Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Arscott, David

(?   -    ) UK author, collaborator with David J Marl (?   -    ) on two linked novels set in a nonmagical Alternate World which has a 19th-century flavour. In The Frozen City (1984) some symbolism is deployed, the nameless City being politically frozen under the unpleasant regime of the Red Blade. It is also a Labyrinth, with sections accessible only by rooftop or secret doorway; art and beauty are exiled to a literally Underground (but stagnant) Other City. The secret of the Blade's frozen permanence carries a George Orwell-like conviction: it perpetuates itself through codes, regulations and a maze-like command chain which simulates tyrannical leadership, although the Leader who planned this is long dead. The book ends with a warm plea against hereditary kingship. A Flight of Bright Birds (1985), the colourful but rambling sequel, concludes with the heirs to the city's crown deviously contriving not to commit themselves to either refusing or accepting it. Fantasy's political default of monarchy is interestingly questioned by DA and Marl, but to ultimately inconsequential effect. [DRL]

David Arscott

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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.