Working name of UK journalist and writer James Crace (1946- ), who began publishing fantasy with "Annie, California Plates" in The New Review in 1974. His first novel, Continent (fixup 1986), is a Fabulation set on an imaginary southern continent in an otherwise present-day world; it won the Whitbread First Novel Prize, the Guardian Fiction Prize and the David Higham Prize. JC's spare narrative – the novel comprises six independent sections, none more than short-story length – stands in marked contrast to the expansive narratives that characterize most such works from Austin Tappan Wright's (1883-1931) Islandia (1942; > SFE link below) on. The Gift of Stones (1988) is set at the end of the Stone Age and tells, much like William Golding's The Inheritors (1955), of the end of a community of stoneworkers with the advent of metallurgy. Arcadia (1992) is again set in an (apparently) imaginary venue: an unnamed City, overlooked from his private high-rise by an ageing tycoon who dreams of razing the squalid neighbourhood of his youth to erect a gleaming arcade, a monument to commerce and himself. All of JC's work – including Signals of Distress (1995), set on England's western coast in 1836 and his only novel to specify time and place – dramatizes the upheavals of social change, with tradition and progress in locked conflict. The doomed forces of tradition are portrayed, unusually for fantasy, without reaction or nostalgia. [GF]
other works: The Slow Digestion of the Night (1995 chap), five brief stories.
- The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction: Austin Tappan Wright.