Michael Bishop

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(November 12, 1945 – November 13, 2023)

Michael Lawson Bishop was a Georgia sf writer and academic. He quickly became noted for the intelligence and imagination of his short fiction, being nominated for several Hugo and Nebula Awards.

First publication: "Pinon Fall" in Galaxy (October, 1970). First novel: A Funeral for the Eyes of Fire (Ballantine, 1975). First collection: Blooded on Arachne and Other Stories (Berkley, 1982).

Often referred to as "a writer's writer," Bishop is considered one of our finest "literary" authors, a premier humanist writer of SF who has also written poetry, reviews, and a screenplay. His writing about writing is very insightful, including the essay "On Reviewing and Being Reviewed" that appeared in the November 1977 issue of the fanzine Shayol and his essay on Philip K. Dick, "In Pursuit of Ubik," published in the Summer 1980 issue (#39) of Starship. In addition, Bishop is known in SF circles for a controversial article he wrote for Amazing, "Should SFWA Abolish the Nebula Awards?" (May 1990 issue).

His books include And Strange at Ecbatan the Trees (1976) [also published as Beneath the Shattered Moons], A Little Knowledge (1977), Stolen Faces (1977), Catacomb Years (1979), Transfigurations (1979), Under Heaven's Bridge (1981) [with Ian Watson], the horror novel Who Made Stevie Crye? (1984) [illustrated by J. K. Potter], the collection One Winter in Eden (1984) [Foreword by Thomas M. Disch], Ancient of Days (1985), Close Encounters with the Diety (1986) [a short fiction collection], The Secret Ascension (1987) [an alternate world story], Unicorn Mountain (1988) [a contemporary fantasy], Apartheid, Superstrings, and Mordecai Thurbana (1989), Emphatically Not SF, Almost (1990), and Count Geiger's Blues (1992). Many of his stories are set in the American South; and the ones set in NUAtlanta, the domed city of Atlanta in the 21st Century, are among his most popular.

Several of his books were finalists for World Fantasy Awards, including Brittle Innings [a slipstream novel in which Dr. Frankenstein's monster turns up playing minor league baseball] in 1995 (Best Novel). A more recent book is Blue Kansas Sky (2000), a collection of four novellas, one original. A collection of previously uncollected stories, Brighten to Incandescence: 17 Stories, appeared in 2003 from Golden Gryphon Press. Another short fiction collection was At the City Limits of Fate (1996). Appearing in 2005 was the nonfiction work A Reverie for Mister Ray & Other Ambivalent Animadversions About Speculative Fiction.

He edited the anthology A Cross of Centuries, 25 Fantasies about Christ (2007), and wrote two mysteries with Paul Di Filippo (as by Philip Lawson), two poetry collections, a screenplay, and the mainstream novel An Owl at the Crucifixion (1980).

Interviews with Bishop were published in Locus, with "The Blessing and the Curse," appearing in the November 2004 issue. Bishop on his writing: "I never started out to be a science fiction writer. I had mainstream ambitions early on, but I never wanted to restrict myself to that, either. I wanted it all."

Bishop was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, and educated at the University of Georgia, BA (in English), 1967; MA, 1968. He was raised as an "Air Force brat" and later served in the U.S. Air Force (and taught English, USAF Academy Preparatory School), 1968–72. In 1969, he married Jeri Ellis Whitaker; they had two children. (Their son, Jamie, a German language instructor, was tragically killed in the Virginia Tech mass shooting on April 16, 2007.)

He became a full-time freelance writer in 1974, after teaching English at the University of Georgia from 1972–74. He was writer-in-residence at LaGrange College 1996–2012.

He died after a long struggle with cancer.

Awards, Honors and GoHships:

Person 19452023
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