BURDEKIN, Katherine Penelope


BURDEKIN, Katherine Penelope
(1896-1963)
   UK writer, who signed some of her work Kay Burdekin; in the 1930s she wrote as Murray Constantine. Her early work in particular took the guise of FANTASY to express increasingly explicit FEMINIST interests. The Burning Ring (1927) is a TIME-TRAVEL fantasy in which a self-centred young man, having been given magic powers, visits various epochs in various disguises, learning more about real life than he at first wished. The 12th-century protagonist of The Rebel Passion (1929) is transported in a vision from his monastery to a 21st-century UK where women are equal, eugenic sterilization of the unfit is normal, and the Western world - after a futuristic war with Asia - gradually turns to a William MORRIS-style medievalism. Proud Man (1934), as Murray Constantine, subjects a sample of contemporary humanity to the searching interrogation of a visitor from the future whose hermaphroditism stands as a reproach to our local muddle. The Devil, Poor Devil! (1934), as Constantine, confronts the Devil with a killing spirit of secular sanity, against which He is helpless. KB's last published novels were the most explicitly didactic. Swastika Night (1937 as Constantine; 1985 as KB), her best known novel, examines a Nazi-dominated Europe 500 years hence through the eyes of the young German protagonist, who begins to understand that something is perhaps awry in a world where women are breeding-animals and Hitler is deified (HITLER WINS). The posthumous publication of KB's feminist UTOPIA, The End of This Day's Business (1990), apparently written before Swastika Night, further helped to disinter from pseudonymous obscurity a writer of considerable interest. Her work is at times surreptitiously couched, and her message is too often found embedded in romance-fiction plotting, but KB can now be seen as a figure of contemporary interest.
   JC
   See also: DYSTOPIAS; GENRE SF; POLITICS.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. . 2011.

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