Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Stableford, Brian M

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(1948-    ) UK writer, critic and academic, best-known for Science Fiction but equally adept in Fantasy, in which field he has developed a new reputation in the 1990s. BMS's early interest was in fantasy, and his liking for the works of Lord Dunsany, Clark Ashton Smith and Jack Vance was evident in both his first professional sale, "Beyond Time's Aegis" (1965 Science Fantasy with Craig A Mackintosh as Brian Craig), which he expanded in 1971 with other early unpublished stories into a novel, revised for publication as Firefly (fixup 1994 US); and his first published novel, Cradle of the Sun (1969 dos US). Both are works of Science Fantasy set on a Far-Future Earth. In a similar vein, though far more aggressive, was his Dies Irae trilogy – The Days of Glory (1971 US), In the Kingdom of the Beasts (1971 US) and Day of Wrath (1971 US) – which transposed Homer's Iliad and Odyssey into a space-opera form of Planetary Romance.

During the 1970s BMS concentrated mostly on a succession of hard-sf novels, and in the early 1980s he concentrated mostly on academic works. His only fantastic output during this period was a Children's Fantasy, The Last Days of the Edge of the World (1978), set in the land of Caramorn, the closest to the World's Edge, where Magic is fading (see Thinning). A princess, hoping to delay her marriage to an unworthy prince, sets him three impossible questions to answer, the results of which translate Caramorn from a world of fantasy into a land of historical reality.

At the end of the 1980s BMS returned to fiction, this time with a greater emphasis on fantasy. As Brian Craig he contributed several novels and stories to the Warhammer fantasy series (see Games), including the Orfeo trilogy – Zaragoz * (1989), Plague Daemon * (1990) and Storm Warriors * (1991) – and the singleton Ghost Dancers * (1991). He also embarked upon a series of fantasies which drew upon our Folklore nightmares. While the series was scientifically based, the presentation was supernatural Horror. This started with The Empire of Fear (1988), set in an Alternate World where immortal Vampires dominate. The novel remains basically sf – a scholar searches for the causes of vampirism in deepest Africa – but the book has all the atmosphere of a fantasy and is a close relative to the Gaslight Romance. BMS continued this form in his David Lydyard trilogy – The Werewolves of London (1990), The Angel of Pain (1991) and The Carnival of Destruction (1994) – which spans the years from the time of Charles Darwin (1809-1892) to the end of WWII. Fallen Angels from the Earth's dawn reawaken in the Victorian era and channel their powers through mankind to achieve their Apocalypse. The vampire theme haunts two more books written at this time: Young Blood (1992), in which BMS contrasts the traditional image of the vampire with one created by modern mind-altering viruses, and The Hunger and Ecstasy of Vampires (1995 Interzone; exp 1996 US), a celebration of H G Wells's The Time Machine, in which the Time Traveller travels to an alternate future where Vampires rule.

BMS's Genesys sequence – Serpent's Blood (1995), Salamander's Fire (1996) and Chimera's Cradle (1997) – is a sophisticated Planetary Romance with all the trappings of Heroic Fantasy. BMS continues to play intellectual games with the Icons of supernatural horror and fantasy but within the strict rules of scientific rationality. [MA]

other works (sf): The Blind Worm (1970); To Challenge Chaos (1972 US); the Hooded Swan series, being Halcyon Drift (1972 US), Rhapsody in Black (1973 US), Promised Land (1974 US), The Paradise Game (1974 US), The Fenris Device (1974 US) and Swan Song (1975 US); The Realms of Tartarus (1977 US; cut vt The Face of Heaven 1976 UK); Man in a Cage (1976 US); The Mind-Riders (1986 US); the Daedalus Mission series, being The Florians (1976 US), Critical Threshold (1977 US), Wildeblood's Empire (1977 US), The City of the Sun (1978 US), Balance of Power (1979 US) and The Paradox of the Sets (1979 US); The Walking Shadow (1979); Optiman (1980 US; vt War Games 1981); The Castaways of Tanagar (1981 US); the Asgard trilogy, being Journey to the Centre (1982 US), Invaders from the Centre (1990) and The Centre Cannot Hold (1990); The Gates of Eden (1983 US); The Cosmic Perspective/Custer's Last Stand (coll 1985 chap US); Slumming in Voodooland (1991 chap US); Sexual Chemistry (coll 1991); The Innsmouth Heritage (1992 chap US), a sequel to H P Lovecraft's "Shadow Over Innsmouth" (1942); Fables and Fantasies (coll 1996 chap US); Complications and Other Stories (coll 2003 US) [originally listed here as a projected title for 1996].

as editor: The Dedalus Book of Decadence (Moral Ruins) (anth 1990); The Second Dedalus Book of Decadence: The Black Feast (anth 1992); Tales of the Wandering Jew (anth 1991); The Dedalus Book of British Fantasy: The 19th Century (anth 1991); The Dedalus Book of Femmes Fatales (anth 1992).

Brian Michael Stableford


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.