Tanith Lee 19 September 1947 - 24 May 2015
May 26, 2015 8:27 AM Subscribe
Lee was the author of over 90 books and 300 short stories, as well as four BBC Radio plays, and two highly-regarded episodes of the BBC’s SF series Blake’s 7 (Sand and Sarcophagus). She was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the World Fantasy Convention in Brighton in 2013 and the Horror Writers Lifetime Achievement Award this year, which joined her British Fantasy Award from 1980 for Death’s Master, and her World Fantasy Award for her short story “The Gorgon”.The Sci-Fi Bulletin reports the passing away of Tanith Lee, who had been ill for some time.
Tanith Lee first adult novel was The Birthgrave, published by DAW Books in 1975, after an earlier children's book. She would publish some twenty books, mostly fantasy but also science fiction through that publisher in the seventies and eighties. Her fantasy often had horror elements to them, as well as an erotic undertone best articulated by Michael Swanwick in his appreciation of her writing:
There is more to these stories than the sexual impulse. But I mention its presence because its treatment is never titillating, smirking, or borderline pornographic, as is so much fiction that purports to be erotic. Rather, it is elegant, languorous, and feverish by turns, and always tinged with danger. Which is to say that it is remarkably like the writing itself.In an 1998 interview with Locus Magazine, she herself said of her writing:
Writers tell stories better, because they've had more practice, but everyone has a book in them. Yes, that old cliché. If you gave the most interesting (to the person who's living it) life to a great writer, they could turn it into something wonderful. But all lives are important, all people are important, because everyone is a book. Some people just have easier access to it. We need the expressive arts, the ancient scribes, the storytellers, the priests. And that's where I put myself: as a storyteller. Not necessarily a high priestess, but certainly the storyteller. And I would love to be the storyteller of the tribe!For an interview with Nightmare Magazine she wrote about her writing process:
I write in a sort of (so occasional observers, mother and husband, tell me) trance. As the story comes, even if it ever sticks (this one certainly didn’t; most don’t luckily) I’m there more as transcriber than participant. Although sometimes I am the participant—male, female, old, young, nice or nasty—and then it’s like being an actor immersed in the role, and too, to some extent, I imagine, strangely protected. However, it’s only a reading through, post writing, that I think/say, “My God, how awful/wonderful/disgusting,” etc. Or merely, “Eeeek!”Unfortunately in recent years Lee has had problems getting published:
Now though most of the so-called big publishers are unwilling even to look at a proposal. They aren’t interested in seeing anything from me, not even those houses I’ve worked with for many years. Where any slight interest in my turning in a book exists, I find I must work inside certain defined formulae. And to me that’s one of the arch inspiration-stranglers. I have at this time no new book, adult or Y.A, either out or due to come out, let alone any contract to produce a book for any of the main companies. And besides that only a couple of things are scheduled to appear from small, if reputable and elegant houses.As the news just came out, the sci-fi corner of Twitter is predictably abuzz with reminiscing about Lee and her work.
For a comprehensive and annotated bibliography of Tanith Lee, Daughter of the Night is essential.
The Free SF Online site has links to several of her stories available online.
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