Skillingstead, Jack

Tagged: Author

(1955-    ) US author, married to Nancy Kress from 2011; he began to publish work of genre interest with "The Apprentice" in Whispers from the Shattered Forum for June 2003. With other short work it was assembled in Are You There and Other Stories (coll 2009); the cumulative propulsive energy of his short work, much of it not sf, is very considerable. An sf tale like "Bean There" (April 2005 Asimov's), which is included in the collection, deals with the arrival of an Alien on Earth as a problem in Perception, in empathy, with Time Travel to a more innocent time ambivalently rewarding the human protagonists.

Of Skillingstead's two novels, Harbinger (2009) perhaps overcomplicatedly imposes on its mysteriously Immortal young protagonist a doomed love affair with a mortal, long service to trillionaires who use his regenerative powers (see Regeneration) to justify their using him as an organ bank, and tragedy-shadowed escape in a Generation Starship. There are Satirical touches throughout, and a savage wryness that has generated comparisons between this novel and the work of Kurt Vonnegut. Life on the Preservation (2013) is set within a domed Seattle (see Keep) which in fact serves as an enclosure within which a Time Loop traps the unknowing inhabitants in an eternal 5 October; they are at least safe from the Zombie-ridden Ruined Earth beyond the dome, though the motives of the Alien "Curators" who enforce this precarious version of reality are unclear. The protagonists' Paranoia – they are unable to decide if the world in which they are trapped is a Virtual Reality perhaps inhabited by Avatars of their unknown masters – is entirely justified. Skillingstead's presentation of the humans trapped beyond fathoming in his intricate sf artefacts is both tightly told and emotionally generous. His work so far augurs a major career. [JC]

Jack Skillingstead

born Seattle, Washington: 24 October 1955

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