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John GrantJohn Grant

From The Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997; updated):

GRANT, JOHN Usual working name of Scottish editor and writer Paul (le Page) Barnett (1949- ); he has published nonfantasy under his own name and other pseudonyms, notably Eve Devereux. He entered the field with 'When All Else Fails' in Lands of Never (anth 1983 ed Maxim Jakubowski) but has not been a prolific short-story writer, instead concentrating on books, of which he has written over 50. His first two fantasy novels were #1 and #2 in the Legends of Lone Wolf sword-and-sorcery series, loosely based on gamebooks (>> games) by Joe dever and published as co-authorships: #1: Eclipse of the Kai (1989) and #2: The Dark Door Opens (1989), assembled as Legends of Lone Wolf Omnibus (omni 1992). These introduced the characters Alyss and Qinefer, both of whom became fundamental to JG's corpus. The series continued with #3: The Sword of the Sun (1989; vt in 2 vols The Tides of Treachery 1991 US and The Sword of the Sun 1991 US), #4: Hunting Wolf (1990), #5: The Claws of Helgedad (1991), which introduced his humorous character Thog the Mighty, #6: The Sacrifice of Ruanon (1991), #7: The Birthplace (1992), which is central to an understanding of JG's preoccupations, #8: The Book of the Magnakai (1992), #9: The Tellings (coll 1993), #10: The Lorestone of Varetta (1993), #11: The Secret of Kazan-Oud (1994) and #12: The Rotting Land (1994). History Book--A Thog the Mighty Text (1994 chap), a limited-edition addendum, contains revised material from The Rotting Land.

Elsewhere JG was publishing the two novels on which his reputation as a fantasy writer rests: Albion (1991) and The World (1992). The first is of moderate interest; set in a land whose common people have only short-term memory except for rote activities, it depicts the tyranny imposed by those equipped with full memories, its eventual defeat, and the breaching of the walls of the polder. The World, closely related, is significantly more ambitious. On the surface, it describes the collision of our Universe with the created secondary world in which Albion was set; in fact it is an exploration of the relationship between physical and created realities, both of which JG depicts as parts of the 'polycosmos', a multiverse whose almost infinite coexistent universes can be travelled between by Alyss (who is both integral and extraneous to the polycosmos), consciously by rare mortals like Qinefer (who through her encounter with transcendence in The Birthplace discovers the tao that leads to the overarching reality of the polycosmos), and by all mortals during dreams and after death, viewed as the transition from one physical or created universe to reincarnation in the next. Moments of recognition abound. This instauration fantasy ends with the two universes fused, so that reality is arbitrary, memory treacherous and indeterminacy paramount.

JG's fiction since has been sparse. The Hundredfold Problem (1994), featuring the comics character Judge Dredd, is a joky science fantasy set in a Dyson sphere. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1995) and Frankenstein (1997) are children's retellings of tales by Robert Louis stevenson and Mary shelley respectively. Strider's Galaxy (1997) and Strider's Universe (1998), both as Paul Barnett, are the first two novels in a lighthearted space opera series.

In nonfiction JG is noted as author of Encyclopedia of Walt Disney's Animated Characters (1987; rev 1993; rev 1998) (>> disney) and as Technical Editor of the 2nd edition of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (1993) ed John clute and Peter Nicholls (>> SFE), for which work he shared the 1994 BSFA Special Award. He is joint editor of The Encyclopedia of Fantasy, for which work he received the Hugo Award (1998), the Locus Award (1998), the World Fantasy Award (1998), the Mythopoeic Society Scholarship Award (1998) and the J. Lloyd Eaton Award (1999) and was shortlisted for the Bram Stoker Award (1998). He is Commissioning Editor of the Paper Tiger imprint of fantasy-art books.

He is not to be confused with the John Grant who writes mysteries as Jonathan Gash.

Other works (fiction): Aries 1 (anth 1979), sf; The Truth About the Flaming Ghoulies (1983), humorous epistolary fringe-sf novel; Sex Secrets of Ancient Atlantis (1984), pseudoscience spoof; Earthdoom! (1987) with David langford, spoof disaster novel.

Other works (nonfiction): The Book of Time (1980) ed with Colin Wilson; A Directory of Discarded Ideas (1981); The Directory of Possibilities (1981) ed with Wilson; Dreamers: A Geography of Dreamland (1983); Great Mysteries (1988); An Introduction to Viking Mythology (1989); Monsters (1992; vt Monster Mysteries US); The Encyclopedia of Fantasy and Science Fiction Art Techniques (1996) with Ron Tiner; many others.


2002 saw two major new works of fiction from John Grant:

  • Qinmeartha and the Girl Child LoChi - a short novel published in the same volume as Colin Wilson's The Tomb of the Old Ones (Cosmos Books: Hardcover, $29.99; Trade Paperback, $14.99).
  • The Far-Enough Window (BeWrite, Trade Paperback, £9.80/$15.33).

Some Review Comments

The Encyclopedia of Fantasy

'It's unusual to think of a reference book as big and dense as this one being written with gusto, but here the term certainly applies. It not only provides an all-absorbing diversion for fans of fantasy (at least those who don't mind chewing a little while they browse), but also makes some convincing theoretical arguments with vigour and muscle. . . . the EoF represents that rarest of reference books -- one written by people who love both the telling of stories and the critical study of them.'
-- Scott Bradfield, The Mail on Sunday

'Its size makes it hardly pickupable; if not for that, it would be unputdownable. . . . One of the three great achievements of this encyclopedia is the way in which [its] view of fantasy provides a sort of grammar for describing it. The second achievement is a vocabulary with which to describe it. . . . Its third great achievement is the breadth and thoroughness of its reference, thousands of entries on writers and their works which combine authority and detail with insight . . . there is a seemingly inexhaustible wealth of material here.'
-- The Economist

'An excellent and highly readable source for fantasy, the first of its kind.'
--Library Journal

'From a centuries-old heritage that encompasses both genius and hack, they manage to extract something of value from even the meanest product of Grub Street, without thereby diminishing the works of genius. . . . short of a "pact with the devil" that would have given me "three wishes", I could not have asked for more "enchantment" than that provided by the "witches", "wizards" and "liminal beings" who have labored so hard to bring us this ambitious "grimoire".'
--Paul Di Filippo, Washington Post Book World

Encyclopedia of Walt Disney's Animated Characters (3rd edition)

'The best reference book about Disney animation. Excellent synthesis, excellent photos, fabulous text. A must have.'
--Disney Books Network News

'Ten years after the first edition and six years since the second, Grant has again updated his mammoth illustrated guide to beloved Disney creations. . . . The ratio of information per page is high, particularly in the feature-film section where credits are followed by a history of the production and the critical and popular response, a plot synopsis, and analysis of all significant characters. The organization of the short-films section . . . is more idiosyncratic, though the writing is still a delight and not without occasional criticism of the company. . . . A peerless reference work for those countless film fans and figurine collectors . . .'
--Library Journal

'I own an animation art gallery, and we use this book all the time for information on characters which are obscure, or to look up years of cartoons, etc. A must for Disney collectors.'
--Debbie Weiss, Wonderful World of Animation

Albion/The World

'At a time when fantasy relies heavily on the formulaic and superficial, John Grant's writing comes as an exhilarating antidote to the conventional trappings of the genre. This is typified by his two major fantasy novels, Albion and The World. . . . The very stability of the fantasy genre, reliable, predictable, formulaic, is undermined by Grant's quantum approach to fantasy. The status quo must continually be challenged, and this Grant has done very successfully with these remarkable novels.'
--St James Guide to 20th-Century Fantasy Writers


'Great storytelling.'
--The Times

'Some books feed the imagination; this one takes it to a banquet.'

'A grim, bloody and powerful book . . . recommended.'

'A wonderful fable.'
--South Wales Observer

'. . . enough battles to satisfy the most bloodthirsty reader. The heroes in this book, for once, feel real. The first of a series, Albion promises great things; Grant looks set to subvert the entire genre.'
--City Limits

The World

'The World is a brilliantly executed, surreal fantasy which should be regarded as a classic of the genre.'
--Sunday Times (NZ)

'Grant . . . allows his imagination full scope to break the walls of the [fantasy] genre and stray into other fields. It's another great book from a man who to my mind is about as conventional as a young Michael Moorcock and just as thrilling. Great stuff and a truly wonderful follow-up to Albion.'

'A fresh, original approach to fantasy (or possibly science fiction) which hijacks all the genre clichés and flies them to unexpected destinations.'
--David Langford

'An exhilarating tale of magic and music, reality and surreality, The World is an epic novel that shatters the traditional boundaries of fantasy fiction.'
--Newtownards Chronicle

'Fiendishly plotted, devilishly delightful, The World is that rarest of creations -- a genuinely adult fantasy, ambitious in scope, inspired in realization. A towering feat of imagination, The World is surely destined to become a classic of fantasy. With it, John Grant has proved himself the true master of modern fantasy.'
--Stephen Marley

'Many science-fiction novels are actually fantasy stories under a thin layer of pseudo-technology. John Grant, never a writer to take the easy option when there's a more interesting course to follow, has done the reverse. The World is a science-fiction novel masquerading as a fantasy. More than that, it's SF of a very high order.'

--Sam J. Lundwall

Strider's Galaxy

'Every so often someone comes along and revitalises a moribund genre. Wes Craven's shot in the arm for horror films, Scream, is a current example. With Strider's Galaxy Paul Barnett does the same for space opera. . . . Barnett scores by understanding that what raises action-driven SF above the routine is a liberal application of ideas. . . . The important thing is that he discards restraints and lets rip. Unashamedly occupying the pure- entertainment end of the spectrum, this is a primary-colours read -- exotic, extravagant, zingy. Pipe-and-slippers science fiction it isn't.'
--Stan Nicholls, Time Out

'This is space opera at its most exuberant, wide-screen science fiction with attitude. Good stuff.'
--David V. Barrett, Freelance Informer

The Legends of Lone Wolf series

'. . . the adventure-game novel come of age. Plenty of swashbuckling fantasy, yes. . . . But closer to the truth than many a 'realistic' war novel. It [The Sword of the Sun] lays bare, not only the pain of losing battles, but the price of winning them. Intelligent, honest, sensitive, but never sentimental. Great entertainment, and something extra that stays in the mind.'
--Fay Sampson

'Far better written than most of their kind . . . Surprisingly good.'

'The Lone Wolf novels go from strength to strength. Written with a neat eye for character and comradeship, herein are gritty wonders, deflationary humour, and a very down-to-earth portrayal of both pain and achievement. . . . Colourful, dealing too with territory that Fantasy has always treated with kid gloves -- sorrow and sex, adulthood and apotheosis, failure and first love -- the saga races along . . . Scene- and book-stealer Alyss, wonder-worker and gamin-goddess, who has been known to lie when it suits her, takes away any chance of comfortable, predictable fantasy for the reader and substitutes dazzlement, excitement and suspense.'
--Mary Gentle

Full Bibliography (to February 2001)

As John Grant:

1979: Aries 1 (Editor)
1980: The Book of Time (co-editor with Colin Wilson)

A Directory of Discarded Ideas
The Directory of Possibilities (co-editor with Colin Wilson)

1982:  A Book of Numbers
1983: Dreamers: A Geography of Dreamland
The Truth about the Flaming Ghoulies
1985: Sex Secrets of Ancient Atlantis
1986: The Depths of Cricket
1987: Encyclopedia of Walt Disney's Animated Characters
(with David Langford)
The Advanced Trivia Quizbook
1988: Great Mysteries
1989: An Introduction to Viking Mythology
The Great Unsolved Mysteries of Science
Eclipse of the Kai
The Dark Door Opens
The Sword of the Sun
1990: Hunting Wolf*
1991: Albion
Unexplained Mysteries of the World
The Claws of Helgedad*
The Sacrifice of Ruanon*
1992: The World
(US title: Monster Mysteries)
The Birthplace
The Book of the Magnakai
Legends of Lone Wolf Omnibus
1993: The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (second edition), edited by John Clute and Peter Nicholls (technical editor)
Encyclopedia of Walt Disney's Animated Characters (second edition)
The Tellings*
The Lorestone of Varetta*
1994: History Book -- A Thog the Mighty Text (chapbook)
The Secret of Kazan-Oud*
The Rotting Land*
The Hundredfold Problem
1995: Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde (children's retelling)
1996: The Encyclopedia of Fantasy and Science Fiction Art Techniques (with Ron Tiner)
1997: The Encyclopedia of Fantasy (co-editor with John Clute)
Frankenstein (children's retelling)
1998: Encyclopedia of Walt Disney's Animated Characters (third edition)
2000: Enchanted World: The Art of Anne Sudworth
2001: Masters of Animation (reviewed elsewhere in infinity plus)

As Paul Barnett:

1976:  Electric Children: Roots and Branches of Modern Folk-Rock (translation and expansion)
1977: Planet Earth: An Encyclopedia of Geology (co-editor with A. Hallam and Peter Hutchinson)
1978: Phaidon Concise Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, edited by John-David Yule (contributing editor)
1997: Strider's Galaxy
1998: Strider's Universe

As Eve Devereux:

1992:  Book of World Flags (US title: Flags of the World)
1994: The Ultimate Card Trick Book
1996: Cosset Your Cat
Pamper Your Pooch
2001: Walking New York (with "George Spelvin")

As Armytage Ware (with Ron Tiner):

1992:  Parlour Games
Conjuring Tricks
Juggling & Feats of Dexterity
Card Games

As Freddie Duff-Ware (with Ron Tiner):

1993:  Practical Jokes

* Titles marked with an asterisk are based on the gamebooks by Joe Dever and published as co-authorships.

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