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Garfinkle, Richard

GARFINKLE, Richard

PERSONAL:

Married Alessandra Kelley (an artist); children: two.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Chicago, IL. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Tor Books, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.

CAREER:

Writer.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Compton Crook Award for best first novel, 1996, for Celestial Matters.

WRITINGS:

Celestial Matters, Tor (New York, NY), 1996. All of an Instant, Tor (New York, NY), 1999.

WORK IN PROGRESS:

Hard science fiction novel focusing on mathematics; a fantasy novel.

SIDELIGHTS:

In science fiction writer Richard Garfinkle's first novel, Celestial Matters, the author speculates on the state of science and technology if the universe were based on the theories of Ptolemy rather than Copernicus—in other words, with Earth at the center and everything else revolving around it. In this world, ancient Greek ideas about science are fact: spontaneous generation has been harnessed for use in agriculture; all matter is made up of the four elements; and travel throughout the universe is possible because there is breathable air everywhere. When the Greeks surmise that they are falling behind in a generation-spanning war with the Chinese, Aias makes plans to travel to the Sun, which is only a few hundred thousand miles away, and steal a piece of its fire to use against the Chinese. Aias's mission is plagued with mutiny, assassination attempts, and commando assaults, as well as the inherent dangers of a universe similar to our own, but different enough to be considered alien. Booklist reviewer Carl Hays called the book a "captivating yarn" and remarked that Garfinkle "masterfully details his alternate world's history," while establishing parallels with the arms race and maintaining a suspenseful plotline. A Publishers Weekly critic noted that Celestial Matters is an "imaginative first novel," adding that Garfinkle's "debut should heartily engage fans of alternate-world SF."

On the Cybling Web site, Garfinkle described his second novel, All of an Instant, as "a novel about people living outside of time and altering history to make the world over into their ideas of utopia." The Instant is a dimension outside of time, a place where the waters of time literally flow, and where skillful manipulators can alter the past and change the future. Perpetual wars ensue over control of the Instant—and thus control over time—with no side gaining a decided advantage. When an anomaly develops in the ocean of time, it brings together a time-flung trio to investigate—Nir, from the ancient beginnings of humankind; Qullithe, a seer from humanity's farthest future; and Kookatchi, a slave with a memory a minute long. "It's my attempt to write the most insane time-travel book ever," Garfinkle admitted on the Cybling Web site. A Publishers Weekly reviewer commented that the narrative "develops a sophisticated consideration of the nature of consciousness, of the continuity of selfhood across a lifetime, and of ethnic conflict." Roland Green, reviewing the novel in Booklist, noted that pacing slows and characterization suffers in favor of explication of the Instant, but he concluded that "those who appreciate literate, cerebral explorations of the concept of altering history … will embrace this example of the type." And Jackie Cassada, writing in Library Journal, declared All of an Instant "a good choice for fans of cerebral, idea-oriented SF."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, April 15, 1996, Carl Hays, review of Celestial Matters, p. 1425; November 15, 1999, Roland Green, review of All of an Instant, p. 609.

Library Journal, November 15, 1999, Jackie Cassada, review of All of an Instant, p. 102.

Publisher Weekly, March 4, 1996, review of Celestial Matters, p. 59; October 18, 1999, review of All of an Instant, p. 75.

ONLINE

Cybling Web site,http://www.cybling.com/ (January 30, 2004), interview with Richard Garfinkle.*

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