient Child (1985 chap); Fantasies in Black and White (coll 1987 chap); The Ghost Garden (coll 1988 chap UK); A Celestial Occurrence (1991 chap); The Goddess Under Siege (coll 1992 chap); Sorceries and Sorrows (Early Poems) (coll 1992 chap dos); Songs of the Maenads (coll 1993 chap); The Horn of Tara (coll 1995 chap); Lake of the Devil: Poems of Morosity and Jest (coll 1995 chap).

other works (nonfiction): Wisewomen and Boggy-Boos: A Dictionary of Lesbian Fairy Lore (1992) with Jules Remedios Faye; Miniature Vegetables (1994 chap).

Jessica Amanda Salmonson


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.