Hilary Bailey and New Worlds

Today I learned about British sf writer and editor Hilary Bailey.

I just read her 1964 novelette “The Fall of Frenchy Steiner.” I read it in The Penguin Book of Modern Fantasy by Women, in which I had previously read a couple of stories that I would classify as non-fantastical literary fiction, by a couple of authors who I don’t usually associate with speculative fiction. So I went into Bailey’s story arrogantly assuming that since I wasn’t familiar with the author’s name, she must have been a non-sf author.

Which left me unprepared for the story. It’s set in an alternate history in which the Nazis won WWII, and it has substantial fantasy and/or psi elements as well. It makes full and confident use of various genre tropes. I didn’t particularly like the story, but it made me curious about the author. So I read her brief bio in the back of the book—

—and learned that she edited the last four volumes of the paperback-magazine incarnation of New Wave flagship magazine New Worlds in the mid-1970s.

Further research led me to learn that I had read a couple of stories of hers before, in other anthologies, but had forgotten her name. Also, it turns out that she was married to Michael Moorcock for about 15 years. Also, it turns out that she wrote at least 16 short stories and 17 novels (some of which were sf).

(The paperback version of New Worlds mostly didn’t include many women authors, neither before nor during Bailey’s editorship. The ten volumes included one or two stories each by Eleanor Arnason, Hilary Bailey, Ruth Berman, Marta Randall, Joanna Russ, Pamela Sargent, and a few others—an average of about one story by a woman per volume.)

For more about Bailey, see her SF Encyclopedia entry, and her ISFDB entry, and her Wikipedia entry.

Bailey died in 2017, age 80. She was working on a near-future sf novel when she died.

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