Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Hand, Elizabeth

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(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 (see also 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


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.