US writer employed in various fields including oceanography and cancer research, as well as a stint as instructional designer for the Los Angeles Police Department. Her fiction, basically Fantasy, though with a sensation of underlying premises arguable in sf terms, has been dominated from the beginning by the unfolding Chronicles of the Deryni sequences, all set in a highly detailed, coherent Parallel World whose society is hierarchical and in many of its aspects medieval Welsh. By internal chronology they are: The Legends of Camber of Culdi, comprising Camber of Culdi (1976), Saint Camber (1978) and Camber the Heretic (1980); The Heirs of Saint Camber, comprising The Harrowing of Gwynedd (1989), King Javan's Year (1992) and The Bastard Prince (1994); The Chronicles of the Deryni comprising Deryni Rising (1970), Deryni Checkmate (1972) and High Deryni (1973) - all assembled as The Chronicles of the Deryni (omni 1985) - King Javan's Year (1992) and The Bastard Prince (1994); and The Histories of King Kelson, comprising The Bishop's Heir (1984), The King's Justice (1985), The Quest for Saint Camber (1986) and King Kelson's Bride (2000). These chronicles tell the history of a group of humans whose witchlike Psi Powers, the explanation for which hovers between sf and mysticism, cause them to be persecuted by a medieval Church. The first-written novel Deryni Rising is perhaps the best, but the whole is generally much above average for Heroic Fantasy and is well characterized, although sometimes archaic and modern language clash. Appended to the series are two supplementary volumes: The Deryni Archives (1986) and Deryni Magic: A Grimoire (1991).
Kurtz's other work of interest includes The Legacy of Lehr (1986), juvenile sf; and the Adam Smith sequence with Deborah Turner Harris (for these titles and for other fantasies, see Checklist). [JC/PN]