Hand, Elizabeth 1957–
Hand, Elizabeth 1957–
Born March 29, 1957, in San Diego, CA; daughter of Edward (an attorney) and Alice Ann (a social worker) Hand; children: Callie Anne Silverthorn. Education: Catholic University of America, B.A., 1984. Religion: Roman Catholic.
Home—ME. Agent—Martha Millard Literary Agency, 293 Greenwood Ave., Florham Park, NJ 07932-2335. E-mail—[email protected]
National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, archival researcher, 1979-86, and cofounder of archival videodisc program; writer.
Philip K. Dick Award finalist, for Winterlong, Aestival Tide, and Icarus Descending; James Tiptree, Jr., Award, 1995, and Mythopoeic Society Fantasy Award for Adult Literature, 1996, both for Waking the Moon; Nebula Award for best novella, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and World Fantasy Award, World Fantasy Convention, both 1995, both for "Last Summer at Mars Hill"; Battersea Arts Center award finalist, Fringe Theater Festival (London, England), 1997, for one-act play, The Have-Nots; International Horror Guild Award, for novella "Cleopatra Brimstone" and short story "Pavane for a Prince of the Air"; World Fantasy Award, World Fantasy Convention, 2004, for Bibliomancy; Nebula Award for best short story, 2007, for "Echo."
Aestival Tide, Bantam (New York, NY), 1991.
Icarus Descending, Bantam (New York, NY), 1993.
Waking the Moon, HarperPrism (New York, NY), 1995.
Glimmering, HarperPrism (New York, NY), 1997.
Last Summer at Mars Hill (short stories), HarperPrism (New York, NY), 1998.
Black Light, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1999.
Bibliomancy (includes "Cleopatra Brimstone," "Chip Crockett's Christmas Carol," "The Last Trumps," and "Pavane for a Prince of the Air"; also see below), P.S. Publishing (Hornsea, East Yorkshire, England), 2003.
Mortal Love, Ballantine (New York, NY), 2004.
Saffron and Brimstone (includes "Cleopatra Brimstone," "Chip Crockett's Christmas Carol," and "Pavane for a Prince of the Air"; also see below), M. Press (New York, NY), 2006.
Chip Crockett's Christmas Carol, Beccon Press (London, England), 2006.
The Bride of Frankenstein, DH Press, 2006.
Generation Loss: A Novel, Small Beer Press/Consortium (Northampton, MA), 2007, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2008.
12 Monkeys (film novelization), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1995.
Anna and the King (based on the screenplay by Steve Meerson and others), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1999.
The Affair of the Necklace (film novelization), Harper-Entertainment (New York, NY), 2001.
Maze of Deception: A Clone Wars Novel ("Star Wars: Boba Fett" series), Scholastic (New York, NY), 2003.
Hunted: A Clone Wars Novel ("Star Wars: Boba Fett" series), Scholastic (New York, NY), 2003.
Fight to Survive: A Clone Wars Novel ("Star Wars: Boba Fett" series), Scholastic (New York, NY), 2003.
Pursuit: A Clone Wars Novel ("Star Wars: Boba Fett" series), Scholastic (New York, NY), 2004.
A New Threat: A Clone Wars Novel ("Star Wars: Boba Fett" series), Scholastic (New York, NY), 2004.
Catwoman (based on a screenplay by John Rogers, Mike Ferris, and John Brancato), Ballantine (New York, NY), 2004.
Also author or coauthor audiobook scripts, including Anna and the King, 2001; author of The Frenchman (television pilot). Contributor to "X-Files" and "Millennium" fiction series, based on television shows.
Also author of one-act play The Have-Nots. Cocreator of DC Comics comic-book series Anima. Critic for Washington Post, Detroit Metro Times, and San Francisco Eye. Regular reviewer for Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Washington Post Book World, and Voice Literary Supplement.
Contributor of stories to books, including Year's Best Horror Stories XVII, edited by Karl E. Wagner, DAW (New York, NY), 1989, Full Spectrum 2, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1989, and Year's Best Horror 2, edited by Ramsey Campbell, Carroll & Graf (New York, NY), 1991.
Elizabeth Hand emerged on the science-fiction scene after publishing only three short works. While her novels and short stories are geared toward an adult audience, several of her books have appeal for young-adult readers. Many of her movie tie-ins and novelizations also appeal to younger readers, including her contributions to the "Star Wars" novel series. She has also worked on comic books as a cocreator, with Paul Witcover, of the DC Comics series Anima, and her novel Black Light and others feature young-adult narrators. In a review of her short-story collection Last Summer at Mars Hill, a Publishers Weekly critic noted that Hand produces "beautiful writing" that is tempered with "healthy doses of skepticism." Noting the author's lyri- cal style, Science Fiction Weekly Online contributor Nick Gevers called Hand "one of American literature's finest prose poets of the fantastic."
Hand's first published short story, "Prince of Flowers," appeared in Twilight Zone and is a fantasy story about a woman, Helen, who works in a museum in Washington, DC. Helen's job is to open new crates and inventory the strange objects and papers received by the museum. Among the items she takes home to liven up her apartment is a "spirit puppet," an Indonesian item that had been packed away in storage for nearly a century. "On the Town Route," which first appeared in Pulphouse, concerns a woman who travels with an ice-cream-truck vendor through an impoverished area of Virginia, where they distribute ice cream to the poor people of the region until an accident disrupts their charitable efforts. "The Boy in the Tree," which was published shortly before Hand's first novel, Winterlong, is noticeably more akin to science fiction due to its futuristic setting: a research facility that treats psychopaths.
Published in 1990, Winterlong describes a future Earth where biological weapons have destroyed much of the planet's population. Wendy and Raphael, twins who have been separated since birth, travel across the nightmarish landscape, facing danger from mutated cannibalistic children and deadly exotic plants. As the twins reunite, they enact the legend of the Final Ascension, which will decide the future of humankind. D. Douglas Fratz wrote in Twentieth-Century Science-Fiction Writers: "There are some marvelous characters here, but none seems to act on his or her own volition; all feel driven by unseen forces." Sherry Hoy, reviewing Winterlong in the Voice of Youth Advocates, stated that Hand "weaves a tale that is achingly haunting and disquieting, surreal yet compelling." The novels Aestival Tide and Icarus Descending continue the topics and themes Hand first develops in Winterlong, and many reviewers have viewed the three as a series. Themes in these novels also appear in Hand's award-winning Waking the Moon and Black Light.
In the novel Black Light Hand tells the story of highschool senior Charlotte Moylan and Charlotte's godfather, filmmaker Axel Kern. The notorious Kern arrives in Charlotte's hometown of Kamensic to host a Halloween party replete with drugs and dark and perverse characters, including various members of the Benandanti and the Malandanti, who are, as a critic for Kirkus Reviews explained, "two opposing groups of magicians … [that] struggle to control human destiny." After experiencing unsettling visions and meeting the strange Professor Warnick, Charlotte learns that her godfather is deeply involved in a dangerous conspiracy. Jackie Cassada praised Hand's "lucid style" in the Library Journal, and a reviewer for Publishers Weekly declared that the book "should strongly appeal to aficionados of sophisticated horror."
Four of Hand's novellas, one of which was previously published online, appeared together in print in Bibliomancy, published in England. (Three of these stories also appear in Saffron and Brimstone, published in the United States.) Her novella "Cleopatra Brimstone" gives the story of a young woman's recovery from rape a horrific twist as the injured protagonist channels her rage and lust for vengeance and morphs into an insectile serial killer. "Pavane for a Prince of the Air" is a semiautobiographical story about the death of a friend. Both of these novellas were nominated for an International Horror Guild Award. "The Least Trumps" deals with tattooing and tarot, while "Chip Crockett's Christmas Carol" features the character Tony Maroni and an oldtime children's television program. Hand told Nick Gevers in Science Fiction Weekly Online that the story is a tribute to Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol: "I just love Dickens, and Christmas, and I've always wanted to write a Christmas story." Reviewing this collected short fiction, Paul di Filippo, in a review for the Washington Post Book World, noted that "Hand's close attention to the cherished dailiness of life is matched only by the subtlety of her fantastical conceits."
Mortal Love delves into artistic inspiration: essentially, what drives artists to create art. Hand pictures the inspiration of various male artists as a beautiful woman, a woman whose name changes depending on the artist to whom she appears; she eventually drives at least one of these men into madness. "On one level I think Mortal Love served as a way of examining the source of my own creative activity, by looking at that of other writers or visual artists," Hand explained to Gevers in Science Fiction Weekly Online. Washington Post Book World reviewer Lawrence Norfolk summed up the novel, writing that "Mortal Love is at once a painting in prose, an investigation into artistic obsession and a re-evaluation." Noting that the book was marketed to mainstream audiences as well as science-fiction and fantasy readers, a Publishers Weekly critic commented that Hand's "timeless tale of desire and passion should reach many readers beyond [the author's] usual fantasy base."
While Hand continues to work on novelizations of media works as well as on original science-fiction and fantasy works, she has also moved into more mainstream fiction. Discussing the novel Generation Loss: A Novel, she described the story as more gritty than her previous works. Hand lives with her two children in a home located on the coast of Maine—the setting of Generation Loss—"within shouting distance of her cottage studio," according to an essay on her home page.
Hand's Generation Loss is the first of her novels to eschew fantasy altogether. Instead, it draws on elements of the horror and suspense genres. Generation Loss tells the story of Cassandra Neary, a "burnt out relic of a photographer from the 1970s punk scene," declared an interviewer on the Web site Abebooks.com, "who is given a mercy assignment to interview a reclusive photographer in Maine. On arrival she finds herself in an old mystery that is still claiming lives." The key to Cass's dream lies in the body of work of Aphrodite Kamestos, a refugee from the 1960s counterculture scene. Cass herself made her reputation a decade later photographing similar people in like situations, and she counted Aphrodite as one of her inspirations. Kamestos has ensconced herself on a small island off the Maine coast, surrounded by the remnants of a commune she had helped found decades earlier. On her journey to meet her mentor, Cass will "meet strange natives and unreconstructed hippies," explained Strange Horizons contributor Matthew Cheney; "she'll uncover secrets, drink gallons of Jack Daniels and pop some ADD-generation speed, watch her dreams and idols die, fall in something resembling the possibility of love, and locate a serial killer—all in the course of finding herself."
Hand explores new territory in Generation Loss. Each of her characters—from Cassandra to Aphrodite—is severely damaged by their experiences, and each has found different ways of coping with their memories and their feelings. This, reviewers agree, is most noticeable in her protagonist. Hand "has set Cass up to be an antihero, dehumanized after her rape by an assailant she failed to fight off; the chance to become a real hero is a possibility of quick redemption," stated Melissa Albert in Bookslut. "The novel," wrote interviewer Jeff Vandermeer in another Bookslut review, "deals with the limits and limitations of art while being both thriller and mystery novel at the same time. Narrator Cass Neary is a hypnotic blend of hidden vulnerability, selfishness, and curiosity." "I feel like, in the end, she demonstrates real courage—she's reckless and arrogant and self-destructive, but she's also scared shitless a lot of the time," Hand told Vandermeer. "That's why she drinks and dopes up nonstop. I absolutely understand the impulse behind that. So her decision to act, to attempt to save someone else when she herself is terrified and chronically self-absorbed, is a big deal for her. And, I think, an act of moral courage in an otherwise deeply amoral character." "Cass is a complex and thoroughly believable character," stated a Publishers Weekly reviewer, "who behaves selfishly—sometimes despicably—yet still compels reader sympathy." "Brilliantly written and completely original," concluded Booklist contributor David Pitt, "Hand's novel is an achievement with a capital A."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Newsmakers, Issue 2, Gale (Farmington Hills, MI), 2007.
Twentieth-Century Science-Fiction Writers, 3rd edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1991.
Analog Science Fiction & Fact, February, 1991, review of Winterlong, p. 176; April, 1993, Tom Easton, review of Aestival Tide, p. 162; February, 1994, Tom Easton, review of Icarus Descending, p. 160.
Book World, April 1, 2007, review of Generation Loss: A Novel, p. 8; May 6, 2007, "Road to Ruin," p. 6.
Booklist, June 1, 1993, Carl Hays, review of Icarus Descending, p. 1793; February 15, 1998, Nancy Spillman, review of The Frenchman, p. 1026; June 1, 2004, Mary Ellen Quinn, review of Mortal Love, p. 1700; May 1, 2007, David Pitt, review of Generation Loss, p. 36.
Books, May 6, 2007, Graham Joyce, review of Generation Loss, p. 6.
Detroit Free Press, July 18, 2004, Susan Hall-Balduf, review of Mortal Love.
Entertainment Weekly, April 6, 2007, Sean Howe, review of Generation Loss, p. 80.
Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 1999, review of Black Light, p. 418; May 15, 2004, review of Mortal Love, p. 459.
Lambda Book Report, November 1, 1992, Severna Park, review of Aestival Tide, p. 42.
Library Journal, June 15, 1995, Barbara Maslekoff, review of Waking the Moon, p. 94; March 15, 1997, Susan Hamburger, review of Glimmering, p. 93; April 15, 1999, Jackie Cassada, review of Black Light, p. 148; April 1, 2004, Jennifer Baker, review of Mortal Love, p. 122.
Locus, October, 1992, "Aestival Tide," p. 35; February, 1995, "Waking the Moon," p. 34; September, 2003, Gary K. Wolfe, review of Bibliomancy, p. 17; October, 2003, Bill Sheehan, review of Bibliomancy, p. 25.
Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, October 1, 1995, Robert K.J. Killheffer, review of Waking the Moon, p. 43; August, 1997, review of Glimmering, p. 30; January, 1998, review of Glimmering, p. 38; April, 1999, review of Last Summer at Mars Hill, p. 41.
Mythprint, April, 1997, Eleanor M. Farrell, reviews of Waking the Moon and Glimmering.
New Scientist, May 23, 1998, review of Glimmering, p. 51.
New York Times Book Review, December 9, 1990, Winterlong, p. 32; September 12, 1993, Gerald Jonas, "Icarus Descending," p. 36; September 10, 1995, "Waking the Moon," p. 46; May 30, 1999, Gerald Jonas, review of Black Light, p. 25.
Publishers Weekly, August 24, 1990, Penny Kaganoff, review of Winterlong, p. 59; July 5, 1993, review of Icarus Descending, p. 68; June 26, 1995, review of Waking the Moon, p. 89; February 3, 1997, review of Glimmering, p. 99; August 10, 1998, review of Last Summer at Mars Hill, March 8, 1999, review of Black Light, p. 51; May 3, 2004, review of Mortal Love, p. 169; February 19, 2007, review of Generation Loss, p. 148.
Redsine Seven, January, 2002, Nick Gevers, "Apocalypse Descending: An Interview with Elizabeth Hand."
Voice of Youth Advocates, April, 1991, Sherry Hoy, review of Winterlong, p. 43; April, 1993, review of Aestival Tide, p. 40; February, 1994, review of Icarus Descending, p. 381; April, 1994, review of Aestival Tide, p. 9; December, 1995, review of Waking the Moon, p. 314; April, 1996, review of Waking the Moon, p. 23; April, 1998, review of The Frenchman, p. 55; April, 2000, review of Black Light, p. 11.
Washington Post Book World, December 14, 2003, Paul di Filippo, review of Bibliomancy, p. 14; June 27, 2004, Lawrence Norfolk, review of Mortal Love, p. 6.
Abebooks.com,http://www.abebooks.com/ (January 19, 2008), "Getting Gritty with Elizabeth Hand."
Agony Column Online,http://www.trashotron.com/ (January 19, 2008), Rick Kleffel, review of Bibliomancy.
Bookslut,http://www.bookslut.com/ (January 19, 2008), Jeff Vandermeer, "An Interview with Elizabeth Hand," Melissa Albert, review of Generation Loss.
Elizabeth Hand Home Page,http://www.elizabethhand.com (January 19, 2008).
Science Fiction Weekly Online,http://www.scifi.com/sfw/ (January 19, 2008), Nick Gevers, interview with Hand.
Strange Horizons,http://www.strangehorizons.com/ (January 19, 2008), Cheryl Morgan, interview with Hand, Matthew Cheney, review of Generation Loss.