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Hilary Bailey & Emma Tennant

By / January 23, 2017 / no comments

The deaths have been announced within two days of each other of two writers and editors who were friends, occasional collaborators, and closely associated with the British new wave, though their work has tended to be under-appreciated within the sf community.

Hilary Bailey, born in 1936, was the author of one of the classic alternate history short stories, “The Fall of Frenchy Steiner” (included, among other places, in Hitler Victorious edited by Gregory Benford and Martin H. Greenberg), in which Germany did not make the mistake of attacking Russia in 1941 and so won World War II.

New Worlds 7It was her most famous science fiction story, though she did occasionally contribute to New Worlds, and in 1974 took over as editor of New Worlds Quarterly for its last four issues. She was married to Michael Moorcock from 1962 to 1978, and the SF Encyclopedia credits her as the uncredited co-author of Moorcock’s The Black Corridor.

Fifty-First StateHer own novels were rarely overtly science fictional, though Fifty-First State is set in a very near future in which poverty-striken Britain, ruled by increasingly repressive governments, becomes the fifty-first state of America. Most of her fiction was mainstream, though often with elements of the fantastic or the supernatural. She made something of a speciality of writing sequels to well-known novels by other writers, generally reimagining the original work from a feminist perspective. These include Miles and Flora, a sequel to the classic ghost story, The Turn of the Screw by Henry James; Frankenstein's Brideand  Frankenstein’s Bride, in which she imagines what might have happened if Dr. Frankenstein had lived up to his promise and made a wife for the creature.

Hitler's Girls: A NovelShe also wrote one novel in collaboration with Emma Tennant. Hitler’s Girls is a fairly straightforward international conspiracy novel in which Hitler had an affair with a member of the British aristocracy which resulted in the birth of a daughter. The girl was raised as an orphan and is ignorant of her father, but she becomes the focus of murders and conspiracies involving neo-Nazis across Europe.

Emma Tennant, who has also died, was born in 1937, was a member of an aristocratic family that also included the socialite Stephen Tennant and Colin Tennant who owned the island of Mustique. Although not directly associated with New Worlds, Emma Tennant did edit the magazine Bananas for three years in the mid-70s, where she published work by J.G. Ballard, Angela Carter and John Sladek among others.

The CrackThe first novel she wrote under her own name, The Crack, imagines a tremendous crack opening up across London, and the various loony psychiatrists, mad religious leaders and ordinary people who try to make sense of their new landscape. Not long after, she published an even better novel, Hotel de DreamHotel de Dream, in which her sense of the surreal is even more pronounced. The various lodgers at Westringham find themselves turning up in each other’s dreams, until their consensual dream world starts to have a profound effect upon the real world around them.

In many ways, Emma Tennant’s subsequent career mirrors that of Hilary Bailey. Most of her subsequent novels were mainstream, and she also wrote a number of feminist-inspired sequels to well-known works, such as Pemberley, one of many sequels she wrote to Jane Austen novels. And again, some of these mainstream novels had surreal, fantastical or straight forwardly science fictional aspects. For instance, Two Women of London: The Strange Case of Ms Jekyll and Mrs HydeTwo Women of London: The Strange Case of Ms Jekyll and Mrs Hyde, revisits Robert Louis Stevenson’s original story, but this time it is a poor single mother who finds a potion that gives her back her looks, and allows her to revive her career ambitions before leading to murder.

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