(1957- ) US writer who has worked in various genres, beginning to publish sf with "This, Too, We Reconcile" for Analog in 1976; he remains best-known for his sf. As a fantasy author he is known almost exclusively for The Dragon Waiting: A Masque of History (1983), winner of the 1984 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel; it is set in an Alternate-World medieval Europe dominated by the threat of an expanding Byzantine Empire (the dragon of the title). With Christianity being only one of many competing sects, there is little of the Thinning normally found in fantasies set in this period: vampirism – in the form of a communicable disease – exists (> Vampires), as does Magic; Wizards congregate; echoes of the Matter of Britain (> Arthur) swell under the surface of events; and at least one of the four protagonists – Hywell Peredur – bears with cause a name of mythic significance (> Perceval). The story is almost unduly complex, involving Peredur and three others from various parts of Europe in a long, intrigue-filled campaign against the advance of Byzantium.
JMF's other fantasy work is of less interest. Two of the tales assembled in Casting Fortune * (coll 1989) were contributed to Liavek Shared-World anthologies (ed Emma Bull and Will Shetterly), and "The Illusionist", original to the volume, is another Liavek tale. [JC]
John M Ford