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Great Science-Fiction & Fantasy Works

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

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Hope Mirrlees

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Standard Disclaimer:

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

This discussion and list does not necessarily include every book by Mirrlees: 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 Mirrlees tells, how those tales are usually told, and what makes them and Mirrlees worthy; in sum, to help you rank Hope Mirrlees (and the works by Mirrlees listed here) on your personal literary “to do” list.

A Few Words About Hope Mirrlees

Regrettably, I have not yet had an opportunity to write an essay on this author, but the “Other Resources” section below will lead you to some information about the “Notable Books” listed farther down this page.

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Other Hope Mirlees Resources

Hope Mirrlees Resources on the Web

Probably in good part because she produced so little, Hope Mirlees has largely languished in obscurity, with correspondingly little about her to be found on the web (or anywhere). That is now changing, as both her fiction and her poetry are finally emerging to some acclaim.

Michael Swanwick has given us some good work in his essay “The Lady Who Wrote Lud-in-the-Mist”. But premier, I think, is a lengthy review—indeed, “analysis” is a better term—of Lud-in-the-Mist by Adam Roberts at his blog; it is rich with insights and I much recommend it. There is also a somewhat discursive essay by Alan Jacobs, “A Novelist’s Reflections on Useful Fictions”, at The Hedgehog Review; it, too, has some useful thoughts on the book.

But beyond the scant information on Mirrlees herself, there is now a growing literature of appreciations of Lud-in-the-Mist, a surprising and pleasing development (I gather that Swanwick’s and perhaps even more so Neil Gaiman’s copious praise for Lud-in-the-Mist have raised the awareness of a new generation of readers).

There is an essay by Gaiman in The Guardian about how he came to write his novel Stardust, in which essay he gives some brief space to Mirrlees; but the essay is well worth reading for itself.

As to reviews and comments on the book, Google Is Your Friend, but a couple worth especially noting are those of George T. Dodds at The SF Site and Catherynne M. Valente at The Bitter Quill [archived copy].

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Hope Mirrlees Resources in Print

Fantasy author Michael Swanwick, a Mirrlees devotee, has written Hope-in-the-Mist, a book-length examination of Mirrlees’ life and work. Regrettably, print copies are extremely scarce (only 230 copies were printed), and are correspondingly expensive (when they can be found at all). There is, however, an ebook edition, which is inexpensive and readily available.

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Notable Science-Fiction and Fantasy Books by Hope Mirrlees ****

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