Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Arnason, Eleanor

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(1942-    ) US writer widely noticed as the author of complexly ambitious sf novels like Ring of Swords (1993), but whose early work was either fantasy or a mixture of the two genres. She began publishing with "A Clear Day in the Motor City" for New Worlds Quarterly #6 (anth 1973) ed Michael Moorcock and Charles Platt (1945-    ). Her first novel, The Sword Smith (1978), carries its protagonist, a young Smith reared by Dragons, through a modest Rite of Passage in an austere High-Fantasy venue; almost completely lacking in heroics, the tale stays vividly in memory as a hard-crafted miniature. To the Resurrection Station (1986) is by contrast a highly baroque Science Fantasy in which a robot butler may be the Ghost of a revered ancestor of the young protagonist, who flees with it (or him – or, ultimately, her) to Earth in search of the eponymous salvation; some Folktales are embedded into the narrative, and some surreal special effects. Daughter of the Bear King (1987) is a Crosshatch whose protagonist, a Minneapolis housewife, finds first her Dreams and then her world invaded by visions of a life as a heroine in an Otherworld increasingly marred by Wrongness, here embodied as a kind of this-worldly shoddiness. Faced with various challenges, she makes her escape by Shapeshifting into a bear, a recourse understandable through the tale's constant crosshatching as a wry comment on the lengths to which it is sometimes necessary for women to transform themselves in order to cope with a patriarchal world.

EA's work – much of which acutely and variously tests Gender roles – is muscular, sharp-witted, concise and fully packed. [JC]

Eleanor Atwood Arnason


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.