Cixin Liu’s latest work, Supernova Era (launching this October & published by Tor Books), begins with a terrifying event—eight light-years from Earth, a dying star explodes into a supernova. Undetected by the world’s astrophysicists, the Earth takes a direct hit from massive waves of radiation, with disastrous effects rippling across the globe.
Author Paolo Bacigalupi’s debut novel, The Windup Girl [published in 2009 by Night Shades Books], celebrates its 10th anniversary this fall. Critically acclaimed, it was named one of the top 10 fiction books in 2009 by TIME Magazine and won the 2010 Nebula Award, the Campbell Memorial Award, and the 2010 Hugo Award in a tie with China Miéville’s The City & the City. The novel has become one of the defining works of biopunk, a sub-genre of science fiction which explores dystopic worlds of genetic manipulation by power brokers.
No matter how you slice and dice author Claire Vaye Watkins, she is an important new voice in literature. Watkins was born in 1984 in Bishop, California to her dynamic mother, Martha Watkins, and her father, Paul Watkins, a former member of the Charles Manson Family. She grew up in the Mohave Desert, in Tecopa, California and Pahrump, Nevada—the desolate landscape a clear influence on her writing. She graduated from the University of Nevada Reno and then earned her MFA from Ohio State University where she was a Presidential Fellow.
Author Mary Doria Russell was born in Elmhurst, Illinois, into a military family, her father a drill instructor in the Marines and her mother a nurse in the Navy. Raised a Catholic, she left the church as a teenager, but the struggle to parse faith and the role of religion is etched into her works. Russell earned an undergraduate degree in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Illinois [Urbana-Champaign], a masters in Social Anthropology at Northeastern University in Boston, and a Ph.D. in Biology Anthropology at the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor.
Never one to be pigeon-holed, Naomi Alderman is a British novelist, game writer, and radio host. Her debut novel, Disobedience, published in 2006, immerses the reader into an Orthodox Jewish community through the eyes of a rabbi’s lesbian daughter. Controversial, the novel was critically acclaimed and the San Francisco Chronicle described the story as “acerbic and self-aware.” The Sunday Times named her their Young Writer of the Year in 2007 and Waterstones included Alderman in their 25 Writers of the Future. Her second novel, The Lessons, was published in 2010 and her third novel, The Liars’ Gospel, followed in 2012. Alderman became the professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University in 2012 and was included in the British Granta list of 20 best young writers in 2013. During the writing of The Power, Margaret Atwood selected Alderman as her protégé as a part of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, an international philanthropic program, pairing masters with emerging talents.
I’m a long-time fan of science fiction. I love the genre in its ability to expand the reader’s mind into the ‘what-if.’ I ran across a review Adam Roberts had published on Margaret Atwood, while I was writing an article on speculative fiction. I ultimately sent the piece to Roberts, and in so doing, discovered his book, The History of Science Fiction.