Steven Erikson

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Steven Erikson
October 2016
October 2016
BornSteve Rune Lundin
(1959-10-07) October 7, 1959 (age 59)
Toronto, Ontario
Pen name
  • Steven Erikson
  • Steve Lundin
OccupationAuthor
LanguageEnglish
NationalityCanadian
CitizenshipCanadian
PeriodSince 1991[1]
GenresEpic Fantasy, Science Fiction, Coming of Age
Literary movementIowa Writers’ Workshop
Notable works
Years active1991-present
Children1

Signature
Website
steven-erikson.com
steven-erikson.org

Books-aj.svg aj ashton 01.svg Literature portal

Steven Erikson (born October 7, 1959) is the pseudonym of Steve Rune Lundin, a Canadian novelist, who was educated and trained as both an archaeologist and anthropologist.

He is best-known for his ten-volume spanning epic fantasy series Malazan Book of the Fallen, which began with the publication of Gardens of the Moon (1999) and was completed with the publication of The Crippled God (2011). By 2012 over 1 million copies of the series had been sold worldwide,[2] and over 3 million copies by 2018. SF Site has called the series "the most significant work of epic fantasy since Donaldson's Chronicles of Thomas Covenant,"[3] and Fantasy Book Review described it as "the best fantasy series of recent times."[4] Fellow author Glen Cook has called the series a masterwork, while Stephen R. Donaldson has praised him for his approach to the fantasy genre and has compared him to the likes of Joseph Conrad, Henry James, William Faulkner, and Fyodor Dostoevsky.

Set in the Malazan world, Erikson has written a prequel trilogy, The Kharkanas Trilogy, six novellas, and is currently working on a sequel trilogy, The Witness Trilogy, the first book of which, titled The God is Not Willing, is expected to be published in 2019.

His foray into Science Fiction has produced a comedic trilogy, the Willful Child Trilogy, a spoof on Star Trek and other tropes common in the genre, and a First Contact novel titled Rejoice, a Knife To the Heart, published in 2018.

Life and career[edit]

Erikson was born in Toronto, Ontario, and grew up in Winnipeg.[1] He subsequently lived in the UK with his wife and son, but has since returned to Winnipeg.[1] He is an anthropologist and archaeologist by training and is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop.[5] For his thesis at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Erikson wrote a "story cycle" of short stories titled A Ruin of Feathers about an archaeologist in Central America. Subsequently, he received a grant to finish the work which was published by TSAR, a small Canadian publishing house. For his next work he co-won the Anvil Press International 3-Day Novel Contest for which he signed away the rights, a mistake he attributes to inexperience. Erikson's third book was also published by TSAR, and consisted of a novella and short stories titled Revolvo and other Canadian Tales. Later, upon moving to England, he sold what he refers to as his "first real novel" to Hodder and Stoughton — This River Awakens — written when he still lived in Winnipeg. Before assuming his pseudonym, Erikson published his first four books, currently out of print, under his real name.[6] In addition to writing, he paints using oil paints.[6]

Malazan Book of the Fallen[edit]

Erikson and Esslemont initially devised the Malazan world as a backdrop for a table-top role-playing game.[7][8] Unhappy with the lack of quality adult oriented fantasy movies at the time, the duo decided to write their own movie script using their gaming experience and the world they had created. The script, titled Gardens of the Moon, was deemed too risky and failed to sell. With interest in the script seeming nonexistent, Erikson, with Esslemont's go ahead, reworked it into a fantasy novel, which he completed around 1991–92. [9][10]

After meeting almost a decade of rejection, the novel was finally sold to Transworld, a division of Random House. The publisher was pleased with the work and requested Erikson write additional books in the series.[11] Using the history of the Malazan world Erikson plotted nine additional novels. After the publication of Gardens of the Moon, reviews spread via the internet, and Orion publications attempted to lure Erikson away from Transworld. However, Transworld retained an option on additional novels in the series and offered £675,000 for the remaining nine books of the series.[11]

While there are many plotlines woven through the whole series, the main storyline focuses on a period in time where the Malazan Empire is facing resistance to their conquest of the world. When gods and ascendants come into play, everything that follows has repercussions for the whole world. The series was completed with the publication of The Crippled God, the tenth novel in the series, in 2011.[12][13]

Erikson's background as an archeologist and anthropologist also shaped how he crafted the story. His approach was to use as many perspectives and point of views as possible in terms of interpreting history, which without a doubt has given the Malazan world more layers and has created a sense of reality. He also drew inspiration from Homer's Illiad, where gods constantly meddled into mortal affairs, adding the twist that it doesn't always workout as planned for the god, since even a lowly thief has the power to bring him down.[14]

As of 2018, 3 million copies have been sold.[15]

The Kharkanas Trilogy[edit]

After the publication of the seventh novel in the Malazan Book of the Fallen series, Reapers Gale, Erikson and his publisher reached an agreement for him to write two trilogies and novellas set in the Malazan world. This consequently led Erikson to the choose to write a prequel trilogy, titled the Kharkanas Trilogy, set almost three hundred thousand years before the events of the main series, elements of which he began introducing in Toll the Hounds and in The Crippled God.

The series deals with numerous founding or elder races from the Malazan World, with the narrative anchored around the circumstances that would ultimately lead to the split of the Tiste race. It sheds light and demystifies the events that are often hinted at in the background of Malazan Book of the Fallen. Primarily focusing on characters such as Anomander Rake, Draconus, Gothos, Krull and Hood, mainly through the eyes of secondary characters.

As of 2018, two novels have been published, Forge of Darkness (2012) and Fall of Light (2016), with the third taking a backseat to the first novel in the Witness trilogy. In a post on his official Facebook account, the author explained that the dismal sale figures for the previous novels and the creative toll employing the writing style used throughout the previous books was what had led to his decision to take a break from it in order to do it justice.[16]

The Witness Trilogy[edit]

The second trilogy Erikson planned on writing centres around the popular Karsa Orlong character. This trilogy will be a sequel to the main series, set, according to the author, a decade after the main narrative.[17]

The first novel is titled The God is Not Willing, which is set to be released in November, 2019.[18]

The Tales of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach[edit]

Erikson wrote side stories centering on two necromancers and their butler, characters he introduced in Memories of Ice, the third novel in the Malazan Book of the Fallen series. These side stories take place in the Malazan world, but have no connection to the series' overall plot.

As of 2018, six novellas have been published, the first in 2002, titled Blood Follows, and the latest in 2016, tilted The Fiends of Nightmaria. In 2009, the first three novellas were collected and published together as The Tales of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach. And in 2018, books four to six were collected and published together as The Second Collected Tales of Bauchelain & Korbal Broach.

Erikson, as per his agreement with his publisher, is expected to write three more novellas featuring these characters.[12]

Willful Child Trilogy[edit]

Erikson is a huge fan of the Star Trek series, especially the first iteration which he credits as being his gateway to Science Fiction in general. But he finds himself feeling disenfranchised by some of the later iterations, especially from The Next Generation onward. In an interview he goes into detail regarding this issue, concluding that among other things creative compromises were to blame for the dip in quality. But while criticizing the series' current state, he affirms that he nonetheless still is a fan.[19] Willful Child, published in September, 2014, is Erikson's "response" to the overused tropes and caricature of Captain Kirk esque characters in science fiction, with the main character, Captain Hardrian, being the most recognizable reflection. While the novel is a spoof of science fiction in general, it is rife with often times poignant social commentary.[20]

The Wrath of Betty, the follow-up, was published in 2016.[21]

Rejoice, A Knife to the Heart[edit]

Instead ... I wanted an ET arriving that then set about doing what it does, while utterly and completely ignoring the usual list of suspects (presidents, men-in-black, scientists, the military); and to then not only ignore them, but bring them down. An end to secrecy. An end to hidden power-blocks and all the vicious games they play to stay in power. Wake up, world, to a brand-new day.
— Steven Erikson[22]

Having written a three million words spanning fantasy series and having dealt with all the tropes that came with it, Erikson feels desensitized by most works found in the genre, which is why he prefers reading Science Fiction.[12] For more than a decade, he has also had aspirations to write a First Contact science fiction novel. In 2017, UK based publisher Gollancz revealed in a press release that they had acquired the right to this project, titled Rejoice, A Knife to the Heart.[23][24][22] In Canada, the publishing rights are owned by Promontory Press Inc.[25]

Similar to his fantasy work, Erikson revealed that he would be playing with and overturning the conventions and dismantling a few tropes. It was his opinion that far too often the invading aliens would seek contact with an authority figure, someone in power. His goal was to flip that by asking what would happen if the aliens made contact with someone completely opposite.[22]

The novel was released on October 16, 2018, and was received with critical acclaim, with science fiction author Robert Sawyer praising its concept and its execution.[26][27]

Themes[edit]

Erikson has stated that apart from examining the "human condition", all his literary work share "compassion" as a theme, or main driving force.[17] Furthermore, when envisioning the Malazan world, both Esslemont and he agreed to create societies and cultures that never knew sexism and gender based hierarchies of power.[28]

Other themes include social inequality, egalitarianism, death, life, history, historical accuracy .[29][30][31][32][33]

Style[edit]

Erikson has stated explicitly that he enjoys playing with and overturning the conventions of fantasy, presenting characters that violate the stereotypes associated with their roles. They embody the multidimensional characteristics found in human beings, making them more realistic and giving the story more depth, which is why his books are anything but predictable. He deliberately began Gardens of the Moon mid-plot rather than beginning with a more conventional narrative.[34][7] Erikson's style of writing includes complex plots with masses of characters. In addition, Erikson has been praised for his willingness to kill central characters when it enhances the plot.[1]

Reception[edit]

Word of mouth is very powerful in fantasy, and the net carries its own energy. It made a huge difference – people were picking [Gardens of the Moon] up from Amsterdam to the US.
— Steven Erikson[11]

Erikson's first novel of the Malazan Book of the Fallen series, Gardens of the Moon (1999), was well received. It was short-listed for a World Fantasy Award[35] It has also earned him the reputation as one of the best authors in the fantasy genre,[35] and was described as "An astounding début".[36] The novel was acclaimed for its "combination of originality and intelligent, strong and exciting storytelling".[35] The second book in the series, Deadhouse Gates (2000), was voted one of the ten best fantasy novels of 2000 by SF Site.[37]

Fellow author Glen Cook has called the series a masterwork of the imagination that may be the high water mark of the epic fantasy genre. In his treatise written for The New York Review of Science Fiction, fellow author Stephen R. Donaldson has also praised Erikson for his approach to the fantasy genre, the subversion of classical tropes, the complex characterizations, the social commentary — pointing explicitly to parallels between the fictional Letheras Economy and the US Economy — and has referred to him as "an extraordinary writer", comparing him to the likes of Joseph Conrad, Henry James, William Faulkner, and Fyodor Dostoevsky.[36][38][39][40]

Influences[edit]

Erikson attributes paper and pen Role-Playing games, specifically AD&D and GURP, as being the biggest influence in his writing career, and even calls it the fundament the Malazan Empire, from his Malazan Book of the Fallen series, is based on. Stephen R. Donaldson's, The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant and Glenn Cook's The Black Company, both ushering post-Tolkien style of writing, are among some of the works that have influenced his storytelling. He also credits the works of Robert E. Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Homer, Arthur C. Clarke, Roger Zelazny, John Gardner, Gustav Hasford, Mark Helprin and Robin Hobb as some of the influences he used in the Malazan works.[41][1]

Bibliography[edit]

Title Year Type Note
A Ruin of Feathers 1991 Novella as Steve Lundin
Stolen Voices 1993
Revolvo & Other Canadian Tales 1998
This River Awakens 1998 Novel
Gardens of the Moon 1999 Novel Malazan Book of the Fallen
Deadhouse Gates 2000 Novel Malazan Book of the Fallen
Memories of Ice 2001 Novel Malazan Book of the Fallen
Blood Follows 2002 Novella The Tales of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach
House of Chains 2002 Novel Malazan Book of the Fallen
Midnight Tides 2004 Novel Malazan Book of the Fallen
The Healthy Dead 2004 Novella The Tales of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach
The Devil Delivered 2004 Novella Standalone
Fishin' with Grandma Matchie 2004
When She's Gone 2004
The Bonehunters 2006 Novel Malazan Book of the Fallen
Reaper's Gale 2007 Novel Malazan Book of the Fallen
The Lees of Laughter's End 2007 Novella The Tales of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach
Revolvo 2008 Novella Standalone
Toll the Hounds 2008 Novel Malazan Book of the Fallen
Crack’d Pot Trail 2009 Novella The Tales of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach
Dust of Dreams 2009 Novel Malazan Book of the Fallen
The Crippled God 2011 Novel Malazan Book of the Fallen
The Wurms of Blearmouth 2012 Novella The Tales of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach
The Devil Delivered and Other Tales 2012 Novella Standalone
Forge of Darkness 2012 Novel The Kharkanas Trilogy
Willful Child 2014 Novel Willful Child Trilogy
Willful Child: Wrath of Betty 2016 Novel Willful Child Trilogy
Fall of Light 2016 Novel The Kharkanas Trilogy
The Fiends of Nightmaria 2016 Novella The Tales of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach
Willful Child: The Search for Spark TBA Novel Willful Child Trilogy
Walk in Shadow TBA Novel The Kharkanas Trilogy
The God is Not Willing 2019 Novel The Witness Trilogy
Rejoice, A Knife to the Heart 2018 Novel Standalone

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Steven Erikson biography". Fantasy Book Review. Fantasybookreview.com. Retrieved August 10, 2009.
  2. ^ Per the cover copy of the paperback edition of The Crippled God.
  3. ^ Thompson, William (2004). "The SF Site Featured Review: Midnight Tides". The SF Site. Retrieved 2009-02-22.
  4. ^ "House of Chains by Steven Erikson". Fantasy Book Review. Fantasybookreview.com. 2008. Retrieved August 10, 2009.
  5. ^ "Steven Erikson". Macmillan. 2008. Retrieved July 11, 2009.
  6. ^ a b Vandermeer, Jeff (2008). "Steven Erikson: No Lies, No Holding Back". Clarkesworld Magazine. Retrieved August 31, 2009.
  7. ^ a b "On the spot at Bookspotcentral: Interview with Steven Erikson". bookspotcentral.com. Retrieved July 11, 2009.
  8. ^ Unbound Worlds (23 September 2008). "Suvudu - Steven Erikson Reading and Q&A (Part 6)" – via YouTube.
  9. ^ Erikson, Steven (2007). Preface to Gardens of the Moon redux. Malazan Book of the Fallen. 1 (Bantam Books edition published 2000 ed.). United Kingdom: Bantam Books. pp. xi. ISBN 9780553819571.
  10. ^ Gardens of the Moon review at Science Fiction Book Club Archived 2013-02-02 at Archive.is
  11. ^ a b c Moss, Stephen (October 14, 1999). "Malazans and megabucks". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-02-22.
  12. ^ a b c Garrido, Daniel (December 1, 2012). "Steven Erikson: "There is nothing glorifying in war"". El Caballero del Arbols Onriente. Retrieved 2018-10-25.
  13. ^ Whitehead, Adam (November 11, 2017). "Malazan Franchise Familiariser". The Wertzone. Retrieved 2018-10-25.
  14. ^ Winter, Nicolas (June 5, 2018). "Interview Steven Erikson: The Malazan Archaeologist - Imaginales festival in Épinal 2018". Just a Word - France. Retrieved 2018-10-25.
  15. ^ Whitehead, Adam (April 23, 2018). "Sales of the MALAZAN BOOK OF THE FALLEN pass 3 million". The Wertzone - SF&F In Print & On Screen. Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  16. ^ "and occasionally an exchange goes like this". Steven Erikson Social Media. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
  17. ^ a b Thornton, Jonathan (November 1, 2018). "INTERVIEW WITH STEVEN ERIKSON". Fantasy Hive. Retrieved 2018-11-01.
  18. ^ "NOT A TSACAST - *Spoilers Malazan* - Fireside Conversations with Steven Erikson". NOT A TSACAST. 50 minutes in.
  19. ^ "INTERVIEWS - New Release Interview: Steven Erikson & His WILLFUL CHILD". Unbound Worlds. Unbound Worlds. Retrieved October 26, 2018.
  20. ^ "Review: Willful Child by Steven Erikson". The Critical Dragon Reviews. The Critical Dragon. Retrieved October 26, 2018.
  21. ^ "In the Dragon's Den: Interview with Steven Erikson Part 3". The Critical Dragon Reviews. The Critical Dragon. Retrieved October 26, 2018.
  22. ^ a b c "The Big Idea - Steven Erikson". Scalzi. Whatever - THIS MACHINE MOCKS FASCISTS. 2018-10-17. Retrieved October 26, 2018.
  23. ^ "Gollancz Acquire Steven Erikson's Rejoice, A Knife to the Heart". Gollancz. Gollancz. 2017-10-12. Retrieved October 26, 2018.
  24. ^ "Gollancz signs Steven Erikson SF Novel". Book Berunch. Book Brunch. Retrieved October 26, 2018.
  25. ^ "Rejoice, A Knife to the Heart". Promontory Press Inc Works. Promontory Press Inc. Retrieved October 26, 2018.
  26. ^ "Rejoice, A Knife to the Heart Steven Erikson". Fantastic Fiction. Fantastic Fiction. Retrieved October 26, 2018.
  27. ^ "Rejoice, A Knife to the Heart Steven Erikson". Amazon Catalogue Books. Amazon, INC. Retrieved October 26, 2018.
  28. ^ "Steven Erikson - Le livre des martyrs : Volume 1, Les jardins de la lune". Mollat. 2:40 minutes in.
  29. ^ "Diversity and Equality Are Foundational Concepts in Malazan Book of the Fallen". Tor. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  30. ^ "Why You Should Read Malazan – Part 5: The Themes". The Quill To Live. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  31. ^ "A Slow Exhale: The Consistency of Malazan Book of the Fallen". Speculiction. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  32. ^ "14 Reasons to Read Steven Erikson's Gardens of the Moon". Tor. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  33. ^ "Inner Worlds II: Steven Erikson, the author of The Malazan Book of the Fallen - On fantasy, bias, and telling a story". Medium. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  34. ^ "Interview with Steven Erikson". SFFWorld.com. January 21, 2006. Retrieved July 11, 2009.
  35. ^ a b c "Steven Erikson". booksattransworld. Retrieved July 11, 2009.
  36. ^ a b "Steven Erikson". Retrieved July 11, 2009.
  37. ^ "Top ten books of 2000". SF Site.
  38. ^ "Stephen R. Donaldson: Epic Fantasy: Necessary Literature". The New York Review of Science Fiction. 18 March 2015. Retrieved 14 February 2017.
  39. ^ "Episode 264: Glen Cook and Steven Erikson". The Coode Podcast, Discussion and digression on science fiction and fantasy with Gary Wolfe and Jonathan Strahan. 14 January 2016. Retrieved 14 February 2017.
  40. ^ "Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson". macmillan.com. Retrieved 14 February 2017.
  41. ^ Erikson, Steven. "The World of the Malazan Empire and Role-Playing Games". Retrieved October 23, 2018.

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]

Essays[edit]

Interviews[edit]