Profile of Steph Swainston

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Steph Swainston is a qualified archaeologist with a degree from Cambridge and a research degree. She worked as archaeologist for six years, taking part on the dig that researched the oldest recorded burial site in the UK, before working as an information scientist.

She was a finalist for the 2005 and 2006 Campbell Awards.

She was shortlisted for the British Fantasy Best Novel Award in 2005.

An interview can be found here.


Novel, The Modern World. Gollancz (Apr 2007).  The Modern World will be published in the USA as Dangerous Offspring

Novel, No Present Like Time. Gollancz (Apr 2005)

Novel, The Year of Our War. Gollancz (Apr 2004)


Roz Kaveney, TIME OUT
on "No Present Like Time"

A more original sort of fantasy.

The Guardian

An uncompromisingly classy act.


Once again, Steph Swainston has created a remarkable work of fantasy, both refreshing and enjoyable. It is great to see such a revitalisation of the genre with brilliant new authors like her leading the way.

SF Site
on "The Year of Our War"

A joy to read, it is bursting at the seams with ideas. The Year of Our War is the first book that makes you believe New Weird actually is a movement, rather than a bunch of books China Mille likes. A Mille quote appears prominently on the cover where he describes the book as "thoughtful, exuberant, incredibly inventive, funny but never whimsical or mannered." This is true and it doubles as a kind of manifesto pledge for New Weird

George Walkley

A stunning fantasy, and the most incredible thing about it is that it is a first novel... The setting is impeccably realised, with a deftness of touch and a genius for description which would be impressive in an author of considerably greater experience - of the current crop of British fantasy writers, only China Mille can touch this level of brilliance. In fifty years time, people are still going to be reading this book and talking about it the way we talk about Gormengast


Her descriptive passages are rich and vivid and her characterisation is actually even better; frankly it's superb... Even her dialogue is free-flowing, original, yet natural-sounding; how often do you get that from a debut novelist? As for the protagonist himself: in Jant Shira, Swainston has come upwith one of the most irrepressibly loveable rogues in fantasy fiction, bar none. So, The Year of War has everything, yes? It's about as close to a perfect debut as you can get.


Every so often in publishing a buzz develops about a book. The current buzz is most definitely the property of Steph Swainston and her stunning debut novel, The Year of our War. If it has antecedents then they are Angela Carter, Roger Zelazny, M. John Harrison and China Mille. But while drawing on such illustrious forebears, it is by no means derivative. It is very much its own thing. It has a rare combination of the grim, the bizarre and the hilarious. And somehow it all works.

Publishing News

For my money Swainston is one of the best British authors writing in any genre. She has a facility with language and a genius for plot and character which Booker prize winners could, and should, be envious of. The Hobbs, Brookses and Feists of this world may well outsell it, but this will be the outstanding fantasy book of the year by a country mile.

Jayne Dearsley

NO PRESENT LIKE TIME is a welcome return to the world Swainston put on paper so delectably first time round. Whereas THE YEAR OF OUR WAR centred on - you guessed it - a war, NO PRESENT LIKE TIME has more of a political edge, embossed with flawless, deep characterization. (This is) an extremely unusual, familiar yet at the same time extraordinarily original novel. There's joy to discover on every page, even if that page does involve some poor fool getting his read ripped off

Rick Kleffel

The density of Swainston's creation is breathtaking. But Swainston's also a knockout writer for scenes of triumphant action. Having created a world that's almost too complex to comprehend, she's able to unravel scenes of spectacular conflict. From the jaw-dropping opening chapter to the tense and bloody finish, Swainston puts the reader in the picture with a clarity that challenges cinema.