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SFE: The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

Mary Gentle

Mary Gentle (Born 1956) is a UK writer who began publishing with a fantasy for young adults, A Hawk in Silver (1977), and who came to general notice with her Orthe sequence – Golden Witchbreed (1983) and Ancient Light (1987), both assembled, with a linked story, as Orthe: Chronicles of Carrick V (omni 2002) – which, despite the fantasy ring of the first title, is SF. The protagonist of both volumes, a woman diplomat/entrepreneur in the complexly defined employ of an Earth dominated by vast corporations, comes to Orthe in an attempt to open the planet to exploitation, but discovers the densely described humanoid Orthean culture a seeming match for the desires of her masters. Her trek across Orthe, which takes much of Golden Witchbreed and which is replicated in feel in Ancient Light, gives the sequence the typical plot-structure and landscape of Planetary Romance, though Gentle is, in fact, far less entranced by scene-setting than are the creators of the modern form (e.g., Jack Vance) . . .

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