Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Pullman, Philip

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(1946-    ) UK writer, most significantly of YA fiction, though his first novel, Galatea (1978), was for adults, and his second – Count Karlstein, or The Ride of the Demon Huntsman (1982), which features a Wild Hunt conducted by a Demon – was for children. His YA work tends to straddle genres; for instance, his sequence comprising The Ruby in the Smoke (1985), The Shadow in the Plate (1987; vt The Shadow in the North 1988 US) and The Tiger in the Well (1990 US), set in a 19th century London, is told overall as a Gaslight Romance, but the first volume is predominantly Horror, the second could be considered Steampunk, and the third is "realistic", though its villain is named Tzaddik, a figure out of the Cabbala. Spring-Heeled Jack (1989) treats Spring-Heeled Jack as a kind of Robin Hood who uses his Talents to help the poor.

The first volume of His Dark MaterialsNorthern Lights (1995; vt The Golden Compass 1996 US) – has been well received, gaining a 1996 Carnegie Award, the most prestigious UK award for children's literature. The projected trilogy, intended to reflect elements of John Milton's Paradise Lost (1667), begins in an Alternate-World version of the 20th-century UK, marked by a differing physics and the fact that everyone has a Companion who seems to be a kind of Demon. As each child passes through the Rite of Passage into adulthood, her/his demon, which has previously shapeshifted (> Shapeshifters) at will, freezes into a shape that Mirrors its human's mature selfhood. The first volume, a complicated plot-driven Quest, fuels expectations of a significant full tale. [JC]

other works: Frankenstein (1990), a play adapted from Mary Shelley; Sherlock Holmes and the Limehouse Horror (1992); The New Cut Gang: Thunderbolt's Waxwork (1994); The Tin Princess (1994); The Wonderful Story of Aladdin and the Enchanted Lamp (1994 chap).

Philip Nicholas Pullman


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.