Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Hand, Elizabeth

(1957-    ) US writer who began publishing work of genre interest with "Prince of Flowers" for Twilight Zone Magazine in 1988, and whose Winterlong sequence – Winterlong (1990), Aestival Tide (1992) and Icarus Descending (1993) – is sf in its underlying structure, though its timbre is fantasy-like. The Dying-Earth cadences of her story and her narrative rhythm generate a sense that her tale – which in fact takes place in the eastern USA, after a plethora of cataclysms – occupies a Planetary-Romance venue.

So it was not surprising that EH's first singleton, Waking the Moon (1994 UK; cut and preferred version 1995 US), would be fantasy. The long tale begins as a Contemporary Fantasy set in Washington, DC, around 1970, with the protagonist entering The University of the Archangels and St John the Divine, which is run by benandanti – an historical society – who turn out to be Secret Masters of the world whose task is to guard against a reawakening of the Goddess and the reimposition of her matriarchal rule. Like most serious secret-master tales, the basic subject of Waking the Moon is the Matter of the world itself; halfway through, the tale turns (or threatens to turn) into a full-scale Instauration Fantasy, when it seems inevitable that the goddess, immanent in the Moon, is about to awaken out of Bondage (>>> Face of Glory). If she awakes it will be a new world, but she does not, and the novel turns into a Supernatural Fiction, with the protagonist (and the folk of Earth) threatened by the invasive seductions of the still-thwarted goddess as she plots men's downfall through her acolytes and Avatar. The book closes, almost dutifully, with a scene – typical of supernatural fictions – in which the temple of evil (in Washington) is brought down. However, though the narrative points in more directions than it can follow, EH's glad energy is evident throughout. She won a 1995 World Fantasy Award for her novella "Last Summer at Mars Hill" (1994 F&SF). Her further work is awaited eagerly. [JC]

other works: 12 Monkeys * (1995), novelizing the movie.

Elizabeth Hand

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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.