(1949- ) UK writer who began publishing with "Wired Tales" for Dark Horizons in 1973, and who has tended to create worlds – generally with a Planetary-Romance structure – in which a fantasy tone and fantasy trappings cohabit with sf underpinnings, sometimes rather uneasily. His first sequence of fantasy stories, the tales about an Accursed Wanderer named The Voidal, peaked with The Coming of the Voidal (1977 chap); they were not serious. AC's first full-blown sequence, the Dream Lords series – A Plague of Nightmares (1975 US), Lord of the Nightmares (1976 US) and Bane of Nightmares (1976 US) – was both ambitious and ill-hewn, placing planetary-romance adventures, some extremely dark, in a renamed Solar System. The effect was confused. The Omaran Saga – A Place Among the Fallen (1986), Throne of Fools (1987), The King of Light and Shadows (1988) and The Gods in Anger (1988) – is more put-together, and has been compared to Stephen R Donaldson's Covenant sequence because the planetary-romance venue is almost irrecoverably poisonous and because the obsessive planet-wide refusal of belief in Magic or Talents is conveyed, through the actions of a vigilante group which kills off believers or the talented, with an edge of bleak hysteria almost worthy of Donaldson's harsher insights into the stressful side of inhabiting a world dense with meanings its protagonists may wish to deny. As the sequence progresses, a Celtic tone (see Celtic Fantasy) begins to prevail, and the prevailing darkness of tone begins to acquire Twice-Told resonances, a sense that ancient truths of Story are being re-enacted with force and clear vision.
AC's work is not remarkable for concision or stylistic strength; but he is deeply knowledgeable about the sources of his craft and the mythic bent of the stories he wishes to tell. He could easily explode into the first rank of fantasy writers. [JC]
other works: Madness Emerging (1976), sf/horror; Bodoman of Sor (1977 chap) as Norma N Johns, a spoof of John Norman's Gor novels; Paths of Darkness (1977), sf/horror; Longborn the Inexhaustible (1978 chap); The LUCIFER Experiment (1981), sf; Wargods of Ludorbis (1981), sf; Moorstones (1982) and The Sleep of Giants (1983), YA fantasies; the Star Requiem sequence, being Mother of Storms (1989), Thief of Dreams (1989), Warlord of Heaven (1990) and Labyrinth of Worlds (1990), with fantasy Portals but essentially sf.
Adrian Christopher Synnot Cole