Peter Soyer Beagle is an American author of novels, nonfiction, and screenplays, especially fantasy fiction. His best-known work is The Last Unicorn (1968), a fantasy novel he wrote in his twenties, which Locus subscribers voted the number five “All-Time Best Fantasy Novel” in 1987. During the last twenty-five years he has won several literary awards including a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 2011. In 2005 Beagle published a coda to The Last Unicorn, a novelette entitled Two Hearts, and began work on a full-novel sequel. Two Hearts won the most prestigious annual awards, the Hugo Award for Best Novelette in 2006 and the parallel Nebula Award in 2007. It was also nominated as a short fiction finalist for the World Fantasy Award. Beagle also received a special Inkpot Award in 2006 for Outstanding Achievement in Science Fiction and Fantasy, and in 2007 the inaugural WSFA Small Press Award for “El Regalo”, published in The Line Between (Tachyon Publications). IDW Publishing released a six-issue comic book adaptation of The Last Unicorn beginning in April 2010. The collected hardcover edition was released in January 2011, premiering at #2 on the New York Times Hardcover Graphic Novel bestseller list. It will be followed by an adaptation of A Fine and Private Place.
Elizabeth Moon is an American science fiction and fantasy author. Her novel The Speed of Dark won the 2003 Nebula Award. Moon began writing professionally in her mid-thirties and had a newspaper column in a county weekly newspaper. In 1986 she published her first science fiction in the monthly magazine Analog and the anthology series Sword and Sorceress. Her stories appeared regularly in Analog the next few years. Her first novel The Sheepfarmer’s Daughter (1988) won the Compton Crook Award and inaugurated the Paksennarrion series. Most of her work has military science fiction themes, although biology, politics and personal relationships also feature strongly. The Serrano Legacy is a space opera. Her Nebula-winning novel The Speed of Dark (2003) is a near-future story told from the viewpoint of an autistic computer programmer, inspired by her own autistic son Michael.
Monte Cook is a professional table-top role-playing game designer and writer. Cook has been a professional game designer since 1988, working primarily on role-playing games. Much of his early work was for Iron Crown Enterprises as an editor and writer for the Rolemaster and Champions lines. Cook worked for Iron Crown Enterprises for four years; two as a freelancer and two as a full-time designer. During this period, he attracted fan and critical attention with the popular multi-genre setting Dark Space. Cook began working for TSR in 1992 as a freelancer, “writing a whole slew of stuff for the old Marvel game that never came out because the game got canceled”. Joining the TSR team, Cook designed Dungeons & Dragons modules such as Labyrinth of Madness (1995) and A Paladin in Hell (1998), and dozens of supplements to the Planescape line including The Planewalker’s Handbook (1996) and Dead Gods (1998). Cook also designed the conspiracy game Dark•Matter (1999).
Philip José Farmer was an American author, principally known for his award-winning science fiction and fantasy novels and short stories. Farmer is best known for his sequences of novels, especially the World of Tiers (1965–93) and Riverworld (1971–83) series. He is noted for the pioneering use of sexual and religious themes in his work, his fascination for, and reworking of, the lore of celebrated pulp heroes, and occasional tongue-in-cheek pseudonymous works written as if by fictional characters. Farmer often mixed real and classic fictional characters and worlds and real and fake authors as epitomized by his Wold Newton family group of books. These tie all classic fictional characters together as real people and blood relatives resulting from an alien conspiracy. Such works as The Other Log of Phileas Fogg (1973) and Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life (1973) are early examples of literary mashup. Literary critic Leslie Fiedler compared Farmer to Ray Bradbury as both being “provincial American eccentrics” … who… “strain at the classic limits of the [science fiction] form”, but found Farmer distinctive in that he “manages to be at once naive and sophisticated in his odd blending of theology, pornography, and adventure”.
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was an English writer, poet, philologist, and university professor, best known as the author of the classic high fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion. Tolkien was Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Pembroke College, Oxford, from 1925 to 1945 and Merton Professor of English Language and Literature there from 1945 to 1959. He was at one time a close friend of C. S. Lewis—they were both members of the informal literary discussion group known as the Inklings. Tolkien was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II on 28 March 1972. After his death, Tolkien’s son Christopher published a series of works based on his father’s extensive notes and unpublished manuscripts, including The Silmarillion. These, together with The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings form a connected body of tales, poems, fictional histories, invented languages, and literary essays about a fantasy world called Arda, and Middle-earth within it. Between 1951 and 1955, Tolkien applied the term legendarium to the larger part of these writings.
Isaac Asimov was an American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books. Asimov was one of the most prolific writers of all time, having written or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards. His works have been published in all ten major categories of the Dewey Decimal System (although his only work in the 100s — which covers philosophy and psychology — was a foreword for The Humanist Way). Isaac Asimov is widely considered a master of hard science fiction and, along with Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke, he was considered one of the “Big Three” science fiction writers during his lifetime. Asimov’s most famous work is the Foundation Series; his other major series are the Galactic Empire series and the Robot series, both of which he later tied into the same fictional universe as the Foundation Series to create a unified “future history” for his stories much like those pioneered by Robert A. Heinlein and previously produced by Cordwainer Smith and Poul Anderson. He wrote many short stories, among them “Nightfall”, which in 1964 was voted by the Science Fiction Writers of America the best short science fiction story of all time. Asimov wrote the Lucky Starr series of juvenile science-fiction novels using the pen name Paul French. The prolific Asimov also wrote mysteries and fantasy, as well as much non-fiction. Most of his popular science books explain scientific concepts in a historical way, going as far back as possible to a time when the science in question was at its simplest stage. He often provides nationalities, birth dates, and death dates for the scientists he mentions, as well as etymologies and pronunciation guides for technical terms. Examples include his Guide to Science, the three volume set Understanding Physics, Asimov’s Chronology of Science and Discovery, as well as numerous works on astronomy, mathematics, the Bible, William Shakespeare’s works and chemistry subjects. Asimov was a long-time member and Vice President of Mensa International, albeit reluctantly; he described some members of that organization as “brain-proud and aggressive about their IQs.” He took more joy in being president of the American Humanist Association. The asteroid 5020 Asimov, a crater on the planet Mars, a Brooklyn, New York elementary school, and one Isaac Asimov literary award are named in his honor.
Fritz Reuter Leiber, Jr. was an American writer (of German extraction) of fantasy, horror and science fiction. He was also a poet, actor in theatre and films, playwright, expert chess player and a champion fencer. Possibly his greatest chess accomplishment was winning clear first in the 1958 Santa Monica Open. With writers such as Robert E. Howard and Michael Moorcock, Leiber can be regarded as one of the fathers of Sword and Sorcery fantasy. But he excelled in all fields of speculative fiction, writing award-winning work in horror, fantasy and science fiction. Leiber was heavily influenced by H. P. Lovecraft and Robert Graves in the first two decades of his career. Beginning in the late 1950s, he was increasingly influenced by the works of Carl Jung, particularly by the concepts of the anima and the shadow. From the mid-1960s onwards, he began incorporating elements of Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces. These concepts are often openly mentioned in his stories, especially the anima, which becomes a method of exploring his fascination with, but estrangement from, the female. Leiber liked cats, which feature prominently in many of his stories. Tigerishka, for example, is a cat-like alien who is sexually attractive to the human protagonist yet repelled by human customs in the novel The Wanderer. Leiber’s “Gummitch” stories feature a kitten with an I.Q. of 160, just waiting for his ritual cup of coffee so that he can become human, too.