R.I.P., Sally Gwylan

I was sad to learn on Saturday that author Sally Gwylan died in October, “after being struck by a car” (quoting Worldcon’s In Memoriam page).

We published Sally’s superb novelette “Rapture” in Strange Horizons in 2004, in two parts. (Part 1, Part 2.) In my SH Flashback writeup in 2016, I described it thusly: “A slow-building story of idealist leftist anarchists in Chicago in the 1890s, and of what can happen when preachers and other leaders have too compelling a message.” (That writeup also includes further (spoilery) comments about what I loved about the story.)

Here’s Sally’s all-too-short bibliography:

  • Salt” (short-short, 2002, Infinite Matrix): About the origins of meat-eating, with a sort of creation-myth feel.
  • “In the Icehouse” (novelette, 2003, Asimov’s): SF Encyclopedia says that this became part of the novel A Wind out of Canaan; see below.
  • “Rapture” (novelette, 2004, Strange Horizons): See my description and link above.
  • A Wind out of Canaan (novel, 2012, Bird’s Nest Press): About Depression-era teen hobos who discover that some among them are emissaries from an alternate universe. Plus some intriguing gender stuff. This was supposed to be the first book of at least two in a series, but it was the only one published, so it leaves a lot unresolved. Content warning for abuse-related issues.
  • Fleeing Oslyge” (novelette, 2018, Clarkesworld): A refugee on a Scandinavian-inflected colony world travels with soldiers. Content warning for sexual assault and for trauma from past assault.

It looks like Sally only ever sent two other stories to SH. Neither of them quite worked for us, but I was always glad to see another story from her.

The last contact I had with her was in 2013, when I dropped her a note to say that I had liked the novel and was looking forward to volume 2; she said that she was working on the second draft of volume 2 and hoped it would come out in a year or so. I don’t know why it never did.

I barely knew her as a person, but I loved “Rapture” and liked her other work, and I always hoped that the world would get to read more of her fiction. I’m sad that she’s gone.

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