Skip to main content 

Owing to the screen size of your device, you may obtain a better viewing experience by rotating your device a quarter-turn (to get the so-called “panorama” screen view).

Great Science-Fiction & Fantasy Works

  Science-fiction & fantasy literature: a critical list with discussions.

(click for menu)
You are here:  Home  »  Authors  »  Individual  »  Gabriel King ( = this page)
(Click on any image above to see it at full size.)
You are here:  Home  »  Authors  »  Individual  »  Gabriel King ( = this page)

You can get a site directory by clicking on the “hamburger” icon () in the upper right of this page.
Or you can search this site with Google (standard Google-search rules apply).
(Be aware that “sponsored” links to other sites will appear atop the actual results.)

Search term(s):

Welcome to the Great Science-Fiction & Fantasy Works web site!

You have apparently come to this page from a link on a search engine or another site. If this is your first visit here, I much recommend that you take a few minutes to look over the introductory material accessible via the red “Introductory” zone of the Site Menu available from the “hamburger” icon in the upper right of this (and every) page. An understanding of the purposes and principles of organization of this site will, I hope and believe, much augment your experience here, for this page and in general. You can simply click this link to get at the site front page, which, unsurprisingly, is the best place to start. Thank you for visiting.

Gabriel King

Quick page jumps:

Standard Disclaimer:

This is a brief discussion of Gabriel King and, of course, of some speculative-fiction books by King.

This discussion and list does not necessarily include every book by King: it includes only those books that I both know and like. Just as with the author list itself, omission of a particular item may mean I didn’t think highly enough of the omitted item, or it may simply mean that I have not yet sufficient familiarity with it. (In a very few cases, I have listed some books merely on the strength of my opinion of the author: all such books are clearly marked below, as throughout these lists, with a hash mark (#) before the title so you know what’s what.)

I don’t pretend that this discussion is a deep analysis. My intent is no more than to give you a rough idea of what kinds of tales King tells, how those tales are usually told, and what makes them and King worthy; in sum, to help you rank Gabriel King (and the works by King listed here) on your personal literary “to do” list.

A Few Words About Gabriel King

The brief article below is what some sites call a “stub”—an admittedly incomplete and possibly inadequate discussion set forth as a sort of placeholder, on the theory that something is better than nothing at all, till such time as I am able to set forth a more fully rounded analysis.

“Gabriel King” is a pseudonym for the collaborative team of M. John Harrison and Jane Johnson (who also writes as “Jude Fisher”). The four books to date under the King byline form two distinct duologies (though I have not yet segregated those out in the lists). The first pair and the second pair can be read independent of each other; and though each individual book can also be read satisfactorily on its own, it’s much better to read the duologies in internal order, and best to read the entire quartet in order.

The books all fall into the class commonly called “animal tales”: that is, the characters are animals endowed, by the author, with human-like intelligence yet remaining in essence themselves. The category includes works as diverse in intelligence and design as The Wind in the Willows and Peter Rabbit. There is an especially strong vein of the material in British literature, and several excellent representatives of it are on the lists here.

The focus animals of the King books are cats. In the first duology, which I think clearly the stronger, the cats—along with a few other animals, from a fox to a crow—dominate the tales: the humans are background figures to the animals’ needs and actions and lives (though the great enemy challenging them, and the world, is human); in the second pair, the tales are human tales with the animals as background, and while I think them worthy reading, they seem to me to have lost the bright flame of sympathy, and above all of specialness, that illumined the first pair so well.

The difficulty with all animal tales is establishing that extraordinarily nice balance required between, on the one hand, making the characters too unhuman, so that their thought processes and emotional lives are distanced from our sympathies, or on the other hand making them little people in fur coats, which simply makes for a too-twee ordinarily human story.

I suspect that Kenneth Grahame in The Wind in the Willows did it about as well as ever it can be done, and all other “animal tales” must, I think, be measured against that standard. King, while his/her/their books are quite different in style and tone from Grahame’s, comes off well: the animals have personalities human enough to engage us, while yet having urges and concerns far enough from our own to establish that necessary critical distancing.

Return to the page top. ↑

Other Gabriel King Resources

Gabriel King Resources on the Web

There are quite a few sappy, soppy book reviews out there, many from readers obviously not well familiar with speculative fiction (or, to be brutal, with well-written fiction of any sort). Putting those aside, little remains: a review at the SF Site of The Wild Road & The Golden Cat, a page of brief biographies of the authors comprised in “Gabriel King” [archived copy] and an interview with the authors [archived copy] are the chief pages. Peripherally, there is available a page on Feline Folklore [archived copy], in which various animal fantasy tales are cited, including the King books.

One can, of course, separately look up each author. This site lists M. John Harrison Resources; Johnson has her own web page, titled simply Jane Johnson.

Return to the page top. ↑

Gabriel King Resources in Print

I could find none.

Return to the page top. ↑

Notable Science-Fiction and Fantasy Books by Gabriel King ***

(“Gabriel King” is a pseudonym for the collaborative team of M. John Harrison and Jane Johnson. I list and review “King” separately from Harrison because it is my fixed opinion that when authors adopt pseudonyms, they intend their writings under each name to be evaluated distinctly.)

Return to the page top. ↑

Disclaimers  |  Privacy Policy

owl logo This site is one of The Owlcroft Company family of web sites. Please click on the link (or the owl) to see a menu of our other diverse user-friendly, helpful sites.
owl logo Like all our sites, this one is hosted at the highly regarded Pair Networks, whom we strongly recommend—click the link to learn more. (To get 20% off on hosting fees if you move to Pair, use code pairref-FyXypEEk)

(Note: All Owlcroft systems run on Ubuntu Linux and we heartily recommend it to everyone—click on the link for more information).

All content copyright © 2023 The Owlcroft Company
(excepting quoted material, which is believed to be Fair Use).

This web page is strictly compliant with the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) Extensible HyperText Markup Language (XHTML) Protocol v1.0 (Transitional) and the W3C Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) Protocol v3 — because we care about interoperability. Click on the logos below to test us!

This page was last modified on Wednesday, 29 November 2023, at 11:05 pm Pacific Time.