Finlay, Charles Coleman 1964–
Finlay, Charles Coleman 1964–
CAREER: Writer, novelist, and historian. Administrator for online writing workshop; consultant in constitutional history. Worked variously for Aviation Safety Institute, Columbus Children's Hospital, and as a studio assistant for a porcelain artist.
AWARDS, HONORS: Nebula Award finalist for best novella, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and Hugo Award finalist for best novella, World Science Fiction Society, both 2003, both for "The Political Officer."
The Prodigal Troll (fantasy novel), Pyr (Amherst, NY), 2005.
Wild Things (short stories; includes "Footnotes," "The Political Officer," and "We Come Not to Praise Washington"), Subterranean Press (Burton, MI), 2005.
Contributor to anthologies, including: The Year's Best Science Fiction, Volume 20, edited by Gardner Dozois, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2003; One Lamp: Alternate History Stories from the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, edited by Gordon Van Gelder, Four Walls Eight Windows (New York, NY), 2003; Mammoth Book of Best New Horror No. 15, edited by Stephen Jones, Carroll & Graf (New York, NY), 2004; Year's Best Fantasy No. 4, edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer, Eos (New York, NY), 2004; and In Lands That Never Were: Tales of Sword and Sorcery from the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, edited by Gordon Van Gelder, Four Walls Eight Windows, 2004. Contributor of short stories and poetry to periodicals, including Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Electric Velocipede, Argosy Quarterly, H.P. Lovecraft's Magazine of Horror, Paradox, and On Spec.
Finlay's works have been translated into Hebrew.
SIDELIGHTS: Novelist and short-story writer Charles Coleman Finlay writes fiction in the genres of science fiction and fantasy. His stories have appeared in a number of periodicals and are widely anthologized in best-of collections. A finalist for the industry's John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2003, Fin-lay has also been a finalist for other prominent industry awards, including the Nebula, the Hugo, and the Sidewise awards. An expert in U.S. Constitutional history, Finlay worked as a researcher for historian Saul Cornell's book on anti-federalism and traditions of dissent in America, The Other Founders, which won a Society of Cincinnati Prize for history in 2001. He also worked at the Aviation Safety Institute and as a studio assistant for porcelain artist Curtis Benzle. Though he learned from each work experience, he remarked on his home page that "all of it looks much more interesting in retrospect than it did at the time."
As a writer, Finlay debuted in 2001 with his short story "Footnotes," which was published in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, one of the genre's longest-running fiction magazines and a prestigious venue for short stories, particularly one's first. The story consists entirely of footnotes—some amusing, some frightening, some dramatic—to an article on a future disaster. This storytelling device allows readers to "concoct their own explanations" for what happened and what the story means, remarked a Kirkus Reviews critic.
"Footnotes" appears in Wild Things, Finlay's collection of short works. Ranging in style from science fiction to heroic fantasy to mainstream, the stories demonstrate Finlay to be "a versatile writer of imaginative fiction," commented a reviewer in Publishers Weekly. In "Lucy, in Her Splendor," a vampire learns that her peculiar obsessions have inevitable consequences with which she must contend. The protagonist of "The Smackdown outside Dedham" discovers cosmic Lovecraftian horror to go along with his wrestling mania; "Pervert" meditates on a future society in which men and women are never allowed to meet and mix; and in "Still Life with Action Figure," the collection's closest representative of literary fiction, a cartoonist struggles with the implications of his artist father's debilitating illness. "Solidly told and occasionally memorable, these fourteen tales display an insightful knowledge of human nature," stated the Publishers Weekly reviewer. "Finlay displays an astonishing range, an active imagination and a developing assurance and control: a writer to watch," commented a contributor to Kirkus Reviews.
Finlay's fantasy novel, The Prodigal Troll, is an expansion of his short story "A Democracy of Trolls." While his castle is under siege, Lord Gruethrist sends his infant son, Claye, to a safer haven, accompanied by two loyal retainers, a nursemaid and a knight. When the two retainers are killed, the human child is adopted by a troll female named Windy, who ignores the troll tribe's disapproval and raises Claye as her own. Despised by the brutish trolls, the boy is renamed Maggot and struggles to find a place within a society that is not his own. Smaller and physically weaker than the trolls, Maggot still thrives because of his superior intellect and quick wits. Eventually, he feels the need to rejoin his own kind, particularly in pursuit of the lovely Portia. Unschooled in the ways of man, Maggot finds the world of humans more dangerous and complicated than anything he has ever seen within the world of the trolls. Jackie Cassada, writing in Library Journal, commented favorably on the book's "excellent world building and … unique and likable hero." A Kirkus Reviews critic found "some rough edges" in the work but concluded that the novel is an "unusually intriguing and satisfying work from a writer on the rise."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2005, review of The Prodigal Troll, p. 518; July 15, 2005, review of Wild Things, p. 769.
Library Journal, June 15, 2005, Jackie Cassada, review of The Prodigal Troll, p. 65.
Locus, April, 2004, "Charles Coleman Finlay: All in the Details," interview with Charles Coleman Finley, p. 68.
Publishers Weekly, April 11, 2005, review of The Prodigal Troll, p. 38; July 11, 2005, review of Wild Things, p. 67.
Charles Coleman Finlay Home Page, http://home.earthlink.net/∼ccfinlay (September 19, 2005).