Cythera (novel)

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COVER of Orbit issue of CYTHERA.jpg
Author Richard Calder
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre Science fiction novel
Publisher Orbit Books
Publication date
Media type Print (Paperback)
Pages 311 pp
ISBN 1-85723-533-9
OCLC 43056932

Cythera is the fourth novel by British science fiction author Richard Calder, and was first published in 1998. While it is not explicitly advertised as a continuation of Calder's previous novels it does appear to be set in the same universe as his 'Dead...' trilogy, as it references some of the background of the earlier novels and features two supporting characters - Kito and Mosquito - who were introduced in Dead Girls, though knowledge of these novels is not required to understand this stand-alone novel. Due to the timeline given the events of Cythera appear to take place before those of Dead Girls, making this a prequel of sorts.

Richard Calder has said that the inspiration for the novel came from a series of news reports that he heard on the BBC World Service whilst living in Thailand which suggested that England was gripped by hysterical fear that bands of children were committing crime and mayhem and threatening to destroy society as we know it.[1]

Plot summary[edit]

Cythera is set in a near future Earth following an unsuccessful Third World Children's Crusade against the West, with children being subject to increasing levels of censorship. Film-maker Flynn has been imprisoned for making the subversive Dahlia Chan films, along with his leading lady Jaruwan. Thanks to the increasing power of the Net sentient 'ghosts' of media images have crossed from Earth 2 to Earth 1, and the novel follows the affair between human Tarquin and Dahlia Chan, their efforts to rescue Jaruwan and their ultimate quest for the freedom of mythical Cythera.

Pilgrimage to Cythera by Antoine Watteau

Critical Response[edit]

The reviewer in All Hallows the magazine of the Ghost Story Society treated the book as a modern ghost story. Earth 2 is also called fibrespace. It is the future of the Internet and individuals can be downloaded into this where they become effectively ghosts. Dhalia Chan the B movie actress lives on in fibrespace. However the real actress, called Jaruwan still exists in the real world, or Earth 1:

In a very real sense, Jaruwan is haunted by her doppelgänger, Dahlia. As Jaruwan explains, 'You left me nothing, Dahlia...I had to tell our people not to head West, not to lose their souls like I had.' This is ultimately resolved in a science fictional way, of course, but we would say that Jaruwan gets her soul soul back. [2]


  1. ^ His Own Aesthetic Richard Calder interviewed by Charles Rudkin Interzone #170 August 2001, page 25
  2. ^ All Hallows 26 February 2001 page 95 ISSN 1356-5567