Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. was a 20th-century American writer. His works such as Cat’s Cradle (1963), Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), and Breakfast of Champions (1973) blend satire, gallows humor, and science fiction. As a citizen he was a lifelong supporter of the American Civil Liberties Union and a critical leftist intellectual. He was known for his humanist beliefs and was honorary president of the American Humanist Association. Vonnegut’s first short story, “Report on the Barnhouse Effect” appeared in the February 11, 1950 edition of Collier’s (it has since been reprinted in his short story collection, Welcome to the Monkey House). His first novel was the dystopian novel Player Piano (1952), in which human workers have been largely replaced by machines. He continued to write short stories before his second novel, The Sirens of Titan, was published in 1959. Through the 1960s, the form of his work changed, from the relatively orthodox structure of Cat’s Cradle (which in 1971 earned him a Master’s Degree) to the acclaimed, semi-autobiographical Slaughterhouse-Five, given a more experimental structure by using time travel as a plot device. These structural experiments were continued in Breakfast of Champions (1973), which includes many rough illustrations, lengthy non-sequiturs and an appearance by the author himself, as a deus ex machina.
Neil Richard MacKinnon Gaiman, born Neil Richard Gaiman, is an English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, audio theatre and films. His notable works include the comic book series The Sandman and novels Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, and The Graveyard Book. He has won numerous awards, including the Hugo, Nebula, and Bram Stoker awards, as well as the Newbery and Carnegie medals. He is the first author to win both the Newbery and the Carnegie medals for the same work, The Graveyard Book (2008). As a child and a teenager, Gaiman read the works of C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Lewis Carroll, James Branch Cabell, Edgar Allan Poe, Michael Moorcock, Ursula K. Le Guin, Harlan Ellison, Rudyard Kipling, Lord Dunsany and G. K. Chesterton. He later became a fan of science fiction, reading the works of authors as diverse as Alan Moore, Samuel R. Delany, Roger Zelazny, Robert A. Heinlein, H. P. Lovecraft, Thorne Smith, and Gene Wolfe. In the early 1980s, Gaiman pursued journalism, conducting interviews and writing book reviews, as a means to learn about the world and to make connections that he hoped would later assist him in getting published. He wrote and reviewed extensively for the British Fantasy Society. His first professional short story publication was “Featherquest”, a fantasy story, in Imagine Magazine in May 1984.
Lois McMaster Bujold is an American author of science fiction and fantasy works. Bujold is one of the most acclaimed writers in her field, having won the prestigious Hugo Award for best novel four times, matching Robert A. Heinlein’s record. Her novella The Mountains of Mourning won both the Hugo Award and Nebula Award. In the fantasy genre, The Curse of Chalion won the Mythopoeic Award for Adult Literature and was nominated for the 2002 World Fantasy Award for best novel, and both her fourth Hugo Award and second Nebula Award were for Paladin of Souls. In 2011 she was awarded the Skylark Award. The bulk of Bujold’s works are part of three separate book series: the Vorkosigan Saga, the Chalion Series, and the Sharing Knife series.
David Mark Weber is an American science fiction and fantasy author. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Weber began writing while in fifth grade. His first published novels grew out of his work as a war game designer for the Task Force game Starfire. Weber wrote short stories set in the Starfire universe for Task Force Games’ Nexus magazine, and wrote the Starfire novel Insurrection (1990) with Stephen White after Nexus was cancelled; this book was the first in a tetrology that continued through their last collaboration, The Shiva Operation (2002), which made the New York Times bestseller list. His novels range from epic fantasy (Oath of Swords, The War God’s Own) to space opera (Path of the Fury, The Armageddon Inheritance) to alternate history (1632 series with Eric Flint) to military science fiction with in-depth characterization. A lifetime military history buff, David Weber has carried his interest of history into his fiction. He is said to be interested in most periods of history, with a strong emphasis on the military and diplomatic aspects of it.
Walter Jon Williams is an American writer, primarily of science fiction. As Jon Williams, he designed the game Heart of Oak (1982) and Privateers and Gentlemen (1983) for Fantasy Games Unlimited. A Cyberpunk RPG sourcebook called Hardwired (1989) was licensed by R. Talsorian Games, based on the 1986 novel of the same name by Williams. Several of Williams’ novels have a distinct cyberpunk feel to them, notably Hardwired (also an homage to Roger Zelazny’s novel Damnation Alley), Voice of the Whirlwind and Angel Station. However, he has explored a number of different styles and genres, including farce (e.g., the Majistral series), postcyberpunk space opera (Aristoi), military science fiction (Dread Empire’s Fall series), alternative history (Wall, Stone, Craft), science fantasy (Metropolitan and City on Fire), disaster thriller (The Rift), a Star Wars novel (The New Jedi Order: Destiny’s Way) and historical adventure (Privateers and Gentlemen series), and police procedural (Days of Atonement), usually in a science fiction context. He has also contributed to some of the Wild Cards cooperative novels.
Chris Carter is an American television and film producer, director and writer. Born in Bellflower, California, Carter graduated with a degree in journalism from California State University, Long Beach before spending thirteen years working for Surfing Magazine. After beginning his television career working on television films for Walt Disney Studios, Carter rose to fame in the early 1990s after creating the science fiction television series The X-Files for the Fox network. The X-Files earned high viewership ratings, and led to Carter being able to negotiate the creation of future series. Carter went on to create three more series for the network—Millennium, a doomsday-themed series which met with critical approval and low viewer numbers; Harsh Realm, which was canceled after three episodes had aired; and The Lone Gunmen, a spin-off of The X-Files which lasted for a single season. Carter’s film roles include writing both of The X-Files’ cinematic spin-offs—1998’s successful The X-Files and the poorly received 2008 follow-up The X-Files: I Want to Believe, the latter of which he also directed—while his television credits have earned him several accolades including eight Primetime Emmy Award nominations.
Michael John Nelson is a U.S. comedian and writer, most famous for his work on the cult television series Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K). Nelson was the head writer of the series for most of the show’s 11-year run, and spent half of that time playing the on-air host, also named Mike Nelson. In addition to writing books, Mike is currently part of the online movie riffing sites RiffTrax and The Film Crew alongside fellow MST3K alumns, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy. Nelson was working as a waiter at T.G.I. Friday’s and doing occasional stand-up comedy when he was offered a job on Mystery Science Theater 3000, typing the suggestions in the writing room. The writers told him to feel free to make some comments on the movies they were watching, and Nelson impressed them so much with both his wit and comedic timing that they made him a staff writer (and, later, head writer). When series originator and host Joel Hodgson decided to leave the show half-way through the fifth season, he chose Nelson as his replacement — reportedly because he thought Nelson was a natural leader, a gifted comedian as well as a gifted muse, and also that Nelson simply looked good standing next to the show’s puppets.