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Jon Courtenay Grimwood

Jon Courtenay Grimwood

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Jon Courtenay Grimwood is a British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

 and fantasy
Fantasy is a genre of fiction that commonly uses magic and other supernatural phenomena as a primary element of plot, theme, or setting. Many works within the genre take place in imaginary worlds where magic is common...

An author is broadly defined as "the person who originates or gives existence to anything" and that authorship determines responsibility for what is created. Narrowly defined, an author is the originator of any written work.-Legal significance:...


He was born in Valletta
Valletta is the capital of Malta, colloquially known as Il-Belt in Maltese. It is located in the central-eastern portion of the island of Malta, and the historical city has a population of 6,098. The name "Valletta" is traditionally reserved for the historic walled citadel that serves as Malta's...

, Malta
Malta , officially known as the Republic of Malta , is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, with Gibraltar to the west and Alexandria to the east.Malta covers just over in...

, grew up in Britain, Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

 and Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 in the 1960s and 1970s. He studied at Kingston
Kingston upon Thames
Kingston upon Thames is the principal settlement of the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames in southwest London. It was the ancient market town where Saxon kings were crowned and is now a suburb situated south west of Charing Cross. It is one of the major metropolitan centres identified in the...

 College, then worked in publishing and as a freelance writer for magazine
Magazines, periodicals, glossies or serials are publications, generally published on a regular schedule, containing a variety of articles. They are generally financed by advertising, by a purchase price, by pre-paid magazine subscriptions, or all three...

s and newspaper
A newspaper is a scheduled publication containing news of current events, informative articles, diverse features and advertising. It usually is printed on relatively inexpensive, low-grade paper such as newsprint. By 2007, there were 6580 daily newspapers in the world selling 395 million copies a...

s including The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

, The Telegraph
The Daily Telegraph
The Daily Telegraph is a daily morning broadsheet newspaper distributed throughout the United Kingdom and internationally. The newspaper was founded by Arthur B...

 and The Independent
The Independent
The Independent is a British national morning newspaper published in London by Independent Print Limited, owned by Alexander Lebedev since 2010. It is nicknamed the Indy, while the Sunday edition, The Independent on Sunday, is the Sindy. Launched in 1986, it is one of the youngest UK national daily...

. He now lives in London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 and Winchester and is married to the journalist and novelist Sam Baker
Sam Baker (writer)
Sam Baker was the editor in chief of Cosmopolitan in the UK until December 2006. She is now editor of Red, owned by Hachette, and a sister magazine to Elle. Baker was born in Hampshire, and studied politics at Birmingham University...

, with a son, Jamie, from a previous marriage.

Much of his early work can be described as post-cyberpunk
Cyberpunk is a postmodern and science fiction genre noted for its focus on "high tech and low life." The name is a portmanteau of cybernetics and punk, and was originally coined by Bruce Bethke as the title of his short story "Cyberpunk," published in 1983...

. He won a British Science Fiction Association award for Felaheen in 2003, was short-listed for the Arthur C Clarke Award for Pashazade the year before, and won the 2006 BSFA award for Best Novel with End of the World Blues. He was short-listed for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award in 2002 for Pashazade. His fourth book is loosely based on Stanley Weyman's Victorian
Victorian era
The Victorian era of British history was the period of Queen Victoria's reign from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. It was a long period of peace, prosperity, refined sensibilities and national self-confidence...

 novel Under the Red Robe
Under the Red Robe
Under the Red Robe is an 1894 historical novel by Stanley J. Weyman, described as his best known book and greatest success. It is set in seventeenth-century France during the ascendency of Cardinal Richelieu, who appears as a character in the novel...

 (ISBN 5-552-05128-9). End of the World Blues was also short-listed for the 2007 Arthur C Clarke Award.
The following were nominated in the SF novel category in the Locus Awards - Felaheen, The Third Arabesk, 2004; Stamping Butterflies, 2005; 9Tail Fox, 2006; End of the World Blues, 2007

Grimwood's work tends to be of a quasi-alternate history
Alternate history (fiction)
Alternate history or alternative history is a genre of fiction consisting of stories that are set in worlds in which history has diverged from the actual history of the world. It can be variously seen as a sub-genre of literary fiction, science fiction, and historical fiction; different alternate...

 genre that could be dubbed "alternate future
Alternate future
In science fiction stories involving time travel, an alternative future or alternate future is a possible future which never comes to pass, typically because someone travels back into the past and alters it so that the events of the alternative future cannot occur.An alternative future differs from...

"; whilst set in an alternate universe, they are still set in the future. In the first four novels, set in the 22nd century, the point of divergence
Point of divergence
In discussion of counterfactual history, a divergence point , also referred to as a departure point or point of divergence , is a historical event with two possible postulated outcomes...

 is the Franco–Prussian War
Franco-Prussian War
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the 1870 War was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia was aided by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and...

 of 1870, where Grimwood posits a reality where Napoléon III's France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 defeats Otto von Bismarck
Otto von Bismarck
Otto Eduard Leopold, Prince of Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg , simply known as Otto von Bismarck, was a Prussian-German statesman whose actions unified Germany, made it a major player in world affairs, and created a balance of power that kept Europe at peace after 1871.As Minister President of...

's Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

, causing the German Empire
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

 never to form and the Second French Empire
Second French Empire
The Second French Empire or French Empire was the Imperial Bonapartist regime of Napoleon III from 1852 to 1870, between the Second Republic and the Third Republic, in France.-Rule of Napoleon III:...

 never to collapse. In the Arabesk trilogy
Arabesk trilogy
The Arabesk trilogy is a sequence of alternate history novels by the British author Jon Courtenay Grimwood.Starting with the 2001 novel Pashazade and continuing with Effendi and Felaheen , the point of divergence is in 1915, with Woodrow Wilson brokering an earlier peace so that World War I never...

, the point of divergence is in 1915, with Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

 brokering an earlier peace so that World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 barely expanded outside of the Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

; the books are set in a liberal
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

ic Ottoman
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 North Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

 in the 21st century, mainly centring around El Iskandriya (Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

). By contrast, there is little in Stamping Butterflies, 9tail Fox
9tail Fox
9tail Fox is a 2005 novel by Jon Courtenay Grimwood.-Plot summary:The plot centres around Bobby Zha, a Sergeant at the fictional SFPD Chinatown station in San Francisco...

 or End of the World Blues to suggest that the books are not set in our reality; although the possibility of alternate futures in Stamping Butterflies suggests one must involve a time line not our own. The Fallen Blade is the first of three novels set in an alternative 15th Century Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

 where Marco Polo
Marco Polo
Marco Polo was a Venetian merchant traveler from the Venetian Republic whose travels are recorded in Il Milione, a book which did much to introduce Europeans to Central Asia and China. He learned about trading whilst his father and uncle, Niccolò and Maffeo, travelled through Asia and apparently...

's family have been hereditary dukes for five generations and the Mongol emperor Tamberlaine has conquered China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, making him the most powerful ruler in the world.

Grimwood was guest of honour at Novacon
Novacon is an annual science fiction convention, usually held each November in the West Midlands, UK. It is now the annual convention of the Birmingham Science Fiction Group.-History:...

 in 2003, at Kontext (in Uppsala
- Economy :Today Uppsala is well established in medical research and recognized for its leading position in biotechnology.*Abbott Medical Optics *GE Healthcare*Pfizer *Phadia, an offshoot of Pharmacia*Fresenius*Q-Med...

, Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

) in 2008, and at Eastercon
Eastercon is the common name for the British national science fiction convention. From 1948 until the 1960s, the convention was held over the three-day Whitsun bank holiday at the end of May. Since then it has been held over the four-day Easter holiday weekend...

 LX (the 60th British National Science Fiction Convention
Science fiction convention
Science fiction conventions are gatherings of fans of various forms of speculative fiction including science fiction and fantasy. Historically, science fiction conventions had focused primarily on literature, but the purview of many extends to such other avenues of expression as movies and...

) in 2009.

He was a judge for the 2010 Arthur C Clarke Award presented to China Mieville
China Miéville
China Tom Miéville is an award-winning English fantasy fiction writer. He is fond of describing his work as "weird fiction" , and belongs to a loose group of writers sometimes called New Weird. He is also active in left-wing politics as a member of the Socialist Workers Party...

 for The City & the City
The City & the City
The City & the City is a fantasy/weird fiction novel by British author China Miéville. It was published by Macmillan on 15 May 2009. In the US it was published by Del Rey Books on 26 May 2009. Also in 2009, a signed, limited edition of 500 numbered and 26 lettered copies was published in the US by...

. He is also a judge for the 2011 award.

Writing style

Grimwood's style has two main features. Firstly, his central characters often have a somewhat unusual form of (often artificial) inner monologue; the lead character of the Arabesk trilogy has an internal AI
Artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence is the intelligence of machines and the branch of computer science that aims to create it. AI textbooks define the field as "the study and design of intelligent agents" where an intelligent agent is a system that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its...

 generally referred to as "the fox" or Tiriganiaq (Inuktitut for Arctic fox
Arctic fox
The arctic fox , also known as the white fox, polar fox or snow fox, is a small fox native to Arctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere and is common throughout the Arctic tundra biome. The Greek word alopex, means a fox and Vulpes is the Latin version...

), which acts as a pseudo-conscience
Conscience is an aptitude, faculty, intuition or judgment of the intellect that distinguishes right from wrong. Moral judgement may derive from values or norms...

 to some extent, in addition to giving him often flawed and self-evident advice; another character talks to his ever-present military commander; and most notably, in redRobe, the lead character (an assassin
To carry out an assassination is "to murder by a sudden and/or secret attack, often for political reasons." Alternatively, assassination may be defined as "the act of deliberately killing someone, especially a public figure, usually for hire or for political reasons."An assassination may be...

) talks to his sentient gun. In Stamping Butterflies, as well as some of the protagonists having a mental link (across several centuries in both directions), one character has conversations with an alien AI known as "the Library".

Secondly, he frequently alternates the main narrative with either a continuous story or a series of discontinuous flashback
Flashback (narrative)
Flashback is an interjected scene that takes the narrative back in time from the current point the story has reached. Flashbacks are often used to recount events that happened before the story’s primary sequence of events or to fill in crucial backstory...

s, often to the childhood of a central character. He uses this to explain events in the past in such a way that their connection to the plot only becomes evident later in the book, at around the point its effects are felt in the main storyline.


Name Published ISBN Notes
neoAddix 1997 ISBN 0-340-67472-5
Lucifer's Dragon 1998 ISBN 0-7434-7827-4
reMix 1999 ISBN 0-671-02222-9
redRobe is a 2000 novel by Jon Courtenay Grimwood. Details in the text suggest that it is set in the same world as that of his earlier speculative fiction novels neoAddix, Lucifer's Dragon and reMix, and like them it is also an SF thriller....

2000 ISBN 0-671-02260-1 British Science Fiction Award nominee, 2000
Pashazade 2001 ISBN 0-7434-6833-3 First in the Arabesk trilogy
British Science Fiction Award nominee, 2001;
John W. Campbell Memorial Award nominee, 2002;
Arthur C. Clarke Award nominee, 2002
Effendi 2002 ISBN 0-671-77369-0 Second in the Arabesk trilogy
British Science Fiction Award nominee, 2002
Felaheen 2003 ISBN 0-671-77370-4 Third in the Arabesk trilogy
British Science Fiction Award winner, 2003;
British Fantasy Award nominee, 2004
Stamping Butterflies 2004 ISBN 0-575-07613-5 British Science Fiction Award nominee, 2004
9tail Fox
9tail Fox
9tail Fox is a 2005 novel by Jon Courtenay Grimwood.-Plot summary:The plot centres around Bobby Zha, a Sergeant at the fictional SFPD Chinatown station in San Francisco...

2005 ISBN 0-575-07615-1 British Science Fiction Award nominee, 2005
End of the World Blues 2006 ISBN 0-575-07616-X British Science Fiction Award winner, 2006;
Arthur C. Clarke nominee, 2007
The Fallen Blade 2011 ISBN 0-316-07439-X

External links