Working name of Jonathan David Giles Courtenay Grimwood (1953- ), Malta-born writer who has been peripatetic though he was educated and is now resident in the UK; he has also written nonfantastic fiction as Jonathan Grimwood and has adopted Courtenay Grimwood rather than the original Grimwood as his surname for at least some official purposes. After several nonfiction books in the 1980s, beginning with Mrs T's Bedside Book (1985), and much science journalism in the 1990s, he began publishing work of genre interest with neoAddix (1997). Further volumes in the loose neoAddix sequence include Lucifer's Dragon (1998), reMix (1999) and redRobe (2000), and incorporate various gonzo takes on the implications of attempting to survive – usually in Cyborg form – in a Cyberspace-inflected world; the ambience of neoAddix is declaredly influenced by the work of William Gibson, and could be described as being Cyberpunk shifted towards the rougher chaos of the millennium.
Of more original interest is the Arabesk sequence – comprising Pashazade: The First Arabesk (2001), Effendi: The Second Arabesk (2002) and Felaheen: The Third Arabesk (2003), all three being assembled as Arabesk (omni 2007) – which is set in the Near Future North Africa of an Alternate History world in which Germany won World War One, with complicated consequences not always easy to trace through abruptly-conveyed complexities of plotting and mise en scene. Grimwood's depiction of personal identity, as being a kind of almost chivalric negotiation between modes or self-presentation and realities as motile as quicksand, conflates with a rendering of place – mainly a transfigured Alexandria – that is at both deeply rooted and profoundly deracinated; the prose in which he conveys this sense of a very contemporary world is itself simultaneously hard-boiled and shifty. Most of the sf elements in the trilogy – in particular the turns of plot based on Genetic Engineering – add to a sense that the world Grimwood depicts is as predetermined and as volatile as the twenty-first century world he engages.
More recently, Grimwood has produced some singletons whose take on the world similarly feast on interplays between genres, perceptions of the world, tumultuous shifts in venue, issues of Identity. In Stamping Butterflies (2004), the existence of the world depends on the interacting dreams of two protagonists, aeons apart, who believe they are dreaming one another; 9tail Fox (2005) locates a coercive identity exchange in Means Streets San Francisco; End of the World Blues (2006), set mostly in Japan, conflates noir tropes with a Time Travel tale whose implications are mythic. Here, and elsewhere, there is a sense that it is the dubiously creative actions of protagonists whose identities are moot that keeps the world turning. There is a sense that Grimwood may take this as a good description of our lives today. [JC]
Jon Courtenay Grimwood
born Valletta, Malta: 1953
- neoAddix (London: New English Library, 1997) [neoAddix: pb/Paul Young]
- Lucifer's Dragon (London: New English Library, 1998) [neoAddix: pb/Gary Marsh]
- reMix (London: Simon and Schuster/Earthlight, 1999) [neoAddix: pb/The Whole Hog]
- redRobe (London: Simon and Schuster/Earthlight, 2000) [neoAddix: pb/The Whole Hog]
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