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Creator / Stephen Dedman

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Stephen Dedman is an Australian SF author. His works include five novels, several roleplaying supplements, and numerous short stories.

His novels are:

  • The Art of Arrow Cutting, an urban fantasy in which an itinerant photographer gets stuck with a magical MacGuffin and has to figure out how to use it before the Big Bad kills him to get hold of it.
  • Foreign Bodies, a science fiction novel featuring Grand Theft Me.
  • Shadows Bite, a sequel to The Art of Arrow Cutting.
  • A Fistful of Data, a Shadowrun tie-in novel with a Magnificent Seven Samurai plot.
  • North of the Dragonlands, an adventure story in which two children are the only hope of a city besieged by the Dragonlords.

Never Seen By Waking Eyes is a collection of his horror and dark fantasy short fiction. A planned companion volume containing his science fiction stories has not eventuated. An earlier collection, The Lady of Situations, contains a mix of science fiction and horror, and one story that has not been printed anywhere else.

Stephen Dedman's works provide examples of:

  • Alice Allusion: In "Never Seen By Waking Eyes", a man meets a child vampire named Alice who knew Lewis Carroll. (She makes a point of mentioning that he'd already written the Alice books when she met him.)
  • Alternate History:
    • "Amendment" is set in an alternate history where the right to bear firearms is differently understood.
    • "From Whom All Blessings Flow" is about parallel-universe travellers discovering a history in which Christianity took a very different course.
    • North of the Dragonlands, though it plays with the tropes of Constructed World fantasy, is actually an alternate history, and the "dragons" and "elves" are non-magical things being described by characters trying to fit them into a familiar context.
  • Brown Note: The Art of Arrow Cutting features a mujina (shapeshifting creature from Japanese mythology) whose true face is a blank gray void that causes humans who see it to become mindless vegetables.
  • Cult Colony: In the short story "Founding Fathers", space colonies tend to be settled by groups of extremists of various kinds, because reasonable people don't tend to find anything attractive about undergoing the long, difficult, expensive journey and never seeing Earth again. The planet at the centre of the plot was settled by a bunch of people who were prepared to go to the trouble in order to live and raise their families on a world with no black people.
  • Doppelgänger: In "A Single Shadow".
  • Fantastic Religious Weirdness:
    • "Transit" features a group of Muslims from an off-world colony travelling to Earth on hajj. The setting has regular interstellar travel, but places are strictly limited and considerably smaller than the waiting list; there's a lottery to allocate places, but it's implied that the results are not entirely impartial.
    • "From Whom All Blessings Flow" has Alternate Histories arguing over which of them has the one true version of Christianity.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: Several variations in different stories. In "Transit", an alien race has a monopoly on FTL, and only takes passengers that suit its rules. "Tourist Trade" likewise, but with a different alien race with different, and in some ways more disturbing, rules.
  • First Contact Faux Pas: In "As Wise As Serpents", an alien visitor slaughters the party of high-ranking dignitaries welcoming him to Earth, apparently unprovoked. It was the first time he'd seen humans wearing neckties, and his species has an unhappy history with a Puppeteer Parasite that latches on to its victim's throat and dangles down the victim's chest... Fortunately, in this case, the protagonist figures out the confusion before things escalate into outright hostility.
  • Fossil Revival: In "Founding Fathers", set on a newly-colonized planet, it's mentioned in passing that the animals the colonists brought with them as frozen embryos include not only the obvious things like cattle and deer but also mammoths and passenger pigeons.
  • Grand Theft Me: Kicks off the plot of Foreign Bodies.
  • The Hecate Sisters: The enigmatic Big Good in "A Sort of Walking Miracle". The protagonist isn't sure if she's three women, or the same woman at three different ages.
  • Historical Domain Character:
    • In "Depth of Field", Ed Wood gets recruited to a task force dealing with UFO sightings.
    • In "The Godfather Paradox", time travellers attempt to change history by blackmailing J. Edgar Hoover.
    • Sylvia Plath makes a cameo appearance in "A Sort of Walking Miracle", which takes its title from one of her poems.
  • Lightspeed Leapfrog: In "Founding Fathers", the first ship capable of Faster-Than-Light Travel shows up after the colony's been established for a few years, but it's still a shock and an upset to the colonists, who had actually embraced leaving everything-and-everyone behind because it meant they'd be left alone to do things the way they felt things ought to be done.
  • Literary Allusion Title:
    • "As Wise As Serpents" is from The Gospel According to Matthew.
    • "From Whom All Blessings Flow", "For Those in Peril on the Sea", and "Upon the Midnight Clear" are from hymns.
    • "The Dance That Everyone Must Do" and "The Wind Shall Blow For Ever Mair" are from folk songs.
    • "Honest Ghosts" and "Nothing Like the Sun" are from William Shakespeare's Hamlet and "Sonnet 130" respectively.
    • "I've Got a Little List" is from The Mikado.
    • "But Smile No More" is from the last line of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Haunted Palace".
    • "Never Seen By Waking Eyes" and its sequel "The Vision of a Vanished Good" are from poems by Lewis Carroll, as is "A Sentiment Open to Doubt".
    • "The Lady of Situations" and "Till Human Voices Wake Us" are from T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land and "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" respectively.
    • "A Sort of Walking Miracle" is from "Lady Lazarus" by Sylvia Plath.
    • "Desired Dragons" is from an essay by J. R. R. Tolkien.
    • "They Shoot Mobsters, Don't They?" and A Fistful of Data are misquoted movie titles (They Shoot Horses, Don't They? and A Fistful of Dollars). "The Ghoul Goes West" is an actual movie title (one of Ed Wood's).
  • Magnificent Seven Samurai: A Fistful of Data has an assorted band of characters protecting a poor community from corporate raiders.
  • Medieval Prehistory: North of the Dragonlands is medieval fantasy set in an alternate history with surviving populations of prehistoric creatures.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: The dragons in North of the Dragonlands are recognizable from their descriptions as dinosaurs and pterosaurs that somehow survived into human times.
  • Our Vampires Are Different:
    • Shadows Bite features a variety of vampires, from several Asian traditions as well as the classic European variety.
    • In "Never Seen By Waking Eyes", vampires and several other legendary creatures are all inspired by the same thing, seen in different contexts and circumstances. For instance, it can also gain sustenance from vital fluids other than blood, and a vampire that makes a lifestyle of that is a succubus.
  • Puppeteer Parasite: The existence of these is a key plot point in "As Wise As Serpents".
  • Teleporter's Visualization Clause: In The Art of Arrow Cutting, the MacGuffin artifact can (among other powers) teleport the holder, dependent on the holder's ability to picture themself at their intended destination. This effectively limits it to destinations that the user has either been before or has a good photo of. Toward the end of the novel, the protagonist tests his control of the artifact by teleporting to the moon and back by way of a photo of one of the Apollo landing sites.
  • Urban Fantasy: The Art of Arrow Cutting, Shadows Bite