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John Crowley

John Crowley(1942- )
John Crowley was born in the appropriately liminal town of Presque Isle, Maine, in 1942, his father then an officer in the US Army Air Corps. He grew up in Vermont, northeastern Kentucky and (for the longest stretch) Indiana, where he went to high school and college. He moved to New York City after college to make movies, and did find work in documentary films, an occupation he still pursues. He published his first novel (The Deep) in 1975. Since 1993 he has taught creative writing at Yale University. In 1992 he received the Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. Learn more at John Crowley’s blog.

The Deep: John Crowley’s first novel

The Deep by John Crowley

In a world very different from ours, two powerful factions fight for the throne. Alliances are made and shattered. Vows are sworn and broken. Brothers betray brothers; fathers betray sons; kings are imprisoned and queens make war. No, it’s not A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE. It’s The Deep, by John Crowley, published in 1975.

The Deep is Crowley’s first novel. It is unlike his other works, although certain themes come back into play in the AEGYPT QUARTET. At first it seems like it is based on the Wars of the Roses, but Crowley has said in interviews that he was inspired by the short reign of King Edward II.

The Reds and the Blacks have fought over the crown for several generations. During the most recen... Read More

Engine Summer​: Fey, muted, beautiful

Engine Summer by John Crowley

Fey, muted, beautiful. The story of Rush-that-speaks is a bildungsroman that will haunt you long after you have read the last page. Engine Summer follows the charming and inquisitive Rush as he grows up in his enclave of 'True Speakers,' one of the few groups of humanity left after an apocalypse has destroyed most of civilization. It then follows him as he ventures out into the world to see what strangeness it may offer, and in the hopes of finding his lost love.

Don't expect to find the mutant zombies or flesh-eating reavers of many other post-apocalyptic stories. Instead prepare to see with Rush the melancholy remnants of our society which are given new strangeness and wonder when viewed through his eyes. Tied to this are the strange people we meet; those who survived the cataclysm and continued to live their lives, forever changed by the harsh reality of the end of civiliz... Read More

Little, Big: Bittersweet and unforgettable

Little, Big: or, The Fairies' Parliament by John Crowley

"All Part of the Tale. Don’t Ask Me How…"

This review is going to be well-nigh impossible to write, as the subject matter is so impossible to describe. Well, John Crowley's Little, Big is definitely a book. That's a good start. But the second I try to narrow down rudimentary elements like plot and character, my brain gets a bit fuzzy. It's about a family. And a house. And how this family lives in the house which is situated on the borders of another world which sometimes intrudes upon their own, and so is aptly named "Edgewood." Beyond that, it gets more complicated. Or maybe simpler. It's hard to be sure.

It begins with a man named Smoky Barnable traveling from The City (though it's never named, it's clearly meant to be New York) toward the mysterious house of Edgewood in order to marry his physically l... Read More

Great Work of Time: It’s time to bring this book back

Great Work of Time by John Crowley

In 1990, Great Work of Time won the World Fantasy Award for best novella. I’m surprised someone hasn’t snapped up John Crowley’s short book, given it a glossy steampunk cover, and re-released it. Of course it isn’t steampunk. John Crowley’s work doesn’t fit easily into any sub-genre except Things John Crowley Has Written. Still, Great Work of Time has enough of the British Empire, airships, alternate histories, train terminals, misty London cityscapes, and men with bowler hats and tightly furled umbrellas to justify a steampunk cover, which might introduce a whole new generation of readers to this unusual and powerful writer.

Great Work of Time starts with a forest under the sea. Or maybe starts with Caspar Last, an impoverished genius. Last has invented a way to travel in time. It is not a ... Read More

Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr: Weird, elegiac, lovely

Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr by John Crowley

Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr (2017) is a brilliant novel. It is lovely, eerie, and heartachingly elegiac. It is also deeply weird.

I want the reader to understand me perfectly here. When I say "weird," I do not mean it's experimental, or iconoclastic, or that you'll feel awkward explaining to your friends why you wanted to read a book about a magic bird. All of those things might be true (to greater or lesser degrees), but they feel trivial when applied to Ka. This book is weird, in both the new definitions and also the older sense that implies something like "uncanny." The experience of reading this novel is like dreaming. There's the sense of progression, of ordinary storylines going about their business, but there's also a sense of unreality, of places where logic simply falls away into something hazy and inscruta... Read More

And Go Like This: For readers and writers

And Go Like This by John Crowley

I don’t usually pay attention to the media blurbs on the covers of books, but the Newsday quote on the cover of John Crowley’s And Go Like This (2019) so perfectly describes this story collection that I must share it:

“Transforms the lead of daily life into seriously dazzling artistic gold.”

“The lead of daily life” in these stories comes from mostly average people going about their mostly average lives. In this collection you won’t find many of the plot fixtures we’re used to seeing in speculative fiction. There are no spaceships, battles, dragons, kings, or magic spells. There are a few speculative elements, but what makes Crowley’s fiction most compelling is the way he closely examines the souls of normal folk, portrays them in such a charming way, ... Read More


SFF book reviews John Crowley BeastsBeasts — (1976) Publisher: Painter is a leo — part man, part lion — the result of one of man’s genetic experiments, a powerful, beautiful, enigmatic creature deemed a ‘failure’ to be be hunted down. But Painter has two advantages in this world of small bickering nation states and political accommodation and compromise: his own strength and integrity, and the guile of Reynard, another of man’s experiments, a subtle and potent intriguer, a king-maker…