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Gentle, Mary 1956-

GENTLE, Mary 1956-

(Roxanne Morgan)

PERSONAL: Born March 29, 1956, in Eastbourne, East Sussex, England; daughter of George William (a cinema manager) and Amy Mary (Champion) Gentle. Education: University of Bournemouth, B.A.; Goldsmiths' College, London, M.A.; King's College, London, M.A. Politics: "Feminist." Hobbies and other interests: Sewing historical costumes, sword fighting, live role-playing games.

ADDRESSES: Home—29 Sish Lane, Stevenage, Hertfordshire, England.

CAREER: Writer. Worked as assistant movie projectionist, clerk for a wholesale bookseller, and civil servant. Voice director for the computer game Zombieville, 1996.

MEMBER: Society for Creative Anachronism, Bournemouth Writers Circle (secretary, 1979-80).

AWARDS, HONORS: The Architecture of Desire was nominated for the James Tiptree, Jr. Award, 1992.



A Hawk in Silver (young adult), Gollancz (London, England), 1977, Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books (New York, NY), 1985.

Golden Witchbreed, Gollancz (London, England), 1983, Morrow (New York, NY), 1984.

Ancient Light, Gollancz (London, England), 1987, Signet (New York, NY), 1989.

Rats and Gargoyles, Bantam (London, England), 1990, ROC (New York, NY), 1991.

The Architecture of Desire, Bantam (London, England), 1991, ROC (New York, NY), 1993.

Grunts! A Fantasy with Attitude, Bantam (London, England), 1992, ROC (New York, NY), 1995.

Wild Machines, EOS (New York, NY), 2000.

A Sundial in a Grave—1610, Perennial (New York, NY), 2005.


A Secret History, EOS (New York, NY), 1999, published in Ash: A Secret History, 2001.

Carthage Ascendant, EOS (New York, NY), 2000, published in Ash: A Secret History, 2001.

The Wild Machines, EOS (New York, NY), 2000, published in Ash: A Secret History, 2001.

Lost Burgundy, Avon Books (New York, NY), 2000, published in Ash: A Secret History, 2001.


Who Dares Sins, Little Brown (London, England) 1995.

Dares, X Libris (Philadelphia, PA) 1995.

Sinner Takes All, X Libris (Philadelphia, PA) 1997.

Bets,Warner Furtura (London, England) 1997.

A Game of Masks, X Libris (Philadelphia, PA) 1999.

Degrees of Desire, Little Brown (London, England) 2001.


Scholars and Soldiers (short stories), Macdonald (London, England), 1989.

(Editor, with Roz Kaveney) Villains!, ROC (New York, NY), 1992.

(Editor, with Roz Kaveney and Neil Gaiman) TheWeerde, two volumes, ROC (New York, NY), 1992.

Left to His Own Devices (short stories), Orbit (London, England), 1994.

Author of a script for the computer game Zombieville, 1996. Work represented in anthologies, including Worlds That Weren't, ROC (New York, NY), c. 2002. Contributor of short stories, reviews and articles to Vector, Interzone, Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction, and other publications.

SIDELIGHTS: Mary Gentle's science fiction novels are marked by a leisurely narrative pace, lush description of landscapes and architecture, occult philosophy, and witty language. Her first two novels for adults—Golden Witchbreed and Ancient Light—follow Lynne de Lisle Christie as she travels on a diplomatic mission to the distant planet of Orthe. Seemingly primitive compared to Earth, the planet of Orthe is in fact quite developed, but not in a technological sense. The eventual conflicts between Earthlings and the natives of Orthe resemble "a gathering storm: decent people on both sides see the danger coming and take steps to avert it, but they are enmeshed in obligations that defeat their purpose," as Gerald Jonas explained in the New York Times Book Review.

In Rats and Gargoyles Gentle envisions a nameless city where despotic god-demons rule and a few brave humans struggle to free themselves from their oppressive masters. The magic they turn to for power combines Rosicrucian and Masonic elements. A Publishers Weekly critic called the world of Rats and Gargoyles "a dark, vivid and complex alternative medieval world." "Gentle's feel for language and character," wrote Jackie Cassada in the Library Journal, "provide both immediacy and a sense of timelessness to a complex and evocative tale."

Gentle returns to the same scenario in The Architecture of Desire, this time extending the action to an alternate historical city of London where a magical temple must be constructed to insure the victory of the rebellious humans. "There is an intricate and subtle imagination at work here," admitted Tom Easton in Analog, "expressed in a story rich with sex and intrigue, adventure and color galore. Yet it did not succeed in persuading me to suspend my disbelief." Reviewing The Architecture of Desire for the Washington Post Book World, Paul Di Filippo explained that Gentle has relied "solely on the strength of her vivid and gorgeous descriptions of light, weather, clothing, buildings and faces" to tell her story. "Her subtlety in depicting the supernatural events of her world," Di Filippo believed, "is well nigh miraculous." Although the reviewer for Publishers Weekly judged The Architecture of Desire to be too "compressed, its turns of plots underrationalized," he nonetheless concluded that "Gentle's witty prose and the unusual and intriguing atmosphere of her world more than compensate."

Gentle once told CA: "I was writing for a good long while before I realized it was a serious occupation. Since then it has taken up progressively larger amounts of my time, though I am a lazy writer and should be chained forcibly to a typewriter. In short, I hate writing, but love having written."



Analog, August, 1993, Tom Easton, review of TheArchitecture of Desire, p. 161.

Booklist, June 15, 1984, p. 1437; March 1, 1993, p. 1160.

Books and Bookmen, November, 1983, p. 30.

British Book News, March, 1984, p. 136.

Fantasy Review, August, 1985, p. 20.

Library Journal, March 15, 1989, p. 88; March 15, 1991, Jackie Cassada, review of Rats and Gargoyles, p. 119; February 15, 1993, p. 195; February 15, 1994, p. 216.

Locus, May, 1989, p. 46; September, 1990, p. 23; June, 1992, p. 15; September, 1992, p. 17.

Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, January, 2001, Robert K. J. Killheffer, review of Lost Burgundy and Wild Machines, p. 29.

New Scientist, April 7, 2001, review of Ash: A SecretHistory, p. 48.

New York Times Book Review, July 2, 1989, review by Gerald Jonas, p. 15.

Publishers Weekly, January 13, 1989, p. 78; March 1, 1991, review of Rats and Gargoyles, p. 62; March 1, 1993, review of The Architecture of Desire, p. 44.

Science Fiction Chronicle, June, 1991, p. 5; November, 1991, p. 35; July, 1992, p. 33; March, 1993, p. 30.

Science Fiction Review, February, 1985, p. 44.

Times Literary Supplement, April 7, 1978, p. 376.

Washington Post Book World, August 26, 1984, p. 6; May 26, 1991, p. 6; January 26, 1992, p. 6; March 28, 1993, Paul Di Filippo, review of The Architecture of Desire, p. 9.*

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