Eugene Wesley “Gene” Roddenberry was an American television screenwriter, producer and futurist. He is best known for creating the original Star Trek television series and thus the Star Trek science fiction franchise. Born in El Paso, Texas, Roddenberry grew up in Los Angeles, California where his father worked as a police officer. Roddenberry flew 89 combat missions in the United States Army Air Forces during World War II, and worked as a commercial pilot after the war. Later he followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the Los Angeles Police Department to provide for his family, but began to focus on writing scripts for television. As a freelance writer, Roddenberry wrote scripts for Highway Patrol, Have Gun–Will Travel and other series, before creating and producing his own television series The Lieutenant. In 1964, Roddenberry created Star Trek, which premiered in 1966 and ran for three seasons before being canceled. Syndication of Star Trek led to increasing popularity, and Roddenberry continued to create, produce and consult on the Star Trek films and the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation until his death. In 1985 he became the first TV writer with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame:110 and he was later inducted by both the Science Fiction Hall of Fame and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame. Years after his death, Roddenberry was one of the first humans to have his ashes “buried” in outer space.
James Francis Cameron is a Canadian film director, film producer, deep-sea explorer, screenwriter, and editor. He first found success with the science-fiction hit The Terminator (1984). He then became a popular Hollywood director and was hired to write & direct Aliens (1986) and three years later followed up with The Abyss (1989). He found further critical acclaim for his use of special effects in the action packed blockbuster Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). After his film True Lies (1994) Cameron took on his biggest film at the time Titanic (1997) which won the Academy Award for Best Picture and him the Academy Award for Best Director and Film Editing. After Titanic, Cameron began a project that took almost 10 years to make, his science-fiction epic Avatar (2009), for which he was nominated for Best Director and Film Editing again. In the time between making Titanic and Avatar, Cameron spent several years creating many documentary films (specifically underwater documentaries) and co-developed the digital 3D Fusion Camera System. Described by a biographer as part-scientist and part-artist, Cameron has also contributed to underwater filming and remote vehicle technologies. On March 26, 2012, Cameron reached the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the ocean, in the Deepsea Challenger submersible. He was the first person to do this in a solo descent, and only the third person to do so ever.
Robert Fleming Rankin is a prolific British humorous novelist. Born in Parsons Green, London, he started writing in the late 1970s, and first entered the bestsellers lists with Snuff Fiction in 1999, by which time his previous eighteen books had sold around one million copies. His books are a mix of science fiction, fantasy, the occult, urban legends, running gags, metafiction, steampunk and outrageous characters. According to the (largely fictional) biography printed in some Corgi editions of his books, Rankin refers to his style as ‘Far Fetched Fiction’ in the hope that bookshops will let him have a section to himself. Many of Rankin’s books are bestsellers. Most of Rankin’s books are set in Brentford, a suburb of London where the author grew up, and which, in his novels, is usually infested with alien conspiracies and/or ancient evil.
Stanley Kubrick was an American film director, writer, producer, and photographer who lived in England during most of the last four decades of his career. Kubrick was noted for the scrupulous care with which he chose his subjects, his slow method of working, the variety of genres he worked in, his technical perfectionism, his reluctance to talk about his films, and his reclusiveness regarding his personal life. He maintained almost complete artistic control, making movies according to his own whims and time constraints, but with the rare advantage of big-studio financial support for all his endeavors. Kubrick’s father taught him chess at age twelve, and the game remained a lifelong obsession. He also bought his son a Graflex camera when he was thirteen, triggering a fascination with still photography. As a teenager, Kubrick was interested in jazz, and briefly attempted a career as a drummer. While still in high school, he was chosen as an official school photographer for a year. In 1946, since he was not able to gain admission to day session classes at colleges, he briefly attended evening classes at the City College of New York (CCNY) and then left. Eventually, he sought jobs as a freelance photographer, and by graduation, he had sold a photographic series to Look magazine. Kubrick supplemented his income by playing chess “for quarters” in Washington Square Park and various Manhattan chess clubs. He became an apprentice photographer for Look in 1946, and later a full-time staff photographer. (Many early [1945–50] photographs by Kubrick have been published in the book Drama and Shadows [2005, Phaidon Press] and also appear as a special feature on the 2007 Special Edition DVD of 2001: A Space Odyssey.)
Cory Efram Doctorow is a Canadian-British blogger, journalist, and science fiction author who serves as co-editor of the weblog Boing Boing. He is an activist in favour of liberalising copyright laws and a proponent of the Creative Commons organization, using some of their licences for his books. Some common themes of his work include digital rights management, file sharing, and “post-scarcity” economics. Doctorow began selling fiction when he was 17 years old and sold several stories followed by publication of his story “Craphound” during 1998. Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, Doctorow’s first novel, was published during January 2003, and was the first novel released under one of the Creative Commons licences, allowing readers to circulate the electronic edition as long as they neither made money from it nor used it to create derived works. The electronic edition was released simultaneously with the print edition. During March 2003, it was re-released with a different Creative Commons licence that allowed derivative works such as fan fiction, but still prohibited commercial usage. It was nominated for a Nebula Award, and won the Locus Award for Best First Novel during 2004. A semi-sequel short story named Truncat was published on Salon.com in August 2003. Doctorow’s other novels have been released with Creative Commons licences that allow derived works and prohibit commercial usage, and he has used the model of making digital versions available, without charge, at the same time that print versions are published.
Robert Anson Heinlein was an American science fiction writer. Often called “the dean of science fiction writers”, he was one of the most influential and controversial authors of the genre. He set a high standard for science and engineering plausibility and helped to raise the genre’s standards of literary quality. He was one of the first writers to break into mainstream, general magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post, in the late 1940s, with unvarnished science fiction. He was among the first authors of bestselling, novel-length science fiction in the modern, mass-market era. For many years, Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke were known as the “Big Three” of science fiction. Heinlein was a notable writer of science-fiction short stories, and he was one of a group of writers who were groomed in their writing by John W. Campbell, Jr. the editor of Astounding magazine—though Heinlein himself denied that Campbell influenced his writing to any great degree. Within the framework of his science fiction stories, Heinlein repeatedly integrated recognizable social themes: The importance of individual liberty and self-reliance, the obligation individuals owe to their societies, the influence of organized religion on culture and government, and the tendency of society to repress non-conformist thought. He also examined the relationship between physical and emotional love, explored various unorthodox family structures, and speculated on the influence of space travel on human cultural practices. His iconoclastic approach to these themes led to wildly divergent perceptions of his works and attempts to place mutually contradictory labels on his work. His 1961 novel Stranger in a Strange Land put him in the unexpected role of a pied piper of the sexual revolution, and of the counterculture, and through this book he was credited[who?] with popularizing the notion of polyamory. Heinlein won Hugo Awards for four of his novels; in addition, fifty years after publication, three of his works were awarded “Retro Hugos”—awards given retrospectively for years in which Hugo Awards had not been awarded. He also won the first Grand Master Award given by the Science Fiction Writers of America for his lifetime achievement. In his fiction, Heinlein coined words that have become part of the English language, including “grok” and “waldo”, and popularized the term “TANSTAAFL”.
Harry Norman Turtledove is an American novelist who has produced works in several genres including alternate history, historical fiction, fantasy and science fiction. Turtledove has been dubbed “The Master of Alternate History”. Within that genre he is known both for creating original alternate history scenarios such as survival of the Byzantine Empire or an alien invasion in the middle of the Second World War and for giving a fresh and original treatment to themes previously dealt with by many others, such as the victory of the South in the American Civil War and of Nazi Germany in the Second World War. His novels have been credited with bringing alternate history into the mainstream. His style of alternate history has a strong military theme with scenes of combat happening throughout many of his works.