(1956-2008) UK-born New Zealand writer. His first novel was the associational Plague Summer (1980 UK), but he is known almost exclusively for a long fantasy sequence originally called the Wizard War series, eventually The Chronicles of an Age of Darkness: The Wizards and the Warriors (1986 UK; vt Wizard War 1987 US), The Wordsmiths and the Warguild (1987 UK; vt in 2 vols as The Questing Hero 1988 US and The Hero's Return 1988 US), The Women and the Warlords (1987 UK; vt The Oracle 1989 US), The Walrus and the Warwolf (1988 UK; cut vt Lords of the Sword 1991 US), The Wicked and the Witless (1989), The Wishstone and the Wonderworkers (1990), The Wazir and the Witch (1990), The Werewolf and the Wormlord (1991), The Worshippers and the Way (1992) and The Witchlord and the Weaponmaster (1992). The various interwoven stories of the sequence – not chronologically told, and not necessarily interdependent – take place initially in a Fantasyland venue, with hints that it is in fact a post-Holocaust Earth; but as the series continues signals are given that this venue is in fact a Multiverse. Much of the action concerns attempts at survival and triumph on the part of various Heroes and Heroines, Witches and Wizards and other characters from the armamentarium of Genre Fantasy; the ever-present background is one of strife, with petty kings and various warlords constantly at odds. Some volumes are devoted to Heroic-Fantasy routines; in others the world is threatened with change. There are conceits of some considerable interest, such as, in The Wordsmiths and the Warguild, the Odex, which transforms creatures of the imagination into real menaces. But the sequence is considerably more incoherent than most readers will accept. [JC]
other works: The Shift (1986 UK), comic sf.
Hugh Walter Gilbert Cook