The Kingdom of Dreams: the uncanny worlds of Graham Joyce

Here is my paper presented at the Wonderlands Symposium, University of Chichester, 23 May, in memory of the late great Graham Joyce…

The award-winning novelist, Graham Joyce

The award-winning novelist, Graham Joyce


World Fantasy Award-winning author Graham Joyce died of aggessive lymphoma in the late summer of 2014, leaving behind an oeuvre of novels (Some Kind of Fairy Tale; The Limits of Enchantment; The Year of the Ladybird, among others) which explore the liminal spaces between the magical and the mundane. Many are set in his native Midlands – presenting an apparently prosaic context for tales of witchcraft, fairy abduction and ESP. As a modern fantasy author Joyce excelled at framing the Otherworld with psychological ambiguity, so that the reader is left to decide whether the magical elements of his novels ‘actually happened’, or were all created and contained by the characters’ subjective perceptions. This approach refreshes the fantasy genre, circumvents the literalism of Hollywood adaptations, and turns the focus of perception back on the real world and its astonishing actuality – something that Joyce, in his dying year, became highly sensitised too.  This paper will seek to explore Joyce’s depiction of otherworlds and otherness within his fiction. Key questions will include: What are the prevailing themes in his work? What devices does he use for depicting the fantastical and recreating its effect on the reader? What critical and popular responses did his books generate? What were Joyce’s own reflections on his output? And where does his work lay within the Uncanny Valley?

View footage here:

View Prezi here:

This will be presented in Literary Leicester, November 2015:


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