The Critical Journal of the British Science Fiction Association

Framing the Unframeable

What does the fantastic bring to the storying of lives? By Gary K. Wolfe

 "Unser Leben ist kein Traum, aber es soll und wird viellicht einer werden".
   ("Our life is no dream; but it ought to become one, and perhaps will.")

– Novalis (Friedrich von Hardenburg), as quoted in George MacDonald's Phantastes (1859)

"And do not rely on the fact that in your life, circumscribed, regulated, and prosaic, there are no such spectacular and terrifying things."
– C. P. Cavafy, "Theodotus," as quoted in Elizabeth Hand's Last Summer at Mars Hill (1998)

When one looks at the published memoirs and autobiographical sketches written by science fiction and fantasy authors, mostly for the benefit of their fans – the sort of thing collected in Brian Aldiss and Harry Harrison's Hell's Cartographers (1975) or Martin Greenberg's Fantastic Lives: Autobiographical Essays by Notable Science Fiction Writers (1981) – one is initially struck by the relative thinness and lack of genuine introspection of many of the essays. Typically, such pieces read as a variety of Augustinian conversion tales, depicting a precocious childhood, often solitary and bookish, sometimes sickly, sometimes featuring battles with parents to get into the adult sections of the library, and characteristically leading toward a moment of revelation: "And then came Hugo Gernsback" (Alfred Bester) [1] "Then I saw and bought an issue of something called Amazing Stories" (Damon Knight) [2] "So science fiction entered into and began warping my life from an early age" (Brian Aldiss) [3] etc. In one of the still-comparatively rare autobiographies of SF writers, Wonder's Child: My Life in Science Fiction, Jack Williamson ends a chapter with the following cliffhanger:

Something else happened, however, in the spring of 1926, the first year I was out of high school. Something that changed my life. Hugo Gernsback launched a new pulp magazine, filled with reprinted stories by Jules Verne and H.G. Wells and A. Merritt and Edgar Rice Burroughs, stories he called "scientifiction."

The magazine was
Amazing Stories. [4]

Following these road-to-Damascus moments, however, these memoirs and autobiographies seldom become genuine testaments, instead amounting to not much more than narrative resumιs, filled with anecdotes of encounters with fellow writers and editors and often with almost obsessively detailed accounts of sales figures and payments; one comes away with the sense that (a) science fiction writers all clearly remember the first SF story they read, and (b) they keep really good tax records.

To be fair, Williamson does go on to describe his bouts of depression and his encounters with psychology – he may have been the first SF writer to undergo a full psychoanalysis – and he drops tantalizing hints as to how this may have affected the darker moments of his fiction. And the SF world has produced a handful of other genuinely thoughtful autobiographies, such as Brian Aldiss's The Twinkling of an Eye (1998). But the most famous of SF autobiographies, the fifteen-hundred-odd pages of Isaac Asimov's In Memory Yet Green (1979) and In Joy Still Felt (1980) are monuments to the unexamined ego, filled with astonishing details that reveal remarkably little about the man or his fiction and seem almost intended to obfuscate; even the poem which provided these titles turns out to be a fake, written by Asimov himself specifically to generate the titles. Only much later, literally on his deathbed, did Asimov revisit his life in another massive volume, I. Asimov (1994), with fragmentary – but one feels more unmediated – meditations on his work and his career. Similarly, Robert Bloch's 1995 autobiography Once Around the Bloch is essentially an extended version of one of his legendarily funny con speeches, Frederik Pohl's The Way the Future Was is mostly an engaging insider's history of much of American SF, and Piers Anthony's 1988 Bio of an Ogre features more cranky score-settling than genuine introspection.

Perhaps we shouldn't expect more; after all, as I mentioned, for the most part these are celeb memoirs, written more to satisfy the curiosity of fans than to draw us deeper into the authors' works and worldviews. And we can, if we wish to play games of psychological criticism, draw our own conclusions, speculating for example on how Asimov's own self-confessed agoraphobia and love of Manhattan translated into the contained urban environments of The Caves of Steel or The Naked Sun, much as an earlier generation of psychological critics found sources for Kafka's "The Hunger Artist" or The Trial in his vegetarianism or his stultifying office job. But I'm not certain this will lead us to understand the complex and often inchoate relationships between the stuff of an author's life and the stuff of his or her fiction, particularly when that fiction is cast in a fantastic or nonrealistic mode. We might have better luck if we look at those novels by SF or fantasy writers which we already know (from introductions, interviews, or self-evident subject matter) to be overtly autobiographical – J.G. Ballard's Empire of the Sun, for example, or Brian Aldiss's Forgotten Life or Remembrance Day, or Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine, or Joe Haldeman's War Year. The first of these certainly explains a lot about where all those drained swimming pools and low-flying aircraft in Ballard's fiction came from, just as the Bradbury reveals the sources of his Midwestern landscapes in his long-lost Waukegan childhood. The Haldeman novel, following the more or less traditional arc of the tour-of-duty novel, provides us a baseline account of the experiences in Vietnam that would inform so much of his later fiction. The Aldiss novels reveal much not only about Aldiss's landscapes, but about the sources of his characters (nearly all the major characters in Forgotten Life turn out to be avatars of Aldiss's own multiple identities as war veteran, writer, son and husband, and Oxford institution). But these novels are not even science fiction or fantasy, and what we can learn from them about how the stuff of writers' lives becomes the stuff of the fantastic is available to us only through inference, or through a kind of triangulation with what we already know of the author's other works. There are probably many seeds of doctoral dissertations here, and some have probably already been written, but such an approach still doesn't tell us much about the central question of what transformative mechanisms SF and fantasy in particular have to offer to the storying of lives.

One way to approach this question is to look at SF or fantasy stories that are self-consciously autobiographical, but are not fictionalized memoirs. There is an identifiable tradition of using devices of the fantastic to "thicken and intensify" (to use Rudy Rucker's phrase) [5] the materials of lived experience, and from time to time this tradition has even given rise, as is SF's wont, to manifestos. In 1983, the Bulletin of the Science Fiction Writers of America published Rudy Rucker's "Transrealist Manifesto" (Rucker maintains it at here [pdf]), arguing for not only the use of personal experience in fiction, but for actually featuring the author – under his or her own name – as a character. This is something Rucker himself has done in Saucer Wisdom (1999), J.G. Ballard in Crash (1974), and more recently James Patrick Kelly in "Daemon" (1987), China Mieville in "Reports of Certain Events in London" (2004), and Paul Park and Jeffrey Ford in a number of stories. (Damien Broderick later extended Rucker's ideas in a much more disciplined way in his 2000 academic study Transrealist Fiction: Writing in the Slipstream of Science.) More recently, the "Mundane Manifesto" concocted by Geoff Ryman and a group of young writers at the Clarion Writers' Workshop seems intended as a kind of SF version of filmmaker Lars von Trier's "Dogme" movement, eschewing such conventions and devices as interstellar travel, aliens, alternate universes, magic, or time travel, thus presumably forcing writers toward a discipline more firmly rooted in credible experience, and toward the use of fantastic elements clearly derived from such experience.

In an essay Kelly later wrote about his story "Daemon," which involves a strange encounter with a fellow student at the Clarion Science Fiction Writers' Workshop (which Kelly actually attended in 1974), he noted that the story confused many readers when it first appeared, because "in the foreground of this autobiographical structure, I presented an entirely fictional plot. Yes, I did go to the Clarion Writers Workshop in 1974, but I met no Celeste there. Nothing that happens in this story ever really occurred – thank God!  But the challenge I set myself here was to imagine something fantastic that could realistically happen to a boring guy like yours truly." [6] If we set aside writing challenges and the ego trip of writing about oneself, perhaps part of the instinct to lay fantastic structures over real life comes from the fact that the people writing them are genre writers who write about fantastic events that always happen to other (presumably more interesting) people. Kelly seems to suggest that one reason writers might include fictionalized versions of themselves could be due to a sort of character-envy – characters who, after all, get to live through more challenging, difficult, and powerful events in fiction than the presumably quotidian existence of the writer – particularly events that would be impossible in real life but possible in fantastic stories. These writers are asking themselves in print, "how would I react, how well would I hold up". But – as we shall see shortly – the reverse may also be true, with fictionalized versions of self sometimes functioning as a means of framing and ordering the challenging, difficult, or powerful events of the writer's own life.


Long before transrealist or mundane manifestoes, writers were drawing on autobiographical material for fantastic and genre fiction, and occasionally, like Kelly, they have written essays or books about it. In a remarkable but little-read book called Algernon, Charlie and I: A Writer's Journey, Daniel Keyes constructs what amounts to an autobiography of a single story, his classic 1959 "Flowers for Algernon." In it, Keyes details how virtually every element of that story derived from particular events in his own experience – the trauma of dissecting what turned out to be a pregnant mouse in a college biology class, his discovery the same day of the poetry of Algernon Charles Swinburne, his work in a bagel bakery similar to the bakery his character Charlie Gordon works in, his frustration in dealing with psychology professors and analysts, and most tellingly an encounter with one of his students in a "special modified English" class Keyes was teaching in a Brooklyn high school in 1957: recognizing that he's been placed in a class for slow learners, the student plaintively tells Keyes "I want to be smart." [7] By then, Keyes had already been toying with the idea of writing a story based on the notion of artificially increased intelligence, inspired loosely by H.G. Wells's "The Man Who Could Work Miracles," but what is particularly revealing is how this idea had repeatedly failed to jell. In retrospect, Keyes's trouble may have been partly due to his efforts to conceptualize it in terms of the familiar conventions of genre fiction: in one iteration, the central character is the subject of a military experiment, in another he's a criminal who keeps getting caught because of his own stupidity, in another he's a punk school dropout. It wasn't until Keyes opened up the tale to his own experiences that the writing began to flow.

There are of course many examples from even earlier than this – Zenna Henderson's "People" stories, for example, based on her own childhood in rural Mormon communities and her long-time experience as a schoolteacher in Arizona, or Clifford Simak's stories and novels featuring crusty individualists in rural Wisconsin settings similar to his own childhood home, or much of Theodore Sturgeon's fiction, such as the novel The Dreaming Jewels (1950), whose autobiographical elements didn't become fully clear until the publication in 1993 of his painful memoir of his step-father, Argyll. Even Paul Linebarger's bizarrely romantic far-future "Cordwainer Smith" stories can be seen as outpicturings of his globetrotting childhood and colorful diplomatic and military career, especially when read in conjunction with his more directly autobiographical novels Ria (1947) and Carola (1949). But relatively few explications of source material for any given SF story are as comprehensive as Keyes's memoir.

None of these writers, however, took the interpenetration of the fantastical and autobiographical quite as far, or quite as explicitly, as did Philip K. Dick, whose increasingly self-obsessed work is the most likely model for the sorts of transformative fictions that Rucker calls for in the "Transrealist Manifesto." Dick is far too involved a subject to get into much detail about here – his later work may represent the most complex interpenetration of life and art in all of modern SF – but there is a certain irony in that, when Dick attempted to portray aspects of his life and relationships in realistic novels such as Confessions of a Crap Artist (1975), In Milton Lumpky Territory (1985), or The Broken Bubble (1989), he was unable even to get these novels published in his lifetime, while the same relationships and anxieties transformed into SFnal imagery yielded such novels as Martian Time-Slip (1964), Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (1964), Ubik (1969), and A Scanner Darkly (1977). By the time of the so-called Valis Trilogy – Valis (1981), The Divine Invasion (1981), and The Transmigration of Timothy Archer (1982, although Dick never intended this to be part of his original planned trilogy) – he was clearly seeking through fiction, and through fantastic fiction in particular, a means to order the increasingly disordered nature of his own self-perception following his famous visionary experience of March 1974. The character Horselover Fat in Valis – a punning translation of Dick's own name – can even be read as a kind of mediation between the ordering power of art and the dissociation of nightmare. But neither Dick's own philosophical meditations in his famous "Exegesis," nor his mainstream novels, nor even his earlier science fiction, could quite achieve the sense of transcendence (of both real life and of genre protocols) that emerges from this odd interpenetration of invented and personal fantasy.

But Dick, who in many senses lived inside a science fictional world during the last decade of his life, is hardly a usable model for exploring the conscious interface between the fantastic and the personal. As significant as his body of work is, much of its importance to our present discussion is in the manner in which it contributed to a broadening of the very nature of SF and fantasy, or at least in the potential of these genres to explore and interrogate more personal concerns. Some writers roughly contemporaneous with Dick may have used similar devices – Ballard in Crash, for example – but there was a certain self-conscious literary archness about such devices in the work of Ballard and other New Wave writers; with Dick we instead get almost a sense of desperation, as though narrative voice might somehow provide a frame for the unframeable. And it is this rawness, this sense of ordered but not fully mediated experience, that it seems to me has become increasing evident in the work of several excellent writers in the last couple of decades, although generally more evident in the arenas of fantasy and horror than in genre SF. It might, then, be useful to examine a few specific examples of how such frames might serve to mediate experience – including, in some cases, what horror writers (including Straub) have sometimes described as "extreme experience."


Peter Straub initially gained fame as a writer of supernatural horror, although there have frequently been significant autobiographical elements in his fiction, and the murder-haunted city of Millhaven which recurs throughout his "Blue Rose" series of novels and stories is a thinly disguised version of his childhood home in Milwaukee; in lost boy lost girl he even gives the terrifying house of his serial killer villain an address just around the corner from his childhood home. One event that clearly shaped his fiction, and that is described in his novels Mystery (1990) and The Throat (1993), was the experience of being struck by a car when he was seven, and the subsequent long hospitalization. But it wasn't until Straub spoke about another experience in a July 2006 interview in Locus magazine that it became apparent that the disturbingly graphic child abuse which figured in two of his most disturbing short stories, "Bunny Is Good Bread" and "The Juniper Tree," derived also from personal experience. In both stories, a boy who for different reasons in each tale spends many hours alone in a movie theater encounters there an older man who befriend and subsequently sexually abuses and threatens him. It may be of some significance that both versions of this boy experience troubled relations with their fathers, but that in "Bunny is Good Bread" the boy – whose home life is as nightmarish in its own way as his experiences in the movie theater – grows up to become a psychotic killer who eventually ends up in Vietnam, whereas in "The Juniper Tree" – which far more graphically depicts the details of the abuse – he grows up to become a novelist. As Straub puts it in the interview, "Once I started writing, I realized I could put my hands on the levers of my own problems. I could manipulate them, play with them, spin them out and make them mine." [8] Although neither story directly involves supernatural agencies, each draws noticeably on the constricting structures of the horror tale, and each seeks a kind of transcendence, or at least accommodation, through confrontation.

Elizabeth Hand, whose initial reputation as a science fiction novelist has been nearly overwhelmed by the continuing popularity of her 1994 novel Waking the Moon and the critical praise earned by this and later fantasy novels, has also consistently located her fictions in transformed versions of her own places. Her childhood home in Yonkers, New York and the nearby village of Katonah became the Kamensic Village of the story "Last Summer at Mars Hill" and the novel Black Light (which also draws on her experiences in the New York post-Warhol punk scene); her grandparents' house in Yonkers became the rambling mansion Lazyland in the underrated millennial novel Glimmering; her experiences as a student at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. provided Waking the Moon with the convincing authenticity of a college memoir despite its spectacular return-of-the-goddess plot; her lakeside cottage in Maine became the setting for the novella "The Least Trumps"; the Camden Town neighborhood where she stays while in London figures prominently in Mortal Love and "Cleopatra Brimstone." It's the latter novella, originally published in 2001 and later included in her collections Bibliomancy (2003) and Saffron and Brimstone (2006), which most tellingly examines how the devices of the fantastic might serve to frame extreme experience. Hand's protagonist, a young woman fascinated by entomology, is brutally assaulted while at college by a rapist who insistently orders her to "Try to get away." Never fully dealing with the rape during her months of convalescence at her parents' home, she eventually moves to London, where she volunteers as an entomology assistant at Regent's Zoo while haunting the clubs of Camden Town in the persona of Cleopatra Brimstone, a name taken from a species of butterfly. In this transformed state, she captures a series of young men as though they were specimens, urging them to "Try to get away" as she magically causes them to metamorphose into varieties of moths and butterflies. It's a beautifully dark tale, and in the note accompanying it in Bibliomancy Hand explains that it's her first direct attempt to write about her own abduction and rape years earlier when visiting a boyfriend in the Washington, D.C. area. [9] Hand had written explicitly autobiographical tales before this, by her own account – a road trip in "On the Town Route," the death of a friend in "Pavane for a Prince of the Air" – but never in such an aggressively transformative way.

But this transformative function of the fantastic is not in any sense limited to cases of extreme trauma such as those mentioned by Straub or Hand. My final example comes from the work of Jeffrey Ford, a writer whose genre roots are so fluid that he's managed to win both the World Fantasy Award and the Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America. Ford has also written explicitly biographical pieces, perhaps the most evident of which is his long story "Botch Town" in his 2006 collection The Empire of Ice Cream, clearly intended as a celebration of his own childhood. But the story which to me most clearly demonstrates the ordering potential of the fantastic is "The Honeyed Knot" (2001), included in his collection The Fantasy Writer's Assistant and Other Stories (2002). Ford is a writing professor at a community college in New Jersey, and insists that this tale is "99.9 percent true." [10] His narrator, also named Jeff Ford and also a writing professor at a community college in New Jersey, recalls a student from years earlier who, while still in his class, raped and murdered a little girl, leaving Ford vaguely guilt-ridden over having failed to detect warning signs in the obscure symbolism of the student's writing. Much later, a middle-aged woman, Mrs. Apes, enters his class, writing bizarre accounts of a magical world overseen by a spirit named Avramody. Pressed to write about issues in her own life, she describes two events: a brutal beating from her husband that led to a near-death experience in the hospital (wandering the hospital in a kind of spirit trance, she was saved by "a little girl down in the hospital morgue in the basement"), and the death of her own teenage daughter after being struck by a car. She also tells Ford that her writing tells her he'll "find a buck in the road," and that night, driving home, he indeed strikes and apparently kills a deer with an odd-shaped antler, which with its dying breath makes a sound eerily like a human word, but one which he can't quite place. But he sees the exact word in the next essay from Mrs. Apes: Ayuwea, which she explains was the name of her daughter. Meanwhile, Ford's son reports having seen a wild buck which eerily matches the description of the one Ford hit, and eventually Ford sees the animal himself near the college parking lot. And, adding to the mystery, the college librarian as a favor tracks down the name Avramody from Mrs. Apes's fantastic cosmology, finding initially that it was the name of a 15th century cleric whose book The Honeyed Knot (the title a metaphor for the complex but ultimately beneficent tangle of human relations) influenced the Puritans – but also that it was the name of the little girl murdered by Ford's student years earlier.

I've spent a bit more time describing this story because it seems to me to centrally concern some of the issues at the heart of this discussion, and because it specifically addresses the act of writing as framing. The magical world that Mrs. Apes concocts in her formless essays – the narrator calls them "visionary testaments," and they sound very much like a literary equivalent of the kind of obsessive outsider art associated with figures like Henry Darger – provides a means for her to cope with the tragedies of her own life, and we can guess that the little girl she met in the hospital morgue during her near-death experience might be the same little girl that Ford's student had murdered years earlier, hence the coincidence of the name Avramody. The deer, killed like Mrs. Apes's daughter (whose name it seems to pronounce) but living on in the tale, is at once fantastical and real, offering the narrator a kind of transcendent insight into the complex design of human relationships described by the 15th century Avramody as "the honeyed knot." As true as the tale may be in Ford's own view, it partakes both of the conventions of the ghost story and of the more mainstream tradition of the disturbed-student tale, the most famous example of which is Lionel Trilling's 1943 story "Of This Time, Of That Place" (in which the disturbed but brilliant student was long thought to have been Allen Ginsburg – who had been a student of Trilling's – though Ginsberg himself denied it). I'm not arguing that Ford's story, which pointedly uses devices of the fantastic to move outside the frame of received experience, is necessarily superior to Trilling's classic, which is a very different tale, but simply that it serves as an example of how the techniques and devices of fantastic writing can provide to the dissociations of raw experience a kind of narrative closure, or at the very least a frame – the honey in the knot, so to speak.

There are, of course, literally dozens of other writers who have employed the resources of fantasy, horror, or science fiction as means of framing experience, and sometimes in radically different ways from those I've described here. Some who come immediately to mind – and this list is deliberately wildly diverse – are Graham Joyce, whose childhood and family figure prominently in The Facts of Life and The Limits of Enchantment; Kim Stanley Robinson, whose near-future science fiction in Forty Signs of Rain and Fifty Degrees Below draws on his own experiences as a father and his awareness of the workings of the Washington science bureaucracy; Harlan Ellison, who transforms pieces of his life and career repeatedly, notably in stories like "Jeffty is Five" and "All the Lies That Are My Life" – and who sometimes would publish the same narrative as a story in one context and a memoir in another; Thomas M. Disch, whose Midwestern boyhood provided the template for fantasy in On Wings of Song; even mainstream novelists like Doris Lessing, who (in a Worldcon guest of honor speech) described her tale of a decaying near-future England Memoirs of a Survivor as an "attempt at an autobiography," [11] or Philip Roth, whose The Plot Against America details his own childhood – using his real family names and narrated by an adult named Philip Roth looking back – transferred into a world in which Lindbergh was elected President and Nazi-style anti-Semitism begins to infect the U.S. At the beginning of this essay are two quotations on the transformative nature of art, chosen not by me but by prominent fantasy writers who, a century and a half apart, found in them a particular resonance. George MacDonald, heavily influenced by German Romantics like Novalis and their fervent notions of art as literal transcendence, spent most of his writing career and gained most of his contemporary fame as what we would describe today as a Scottish regional novelist. Today, he is almost entirely remembered for two remarkable fantasy novels which he wrote at the very beginning and very end of his career – Phantastes (1859) and Lilith (1895). Both embodied deeply felt and profoundly poetic versions of episodes from his own life that never achieved such transformative expressions in his more realistic novels; both expressed an inchoate desire, expressed in the words of Novalis, that art might literally make life more dreamlike. Elizabeth Hand, of course, we've already discussed, but her choice of the Cavafy poem suggests a different strategy: art, instead of changing life into a dream, can unpack what is already "spectacular and terrifying" within it. These are very different uses of fantasy, to be sure, but in each case the devices of the unreal can frame experience in ways otherwise unavailable to the writer, otherwise invisible to the reader, otherwise merely the stuff of life. [12]

1. "My Affair with Science Fiction, " Hell's Cartographers (London: Orbit, 1976), p. 47
2. "Knight Piece," Hell's Cartographers, p. 102.
3. "Magic and Bare Boards," Hell's Cartographers, p.183-184.
4. New York: Bluejay Books, 1984, p. 46.
5. "The Transrealist Manifesto," 1983.
7. Algernon, Charlie and I (Boca Raton, FL: Challcrest Press, 1999), p. 96.
8. "Fearful Places" (interview). Locus, 546 (July 2006), p. 79.
9. Bibliomancy (Harrogate, 2003), p. 289.
10. "The Honeyed Knot," The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling (New York: St. Martin's, 2002), p. 88.
11. "Guest of Honor Speech," in Worldcon Guest of Honor Speeches, edited by Mike Resnick and Joe Siclari (Deefield, IL: ISFIC Press, 2006), p. 192.
12. My thanks to fellow critic Amelia Beamer for her generous suggestions, additions, and revisions throughout this essay.

Works Discussed

Aldiss, Brian W. Forgotten Life (1989)
– Remembrance Day (1993)
– The Twinkling of an Eye (1998)
Aldiss, Brian W., and Harry Harrison. Hell's Cartographers (1975)
Anthony, Piers. Bio of an Ogre (1988)
Asimov, Isaac. I. Asimov (1994)
– In Joy Still Felt (1980)
– In Memory Yet Green (1979)
Ballard, J.G. Crash (1973)
– Empire of the Sun (1981)
Bloch, Robert. Once Around the Bloch (1995)
Bradbury, Ray. Dandelion Wine (1957)
Broderick, Damien. Transrealist Fiction: Writing in the Slipstream of Science (2000)
Dick, Philip K. Valis (1981)
Ford, Jeffrey. "The Honeyed Knot" (2001)
Greenberg, Martin H. Fantastic Lives: Autobiographical Essays by Notable Science Fiction Writers (1981)
Haldeman, Joe. War Year (1972)
Hand, Elizabeth. "Cleopatra Brimstone" (2001)
Keyes, Daniel. Algernon, Charlie and I: A Writer's Journey (1999)
Kelly, James Patrick. "Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain."
Pohl, Frederik. The Way the Future Was (1978)
Rucker, Rudy. "Transrealist Manifesto" (1983)
Straub, Peter. "Bunny is Good Bread" (1994)
– "The Juniper Tree" (1988) – "Fearful Places" (interview). Locus, 546 (July 2006), 7, 78-79. Williamson, Jack. Wonder's Child: My Life in Science Fiction (1984)

Gary K. Wolfe is the author of Soundings, Critical Terms for Science Fiction and Fantasy and The Known and the Unknown: The Iconography of Science Fiction. He is also one of sf's best-known (and best) reviewers, with a monthly column in Locus since 1991. He has received a number of awards, including the Distinguished Scholarship Award from the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts, and the Pilgram Award from the Science Fiction Research Association. He teaches at Roosevelt University in Chicago.

This article first appeared in Vector 249. Back issues of Vector are available from