Gwyneth A(nn) Jones (1952-) Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Work in Progress, Sidelights
Born 1952, in Manchester, England; Education: University of Sussex, B.A. (with honors), 1973. Politics: "Green." Religion: Roman Catholic. Hobbies and other interests: Mountain climbing, gardening, Web site upkeep.
Office—Agent—c/o Author Mail, Anthony Goff, David Higham Associates Ltd., 5-8 Lower John St., Golden Square, London W1R 4HA, England.
Manpower Services Commission, Whitehall, England, executive officer in Hove, England, 1975-77; author of books for young people and adults, 1977—.
First prize from Manchester Evening News children's story competition, 1967, for "The Christmas Church Mice"; runner up for Guardian Children's Fiction Award, 1981, for Dear Hill; James Tiptree, Jr. award, 1991, for White Queen; Dracula Society Children of the Night Award, 1996, for The Fear Man; World Fantasy Award, 1996, for Seven Tales and a Fable and The Grass Princess; British Science Fiction Association award, 1999, for La Cenerentola; Richard Evans Award, 2001; Arthur C. Clarke Award, 2002, for Bold as Love; Philip K. Dick Award, 2005, for Life.
Water in the Air, Macmillan (London, England), 1977.
The Influence of Ironwood, Macmillan (London, England), 1978.
The Exchange, Macmillan (London, England), 1979.
Dear Hill, Macmillan (London, England), 1980.
FOR CHILDREN; UNDER PSEUDONYM ANN HALAM
Ally, Ally Aster, Allen & Unwin (London, England), 1981.
The Alder Tree, Allen & Unwin (London, England), 1982.
King Death's Garden, Orchard (London, England), 1986.
The Hidden Ones, Press (London, England), 1988.
Dinosaur Junction, Orchard (London, England), 1992.
The Haunting of Jessica Raven, Orion (London, England), 1994.
The Fear Man, Orion (London, England), 1995.
The Powerhouse, Orion (London, England), 1997.
Crying in the Dark, Orion (London, England), 1998.
The N,I.M.R.O.D. Conspiracy, Orion (London, England), 1999.
The Shadow on the Stairs, illustrated by Edmund Bright, Barrington Stoke (Edinburgh, Scotland), 2000.
Don't Open Your Eyes, Orion (London, England), 2000.
Dr. Franklin's Island, Orion (London, England), 2001, Random House (New York, NY), 2002.
Taylor Five, Random House (New York, NY), 2002.
Siberia, Random House (New York, NY), 2005.
FOR CHILDREN; "INLAND" TRILOGY; UNDER PSEUDONYM ANN HALAM
The Daymaker, Orchard (London, England), 1987.
Transformations, Orchard (London, England), 1988.
The Skybreaker, Orchard (London, England), 1990.
Divine Endurance, Allen & Unwin (London, England), 1984, Tor (New York, NY), 1989.
Escape Plans, Allen & Unwin (London, England), 1986.
Kairos, Unwin Hyman (London, England), 1988, revised edition, Gollancz (London, England), 1995.
White Queen (first in a series), Gollancz (London, England), 1991, Tor (New York, NY), 1993.
Identifying the Object (short stories), Swan Press (Austin, TX), 1993.
Flowerdust, Hodder Headline (London, England), 1993, Tor (New York, NY), 1995.
Seven Tales and a Fable, Edgewood Press (Cambridge, MA), 1995.
North Wind, (second in a series), Gollancz (London, England), 1994, Tor (New York, NY), 1996.
Phoenix Café, (third in a series), Gollancz (London, England), 1997, Tor (New York, NY), 1998.
Deconstructing the Starships: Science, Fiction, and Reality (essays), Liverpool University Press (Liverpool, England), 1999.
FOR ADULTS; "BOLD AS LOVE" SERIES
Bold as Love, Gollancz (London, England), 2001.
Castles Made of Sand, Orion/Gollancz (London, England), 2002.
Midnight Lamp, Gollancz (London, England), 2003.
Band of Gypsies, Gollancz (London, England), 2005.
Work in Progress
Rainbow Bridge, the fifth episode in the "Bold as Love" story; under pseudonym Ann Halam, the teen fantasy Snakehead.
British novelist Gwyneth A. Jones has published critically acclaimed fantasy fiction for adults as well as younger readers, and has published the bulk of her young adult novels under the pseudonym Ann Halam. With the exception of The Exchange, all of Jones' books have some element of fantasy: an imaginary world, a spirit being, or some form of magic. In Ally, Ally Aster, for example, a group of children struggle with an ancient family secret and an ice being, while in The Alder Tree, a young girl confronts a dragon that has taken on human form. Praised by Kliatt contributor Paula Rohrlick as an "imaginative and absorbing tale" that would appeal to horror fans as well as fantasy aficionados, and cited by Booklist reviewer Debbie Carton as a "fantastical tale of survival and genetic mutation," Dr. Franklin's Island finds three teens surviving a plane crash only to find themselves stranded on a remote South American island that they soon discover is not deserted. Also praised by reviewers for its mix of fantasy and science fiction, Taylor Five finds a fourteen year old girl learning that she was one of the first human clones. Before she can deal with her anger against her parents, rebel forces attack the Borneo nature reserve where Taylor and her family live, forcing her to flee, with her younger brother Donny and a half-tame orangutan named Uncle, into the jungle in the hope of surviving. The novel's "taut suspense and Taylor's gritty intensity will compel many YAs," noted Jennifer Mattson in Booklist, while in School Library Journal Ellen Fader dubbed Taylor Five an "action packed survival story."
Discussing the origins of her written works, Jones once explained: "I was one of four children who lived a life of adventure and romance in between the streets and the houses of a rather grim urban environment. Under our beloved leader (my sister Rosamund), we fought, explored, and campaigned our fantasies. Our base material was C. S. Lewis's 'Narnia' and a television serial about William Tell, which appealed to us for some reason. In my writing, I am still living these dramas."
The novel King Death's Garden presents a sickly, unpleasant boy named Maurice and Maurice's friend Moth, who may be a real spirit or merely an imaginary friend. Maureen Speller commented in the St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers that "this ambiguity and uncertainty is what gives the novel much of its power, as we observe Maurice retreating increasingly into the world he has created for himself." The Haunting of Jessica Raven utilizes a similar theme, as a young girl with a seriously ill brother finds herself involved with a group of people who may or may not be ghosts. A Books for Keeps contributor remarked on Jones's fine, sensitive writing, calling the book "superb." A Junior Bookshelf reviewer was also impressed, declaring The Haunting of Jessica Raven "a moving story, told with a simplicity which in no way weakens its emotional appeal.… Above all it is a story about people, vulnerable, sad, volatile, at the mercy of events but still capable of influencing them."
One of Jones's most ambitious projects was her "Inland" trilogy, which was described by Jessica Yates in Books for Keeps as "a feminist and environmentalist saga of science fantasy." The plot involves the collapse of civilization due to the depletion of known energy sources, and the renaissance of magic. The heroine, a girl named Zanne, is fascinated by the relics of ancient, obsolete technology. Although her affinity for machinery puts her at odds with her culture, it also shows her a way out when she disables a power station, discovers a mine filled with radioactive material, and travels to another land to see a rocket ship. Speller declared that Jones's "socialist vision of a magic which affects the balance of the world and which should be operated only by common consent is very much at odds with the more traditional view of magic as a power which resides in the few and is used at their discretion, without consultation. The series is all the more refreshing for that. She captures very well Zanne's dilemma in that she loves the bygone technology and recognizes how it might help her people but simultaneously understands that this moment is not right for its use, when the cost is too terrible."
Although she did not set out to create a novel trilogy, Jones refers to three of her novels as a series about an Aleutian invasion of earth. Her 1993 book White Queen—winner of the James Tiptree, Jr. Award—tells the story of the first contact the Aleutians make with Earth. In North Wind, published three years later, Jones explores the consequences of the Aleutian empire on Earth, and her 1998 work Phoenix Café relates the process of the Aleutians leaving Earth. Spike online interviewer Chris Mitchell quoted Jones as explaining that "These three books are a sort of parallel version of the European invasion of Africa in the last century.… What happens when a people get invaded and dominated by a bigger culture and a snazzier technology." Character development, one of the strong points of Jones's writing, was praised by a Publishers Weekly reviewer who added that, throughout the series, Jones also displays an uniquely "sophisticated understanding of politics, both sexual and general." In Booklist a reviewer described the three Aleutian novels as "a dark blend of [noted science fiction writers] Aldous Huxley and Joanna Russ."
The title of Jones' 2001 adult novel, Bold as Love, is borrowed from one of famed guitarist Jimi Hendrix's recording albums, Axis: Bold as Love. Jones' choice of title reflects the nature of her protagonist, whom Jon Courtenay Grimwood, writing in the London Guardian, described as a "flamboyant guitar hero." Bold as Love, which won the Arthur C. Clarke Award, tells a futuristic story of a group of musicians who suddenly find themselves in a position of political power as Great Britain falls into extreme disarray due to the devastating effects of pollution, global warming, massive outbreaks of disease, and terrorism. "Since Jones is a good and subtle writer," Guardian reviewer Francis Spufford stated, "the texture of this unlikely story is wonderfully maintained." The heroine of Bold as Love, Fiorinda, also serves as the central character of the follow-up novel Castles Made of Sand, and the series continues with Midnight Lamp.
As Jones was quoted as writing in the St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers, "Fiction without any non-real element seems to me tainted with a deeply buried absurdity. Fiction happens in the mind of the reader and the writer, not in the material world—and in the mind, as in fantastic fiction, the apparently immutable rules of the physical world are constantly broken."
Biographical and Critical Sources
St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.
Booklist, December 1, 1997, John Mort, review of Phoenix Café, p. 612; July, 2002, Debbie Carton, review of Dr. Franklin's Island, p. 1838; February 15, 2004, Jennifer Mattson, review of Taylor Five, p. 1051.
Books for Keeps, November, 1993, p. 28; September, 1995, p. 12.
Guardian, (London, England), August 25, 2001, Francis Spufford, "Visions of Albion," p. 8; August 10, 2002, Jon Courtenay Grimwood, "The Crazy World of Gwyneth Jones," p. 21.
Junior Bookshelf, December, 1994, p. 237.
Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2004, review of Taylor Five, p. 83.
Kliatt, July, 2002, Paula Rohrlick, review of Dr. Franklin's Island, p. 10; January, 2004, Paula Rohrlick, review of Dr. Franklin's Island, p. 24.
New York Times Book Review, March 15, 1998, Gerald Jonas, review of Phoenix Café, p. 36.
Publishers Weekly, December 22, 1997, review of Phoenix Café, p. 43.
School Library Journal, May, 2002, Sharon Rawlins, review of Dr. Franklin's Island, p. 152; April, 2004, Ellen Fader, review of Taylor Five, p. 154.
Bold as Love Web site, http://www.boldaslove.co.uk/ (September 15, 2003).
Gwyneth Jones Web site, http://homepage.ntlworld.com/gwynethann/ (April 2, 2005).
Spike Online, http://www.spikemagazine.com/ (August 22, 2002), Chris Mitchell, "Phoenix Rising."
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