Steph Swainston
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Steph Swainston

Steph Swainston
Swainston at Åcon in 2009.
Swainston at Åcon in 2009.
BornStephanie Jane Swainston
1974 (age 45–46)
Bradford, Yorkshire, England, UK
GenreLiterary fantasy New Weird

Stephanie Jane "Steph" Swainston is a British literary fantasy/science fiction author, known for the Castle series. Her debut novel, The Year of Our War (2004), won the 2005 Crawford Award and a nomination for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

Swainston took a break from writing in 2011 to become a chemistry teacher,[1] but subsequently returned to writing.[2] Her fifth novel, Fair Rebel, was published in 2016.

Early life and education

Born in Bradford in 1974, Swainston attended St. Joseph's College, Bradford, followed by Girton College, University of Cambridge, and the University of Wales. Outside writing, Swainston has had a broad range of occupations, including bookseller, archaeologist, lock keeper, information scientist, and pyrotechnician.[3]


Swainston's work in the Castle series so far has been set in the "Fourlands", which the author has described as a secret childhood paracosm,[4][5] further influenced by aspects of her later adult life, including the competitive academic world.[6] The novels centre on the life of the "Circle", an elite group of immortals created and sustained by the Emperor, a near god-like figure engaged in a prolonged conflict with insectoid creatures, apparently from another world. Told in the first person, the novels follow the life of Jant, a winged humanoid with a distinctly flawed personality. The Castle series is also marked by the existence of multiple worlds, including the fantastic, baroque "Shift".[]

While characterised by others as a member of the New Weird fantasy literary genre, which aims to reform fantasy literature by transcending its traditional boundaries, Swainston has argued against labeling writers - including herself - within genres, arguing that good fantasy and mainstream literature instead form a continuum.[5] She has been critical of the conservative nature of much commercial fantasy writing,[6] and her approach embraces narrative themes unfamiliar to conventional fantasy, including drug use and graphic sex scenes, alongside the hyper-realistic depiction of warfare.[4] Swainston describes her work as appealing to the ongoing deep structures of universal storytelling, as literature written as much in response to the author's own needs than as a response to specific market requirements.[5]


Castle books

  • The Year of Our War (Gollancz SF, 2004) ISBN 978-0-575-07642-6
  • The Year of Our War (Gollancz SF, 2006) ISBN 978-0-575-07798-0
  • No Present Like Time (Gollancz SF, 2005, hardcover) ISBN 978-0-575-07006-6
  • No Present Like Time (Gollancz SF, 2006, paperback) ISBN 978-0-575-07798-0
  • The Modern World (Gollancz SF, 2007, paperback) ISBN 978-0-575-08221-2
  • The Castle Omnibus: "The Year of Our War", "No Present Like Time", "The Modern World" (Gollancz SF, 2009, paperback) ISBN 978-0-575-09125-2
  • Above the Snowline (Gollancz SF, 2010, hardcover) ISBN 978-0-575-08158-1
  • Fair Rebel (Gollancz SF, 2016, paperback) ISBN 978-0575081697
  • Turning Point - short story collection (Air and Nothingness Press, 2018, paperback) ISBN 978-0-9991953-1-4

Castle short stories

External links


  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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