Sunday, June 26, 2022

Rereading Old Children's Books

Bryan Wharton: John Sleigh Pudney (1967)

In his last few years, just about the only thing my father seemed to want to read were old children's books by the likes of Laurence R. Bourne and Percy F. Westerman, as well as 'Biggles', the 'Swallows and Amazons' series, and the school stories and adventure serials in his almost complete sets of Chums and the Boys Own Annual.

Percy F. Westerman: The Bulldog Breed (c.1930s)

"Resting the tired brain," he would call it. They were large books, printed on thick newsprint, with garish cover pictures, and they eventually occupied most of the bookcases in the house - relegating my mother's collection of Jane Austen, George Eliot, and other school-prize classics to the ever-growing rows of cardboard boxes in the basement.

John Pudney: Thursday Adventure (1955)

I was thinking of him the other day when I ran across a battered ex-library copy of John Pudney's Thursday Adventure in a Hospice Shop. I'd never read it before, but our family collection did include various other instalments in the cycle of "Fred and I" adventures: entitled variously 'Saturday', 'Sunday', 'Monday' Adventure - and so on through all the days of the week. There was even a coda of 'Spring', 'Summer' (and so on) seasonal Adventures.

John Pudney: Tuesday Adventure (1953)

The one I remember best was, I think, Tuesday Adventure. At any rate, the plot summary for that one included on the flyleaf of Thursday Adventure definitely rings a bell. I remember thinking it wonderfully imaginative and exciting at the time: it has some mildly Science Fictional elements in it, as do the other volumes, hence the inclusion of its author, John Pudney, in the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction database.

For years I'd had in the back of my mind the desirability of acquiring a complete set of these books, days and seasons alike, all 11 of them - perhaps even deducing the hinted-at identity of "I", the narrator of the stories. Is "I" in fact a boy at all? And is Fred "I's" brother, or cousin, or what? For that matter, is "Uncle George" a real relative, or just a family friend?

John Sharp, dir.: The Stolen Airliner (1955)

Now I'm not so sure. Thursday Adventure, despite being the only one in the series to be filmed - as The Stolen Airliner - doesn't evoke quite the same feelings I expected it to. The storytelling seems a little on the perfunctory side, the heroes and villains too neatly lined up for our inspection from the kick-off.

Perhaps if I'd been able to read it when I was younger it might be different. Lord knows I wanted to - but our school library was sadly lacking in thrillers. Never mind, I'll always be grateful for those few unobtrusive SF anthologies it did include.

Anthony Asquith, dir.: The Way to the Stars (1945)

Though I didn't realise it at the time, John Pudney was a far more versatile and interesting figure than he seemed. As a slightly younger contemporary of W. H. Auden, he'd published a number of books on the fringes of the Macspaunday group in the thirties before finding his true audience in the forties as a war poet.

The Way to the Stars, pictured above, is famous for containing two poems by Pudney which are implied, in context, to have been written by Michael Redgrave's character in the movie: "Missing" and "Johnny-head-in-air." The latter, in particular, became a kind of R.A.F. anthem:
Do not despair
For Johnny-head-in-air;
He sleeps as sound
As Johnny underground.

Fetch out no shroud
For Johnny-in-the-cloud;
And keep your tears
For him in after years.

Better by far
For Johnny-the-bright-star,
To keep your head
And see his children fed.

John Pudney: Selected Poems (1946)

It was probably on the strength of this that his Selected Poems was published as a mass-market paperback in 1946.

His subsequent career as a hard-working journalist was punctuated by two sets of children's books, The "Fred and I" series mentioned above, and the "Hartwarp" series (for younger readers) in the 1960s. He also wrote a number of other novels and stories, though his main source of income appears to have been the non-fiction works he was commissioned to write, especially those on aeronautical subjects.

He was also an alcoholic. His eventual success in overcoming this habit forms the principal subject of much of his later verse, particularly that included in his second volume of Selected Poems, which I also own:

John Pudney: Selected Poems 1967-1973 (1973)

What of it, you may ask? He had his day; his "sins were scarlet but his books were read" (as Hilaire Belloc once put it). Is there any real need to resurrect him now? I suppose that I'd hoped "Fred and I" would retain the fascination they held for me as a pre-teen, but they don't, not really.

I don't regret making the experiment, though. It's true that we did feel at the time that my father was disappearing down a rabbit-hole of infantile fiction, dedicated principally (it seemed) to brave boys upholding the values of the British Empire against posturing Prussians, bloodthirsty Bolsheviks, and rebellious natives.

The other main thing he read was history, though, and the essentially tragic nature of that long chronicle of "old, unhappy, far-off things, and battles long ago" perhaps justified his predilection for the less testing pleasures of boy's literature.

I, too, now find myself reading old children's books both for relaxation and for the window they supply on the values of even the comparatively recent past. The "Bannermere" books of self-conscious leftist Geoffrey Trease, for instance, may seem fearfully buttoned-up and tame nowadays, but when they they were written - at much the same time as John Pudney's "Fred and I" stories - they definitely constituted a reaction agains the landed gentry assumptions of earlier children's fiction.

Annie Gauger, ed.: The Annotated Wind in the Willows (2009)

Much though I love Kenneth Grahame's Wind in the Willows, for instance, it's hard not to concur with my old Edinburgh Professor Wallace Robson's classic analysis of the class values that underlie it: the proletarian weasels' attempt to encroach on the inherited domains of Toad, the local squire, who has to be upheld by our heroes, Mole, Rat and Badger, despite their own contempt for Toad's foolish and criminal antics.

There's a lot to be learned, then, from children's books. It would have to be admitted that they can constitute an insidious form of brainwashing for the precociously literate. But the values of heroism, self-reliance, and refusal to kowtow to bullies encoded in most of them, regardless of fashion or era, is surely not to be despised then or now?

Bruno Bettelheim: The Uses of Enchantment (1976)

So I'll continue to collect and read them despite my occasional misgivings. There's some shocking stuff in some of them, I would acknowledge, but sheltering your mind from any views contrary to your own is not really much of a recipe for continued mental health.

I've always felt there was a lot in Nazi concentration camp survivor Bruno Bettelheim's claim of the continuing value of the shockingly violent and disruptive world of Grimm's fairytales, despite the understandable reluctance of many contemporary parents to expose their children to this barbarous world of ravening monsters and arbitrary power.

The goalposts may shift from era to era, but the need to think your own thoughts, defend your own values, and stand up for what you believe in lies deep at the heart of all the great works of children's literature from Lewis Carroll's Alice to Philip Pullman's Lyra books.

Children who don't read at all are in much greater danger of falling for charlatans than those who've imbibed copious doses of fairytales and beast fables at a formative age.

John Tenniel: The Nursery Alice (1890)

Wednesday, June 01, 2022

My New Bookcase

Bibliography / Psychogeography Bookcase
[photographs by Bronwyn Lloyd (1/6/22)]

Bronwyn and I are inveterate vintage shoppers. The other day we were looking through the Hospice shop at Wairau Park (located just up the street from Hoyts Cinemas, enabling one to combine browsing with moviegoing in a very civilised fashion). In the past she's been a bit scornful of my tendency to return from such expeditions with a pile of scruffy old ex-library books, so I was quite surprised when she pointed out a handsome wooden bookcase in the middle of the shop.

Or, rather, there were two bookcases. One was so large and imposing that it was hard to imagine fitting it into our remaining free wallspace. However the other, smaller one had tall, wide, wooden shelves, and looked tailor-made to hold some exciting new category of books.

The last time an event of this type happened, I used the new space to centralise my previously disparate collection of ghost stories. This time I decided to tackle the tricky topic of psychogeography.

But what exactly is psychogeography? I suppose, in the final analysis, it mainly depends on the list of authors you choose to attach to the concept. I wrote some notes about it for one of our Massey postgraduate creative writing courses a few years ago, which I'll refer you to if you want to explore the theme in more depth. I'll content myself here with a brief précis:

Not to find one’s way in a city may well be uninteresting and banal. It requires ignorance — nothing more. But to lose oneself in a city — as one loses oneself in a forest — that calls for a quite different schooling. Then, signboard and street names, passers-by, roofs, kiosks, or bars must speak to the wanderer like a cracking twig under his feet in the forest.
- Walter Benjamin, A Berlin Chronicle (1932)

In many ways, psychogeography could be seen as a revival of French poet Charles Baudelaire's idea of the flâneur, the perambulating dandy, whose apparently aimless wanderings offer vital clues to the deeper meaning of modern urban environments.

Psychogeography continues to be associated principally with urban explorations - Peter Ackroyd's double-focus historical novel Hawksmoor (1985); Mike Davis's City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles (1990); Alan Moore's graphic novel From Hell (1989-99), which postulates a Masonic "secret history" behind the Jack the Ripper murders; and Iain Sinclair's explorations of London's mythic past and present in such works as Lights out for the Territory: 9 Excursions in the Secret History of London (1997) - even Chris Trotter's chapter about an idealised dream Auckland in his alternative history of New Zealand No Left Turn (2007).

However, in his more recent book the Edge of the Orison (2005), Sinclair has extended his methodology to cover the rural haunts of nineteenth-century English nature poet John Clare, setting out to retrace the poet's famous 'Journey out of Essex' - Clare's own prose account of his 1841 escape from the asylum in which he had been incarcerated to find his lost love, Mary Joyce (unfortunately already three years dead).

Psychogeography, then, deals principally with boundary-crossings: whether those boundaries are those of genre (verse, fiction, non-fictional prose) or discipline (history, geography, travel, memoir and biography).

I suppose, in essence, that it consists of imposing a theory (generally of an occult or abstruse nature) on a landscape, more or less arbitrarily. The landscape is then interrogated to see whether or not it matches up with or confirms the theory, no matter how - intentionally - absurd it may be.

The list of notable psychogeographers included in Wikipedia's article on the subject includes the following names:

My own set of favourite psychogeographers is far shorter, though it does include a few of the same suspects:

  1. Geoffrey Ashe (1923-2022)
  2. John Clare (1793-1864)
  3. Tim Powers (1952- )
  4. W. G. Sebald (1944-2001)
  5. Iain Sinclair (1943- )

Geoffrey Ashe (2009)

Geoffrey Ashe
& the Arthurian Legend

Geoffrey Ashe actually died just a couple of months ago, on the 30th January 2022, at his home in Glastonbury. On my one and only visit there, in 1981, I was hugely impressed by the intense atmosphere projected by both the town and its environs. I had, admittedly, been reading John Cowper Powys' mammoth novel A Glastonbury Romance, and a combination of that and Geoffrey Ashe's King Arthur's Avalon made it seem like holy ground to me.

I remember dashing up Glastonbury Tor, and feeling as though the ghosts were springing out of the grass all around me. Until my father turned to make some banal remark, that is - God knows how he put up with such a sullen and pretentious teen! All I can say is that my siblings weren't much better. "Thanks for the interruption," as one of my older brothers remarked on a not dissimilar occasion.

The Arthurian legend could certainly be described as England's Dreaming (the title of Jon Savage's classic book about the Sex Pistols). There are rivals, of course: Robin Hood and his Merry Men, Langland's peasant hero Piers Plowman - but only King Arthur's aristocratic mythos combines all the different strands of Celtic, Roman, Saxon, and Norman culture into one bizarre cauldron of stories.

Here's a selection of some of the literature on the topic I've collected over the years. First, from Geoffrey Ashe's own eclectic bibliography (you can find out more about him from my blogpost on the subject):

  1. King Arthur’s Avalon: The Story of Glastonbury. 1957. Fontana Books. London: Collins, 1973.
  2. From Caesar to Arthur. London: Collins, 1960.
  3. Land to the West: St Brendan’s Voyage to America. London: Collins, 1962.
  4. All About King Arthur. 1969. London: Carousel Books, 1973.
  5. Camelot and the Vision of Albion. 1971. St. Albans, Herts: Panther, 1975.
  6. The Finger and the Moon. 1973. St. Albans, Herts: Panther, 1975.
  7. The Virgin. 1976. Paladin. Frogmore, St Albans, Herts: Granada Publishing Limited, 1977.
  8. The Ancient Wisdom. 1977. Abacus. London: Sphere Books, 1979.
  9. Avalonian Quest. 1982. London: Fontana Paperbacks, 1984.
  10. The Discovery of King Arthur. With Debrett’s Peerage. London: Guild Publishing, 1985.
  11. The Landscape of King Arthur. With Photographs by Simon McBride. London: Webb & Bower (Publishers) Limited, in association with Michael Joseph Limited, 1987.
  12. Mythology of the British Isles. 1990. London: Methuen London, 1992.
I've added a few other books to the bookcase to contextualise Ashe's curious imaginings. He was a strange combination of scholar and visionary, and - at least until the 'psychogeographer' label came along - it was hard to work out which of these aspects was the most dominant:
  1. Alcock, Leslie. Arthur’s Britain: History and Archaeology, AD 367-634. 1971. A Pelican Book. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1973.
  2. Ashe, Geoffrey, ed. The Quest for Arthur’s Britain. With Leslie Alcock, C. A Ralegh Radford, & Philip Rahtz. 1968. London: Paladin, 1973.
  3. Barber, Richard. Legends of King Arthur. The Boydell Press. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell & Brewer Ltd., 2001.
  4. Barber, Richard. The Holy Grail: The History of a Legend. 2004. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2005.
  5. Bord, Janet & Colin. Mysterious Britain. 1972. A Paladin Book. Frogmore, St Albans: Granada Publishing Ltd., 1975.
  6. Chambers, E. K. Arthur of Britain. London: Sidgwick & Jackson, Ltd., 1927.
  7. Geoffrey of Monmouth. The History of the Kings of Britain. Trans. Lewis Thorpe. 1966. Penguin Classics. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1976.
  8. Gerald of Wales. The History and Topography of Ireland. Trans. John J. O’Meara. 1951. Penguin Classics. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1982.
  9. Cambrensis, Giraldus. The Itinerary through Wales and The Description of Wales. Trans. Sir Richard Colt Hoare. 1806. Introduction by W. Llewellyn Williams. 1908. Everyman’s Library. London: J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd. / New York: E. P. Dutton & Co. Inc., n.d.
  10. Treharne, R. F. The Glastonbury Legends. 1967. Abacus. London: Sphere Books, Ltd., 1975.
  11. Watkins, Alfred. The Old Straight Track. 1925. London: Abacus, 1976.
  12. Weston, Jessie L. From Ritual to Romance. 1920. New York: Doubleday Anchor Books, 1957.

Joanna Gillan: Glastonbury Tor (2022)

William Henry Hunt: Unknown Man (perhaps John Clare?) (1820s)

John Clare
& the Power of Pastoral

I've written a couple of posts about John Clare already. The first was an attempt to parallel his poetic practice with that of his near-contemporary Charles Baudelaire. The second was more narrowly focussed on the peculiarities of his bibliography.

He's one of those poets you either get or you don't. His 'madness' (i.e. inability to conform) has made him a troublesome figure for readers and literary scholars alike. In his lifetime his poems were normalised and repunctuated for him by his publisher. After his death the same service has been performed by a series of editors.

But then, the same could be said of almost all the poets of his era. Wordsworth himself punctuated oddly and sporadically, expecting his printers to deal with such accidentals. Even W. B. Yeats was notoriously vague about both spelling and 'stops'.

But Clare is in a class of his own. His output was vast and disorderly - especially the later poems from the asylum years. What makes him an appropriate figure to include here is the immense precision of his observation and knowledge of natural history. His landscapes and creatures are not the symbolic nightingales and skylarks of a Keats or a Shelley, but genuine living beings for whom he had both compassion and empathy.

Clare and Clare-iana have therefore become one of the touchstones of modern pastoral writing. And the story of his posthumous rediscovery and influence is almost as fascinating as the events of his own life:

  1. The Works of John Clare. Ed. Arthur Symons. 1908. Introduction by John Goodridge. The Wordsworth Poetry Library. Ware, Hertfordshire: Wordsworth Editions Ltd., 1995.
  2. The Poems of John Clare. Ed. J. W. Tibble. 2 vols. London: J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd. / New York: E. P. Dutton & Co. Inc., 1935.
  3. Poems of John Clare’s Madness. Ed. Geoffrey Grigson. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1949.
  4. The Prose. Ed. J. W. & Anne Tibble. 1951. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1970.
  5. The Letters. Ed. J. W. & Anne Tibble. 1951. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1970.
  6. The Shepherd’s Calendar. Ed. Eric Robinson & Geoffrey Summerfield. Wood Engravings by David Gentleman. 1964. London: Oxford University Press, 1974.
  7. The Later Poems. Ed. Eric Robinson & Geoffrey Summerfield. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1964.
  8. Selected Poems. Ed. J. W. & Anne Tibble. Everyman’s Library, 563. London: J. M. Dent, 1965.
  9. The Wood is Sweet. Ed. David Powell. Introduction by Edmund Blunden. Illustrated by John O'Connor. Poems for Young Readers. London: The Bodley Head Ltd., 1966.
  10. Bird Poems. Introduction by Peter Levi. Wood-Engravings by Thomas Bewick. London: The Folio Society, 1980.
  11. John Clare’s Birds. Ed. Eric Robinson & Richard Fitter. Illustrated by Robert Gillmor. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982.
  12. John Clare: The Oxford Authors. Ed. Eric Robinson & David Powell. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984.
  13. The Parish: A Satire. Ed. Eric Robinson. Notes by David Powell. 1985. Penguin Classics. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1986.
  14. Selected Letters. Ed. Mark Storey. Oxford Letters & Memoirs. 1988. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990.
  15. Selected Poems. Ed. Geoffrey Summerfield. 1990. Penguin Classics. London: Penguin, 2000.
  16. John Clare By Himself. Ed. Eric Robinson & David Powell. Wood Engravings by Jon Lawrence. 1996. Fyfield Books. Manchester: Carcanet Press, 2002.
For more on the subject, here are a few selections from the burgeoning library of books about him. I'd recommend, in particular, Jonathan Bate's groundbreaking biography:
  1. Tibble, J. W. & Anne. John Clare: A Life. 1932. Rev. Anne Tibble. London: Michael Joseph Ltd., 1972.
  2. Storey, Edward. A Right to Song: The Life of John Clare. London: Methuen, 1982.
  3. Bate, Jonathan. John Clare: A Biography. 2003. Picador. London: Pan Macmillan, 2004.
  4. Foulds, Adam. The Quickening Maze. 2009. Vintage Books. London: Random House, 2010.
  5. Felstiner, John. Can Poetry Save the Earth? A Field Guide to Nature Poems. New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2009.

Rob Chapman: On the Trail of John Clare (2017)

Tim Powers (2013)

Tim Powers
& the Time to Cast Away Stones

Tim Powers' novels and stories are definitely an enthusiasm of mine. They have their limitations, but their strengths are equally obvious. You'll have to take my word for it that it's not as easy as it might seem to concoct complex and believable secret histories, mixing occult and quotidian phenomena in approximately equal measure. I am, after all, the author of a number of them (my 'REM' trilogy, for instance). Powers is a master of the art.

I've discussed my favourites among his books in my blogpost here, though a few more have appeared since I wrote it: notably the Vickery and Castine trilogy, which does a great job of mythologising the Los Angeles Freeway system, among other strange and arcane matters.

Here's a list of his major works to date (give or take a few limited-edition novellas):

  1. Powers of Two: The Skies Discrowned & An Epitaph in Rust. 1976, 1986, 1989. Framingham, MA: The NESFA Press, 2004.
  2. The Drawing of the Dark. 1979. London: Granada, 1981.
  3. The Anubis Gates. 1983. London: Triad Grafton Books, 1986.
  4. Dinner at Deviant's Palace. 1985. London: Grafton Books, 1987.
  5. On Stranger Tides. 1987. New York: Ace Books, 1988.
  6. The Stress of Her Regard. 1989. London: HarperCollins, 1991.
  7. Last Call. Fault Lines, 1. 1993. New York: Avon Books, 1996.
  8. Expiration Date. Fault Lines, 2. London: HarperCollins, 1995.
  9. Earthquake Weather. Fault Lines, 3. 1997. London: Orbit, 1998.
  10. Declare. 2001. New York: HarperTorch, 2002.
  11. Strange Itineraries and Other Stories. San Francisco: Tachyon Publications, 2005.
  12. Three Days to Never. 2006. William Morrow. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2013.
  13. The Bible Repairman and Other Stories. San Francisco: Tachyon Publications, 2011.
  14. Hide Me Among the Graves. 2012. Corvus. London: Atlantic Books Ltd., 2013.
  15. Medusa's Web. 2015. Corvus. London: Atlantic Books Ltd., 2016.
  16. Down and Out in Purgatory: The Collected Stories of Tim Powers. Preface by David Drake. Introduction by Tony Daniel. 2017. Riverdale, NY: Baen, 2019.
  17. Alternate Routes. Vickery & Castine, 1. A Baen Books Original. Riverdale, NY: Baen, 2018.
  18. Forced Perspectives. Vickery & Castine, 2. A Baen Books Original. Riverdale, NY: Baen, 2020.
  19. Stolen Skies. Vickery & Castine, 3. A Baen Books Original. Riverdale, NY: Baen, 2022.
The critical literature on him is limited, consisting mainly of interviews and reviews in various journals. He isn't discussed directly in the K. K. Ruthven book cited below, but many of its contentions bear interestingly on his work:
  1. [Katz, Brad. “An Interview with Tim Powers (21/2/96).” Brow Magazine 1996.]
  2. Ruthven, K. K. Faking Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

Karen Robinson: Los Angeles Freeway System Map (2013)

Basso Cannarsa: W. G. Sebald (2019)

W. G. Sebald
& the Natural History of Destruction

W. G. Sebald is another one of those writers who seems unfairly singled out by fate for a brief flowering and then eternal night ("cum semel occidit brevis lux, / nox est perpetua una dormienda", [when once the brief light has set, / an eternal night must be slept], as Catullus put it in his much-quoted Elegy V). Hence, perhaps, the succession of books which has appeared since his death - perhaps in the hope of continuing his writing career from beyond the grave.

I've written more about this in my blogpost here, along with a few notes in a more recent post on The Imaginary Museum.

Is he a psychogeographer? It seems as good a description as any for his genre-defying works, part fiction, part non-fiction, part travel literature, part history lesson: in particular Vertigo and The Rings of Saturn, but also such eclectic essay collections as the recently translated A Place in the Country.

That's how I choose to regard him, at any rate, though I'm happy to hear all the reasons why I'm wrong from some more earnest commentator.

  1. After Nature. 1988. Trans. Michael Hamburger. 2002. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2003.
  2. Vertigo. 1990. Trans. Michael Hulse. London: Harvill Press, 1999.
  3. The Emigrants. 1993. Trans. Michael Hulse. 1996. London: Vintage, 2002.
  4. The Rings of Saturn. 1995. Trans. Michael Hulse. 1998. London: Vintage, 2002.
  5. A Place in the Country: On Gottfried Keller, Johann Peter Hebel, Robert Walser and Others. 1998. Trans. Jo Catling. 2013. London: Penguin, 2014.
  6. On the Natural History of Destruction: With Essays on Alfred Andersch, Jean Améry and Peter Weiss. 1999. Trans. Anthea Bell. 2003. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2004.
  7. Austerlitz. 2001. Trans. Anthea Bell. 2001. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2002.
  8. Campo Santo. Ed. Sven Meyer. 2003. Trans. Anthea Bell. 2005. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2006.
  9. [with Jan Peter Tripp]. Unrecounted: 33 Texts and 33 Etchings. 2003. Trans. Michael Hamburger. Hamish Hamilton. London: Penguin, 2004.
  10. Across the Land and the Water: Selected Poems, 1964-2001. 2008. Trans. Iain Galbraith. Hamish Hamilton. London: Penguin, 2011.
Carol Angier's biography speaks to the underlying anxieties of Sebald's life and times, and the curious ways in which this manifested itself in his work. As in her previous book about Primo Levi, she does have certain hobby-horses which appear continually, but no-one could complain of any lack of contextual documentation for her views.
  1. Angier, Carol. Speak, Silence: In Search of W. G. Sebald. London: Bloomsbury Circus, 2021.

Barbara L Hui: Mapping Literature (2014)

Iain Sinclair (2013)

Iain Sinclair
& the Secret History of London

Iain Sinclair is certainly the most self-consciously psychogeographical of all the authors mentioned here. He began as a poet, then moved to writing novels, and then on to stranger works of cross-genre travel / history / art & film criticism. It's mostly these latter which have won him a cult audience.

He may lack the immediate visibility of a Peter Ackroyd or an Alan Moore, but his oeuvre could be argued to be at least as influential. I haven't yet written about him at length, as there are a number of his books I'd like to read first, but I have compiled an approximate bibliography for him among the others included here

Here's a small selection from the poetry and fiction he's published to date:

  1. Lud Heat and Suicide Bridge. 1975 & 1979. Introduction by Michael Moorcock. Vintage. London: Random House, 1995.
  2. Flesh Eggs & Scalp Metal: Selected Poems, 1970-1987. A Paladin Paperback Original. London: Grafton Books, 1989.
  3. Downriver (Or, The Vessels of Wrath): A Narrative in Twelve Tales. 1991. Vintage. London: Random House, 1995.
  4. Radon Daughters. 1994. Vintage. London: Random House, 1995.
  5. Dining on Stones (or, The Middle Ground). 2004. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2005.
The non-fiction works listed below are where his greatest strengths lie, I would argue. Unfortunately I don't own a copy of his ground-breaking London Orbital: A Walk Around the M25 (2002) but I have read it with great interest, and indeed used a chapter from it as one of the readings in my Massey Travel Writing course.
  1. Lights Out for the Territories: 9 Excursions in the Secret History of London. London: Granta Books, 1997.
  2. Edge of the Orison: In the Traces of John Clare's 'Journey Out of Essex'. 2005. London: Penguin, 2006.

Karen Robinson: On the Road (2004)

Here and there on this blog you can find some of my own attempts at a psychogeography of my own whereabouts, in the form of the two (hopefully ongoing) series "The Intrepid Ghost-Hunters" and "The Mysteries of ...":
  1. The Intrepid Ghost-Hunters (1): Waitomo Caves (13/11/2012)
  2. The Intrepid Ghost-Hunters (2): Thames & Te Aroha (13/8/2013)
  3. The Intrepid Ghost-Hunters (3): Home Turf (5/8/2015)
  4. The Mysteries of Ashburton (25/1/2019)
  5. The Mysteries of Rotorua (28/4/2019)
  6. The Mysteries of Auckland: H. P. Lovecraft (12/4/2021)
  7. The Mysteries of Auckland: Jules Verne (4/7/2021)

In any case, it's nice to see all these books gathered together for the first time. I can feel them already starting to talk among themselves. I doubt very much that this is the last that I'll have to say on the topic, either.

Robert Macfarlane: Psychogeography (2019)

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Fen Country: Edmund Crispin

Edmund Crispin: The Glimpses of the Moon (1977)

"Under another name, he's a sort of male C. V. Wedgwood"
- The Glimpses of the Moon, pp. 74-75.

Between 1944 and 1955, promising young British composer Bruce Montgomery published eight detective novels and one collection of short stories under the pseudonym 'Edmund Crispin'. He also sold 38 stories to a variety of periodicals in Britain and the USA.

Most of these narratives featured the eccentric Academic Gervase Fen, Professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Oxford, as their presiding sleuth.

Edmund Crispin: Fen Country (1979)

After that there was a long silence until his final novel, The Glimpses of the Moon, appeared in 1977, the year before his death. It was followed by a further collection of short stories, Fen Country, which completed the canon.

Edmund Crispin: Swan Song (1947)

'There goes C. S. Lewis,' said Fen suddenly. 'It must be Tuesday.'
'It is Tuesday.' Sir Richard struck a match and puffed doggedly at his pipe.
- Swan Song, p.60.

Why does he interest me so? Is it the minute portrait his books convey of an austerity Britain, first in the grip of wartime rationing, then of post-war shortages? Is it the constant barrage of in-jokes, comprehensible only to those familiar with such contemporary cultural icons as C. S. Lewis and C. V. Wedgwood? Or his ornate, orotund style of writing?

"An undergrad left an essay for you. I've been reading it. It's called - Sally puckered up her attractive forehead - 'The influence of Sir Gawain on Arnold's Empedocles on Etna'."
"Good heavens," Fen groaned. "That must be Larkin: the most indefatigable searcher-out of pointless correspondences the world has ever known."
- The Moving Toyshop, pp.110-11.

As well as all that, there's the 'Movement' connection. He was up at Oxford at the same time as Kingsley Amis and Philip Larkin, and the pair were initially hugely impressed by his effortless cosmopolitan airs and (initial) success with publishers, only to become increasingly carping and bitchy about him and his work as their own social and literary prestige mounted into the stratosphere.

So, yes, there's a good deal of gossip about him and his ways to be gleaned from their respective memoirs and biographies and collections of letters. If you read that kind of thing, that is. Which I do (obviously).

Edmund Crispin: The Moving Toyshop (1946)

She talked about murder as she might have talked about the weather - being far too selfish, thick-skinned and unimaginative to see the implications either of that final, irrevocable act or of her own position.
- The Moving Toyshop, p.105.

One of things that interests me most about the Montgomery / Crispin books is Gervase Fen himself. Not that Fen is a well-developed character. On the contrary, as I read my way through the books as a teenager, I was struck by how well portrayed and accurately placed most of the other people are, and how bizarrely unfocussed is Fen. It's almost as if the more we hear about him, the less there he is. His age seems fixed around 40, regardless of what year it is, and his Academic position at Oxford remains essentially unchanged throughout.

I don't know if this was intentional or not. I've sometimes wondered if it's connected to Crispin's unusual focus on the consequences of crime. His victims are not the cardboard cut-outs of an Agatha Christie or even a Dorothy Sayers, but living, breathing people, whose brutal deaths leave a gap in the world. It's as if he can't quite bring himself ever to forget the morality of the spectacle he's creating, however frivolously it may be framed.

Edmund Crispin: Frequent Hearses (1950)

Some of my taste for his work undoubtedly comes down to a similar taste in books. M. R. James is a persistent influence on Crispin throughout: most notably in the long description of the maze in Frequent Hearses, but also in the inset ghost story in his very first novel, The Case of the Gilded Fly, and the macabre goings-on in the cathedral in Holy Disorders.

Edmund Crispin: Holy Disorders (1945)

He's also very well acquainted with the highway and byways of 17th and 18th century English poetry, which provide a good many of his titles - as well as most of the numerous epigraphs scattered through his pages.

Edmund Crispin: Love Lies Bleeding (1948)

In the last, longest and probably least focussed of his books, The Glimpses of the Moon, there's an illuminating aside by Fen, who's been forced by the insolvency of his publisher to abandon the book on modern British novelists he's been working on in a desultory manner throughout the whole narrative:
Fen pondered this; and the more he pondered it, the more he liked it. Some of the reading had been enjoyable, of course - The Doctor is Sick, I Want It Now, 'the Balkan trilogy', Elizabeth Bowen, The Ballad and the Source. But much more had not - and a great deal that was pending wasn't going to be either. [p.270]
It's typical of Crispin that this passage will mean very little to anyone unfamiliar with the fiction of this period. I can't claim to have read all of the books on his list, but I have to say that this small selection seems to me very much on the money.

Edmund Crispin: The Long Divorce (1951)

Let's see then. In strictly alphabetical order, reference is being made to:
  1. Amis, Kingsley. I Want It Now. 1968. London: Panther Books, 1969.
  2. Bowen, Elizabeth. The Collected Stories of Elizabeth Bowen. 1980. Introduction by Angus Wilson. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1983.
  3. Burgess, Anthony. The Doctor is Sick. 1960. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1979.
  4. Lehmann, Rosamond. The Ballad and the Source. London: Collins, 1944.
  5. Manning, Olivia. The Balkan Trilogy. Volume One: The Great Fortune / Volume Two: The Spoilt City / Volume Three: Friends and Heroes. 1960, 1962 & 1965. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1982.
They're not all obvious choices by any means. I haven't read the Lehmann book or much of Elizabeth Bowen beyond her short stories, but the others seem quite inspired to me.

The Doctor is Sick is one of four novels written by Anthony Burgess during his 1960 annus mirabilis, shortly after receiving a (later rescinded) sentence of death from his doctors. By far the most famous of these is A Clockwork Orange, but I'd already clocked The Doctor as by far the most entertaining of the bunch even before reading Crispin.

Kingsley Amis, too, is an author whom I've read both in bulk and in depth. I Want It Now is certainly not one of his most celebrated novels - no Lucky Jim or One Fat Englishman - but it is, again, quite exceptionally fun to read even in so impressive a line-up of hits.

As for The Balkan Trilogy, I've always been glad that this casual reference by Crispin inspired me to track it down and read it a number of times before it achieved temporary apotheosis as a TV miniseries with Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson. It is quite wonderfully moving and good, I think - far better than the follow-up, The Levant Trilogy. Nor did the TV adaptation really do it justice.

Alchetron: Edmund Crispin (1962)

I suppose that it shouldn't really come as a surprise that Crispin was so astute and pleasure-of-reading-focussed a critic. His distinguished series of anthologies of SF, crime, and horror stories did a great service to the dissemination of each of these forms on the UK literary scene, in particular. But they travelled as far as little ol' New Zealand, too.

As John Clute puts it in his magisterial Encyclopedia of Science Fiction:
Crispin's work in sf Anthologies was of great influence. When Best SF (1955) appeared it was unique in several ways: its editor was a respected literary figure; its publisher, Faber and Faber, was a prestigious one; and it made no apologies or excuses for presenting sf as a legitimate form of writing. Moreover, Crispin's selection of stories showed him to be thoroughly familiar with sf in both magazine and book form, and his introductions to this and succeeding volumes were informed and illuminating ... It would be difficult to exaggerate the importance of the early volumes in this series in working towards the establishment of sf in the UK as a respectable branch of literature.

Edmund Crispin, ed.: Best Tales of Terror (1962)

All I can add is that it was in one of his Tales of Terror anthologies that I first encountered Elizabeth Jane Howard's classic ghost story 'Three Miles Up', and for that I remain eternally grateful.

The Passing Tramp: Bruce & Ann Montgomery (1976)

Edmund Crispin

Robert Bruce Montgomery
['Edmund Crispin']



    Edmund Crispin: The Case of the Gilded Fly (1944)

  1. The Case of the Gilded Fly [US title: Obsequies at Oxford] (1944)
    • The Case of the Gilded Fly. 1944. London: Victor Gollancz Ltd., 1946.
    The wartime production of a new play in Oxford is disrupted by the murder of one of the actresses. The novel includes a set-piece recounting of a ghost story by an old Don very much in the style of M. R. James.
  2. Holy Disorders (1945)
    • Included in: The Second Gollancz Detective Omnibus: Whose Body?, by Dorothy L. Sayers / The Weight of the Evidence, by Michael Innes / Holy Disorders, by Edmund Crispin. 1923, 1943 & 1945. London: Victor Gollancz Ltd., 1952.
    A series of sinister murders by Nazis in a cathedral town are counterpointed by an old ghost legend about an organ loft.
  3. The Moving Toyshop (1946)
    • Included in: The Gollancz Detective Omnibus: The Moving Toyshop, by Edmund Crispin / Appleby’s End, by Michael Innes / Unnatural Death, by Dorothy L. Sayers. 1946, 1945 & 1927. London: Victor Gollancz Ltd., 1951.
    A Chestertonian poet goes looking for adventure, but ends up being coshed over the head in a toyshop in Oxford.
  4. Swan Song [US title: Dead and Dumb] (1947)
    • Swan Song. 1947. A Four Square Crime Book. London: The New English Library Limited, 1966.
    A postwar production of Wagner's Die Meistersinger is plagued with problems - including the suicide (or is it murder?) of one of the principal singers.
  5. Love Lies Bleeding (1948)
    • Love Lies Bleeding. 1948. Penguin Crime Fiction. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1982.
    An invitation to present prizes at a girl's school puts Fen on the trail of a Shakespearean discovery of epoch-making importance. Will Love's labours finally be won?
  6. Buried for Pleasure (1948)
    • Buried for Pleasure. 1948. Penguin Books 1292. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1958.
    Fen stands for Parliament in a rural district. Halfway through the campaign he realises he doesn't want the job.
  7. Frequent Hearses [US title: Sudden Vengeance] (1950)
    • Frequent Hearses. 1950. Penguin Crime Fiction. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1982.
    A loving tribute to the postwar British film industry - for which Bruce Montgomery composed so many scores - in the unlikely form of an abortive bio-pic about Alexander Pope.
  8. The Long Divorce [US title: A Noose for Her] (1951)
    • The Long Divorce. 1952. Penguin Books 1304. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1961.
    Someone is sending poison-pen letters in the small village where Gervase Fen is temporarily domiciled. Could something so trivial have led to murder?
  9. The Glimpses of the Moon (1977)
    • The Glimpses of the Moon. 1977. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1981.
    Fen is on sabbatical in a small Devon village plagued by a series of gruesome murders and dismemberments. A rich cast of characters are permitted to indulge their eccentricities to the utmost, until the actual murders become perhaps the least notable feature of the book.

  10. Short Story Collections:

    Edmund Crispin: Beware of the Trains (1953)

  11. Beware of the Trains (1953) [BT]
    1. Beware of the Trains
    2. Humbleby Agonistes
    3. The Drowning of Edgar Foley
    4. Lacrimae Rerum
    5. Within the Gates
    6. Abhorred Shears
    7. The Little Room
    8. Express Delivery
    9. A Pot of Paint
    10. The Quick Brown Fox
    11. Black for a Funeral
    12. The Name on the Window
    13. The Golden Mean
    14. Otherwhere
    15. The Evidence for the Crown
    16. Deadlock
    • Beware of the Trains. 1953. Penguin Classic Crime. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1987.
  12. Fen Country (1979) [FC]
    1. Who Killed Baker?
    2. Death and Aunt Fancy
    3. The Hunchback Cat
    4. The Lion's Tooth
    5. Gladstone's Candlestick
    6. The Man Who Lost His Head
    7. The Two Sisters
    8. Outrage in Stepney
    9. A Country to Sell
    10. A Case in Camera
    11. Blood Sport
    12. The Pencil
    13. Windhover Cottage
    14. The House by the River
    15. After Evensong
    16. Death Behind Bars
    17. We Know You're Busy Writing, But We Thought You Wouldn't Mind If We Just Dropped in for a Minute
    18. Cash on Delivery
    19. Shot in the Dark
    20. The Mischief Done
    21. Merry-Go-Round
    22. Occupational Risk
    23. Dog in the Night-Time
    24. Man Overboard
    25. The Undraped Torso
    26. Wolf!
    • Fen Country: Twenty-Six Stories. 1979. Penguin Crime Fiction. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1981.

  13. Edited:

    Edmund Crispin, ed.: Best SF: Science Fiction Stories (1955)

  14. Best SF (1954)
    • Best SF: Science Fiction Stories. 1954. London: Faber, 1962.
  15. Best SF 2 (1956)
    • Best SF Two: Science Fiction Stories. 1956. London: Faber, 1964.
  16. Best SF 3 (1958)
    • Best SF Three: Science Fiction Stories. 1958. London: Faber, 1963.
  17. Best SF 4 (1961)
    • Best SF Four: Science Fiction Stories. 1961. London: The Science Fiction Book Club, 1962.
  18. Best SF 5 (1963)
    • Best SF Five: Science Fiction Stories. 1963. London: Faber, 1971.
  19. Best SF 6 (1966)
  20. Best SF 7 (1970)

  21. Best Detective Stories (1959)
  22. Best Detective Stories 2 (1964)

  23. Best Tales of Terror (1962)
    • Best Tales of Terror. 1962. London: Faber, 1966.
  24. Best Tales of Terror 2 (1965)

  25. The Stars And Under: A Selection of Science Fiction (1968)
  26. Outwards From Earth: A Selection of Science Fiction (1974)

  27. Best Murder Stories (1971)
  28. Best Murder Stories 2 (1973)

  29. Secondary:

  30. Whittle, David. Bruce Montgomery / Edmund Crispin: A Life in Music and Books (Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate Publishing Group, 2007)

Edmund Crispin: Buried for Pleasure (1948)

Saturday, May 07, 2022

SF Luminaries: Orson Scott Card

Gavin Hood, dir.: Ender's Game (2013)

Back in the early nineties when I was working as an English tutor at Auckland University, I was asked to supervise a research essay by one of the undergraduates. It was on Science Fiction, so no-one else felt sufficiently qualified, I suppose.

I don't remember all that much about the project, but I do recall some very interesting discussions with my supervisee about the overall tenor of SF as a genre. There's always been a good deal of talk - mainly by the more starry-eyed writers in the field - about the 'sense of wonder' and imaginative openness encouraged by its speculative, open-ended nature.

Orson Scott Card: Maps in a Mirror (1990)

However, I'd recently been reading Orson Scott Card's short story collection Maps in a Mirror, and its general tendency seemed quite otherwise. What stood out most for me in his work was an obsessive preoccupation with violence. There was one story in particular whose protagonist was killed in the most gruesome manner, then repeatedly revived by the authorities for further executions: his crime of dissent was such that mere death was regarded as insufficient punishment.

That's not all there was to the story, mind you. Its hero was finally sent into exile as the government had failed to break his indomitable will, so there was (at least ostensibly) a 'moral' purpose to it all. But the sheer detail supplied about the various methods of execution employed by his oppressors showed a kind of sadistic glee which seemed, to say the least, a little troubling.

Frank Herbert: The Dosadi Experiment (1977)

It put me in mind of Frank Herbert's late novel The Dosadi Experiment, which extended his notions on the necessity of extreme suffering to "train the faithful" (as expounded in Dune and its sequels) to almost ridiculous extremes. The more oppression is heaped upon people, the more likely it appears to be - in Herbert's view, at any rate - that you will end up with a race of super-beings.

I'd long been aware of the quasi-fascistic tendencies of (especially) the later work of Robert Heinlein and other Campbell-era SF writers, but this seemed an even more extreme doctrine - one which operated behind the overt scaffolding of the stories to imply a more sinister agenda.

I suspect that the student I was supervising began to think that I had a real bee in my bonnet on the subject of these subliminal themes in contemporary SF. He certainly showed little patience for the subject. At the time it seemed to me a legitimate exploration of the figure in the carpet for at least a few of its principal exponents, however.

Recently I've been catching up with some of Orson Scott Card's work from the thirty years since that short story collection, which spanned only the first two decades of his career. It's been a very interesting experience. He's always been a prolific writer, as you can see from the (partial) listings below, but of late a good deal of his energy seems to have gone into comics, games, and collaborations with other writers rather than the paperback novels that made his reputation.

Orson Scott Card: The Ender Series (1985-2008)

The first, and undoubtedly the best known of his story-cycles was first known as the 'Ender's Game Trilogy', then the 'Ender's Game Quartet', and finally the 'Ender's Game Series' as successive volumes were added.

The original 1985 novel, an expansion of his 1977 Analog novella "Ender's Game", remains an SF masterpiece. The ethical dilemmas involved in training children for a war which only they can win - without telling them that that's what you're doing - remain sharply relevant to this day. And the 2013 feature film did a pretty good job of encapsulating these themes in its (inevitably) truncated form - except for Sir Ben Kingsley's "Kiwi" accent, that is, which had to be heard to be believed.

After that things got a bit more complicated. First Card decided to send his hero off on a series of relativistic hops through the universe which took him a couple of thousand years into the future; then he landed him on a planet where the literally 'inhuman' values of another alien race, the Pequeninos (or "Piggies"), led to an even more complex conflict and the threat of another Xenocide.

This new conundrum takes a good three volumes to resolve, mainly owing to the tendency of Card's characters to sit down and talk things through - at inordinate length - on a regular basis. In the process Ender gets married to a typical Card heroine: stubborn, irritable, and prone to taking perverse, self-destructive decisions whenever reason threatens to prevail. I'm not quite sure what that implies, but it does make you wonder a bit about Card's own personal experience in this area ...

Orson Scott Card: The Shadow Series (1999-2005)

But wait, there's more. Meanwhile, back on earth, the cast of the original Battle School set up to defeat the Formics (or "Buggers") are all still battling to restore the government of Earth to its proper state of blind obedience to the Hegemon, Ender's sociopathic brother Peter. All of that takes another four (or five, depending on how you count) volumes to settle.

Orson Scott Card & Aaron Johnston: The First Formic War Series (2012-14)

I can't speak to the events in the First (and now Second) Formic War Trilogies, as I haven't read them. All one can conclude is that any rumours of Ender's having actually ended hostilities with the Formics at the conclusion of Ender's Game appear to have been greatly exaggerated.

Nor has this series of spin-offs concluded as yet. And presumably there are many hardcore fans out there who are still anxiously watching this space ...

Orson Scott Card: The Tales of Alvin Maker (1987-2003)

Card's second major series is the alternate-history, American-frontier saga collectively labelled the (tall) Tales of Alvin Maker. Card's Mormonism comes through far more strongly in these books than in the Ender ones. Nevertheless, his vision of a North America half of which still belongs to the Native American tribes is a strangely inspiring one. And there's an infectious exuberance to (especially) the early volumes in the sequence which keeps you reading even as they become gradually more and more encumbered by plot and backstory.

There is still, apparently, one volume of tales to come, though I have my doubts about that. Card has a tendency to divide and subdivide his novels into they fill two or three volumes rather than just the one he originally promised. And his characters are so very, very talkative.

Orson Scott Card: The Homecoming Series (1992-95)

A good example of this is the series above, originally intended as a trilogy, which grew into a huge, sprawling, five-volume saga.

I think that if I knew more about The Book of Mormon (had read it, for instance), I might be better equipped to judge these books. It is, it seems, a 'Science-fictional" version of the major events in the Mormon scriptures, which may account for the extreme perversity of many of the characters' basic motivations.

The hero, Nafai, for example, seems almost infinitely long-suffering, and his evil, plotting brothers, Elemak and Mebbekew, almost impossibly villainous. There is a certain narrative drive which kept me reading, but it does seem to be intended for a more specialised audience than most of his other fiction.

C. S. Lewis: The Cosmic Trilogy (1938-45)

What, then, is one to conclude about Orson Scott Card? Ender's Game remains a fine novel. Many of his other novels are also well worth reading, too - particularly the 'Alvin Maker' series. I wouldn't myself say that his experiment of mixing Mormon themes with the matter of conventional genre fiction has been a particularly successful one, but then the same could easily be said of other such ideologically driven Speculative Fiction such as C. S. Lewis's Interplanetary trilogy, or even Charles Williams' theological thrillers.

So I find myself inscribing a tick in the "yes" column, despite my reservations about the endless blah-blah in (especially) his later books, and despite my nagging suspicions of a certain residual sadism and misogyny at the root of much of his fiction. Once again, the same could be said of many canonical authors, and this inference remains, in any case, a debatable one.

Orson Scott Card: Assorted Enderverse Comics (1938-45)

Orson Scott Card

Orson Scott Card
(1951- )

    The Enders Game Series:

  1. Ender’s Game. The Ender Quartet, 1. 1985. A Legend Book. London: Arrow Books Ltd., 1988.
  2. Speaker for the Dead. The Ender Quartet, 2. 1986. A Legend Book. London: Arrow Books Ltd., 1986.
  3. Xenocide. The Ender Quartet, 3. 1991. A Legend Book. London: Arrow Books Ltd., 1992.
  4. Children of the Mind. The Ender Quartet, 4. 1996. A Tor Book. New York: Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, 1997.
  5. Ender's Shadow. 1999. The Shadow Saga, 1. An Orbit Book. London: Little, Brown and Company (UK), 2000.
  6. Shadow of the Hegemon. 2000. The Shadow Saga, 2. An Orbit Book. London: Little, Brown and Company (UK), 2001.
  7. Shadow Puppets. 2002. The Shadow Saga, 3. A Tor Book. New York: A Tom Doherty Associates Book, 2003.
  8. Shadow of the Giant. 2005. The Shadow Saga, 4. A Tor Book. New York: A Tom Doherty Associates Book, 2006.
  9. First Meetings in the Enderverse. An Orbit Book. London: Time Warner Books UK, 2003.
  10. A War of Gifts: An Ender Story (2007)
  11. Ender in Exile (2008)
  12. Shadows in Flight. The Shadow Saga, 5 (2012)
  13. [with Aaron Johnston] Earth Unaware. First Formic Wars trilogy, 1 (2012)
  14. [with Aaron Johnston] Earth Afire. First Formic Wars trilogy, 2 (2013)
  15. [with Aaron Johnston] Earth Awakens. First Formic Wars trilogy, 3 (2014)
  16. [with Aaron Johnston] The Swarm. Second Formic Wars trilogy, 1 (2016)
  17. Children of the Fleet. Fleet School (2017)
  18. Ender's Way: short stories (2021)
  19. [with Aaron Johnston] The Hive. Second Formic Wars trilogy, 2 (2019)
  20. The Last Shadow. The Shadow Saga, 6 (2021)
  21. [with Aaron Johnston] The Queens. Second Formic Wars trilogy, 3 (tba)

  22. The Tales of Alvin Maker:

  23. Seventh Son. The Tales of Alvin Maker, 1. 1987. A Legend Book. London: Arrow Books Ltd., 1989.
  24. Red Prophet. The Tales of Alvin Maker, 2. 1988. An Orbit Book. London: Little, Brown and Company (UK), 2001.
  25. Prentice Alvin. The Tales of Alvin Maker, 3. 1989. An Orbit Book. London: Little, Brown and Company (UK), 2001.
  26. Alvin Journeyman. The Tales of Alvin Maker, 4. 1995. An Orbit Book. London: Little, Brown and Company (UK), 2001.
  27. Heartfire. The Tales of Alvin Maker, 5. An Orbit Book. London: Little, Brown and Company (UK), 2001.
  28. The Crystal City. The Tales of Alvin Maker, 6 (2003)
  29. Master Alvin. The Tales of Alvin Maker, 7 (tba)

  30. The Homecoming Series:

  31. The Memory of Earth. Homecoming, 1. 1992. Legend Books. London: Random House UK Ltd, 1993.
  32. The Call of Earth. Homecoming, 2. 1993. A Tor Book. New York: A Tom Doherty Associates Book, 1994.
  33. The Ships of Earth. Homecoming, 3. 1994. A Tor Book. New York: A Tom Doherty Associates Book, 1995.
  34. Earthfall. Homecoming, 4. 1995. A Tor Book. New York: A Tom Doherty Associates Book, 1996.
  35. Earthborn. Homecoming, 5. 1995. A Tor Book. New York: A Tom Doherty Associates Book, 1996.

  36. Women of Genesis:

  37. Sarah (2000)
  38. Rebekah (2001)
  39. Rachel and Leah (2004)

  40. The Empire Duet:

  41. Empire (2006)
  42. Hidden Empire (2009)

  43. The Pathfinder Series:

  44. Pathfinder (2010)
  45. Ruins (2012)
  46. Visitors (2014)

  47. The Mithermages Series:

  48. The Lost Gate (2011)
  49. The Gate Thief (2013)
  50. Gatefather (2015)

  51. Miscellaneous Novels:

  52. A Planet Called Treason [aka Treason (1988)] (1979)
  53. Songmaster. 1980 & 1987. A Legend Book. London: Arrow Books Ltd., 1990.
  54. Hart's Hope (1983)
  55. Saints [aka Woman of Destiny] (1983)
  56. Wyrms. 1987. A Legend Book. London: Arrow Books Ltd., 1988.
  57. with Lloyd Biggle, Jr.] Eye for Eye / Tunesmith. Tor double novel (1990)
  58. Lost Boys (1992)
  59. [with Kathryn H. Kidd] Lovelock (1994)
  60. Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus (1996)/li>
  61. Treasure Box (1996)
  62. Stone Tables (1997)
  63. Homebody (1998)
  64. Enchantment (1999)
  65. [with Doug Chiang] Robota (2003)
  66. Magic Street (2005)
  67. [with Aaron Johnston] Invasive Procedures (2007)
  68. A Town Divided by Christmas (2018)
  69. Lost and Found (2019)

  70. Short Story Collections:

  71. The Worthing Saga. ['Capitol' (1979); 'The Worthing Chronicle' (1982)]. A Legend Book. London: Random Century Group, 1991.
  72. The Folk of the Fringe. 1990. A Legend Book. London: Random Century, 1991.
  73. Maps in a Mirror. 1990. 2 vols. A Legend Book. London: Arrow Books Ltd., 1992.
  74. Keeper of Dreams (2008)

  75. Poetry:

  76. An Open Book (2004)

  77. For Children:

  78. Magic Mirror (1999)

  79. Non-fiction:

  80. Listen, Mom and Dad (1977)
  81. Ainge (1981)
  82. Saintspeak (1981)
  83. Characters and Viewpoint (1988)
  84. How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy (1990)
  85. A Storyteller in Zion (1993)
  86. Complete Guide to Writing Science Fiction: Volume One, First Contact (2007)

  87. Edited:

  88. Dragons of Light (1980)
  89. Dragons of Darkness (1981)
  90. Future on Fire (1991)
  91. Future on Ice (1998)
  92. Masterpieces (2001)
  93. The Phobos Science Fiction Anthology, Volume 1 (2002)
  94. The Phobos Science Fiction Anthology, Volume 2 (2003)
  95. The Phobos Science Fiction Anthology, Volume 3 (2004)
  96. Orson Scott Card's InterGalactic Medicine Show (2008))

Orson Scott Card: Ender's Game (1985)