TENNANT, Emma (Christina)
(1937-)
   UK writer whose first acknowledged novel - her true first, The Colour of Rain (1964) as by Catherine Aydy, was not sf - was The Time of the Crack (1973; vt The Crack 1978), an sf tale about an inexplicable faultline - described in terms that imply a gamut of meanings, from SEX to apocalypse - that opens through the heart of London. The Last of the Country House Murders (1974) is a rather shoddy and very short pastiche ofa classic detective novel set in a hazily realized, depressed NEAR FUTURE in which the last country house is maintained as a relic of a culture which ET - a member of the eminent Tennant family - views with considerable ambivalence. Some sf devices figure in Hotel de Dream (1976), whose obsessively nostalgic residents begin to find themselves in each other's dreams: the nostalgia they share - for a cleansed and triumphant royal Britain, the kind of land Edwardians might have anticipated, but which WWI destroyed any chance of - somewhat resembles in detail and ironical import the Edwardian futures promulgated by Michael MOORCOCK in his Jerry Cornelius and Oswald Bastable series and elsewhere. ET's next several books - like The Bad Sister (1978), Wild Nights (1979), Alice Fell (1980), Queen of Stones (1982) and Woman Beware Woman (1983; vt TheHalf-Mother 1985 US) - tend to combine GOTHIC furniture, a complex FEMINISM, supernatural intrusions and an abiding ambivalence. This refusal to settle meaning upon her characters, her plots or her generic surrounds results in books of dream-like vivacity which, through their tendency to close insecurely, occasionally diminish the insights they have dodged towards. At the same time, her clearly non-genre novels are relatively unconvincing. Of her more recent titles, the most interesting are fables in the indeterminate mode of her best work. Two Women of London: The Strange Case of Ms Jekyll and Mrs Hyde (1989) plays on its classic sourcean intricate game of female possession in the late 20th century. Sisters and Strangers: A Moral Tale (1990) is a feminist reconstruction of history in which ADAM AND EVE survive to the present day. Faustine (1992) replays the Faust myth with a female protagonist whose beauty chills the world.In 1975-8 ET ed the journal Bananas, which published J.G. BALLARD and others.Bananas (anth 1977) was taken from the journal, and Saturday Night Reader (anth 1979) fairly represents its bent.
   JC
   Works for children: The Boggart (1980); The Search for Treasure Island (1981); The Ghost Child (1984).
   See also: WOMEN SF WRITERS.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. . 2011.

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