Welcome to Moorcock's Miscellany

Dear reader,

Many people have given their valuable time to create a website for the pleasure of posing questions to Michael Moorcock, meeting people from around the world, and mining the site for information. Please follow one of the links above to learn more about the site.

Thank you,
Reinart der Fuchs
See more
See less

Death of John Coney

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • 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    novels previously unpublished in English on to his website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

  • #2
    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. :)