(1961- ) Scottish journalist, editor and author whose first novel, Music, in a Foreign Language (1994), which inaugurates the extremely loose Music series, is set in an abstractly conceived Near Future Dystopian Britain, where a series of recursively ludic events – some conducted through the means of imaginary books (Crumey's oeuvre being full of them) – decomposes the strictures of the mandatory society here imposed. The second volume in the sequence, Pfitz (1995), applies similar recursions to a nineteenth century German princeling's construction of imaginary Cities, one of whose inhabitants, the eponymous Pfitz, composes a range of stories, known as the "Tales of Rreinnstadt", which make up much of the substance of the third volume, D'Alembert's Principle: Memory, Reason and Imagination (1996). Jean D'Alembert himself (1717-1783) did in the real world construct an almost Steampunk clockwork model of universe, which attempted unsuccessfully to transcend the acid deconstructions of story when faced with lattices of "reason".
Mr Mee (2000), which circles around the modestly obsessional pursuits of its eponym after knowledge (and a pixillated lost encyclopedia from the eighteenth century), may or may not be intended as a homage to the children's encyclopedia-writer Arthur Mee (1875-1943). Mobius Dick (2004) is a surrealized Hitler Wins Alternate History spoof, with metaphysical intricacies woven in, much of the tale being told in a sanatorium (see Keep) markedly reminiscent of the Davos-Platz featured in Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain (1924). Sputnik Caledonia (2008), another Alternate History Hitler Wins tale, is set in a Scotland which, after World War Two and its eviction of the triumphant Nazis, has become a Dystopia; the young protagonist who travels there from our world (or is perhaps simply doubled there) becomes involved in the exploration of a Black Hole via Telepathy. In the end, as with most of Crumey's work, alternate realities intersect metaphysically. A sense that these intersections may be understandable in terms of Multiverse iterations becomes explicit in The Secret Knowledge (2013); this explicitness stands in a critical relationship to a connected sense that Crumey's reiterated Time-Travel-boosted cycles of stories within stories constitute a vision of the universe couched, bookishly, as a kind of echolalia. [JC]
born Kirkintilloch, Dunbartonshire, Scotland: 12 October 1961
Previous versions of this entry