ELIZABETH MOON writing from experience, PAT CADIGAN queen of cyberpunk, and NANCY KRESS’s rigorous science

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Elizabeth Moon (née Norris) grew up just a few miles from the US border with Mexico in McAllen, Texas; she credits her experiences there with leaving her with an enduring fascination with cultural differences and how individuals respond to new experiences. She began writing fiction while still in her teens but did not think of it as more than a hobby at the time; little did she know that as a science fiction writer, she would eventually become a winner of the Nebula Award, one of the top two prizes in the field of SF, as well as a Robert Heinlein award for outstanding “writings that inspire the human exploration of space.”

She earned a bachelor’s degree in history at Rice University in 1968; immediately thereafter, she joined the US Marine Corps as a computer specialist, working with “what were then quite large computers,” as she describes them. A year later, she married Richard Sloan Moon, who was also in the military, and continued her active duty military service for two more years, attaining the rank of First Lieutenant. She then returned to academic studies at the University of Texas. After completing a second bachelor’s degree in biology, she continued with graduate work in that field at the University of Texas at San Antonio. In her mid-thirties, she began writing professionally, making her first short story sales in 1985 and 1986. One, set in an epic fantasy world, was published in one of the sequence of anthologies titled Sword and Sorceress and edited by author Marion Zimmer Bradley; the other, a hard science fiction tale, was purchased by the classic SF monthly Analog Magazine, kicking off several years of Moon’s short fiction works appearing in its pages. She has continued to write both science fiction and fantasy; to date, she has published nearly thirty novels and dozens of works of short fiction.

Moon’s first novel, Sheepfarmer’s Daughter, came out in 1988, and won the Compton Crook award for best first novel; its story was soon continued in two sequels, forming the Deed of Paksenarrion trilogy. She followed the trilogy with seven other novels set in the same universe. In the midst of writing that fictional series and raising her son Michael, she took the time to write The Speed of Dark, a near-future narrative written from the viewpoint of an autistic computer programmer. She drew from her son’s experiences growing up with autism in writing the book, which won the 2003 Nebula Award for Best Novel. Moon has also produced several works in her Familias Regnant universe, including a trilogy and four further novels, as well as the seven-book Vatta’s War/Vatta’s Peace fiction series. She has also collaborated with Anne McCaffrey and Jody Lynn Nye on the Planet Pirates trilogy and has published a number of collections of her short stories. Much of her work contains military SF themes, as well as focusing on politics, human interactions, and biology, drawing on her education.

When not writing, Elizabeth Moon enjoys such pursuits as native plant and wildlife photography, choral singing, and playing music; she also has experience as a paramedic and is an accomplished fencer who captains a group of published SF authors who enjoy swordplay.

Pat Cadigan is an award-winning science fiction author and editor; though American-born, she lives in the United Kingdom. Her fiction is mostly classified in the cyberpunk subgenre, of which she is considered one of the founders. She has twice won the Arthur C. Clarke Award, for Synners (1992) and Fools (1995), as well as a 2013 Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Novelette, a World Fantasy Award, and three Locus Awards. She has also written film novelizations, including one for Cellular (2004), which starred Kim Basinger. Her writing is often marked by icy undercurrents of black humor as well as tough-minded vigor, the ingredients of the “punk” part of “cyberpunk.” Her works frequently deal with how the human mind relates to technology; she ascribes this to having had the experience of being hooked up to medical machines during recovery from surgery for a congenital heart defect at age five.

Born Patricia Oren Kearney in upstate New York in 1953, she grew up in the small town of Fitchburg, Massachusetts. She pursued theater arts for a time at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst on a scholarship, but went on to study science fiction and science fiction writing with Professor James Gunn at the University of Kansas. She met and married Rufus Cadigan during her college years; shortly after she graduated from the University of Kansas in 1975, they divorced. That same year, she became involved in preparations for the 1976 World Science Fiction Convention (or WorldCon) in Kansas City, Missouri. She ended up serving as liaison with author guest of honor Robert Heinlein; Heinlein later included her in the dedication of his novel Friday in recognition of their friendship. In the late 1970s, she had a job at fantasy writer Tom Reamy’s graphic design company, and then worked as a writer for Hallmark Cards in Kansas City for ten years. Concurrently, from the late seventies until the early eighties, she and her second husband, Arnie Fenner, edited two small press F/SF magazines, first Chacal, and then Shayol, which was noted for the quality of its stories.

She sold her first professional science fiction story in 1980 and continued to make short fiction sales and work on longer manuscripts while still working at a full-time day job, and then while also parenting her young son. With the success of her writing in the 1980s, she transitioned to writing full-time in 1987, the year she published her first book, Mindplayers; the novel originated in a series of four linked short stories about her heroine Deadpan Allie which Cadigan revised and expanded following their publication earlier in the eighties. In this first novel, she framed the mind as a stage for inner psychodramas in which a healer could intervene using “Dream Hacking” technology. In 1989, Patterns, a collection of her short stories, was released; it went on to win a
Locus Award the following year. She followed it up with her award-winning second novel Synners (1991), and in the next couple years, two more collections of her short fiction as well as the novel Fools. Fools envisioned a near-future environment in which memories are marketable. Tea from an Empty Cup (1998) was again based on two connected novellas she had published in the nineties, and a sequel, Dervish Is Digital, was released a couple of years later; these two works comprise the Doré Konstantin series, in which detective Konstantin learns to pursue perpetrators in cyberspace.

While on a short visit to England during the nineties, Cadigan met journalist Christopher Fowler (not to be confused with the noted UK thriller author) when he asked to interview her. He apparently made a good impression; she looked him up after her second divorce, and romance ensued. In 1996, she emigrated to London, England, with her son, Rob Fenner, and she and Fowler were married later that year. After her son had grown to an independent age, her writing took a back seat for several years due to other family obligations, of which Cadigan said in an interview, “I had to look after my elderly mother, and it wasn’t easy, even with my husband helping. As a result, for the first dozen years of the century, I could only write short fiction. My mother passed away in late 2012, and I went back to work on a novel in earnest…and then I got cancer. Go figure.” In 2014, Pat Cadigan became a citizen of the United Kingdom, where she has been a visiting lecturer on creative writing and science fiction at British universities. Mad Love (2019) which tells the origin story of DC Comics’ Harley Quinn, is a novelization created by Cadigan in collaboration with Paul Dini, one of the original creators of the character; it is set in the Gotham City of Batman fame, particularly at Arkham Asylum. As of this writing, she is working on a novel that “jumps off from the end” of her Hugo-winning novelette, 2013’s “The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi”; its working title is See You When You Get There.

Nebula and Hugo Award-winning science fiction and fantasy author Nancy Kress (née Koningisor) grew up in upstate New York in a sleepy village where cows graze and apples grow and spent most of her childhood either reading or playing in the woods. She earned a degree in elementary education at SUNY Plattsburgh and taught fourth-grade students for a few years before leaving the field to marry and start a family in 1973. While pregnant with her second son, she started to write fiction; this had not been her plan, but caring for two infants at home full-time left her with hours in which to experiment. She tried quilting and embroidery first, but found more success with literary creation, selling stories and a first novel, The Prince of Morning Bells. During these years, she also furthered her academic pursuits at SUNY Brockport, achieving master’s degrees there in the late 1970s in both education and English.

When this first marriage ended in 1984, she went to work writing corporate ad copy at an advertising agency while raising her sons and occasionally teaching at SUNY Brockport. In 1990, she decided to go full-time as a science fiction writer; her first work after taking the plunge was her popular novella Beggars in Spain, which went on to win both the Hugo and Nebula awards—a pretty fabulous turn of events, coming right after deciding to leave behind her day job!

She tied the knot a second time with fellow science fiction writer Charles Sheffield in 1998, but tragically lost him only four years later to brain cancer. But the third time seems to have been the charm: she married another writer, Jack Skillingstead, in 2011, and they reside in Seattle, along with, she says, “the world’s most spoiled toy poodle,” Cosette. Though her early writings leaned toward fantasy, Nancy now writes science fiction, often about genetic engineering, as well as teaching at various institutions, including coteaching the Taos Toolbox writers’ intensive workshop with fellow SF writer Walter Jon Williams and writing nonfiction texts about writing itself.

Nancy Kress has won a total of six Nebulas, two Hugos, and a Sturgeon Award for her novellas and short fiction; and her 2003 novel Probability Space won a John W. Campbell Award. She is the author of twenty-seven novels, four short story collections, and over a hundred short stories. Her writings have been translated into fourteen Terran languages as well as into Klingon.

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