At some point in your reading career, you begin to ask questions about the authors who pen some of your favorite stories. What were they like? What drove them to write particular kinds of stories? What interested them in writing the types of stories that they write? This is why the biography was invented.
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For those so inclined to learn more about the authors of science fiction, I offer this list of authors who have been the subject of recently published or forthcoming biographies.
1. Ray Bradbury
Ray Bradbury is one of science fiction's giants, an author whose name is easily recognizable and synonymous with finely crafted literature of our time. The biography Becoming Ray Bradbury by Jonathan R. Eller attempts to explore the iconic author's life by looking at his early years, his influences and his personal notes. See also: Eller's examination of Bradbury's writing, Ray Bradbury: The Life of Fiction.
2. Octavia Butler
Although Conversations with Octavia Butler is not technically a biography, this collection of revealing interviews offers glimpses into the mind of one of science fiction's most influential writers. Butler often examined issues of race, gender in her fiction via a platform of science fictional themes like post-apocalypse, immortality and genetics.
3. Robert A. Heinlein
Not only was Robert A. Heinlein an influential science fiction writer, he was often a controversial one as well because of his Libertarian views. Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century: Volume 1 (1907-1948): Learning Curve is only the first part of an ambitious biographical project by William H. Patterson. It covers Heinlein’s life up until his midlife crisis in the 1940s.
4. C.M. Kornbluth
Although Cyril M. Kornbluth's name is not as recognizable as that of his friend, Isaac Asimov, his work in the field made no small impact. Since the sale of his first story at age 16, Kornbluth eventually became a member of The Futurians, a group of influential science fiction writers and editors in the 1930s and ’40s. His life is profiled in C.M. Kornbluth: The Life and Works of a Science Fiction Visionary by Mark Rich.
5. Murray Leinster
William Fitzgerald Jenkins, who wrote under the name Murray Leinster, is another writer from science fiction's early years, and a prolific one at that: Jenkins wrote more than 1,500 stories across several genres, though his science fiction stories are perhaps the most popular. The biography Murray Leinster: The Life and Works by Billee J. Stallings and Jo-an J. Evans looks at the life of the man who is credited with creating parallel universe stories and was also an inventor.
6. H.P. Lovecraft
Ask any well-informed science fiction fan who their favorite literary creatures are and the answer will more often than not come back to Cthulhu, the central creature in the mythos created by Lovecraft about the ancient, slumbering deities from space who once ruled the Earth. The Dream World of H. P. Lovecraft: His Life, His Demons, His Universe by Donald Tyson looks at the life of a writer of the fantastic who scorned for magic and religion.
7. Rudy Rucker
Who better to talk about a writer's life than the writer himself? In his autobiography, Nested Scrolls: The Autobiography of Rudolf von Bitter Rucker, Rudy Rucker, a man who wears many hats (science fiction author, mathematician, computer scientist and philosopher) lays bare the details of his eclectic personal and professional life.
8. Kurt Vonnegut
Yet another author who was influential and controversial, Kurt Vonnegut (author of Slaughterhouse-Five and many other novels) served as a soldier, was a prisoner of war and worked in public relations for General Electric before he made his name as a major writer of American literature. The biography And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life by Charles J. Shields attempts to document Vonnegut's "transition from 'the bowery of the book world' to counterculture icon.” See also: Kurt Vonnegut's America by Jerome Klinkowitz and Kurt Vonnegut: The Last Interview: And Other Conversations edited by Tom McCartan.
John DeNardo is the editor of SF Signal, a group science-fiction and fantasy blog featuring news, reviews and interviews.