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Death Is No Obstacle ◦ Obituaries Dedicated to those of special significance to our members, whether famous or personal, or with special relevance to Mike's work who have passed away. More general announcements or tributes to recent deaths should be made in the 'In Memoriam' forum.

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Old 11-14-2005, 06:10 AM
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Whiskers Whiskers is offline
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Default Death of John Coney

John Clute writes:

The Independent ~

14 November 2005
Michael Greatrex Coney, writer: born Birmingham 28 September
1932; married (two sons, one daughter); died Saanichton,
British Columbia 4 November 2005.

When Michael Coney learned earlier this year that he was
fatally ill with asbestos-induced lung cancer, he put three
novels previously unpublished in English on to his website
as free downloads for his friends and readers. (It is a sign
of the uncertainties of the current English-language
publishing scene that one of these works had already been
released in Russian in 1999.) The calm and open manner of
this farewell gesture reminded those who had known him that
they were going to miss another good person too soon.

Coney was born in Birmingham, educated at King Edward's
School there, and began a career as a chartered accountant
in 1949; but he did not settle into that profession. He
worked for some time as a management consultant, managed a
hotel in Devon from 1966 to 1969, then went to the West
Indies with his wife, Daphne.

Together they managed the Jabberwock Hotel in Antigua until
1972, when they emigrated to Canada. Coney then worked for
the British Columbia Forest Service until his retirement in
1989; Forest Ranger, Ahoy! (1989) is a lively account of the
service, whose rangers patrolled the enormously complex
British Columbia coast in wooden, flat-bottomed boats.

This full, professional existence, the life of a
late-20th-century wanderer who finds job satisfaction in a
beautiful venue far from home, may have taken most of his
time; and, as his books about the British Columbia littoral
clearly manifest, he cherished his resting place on the
Pacific Rim. But it was not the whole story. As early as the
mid-1960s he had begun to submit "radical" science-fiction
stories to Michael Moorcock's controversial New Worlds
magazine, none of which Moorcock took. Taking this lesson to
heart, he began to write (and to publish) tales closer to
the central concerns of 1970s science fiction. His first
novel, Mirror Image (1972), neatly intensified the American
genre's Cold War focus on impostors and secret invaders; in
this case the "amorphs", who are indistiguishable from us,
are themselves convinced that they are human.

Coney's amorphs reappear in Brontomek (1976), which won a
British Science Fiction Award in 1977, and are effective
images of the uneasy 1970s sense that the world was becoming
less easy to decipher; this sense of boding insecurity marks
other early Coney novels like Syzygy (1973), which is set in
the same troubled planet as Brontomek; and Friends Come in
Boxes (1973), a slice-of-life tale set in a near-future
Axminster where the overpopulation crisis has been solved by
a surreal and sinister system in which adult minds are
imprinted into the brains of infants, androids embody
specially privileged members of an inequal society, and real
and unreal mesh dizzyingly.

After a first rush of dystopian tales, however, Coney began
to shift his ground from the more overstressed regions of
the Western world (and its analogues on other planets). The
Girl with a Symphony in her Fingers (1975), set somewhere
near the end of time, palpably dramatises a longing for a
quieter realm; and his most successful later work - The
Celestial Steam Locomotive (1983) and Gods of the Greataway
(1984) - could almost be set on a transfigured Vancouver

In these tales, and later connected fantasies, human beings
have been exiled from any central role in running their
lives or their planet. Their job is to live well, in harmony
with other humanoid species, in a world whose violent but
non-fatal complexities will remind 21st-century readers of
the current vogue, in book and film alike, for tales set in
Virtual Realities.

It is of course a common condition nowadays to travel far
from one's origins, to experience exile as a norm, almost
like an amorph in a world of humans. In his own life, Coney
clearly experienced exile, but reaped the benefits of ending
up in a kind of earthly paradise, where he stayed put for
the last 30 years of his life. His fiction, too, after
traversing the upheavals of our times, found a home and
stayed there.

John Clute
The cat spread its wings and flew high into the air, hovering to keep pace with them as they moved cautiously toward the city. Then, as they climbed over the rubble of what had once been a gateway and began to make their way through piles of weed-grown masonry, the cat flew to the squat building with the yellow dome upon its roof. It flew twice around the dome and then came back to settle on Jhary's shoulder. - The King of the Swords
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Old 11-14-2005, 06:17 AM
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Pietro_Mercurios Pietro_Mercurios is offline
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Thanks for the Post Berry. I'll pass the sad news along, if I may.

Michael Coney Website:

An author who left E-books for people to read as a sort of legacy. :)
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