UK writer, primarily for children; he has lived all his life near Alderley Edge, Cheshire, the setting for nearly all his fiction. AG is widely thought one of the finest, though most difficult, children's writers of his generation. Most of his work is FANTASY, rooted in his knowledge of local archaeology and MYTHOLOGY. His first two books form a short series for younger children: The Weirdstone of Brisingamen (1960; vt The Weirdstone 1961 US) and The Moon of Gomrath (1963); his third, Elidor(1965), which has been assembled with the first two as Alan Garner Omnibus (omni 1994), can be read as borderline sf. The mood here darkens in a story of teenagers faced with a threat (and a quest) from an ALTERNATE WORLD, which impinges menacingly on their own. AG's first fully maturework is The Owl Service (1967), in which a bitter Welsh legend re-enacts itself among modern children, faced with fully adult problems of love, jealousy and death. AG's theme has always been a kind of TIME TRAVEL, but the time is inner and psychic; his stories rework archetypal patterns, usually involving pain, loss, desire, rage and the need for an almost unattainable courage.AG's next book, Red Shift (1973), is in no conventional sense a children's book (see also CHILDREN'S SF). In compressed, elliptical prose, primarily dialogue, he reverts to the theme of the past working out its problems in the present, as a time shift, focused on a Neolithic axe-head, moves the protagonist backwards and forwards in a choppy and wrenching way between alter egos in the twilight of the Roman Empire in Britain, the Civil War of the 17th century and now. AG's last fiction of note is a sparely written, quasi-autobiographicaltetralogy for rather younger children: The Stone Book (1976 chap), Tom Fobble's Day (1977 chap), Granny Reardun (1977 chap) and The Aimer Gate(1978 chap), later published together as The Stone Book Quartet (omni 1983; vt The Stone Quartet US). Though these books are neither sf nor fantasy, the old themes recur.
   Other works: The Breadhorse (1975 chap), for younger children;The Lad of the Gad (1981).Retold folktales: The Hamish Hamilton Book of Goblins (coll 1969); Alan Garner's Fairy Talesof Gold (coll 1980; rev vt Fairytales of Gold 1989 illus Michael Foreman); Alan Garner's Book of British Fairy Tales (coll 1984); A Bag of Moonshine(coll 1986).As Editor: The Guizer: A Book of Fools (anth 1975), which in addition to tales by others contains many folktales retold by AG.
   About the author: A Fine Anger: A Critical Introduction to the Work of Alan Garner (1981) by Neil Philip; "Inner Time" by Alan Garner in Science Fiction atLarge (anth 1976; vt Explorations of the Marvellous) ed Peter NICHOLLS.
   See also: FANTASY; RADIO.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. . 2011.

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