Most writers, at the outset of their career, are intimidated by the blank page. Victoria-based Steven Erikson has sidestepped--or perhaps over-stepped--what he has called the Blank Wall.

"I ran face-first into that wall rather early on," Erikson writes, on his website, "in the company of that highbrow institution of exclusivity known as CanLit (an amorphous Canadian entity of 'serious' literature as promulgated primarily by the Canada Council, writing departments at universities, the Globe and Mail, provincial granting agencies, and CBC Radio).

"In effect, that mystique and aura was a facade presented not only to the public, but also, strangely enough, quickly and almost instinctively raised up between writers, with some underlying notion of competition feeding it, one presumes."

Since those early days of tentativeness, the former archaeologist and anthropologist Steven Erikson has published a ten-novel, three-million-plus-words, speculative fiction series, The Malazan Book of the Fallen, beginning with Gardens of the Moon in 1999. His second novel, Deadhouse Gates, was voted one of the ten best fantasy novels of 2000 by SF Site. Eight more titles have appeared, culminating with The Crippled God in 2011. For good measure, Erikson then proceeded to complete a separate but related prequel trilogy, The Kharkanas Trilogy, starting with Forge of Darkness in 2012.

Born of an affinity for role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons, The Malazan fantasy world was co-conceived by Erikson and his friend Ian Cameron Esslemont in the early 1980s, arising from their unsuccessful attempt to write a film script called Gardens of the Moon. (Esslemont began to write his own conjoined series of six novels, published independently as a series called Novels of the Malazan Empire, starting with Night of Knives, in 2005, and culminating with Assail in 2014. Esselmont then also proceeded to generate his own prequel trilogy, Path of Ascendancy, starting with Dancer's Lament in 2016.) Erikson and Esslemont have collaborated for the storylines of all sixteen titles in their shared Malazan project, mainly available via Bantam Books (UK) and Tor Books (US). Their two prequels series are individually plotted.

Steven Erikson's novel Rejoice: A Knife to the Heart (Promontory 2018) opens in Victoria with the apparent UFO abduction of sci-fi writer Samantha August as she walks down a busy street. But she wakes up in a small room, hearing a male voice. The story spreads worldwide--and beyond--as Erikson considers what the world would be like if our ability to hurt one other was removed. 978-1-77374-012-6

[BCBW 2017]