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Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro


LibertyCon 13 Author Guest of Honor (1999)

US composer and writer, more active in and better known for her occult and mystery tales than for her early sf, which is mostly restricted to work from the 1970s; she has also written as Quinn Fawcett (with Bill Fawcett), Camille Gabor, Trystam Kith and Vanessa Pryor. After around 1980 she became (and has remained) identified with the Saint-Germain sequence of fantasies about a sympathetic immortal Vampire of aristocratic birth. Set in Europe and elsewhere over a span of centuries, the main sequence begins with Hotel Transylvania: A Novel of Forbidden Love (1978) and ends twenty-five volumes later (see Checklist) with An Embarrassment of Riches (2011); further volumes are expected. There are two subsidiary sequence, the Atta Olivia Clemens books about Saint-Germain's vampire lover beginning with A Flame in Byzantium (1987); and the Madelaine de Montalia books beginning with Out of the House of Life (1990). As these interlinked sequences have progressed, Yarbro has decreasingly concentrated upon the vampirism of her protagonists and spent much more energy establishing some historical verisimilitude for the territories visited, sticking more and more frequently to the end of the Roman Empire, where she has also set some nonfantastic historical novels. Other non-sf series include the Ogilvie, Tallant & Moon detective sequence with fantasy elements, beginning with Ogilvie, Tallant & Moon (1976; vt Bad Medicine 1990 as C Q Yarbro); and the Mycroft Holmes pastiches (> Sherlock Holmes; Steampunk) beginning with Against the Brotherhood: A Mycroft Holmes Novel (1997) with Bill Fawcett, writing together as Quinn Fawcett.

In other words, Yarbro soon moved a significant distance from sf - which she began publishing with "The Posture of Prophecy" for If in 1969 - and seems unlikely to return except casually, with the exception of a tale like Taji's Syndrome (1988), a Near Future medical thriller. Her most significant sf work, most of it decidedly more pessimistic about the world than her tales set in the past, include the tales assembled in Cautionary Tales (coll 1978), which share an energetic starkness, a tendency for her characters - as James Tiptree Jr remarked in her introduction to the book - to engage in rather arousing operatic duets and tirades, and a genuinely Dystopian vision of times to come; other tales of interest, though with decreasing sf content, were assembled in Signs & Portents (coll 1984) and Apprehensions and Other Delusions (coll 2004). Her first sf novel, Time of the Fourth Horseman (1976) - in which a plan to head off Overpopulation by reinfecting children with various diseases gets radically out of hand - confirmed this sense of the darkness of her work; as did False Dawn (in Strange Bedfellows, anth 1973, ed Thomas N Scortia; exp 1978), which is set further into the future and likewise deals with a world ravaged by mutated diseases. Nor did Hyacinths (1983), set in a Near-Future Dystopian America characterized by a wrecked economy and mind control, modify the sense that Yarbro was an author entirely in control of what she wished to say, and in what genre. Sf has been a genre which enabled her to look forward into the dark, on occasion. For the most part, she has gazed away from the darknesses she perceived in the times to come. She was honoured as a World Horror Grandmaster in 2003. [JC]

(From Ms. Yarbro's page at the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction)