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23 April 2014
As noted yesterday, this week’s posts are courtesy of the essential Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and are all date specific entries. Today: A very Happy Birthday to one of British SF’s premier writers, Paul McAuley.
(Born April 23rd, 1955) UK biologist and writer who began publishing work of genre interest with “Wagon, Passing” for Asimov’s in June 1984; his best shorter work has been assembled as The King of the Hill and Other Stories (coll 1991), The Invisible Country (coll 1996), Little Machines (coll 2005) and the comprehensive A Very British History: The Best Science Fiction of Paul McAuley (coll 2013), ranging with a sharp but loyal eye through various ways of telling sf, more frequently than with his novels in terms of Satire. He has also written under the name Sean Flynn (> Games Workshop). With his first novel, Four Hundred Billion Stars (1988), he launched conspicuously into the far-reaching Re-United Nations sequence (sometimes known as the Four Hundred Billion Stars series) which, combining Space-Opera plots and cosmological speculations, fruitfully amalgamated influences from both US and UK traditions: H G Wells and Larry Niven consort, if sometimes uncomfortably, in these tales of interstellar warfare, world-building and universe-creation. Further volumes are Of the Fall (1989; vt Secret Harmonies 1989) and the very substantial Eternal Light (1991), which best exemplifies to date McAuley’s control over the instruments of 1990s Hard SF: Wormholes; Faster Than Light travel, agathics to attain various versions of Immortality, Genetic Engineering and Cosmology on the hugest scale. The series itself ostensibly concerns the attempts of an almost fatally wearied corporation-run Earth – reminiscent of Cordwainer Smith – to fend off the panicked aggressions of an ancient starfaring species, itself hiding from enemies of its own ilk; but the pleasures of this ongoing sequence seem more and more to lie in the increasingly comprehensive physical history of the entire Universe adumbrated in Eternal Light (> Transcendence).
You can read Paul McAuley’s full entry at The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, and find his books via his Author pages at the SF Gateway and Orion websites.