Open main menu

Spider Robinson (born November 24, 1948) is an American-born Canadian science fiction author. He has won a number of awards for his hard science fiction and humorous stories.[1]

Spider Robinson
Spider Robinson with wife Jeanne Robinson at the 2004 Necronomicon.
Spider Robinson with wife Jeanne Robinson at the 2004 Necronomicon.
Born (1948-11-24) November 24, 1948 (age 70)
The Bronx, New York City, New York, US
OccupationAuthor
GenreScience fiction

Contents

Early life and educationEdit

Robinson was born in the Bronx, New York City, New York.[2] He attended a Catholic high school, spending his junior year in a seminary, followed by two years in a Catholic college, and five years[3] at the State University of New York at Stony Brook in the 1960s,[4] earning a Bachelor of Arts in English. While at Stony Brook, Spider entertained at campus coffeehouses and gatherings, strumming his guitar and singing in harmony with his female partner.[5] It was at this time that his friends, at his request, stopped calling him "Robbie" and gave him the nickname "Spider", which he adopted as his official first name.[6][7]

CareerEdit

In 1971, just out of college, Robinson took a night job guarding sewers in New York City[8] and, wanting a career change, began writing science fiction. He made his first short-story sale in 1972 to Analog Science Fiction magazine.[8] The story, "The Guy with the Eyes" (Analog February 1973), was set in a bar called Callahan's Place; Robinson would, off-and-on, continue to write stories about the denizens of Callahan's into the 21st century. The stories have been collected into a number of published books.[9][10]

In 1973 Robinson moved to Nova Scotia and began writing full-time.[2] He made several short-story sales to Analog, Galaxy Science Fiction magazine and others, earning the John Campbell Award for best new writer in 1974.[2]

In 1975 he married Jeanne Robinson, a choreographer, dancer, and Sōtō Zen monk,[11] with whom he later co-wrote the Stardance Trilogy.

He worked as a book reviewer for Galaxy magazine during the mid-to-late 1970s. In 1978–79 he contributed book reviews to the original anthology series Destinies.

Robinson's first published novel, Telempath (1976), was an expansion of his Hugo award-winning novella "By Any Other Name".[2] Over the following three decades, Robinson on average released a book a year, including short story anthologies. In 1996–2005, he served as a columnist in the Op-Ed section (and briefly in the technology section) of The Globe and Mail.

In 1992 Robinson was master-of-ceremonies at the Hugo Awards at WorldCon in Florida.[12]

In 2004, Robinson began working on a seven-page 1955 novel outline by the late Robert A. Heinlein to expand it into a novel. The book, titled Variable Star, was released on September 19, 2006. Robinson had previously written of his admiration for Heinlein in his 1980 essay "Rah, Rah, R.A.H.!" in the 1998 "Mentors", and in his book The Free Lunch.[13]. In an afterword to Variable Star he recounts the story of how reading Rocket Ship Galileo and soon after Heinlein's other t after other Heinlein juvenile novels helped set the direction for his life. Early in Robinson's career, Heinlein also helped to support Robinson financially during an especially difficult period, even though the two disagreed about US participation in the war in Vietnam.

Robinson is also an admirer of mystery writer John D. MacDonald. Lady Sally McGee, from the Callahan's series, is apparently named in honor of Travis McGee, the central character in MacDonald's mystery novels.[citation needed] The lead character in Lady Slings The Booze frequently refers to Travis McGee as a role model. In Callahan's Key the patrons make a visit to the marina near Fort Lauderdale where the Busted Flush was usually moored in the McGee series. On Robinson's website there is a photo of him "at the address (now demolished) of 'The Busted Flush,' home of John D. MacDonald’s immortal character Travis McGee: Slip F-18, Bahia Mar Marina, Fort Lauderdale FL."[14] Similarly important to Robinson is writer Donald E. Westlake[15] and Westlake's most famous character, John Archibald Dortmunder.

Personal lifeEdit

Robinson has resided in Canada for nearly 40 years, primarily in the provinces of Nova Scotia and British Columbia. He and his wife Jean had a daughter, Terri Luanna da Silva, who once worked for Martha Stewart.[16] and one granddaughter.

After living in Vancouver for a decade,[17] he moved to Bowen Island in about 1999.[5] He became a Canadian citizen in 2002, retaining his American citizenship.[18] Jeanne underwent treatment for biliary cancer, and died May 30, 2010.[19] Their daughter Terri died on December 5, 2014, of breast cancer.[20]

Robinson suffered a heart attack on August 31, 2013, but recovered. Due to the health issues faced by his family he has not published a novel since 2008. In 2013, Robinson reported on his website that work on his next book Orphan Stars was progressing, albeit slowly.[21] Concurrently, he has begun work on his autobiography.[22]

He has been named a Guest of Honor at the 76th World Science Fiction Convention in 2018.[23]

Published worksEdit

Novels and collections of linked storiesEdit

The following table can be sorted by any column.
Year Title Co-Author Series Notes
1976 Telempath
1977 Callahan's Crosstime Saloon Callahan's/Jake Stonebender Collection of linked stories
1979 Stardance Jeanne Robinson Stardance Trilogy
1981 Time Travelers Strictly Cash Callahan's/Jake Stonebender Collection of linked stories; also contains several non-Callahan's stories
1982 Mindkiller Deathkiller Trilogy
1985 Night of Power
1986 Callahan's Secret Callahan's/Jake Stonebender Collection of linked stories
1987 Time Pressure[24][25] Deathkiller Trilogy
1989 Callahan's Lady Lady Sally's
1991 Starseed Jeanne Robinson Stardance Trilogy
1992 Lady Slings the Booze Lady Sally's An excerpt from Lady Slings the Booze was published in a special edition novella called Kill the Editor in 1991.
1993 The Callahan Touch Callahan's/Jake Stonebender
1995 Starmind Jeanne Robinson Stardance Trilogy
1996 Callahan's Legacy Callahan's/Jake Stonebender
1997 Lifehouse Deathkiller Trilogy
2000 Callahan's Key Callahan's/Jake Stonebender
2001 The Free Lunch
2003 Callahan's Con Callahan's/Jake Stonebender
2004 Very Bad Deaths Russell Walker
2006 Variable Star Robert A. Heinlein Based on an outline Heinlein prepared in 1955.
2008 Very Hard Choices Russell Walker

Omnibus volumesEdit

  • Callahan and Company (1988) - (omnibus edition of Callahan's Crosstime Saloon, Time Travelers Strictly Cash, and Callahan's Secret)
  • Off the Wall at Callahan's (1994) - (a collection of quotes from books in the Callahan's/Lady Sally series)
  • The Callahan Chronicals (1997) - (retitled republication of Callahan and Company)
  • The Star Dancers (1997) (with Jeanne Robinson) (omnibus edition of Stardance and Starseed)

Short story collectionsEdit

  • Antinomy (1980)
  • Melancholy Elephants Penguin (1984 - Canada; 1985 - United States)[26]
  • True Minds (1990)
  • User Friendly (1998)
  • By Any Other Name (2001)
  • God Is an Iron and Other Stories (2002)
  • My Favorite Shorts (2016; e-book only)

As editorEdit

  • The Best of All Possible Worlds (1980) - collection of works by other authors edited and introduced by Robinson
  • Compostela" Tesseracts 20 - with James Alan Gardner[27]

DiscographyEdit

  • Belabouring the Obvious (2000)

Collected essaysEdit

  • The Crazy Years: Reflections of a Science Fiction Original (2004), a collection of his articles for The Globe and Mail

Awards and honorsEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ James H. Marsh (1999). The Canadian Encyclopedia. The Canadian Encyclopedia. p. 2117. ISBN 978-0-7710-2099-5.
  2. ^ a b c d David Ketterer (1992). Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy. Indiana University Press. pp. 79–80. ISBN 0-253-33122-6.
  3. ^ Robinson, Spider. The Crazy Years, "School Will Be Ending, Next Month" p. 107.
  4. ^ Robinson, Spider. The Crazy Years, "Buzzed High Zonked Stoned Wasted" p. 44.
  5. ^ a b Robinson, Spider. "Spider Robinson's Bio". SpiderRobinson.com. Retrieved October 13, 2016.
  6. ^ "Spider Robinson talks about...callahan's, usenet & becoming spider". January Magazine.
  7. ^ Maura Heaphy (2010). 100 Most Popular Science Fiction Authors: Biographical Sketches and Bibliographies. Libraries Unlimited. pp. 353–354. ISBN 978-1-59158-746-0.
  8. ^ a b Robinson, Spider (1977). Callahan's Place. Tor. p. 9. ISBN 0-8125-7227-0.
  9. ^ "Callahan's Con". SF Site, book review by Alma A. Hromic
  10. ^ "Callahan’s Con". Quill & Quire, review by Robert Wiersema
  11. ^ Robinson, Spider. The Crazy Years, "You Just Can't Kill for Jesus/Allah/Jahweh/Rama/Elvis…" p.123, "Starsong on My Desktop" p. 219.
  12. ^ Camille Bacon-Smith (2000). Science Fiction Culture. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 61. ISBN 0-8122-1530-3.
  13. ^ "The Free Lunch". Publisher's Weekly review.
  14. ^ Robinson, Spider. "Panels and conventions from years-gone-by". SpiderRobinson.com. Retrieved October 13, 2016.
  15. ^ "Spider Robinson". SFFaudio.com. Retrieved October 13, 2016.
  16. ^ Robinson, Spider. The Crazy Years, "Lay Off the Lady" p. 105.
  17. ^ Robinson, Spider. The Crazy Years, "I Want a Really Interactive Newspaper" p. 78.
  18. ^ Robinson, Spider. The Crazy Years, "Citizen Keen" p. 53–55.
  19. ^ "Spider Robinson's official website". Retrieved 2009-09-02.
  20. ^ "Graceful Woman Warrior". Retrieved 2014-12-27.
  21. ^ Robinson, Spider (14 September 2013). "Spider's Online Diary". Spider Robinson. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  22. ^ Beairsto, Bronwyn (16 August 2018). "Spider Robinson's star shines in Worldcon's sci-fi universe". Bowen Island Undercurrent (Online Newspaper). Retrieved 11 January 2019.
  23. ^ "Joy and Pun-ishment: Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon by Spider Robinson". Bowen Island Undercurrent, Alan Brown, Sep 28, 2017
  24. ^ Robert A. Collins; Robert Latham (1988). Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Review Annual. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 41. ISBN 978-0-88736-249-1.
  25. ^ Alan Hedblad (1 January 2001). Something About the Author: Facts and Pictures About Authors and Illustrators of Books for Young People. Gale / Cengage Learning. p. 177. ISBN 978-0-7876-4036-1.
  26. ^ The Malahat Review. University of Victoria. 1984. p. 121.
  27. ^ "2018 Aurora Awards Winners". Locus Mag, October 8, 2018
  28. ^ R. Reginald; Douglas Menville; Mary A. Burgess (1 September 2010). Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature. Wildside Press LLC. pp. 767–. ISBN 978-0-941028-76-9.
  29. ^ "Forry Award Winners". lasfsinc.info. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
  30. ^ JoPhan (August 20, 2016). "San José to Host 2018 Worldcon". Worldcon.org. Retrieved October 13, 2016.

External linksEdit

Two Facebook Groups dedicated to Spider Robinson : "Friends of Mike Callahan" and "Callhan's Crosstime Saloon" .