Robert Holdstock: Wikis

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Robert Holdstock

Robert Holdstock in Nantes, 2004
Born 2 August 1948(1948-08-02)
Hythe, Kent, UK
Died 29 November 2009 (2009-11-30) (aged 61)
Occupation Novelist
Nationality British
Writing period 1968–2009
Genres Fantasy,
Science fiction,
Horror
Notable work(s) Mythago Wood
Official website

Robert Paul Holdstock (2 August 1948 – 29 November 2009) was an English novelist and author best known for his works of Celtic, Nordic, Gothic and Pictish fantasy literature, predominantly in the fantasy subgenre of mythic fiction.

Holdstock's writing was first published during 1968. His science fiction and fantasy works explore philosophical, psychological, anthropological, spiritual, and woodland themes. He received three BSFA awards and won the World Fantasy Award in the category of Best Novel of 1985.

Contents

Biography

Robert Holdstock, the oldest of five children, was born in Hythe, Kent. His father, Robert Frank Holdstock, was a police officer and his mother, Kathleen Madeline Holdstock, was a nurse. At the age of seven years, Robert started attending the Gillingham Grammar School in the Medway Towns. As a young adult he had jobs including banana boatman, construction worker, and slate miner.[1]

As an adult he earned a Bachelor of Science from University College of North Wales, Bangor, with honours in applied Zoology (1967–1970). He continued his education, earning a Master of Science in Medical Zoology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in 1971. He conducted research at the Medical Research Council in London from 1971 to 1974 while also doing part-time writing. He became a full-time writer during 1976 and lived out the rest of his life in North London. [2][3]

He died in hospital at the age of 61, following his collapse with an E. coli infection on 18 November 2009.[4][5]

Writings

Holdstock's fantasy novel Lavondyss with cover art by Alan Lee

Robert Holdstock's first published story, Pauper's Plot, appeared in the New Worlds magazine in 1968.[6] His first novel was a science fiction work titled Eye Among the Blind, released in 1976.[7]

During the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s Holdstock wrote many fantasy and science fiction novels along with a number of short stories, most of which were published under a pseudonym. Robert Holdstock's pseudonyms include Robert Faulcon, Chris Carlsen, Richard Kirk, Robert Black, Ken Blake, and Steven Eisler.[8]

Holdstock wrote a novella, The Dark Wheel, which was included with the best-selling 1984 computer game Elite. Holdstock has also written The Emerald Forest, based on the film of the same name as directed by John Boorman (director of Deliverance and Excalibur amongst others). He also novelised episodes of the Granada television seris Bulman.

Holdstock's breakthrough novel Mythago Wood was published during 1984 with his true name. Mythago Wood is recognized as Holdstock's first major fantasy work and begins the Ryhope wood series.[9] The books in this series started with the Mythago Wood novella published in 1981 and continue to the present day with the sequel to Mythago Wood, Avilion, published in July 2009.

From 2001 to 2007 Holdstock produced a trilogy of fantasy novels, the Merlin Codex, consisting of Celtika, The Iron Grail and The Broken Kings.

Holdstock has authored, edited, and contributed to a number of non-fiction works including Alien Landscapes, Tour of the Universe, Horror: 100 Best Novels and the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (not The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.)

Critical analysis

Holdstock's works have been subject to much literary analysis. The majority of this analysis is of Mythago Wood.

David Pringle describes Eye Among the Blind, Holdstock's first science fiction novel, as a "dogged, detailed, somewhat slow-moving planetary mystery."[10] Regarding the same novel Ursula K. Le Guin remarked "As strong a treatment of a central theme of science fiction – alienness, and the relation of the human and the alien – as any I have read."[11]

According to Michael D. C. Drout, a modern J. R. R. Tolkien scholar, Holdstock's fantasy is a significant part of the fantasy literature genre. This is because (in the Ryhope wood series) Holdstock has created literary arts containing the power and aesthetic standards of Tolkien’s fantasy without being either a "close imitation of" or a "reaction against" Tolkien. Drout considers Holdstock, along with Ursula K. Le Guin, a worthy inheritor of the fantasy tradition created by Tolkien. [12] According to a study of Tolkien's works by Partrick Curry, Holdstock is placed in a quartet of noteworthy fantasy authors including Ursula K. Le Guin, John Crowley and Marion Zimmer Bradley for writing fantasy books that come close to Tolkien's breadth and depth of imagination, and "in some respects surpass Tolkien."[13]

One essayist states "Robert Holdstock's gift for evoking landscapes and weaving mythic patterns is outstanding."[14] Accordingly, the covers of his books have been produced by a variety of notable Science Fiction and Fantasy illustrators. The original UK and US covers of Mythago Wood were illustrated by Eddi Gornall and Christopher Zacharow, respectively; Geoff Taylor illustrated the original UK covers for the Mythago Wood sequels Lavondyss, The Bone Forest, The Hollowing and Merlin's Wood. Illustrators of subsequent covers and editions include Jim Burns, Tom Canty, John Howe, Alan Lee, John Jude Pallencar, Larry Rostant, and Ron Walotsky. John Howe stated "Holdstock is to me one of the best Celtic fantasy authors alive today."[15]

David Langford offers praise for most of Holdstock's work, but regarding Merlin's Wood he states "the overall narrative is flawed, distorted by its weight of undeserved loss and inaccessible healing."[16]

Awards

Robert Holdstock's writings in various formats and genres have won literary awards; below is a partial list of nominations and awards.

  • The novella Mythago Wood won the BSFA Award for Best Short Story in 1981 along with the World Fantasy Award for Best Novella in 1982.
  • The novel Mythago Wood won the BSFA Award for Best Novel in 1984 along with the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 1985. Mythago Wood was published as part of the Masterpieces of Fantasy series by Easton Press, who describe themselves as releasing 'works of lasting meaning, beauty and importance.'
  • Lavondyss won the BSFA Award for Best Novel in 1988.
  • The Bone Forest was nominated for the World Fantasy Award in the category of Best Collection in 1992.
  • The Ragthorn, coauthored with Garry Kilworth, won the World Fantasy Award in the category of Best Novella in 1992 and was nominated for the BSFA Award for Best Novel in 1994.
  • The Fetch won the HOMer Award for horror novel in 1992.
  • The Iron Grail won the Czech Academy of Science Fiction Fantasy and Horror Award in the category of Best Novel in 2002.
  • La Forêt des Mythagos, i.e. the Mythago Wood collection, won the Grand Prix de l'Imaginaire in the category of Prix spécial in 2003.
  • Scarrowfell, Valley of Statues and Other Stories and its translation, published in French, won the Prix d'Imaginales award in the New Fantasy category in 2004.
  • Celtika won the Grand Prix de l'Imaginaire in the Foreign Language Novel category in 2004.

Select bibliography

Holdstock's horror novel The Fetch with cover art by Jim Burns

Ryhope Wood series

Merlin Codex series

  • Celtika
  • The Iron Grail
  • The Broken Kings

Other novels

  • Eye Among the Blind
  • Earthwind
  • Necromancer
  • Where Time Winds Blow
  • In the Valley of the Statues (short story collection)
  • The Emerald Forest (film novelisation)
  • The Fetch (also published under the title Unknown Regions)
  • Ancient Echoes

Footnotes

  1. ^ Holdstock, Robert Eye Among the Blind (New York: Doubleday & Company, 1976), back flap.
  2. ^ Newman, Kim St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers, ed. David Pringle (Detroit, MI: St. James Press, 1996), page 285.
  3. ^ Langford, David Supernatural Fiction Writers, Second Edition, Volume 1, ed. Richard Bleiler (New York, NY: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2003), page 445.
  4. ^ "Locus Roundtable: Robert Holdstock." Locus Online: The Website of The Magazine of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Field. Web. 29 Nov. 2009. <http://www.locusmag.com/Roundtable/2009/11/robert-holdstock.html>.
  5. ^ http://robertholdstock.com/2009/11/rip-rob-holdstock/
  6. ^ Moorcock, Michael Horror: The 100 Best Books, eds. Jones, Stephen and Newman, Kim (New York, NY: Carrol & Graf, 1998), page 326.
  7. ^ The Ultimate Guide to Science Fiction, David Pringle (London: Grafton Books, 1990), page 111.
  8. ^ The Encyclopedia of Fantasy, editors John Clute and John Grant (New York, NY: St. Martin's Press, 1997), page 474.
  9. ^ Langford, David Supernatural Fiction Writers, Second Edition, Volume 1, ed. Richard Bleiler (New York, NY: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2003), page 446.
  10. ^ The Ultimate Guide to Science Fiction, David Pringle (London: Grafton, 1990), page 111.
  11. ^ The Ultimate Guide to Science Fiction, David Pringle (London: Grafton, 1990), page 111.
  12. ^ Drout, Michael D.C. Of Sorcerers and Men: Tolkien and the Roots of Modern Fantasy Literature, China: Barnes & Noble Publishing, 2006, page 56.
  13. ^ Curry, Patrick Defending Middle-Earth: Tolkien: Myth and Modernity, New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin, 2004, pages 132–133
  14. ^ Langford, David Supernatural Fiction Writers, Second Edition, Volume 1, ed. Richard Bleiler (New York, NY: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2003), page 451.
  15. ^ Jude, Dick Fantasy Art Masters: The Best Fantasy and Science Fiction Artists and How They Work, London: HarperCollins, 1999, page 43.
  16. ^ Langford, David Supernatural Fiction Writers, Second Edition, Volume 1, ed. Richard Bleiler (New York, NY: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2003), page 450.

References

  • Clute, John (1997). The Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1st ed. ed.). New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0312198695.  
  • Curry, Patrick (2004). Defending Middle Earth" Tolkien" Myth and Modernity (1st ed. ed.). New York: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 978-0618478859.  
  • Drout, Michael (2006). Of Sorcerers and Men: Tolkien and the Roots of Modern Fantasy Literature (1st ed. ed.). China: Barnes & Noble. ISBN 978-0760785232.  
  • Holdstock, Robert (1976). Eye Among the Blind (1st ed. ed.). New York: Doubleday & Company. ISBN 978-0385126816.  
  • Holdstock, Robert (1984). Mythago Wood (1st ed. ed.). London: Victor Gollancz. ISBN 978-0575034963.  
  • Holdstock, Robert (1988). Lavondyss (1st ed. ed.). London: Victor Gollancz. ISBN 978-057503475X.  
  • Holdstock, Robert (1991). The Bone Forest (1st ed. ed.). London: Grafton. ISBN 978-0246138330.  
  • Holdstock, Robert (1993). The Hollowing (1st ed. ed.). London: Harper Collins. ISBN 978-000224201X.  
  • Holdstock, Robert (1994). Merlin's Wood (1st ed. ed.). London: Harper Collins. ISBN 978-0002246031.  
  • Holdstock, Robert (1997). Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn (1st ed. ed.). United States of America: Roc Books. ISBN 978-0451455703.  
  • Jones, Stephen (1998). Horror: The 100 Best Books (2nd ed. ed.). New york: Carroll & Graf. ISBN 978-0786705523.  
  • Jude, Dick (1999). Fantasy Art Masters: The Best Fantasy and Science Fiction Artists Show How They Work (1st ed. ed.). London: HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0823016366.  
  • Langford, David (2003). Supernatural Fiction Writers (2nd ed. ed.). Charles Scribner's Sons. ISBN 978-0684312514.  
  • Newman, Kim (1996). St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers (1st ed. ed.). Detroit: St. James Press. ISBN 978-1558622050.  
  • Pringle, David (1990). The Ultimate Guide to Science Fiction (1st ed. ed.). London: Grafton Books. ISBN 978-0886875367.  

External links

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