Happy birthday Michael Bishop!

Michael Lawson Bishop was born on November 12, 1945, in Lincoln, Nebraska, USA. His father was in the military so while growing up he spent a lot of time in various countries where he was serving.

After earning a master’s degree in English at the University of Georgia, Michael Bishop started working as a teacher. In 1969 he married Jeri Ellis Whitaker and in the following years, their son Jamie and their daughter Stephanie were born. In those years he also began his career as a writer, initially part-time and full-time since 1974.

The story “If Flower Could Eclipse” 1970 was the first of the so-called UnNu (Urban Nucleus) sequence, set in Atlanta in a future where many cities are covered by a dome. Over the years, Michael Bishop published various stories set in that fictional universe including the novel “A Little Knowledge” in 1977.

In 1973, Michael Bishop published his novella “Death and Designation Among the Asadi”, where you can already see the characteristics of that phase of the author’s career with a particular interest in the anthropological side of the story. This novella became the first part of the novel “Transfigurations” in 1979.

The anthropological trend continued with “A Funeral for the Eyes of Fire” in 1975, subsequently revised and republished in 1980 as “Eyes of Fire”, “And Strange At Ecbatan The Trees” in 1976, “Stolen Faces” in 1977 up to “No Enemy But Time” in 1982, which won the Nebula Award.

Meanwhile, a contact with Ian Watson led to a collaboration with Michael Bishop in the writing of the novel “Under Heaven’s Bridge”, published in 1981, linked to the UnNu sequence even if it’s an autonomous work.

In 1983, Michael Bishop published his novella “Her Habiline Husband”, which won the Locus Award. It became the first part of the novel “Ancient of Days” in 1985, in which he addresses in a sometimes opposite way various themes seen in “No Enemy But Time”.

In the following years, Michael Bishop expanded his activities to other literary genres. For example, in 1984 he published the horror novel “Who Made Stevie Crye?”. In 1987 he published “The Secret Ascension”, later republished as “Philip K. Dick is Dead, Alas”, an homage to Philip K. Dick. “Unicorn Mountain” (1988) is a fantasy. “Count Geiger’s Blues: A Comedy” (1992) can be considered science fiction but has strong satirical tones. “Brittle Innings” (1994) is a kind of sequel to Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”.

In 1998, the first result of the collaboration between Michael Bishop and Paul Di Filippo was published: the mystery novel “Would It Kill You To Smile?”, the first in the Will Keats series published under the pseudonym Philip Lawson. This was followed by “Muskrat Courage” in 2000, collected together with the previous one in “Families are Murder” in 2005.

Michael Bishop has never been a particularly prolific author and because he’s been writing stories of various genres for quite some time is often overlooked by science fiction readers. However, the level of speculation, especially anthropological, in his stories is always very intriguing and makes you forgive occasional plausibility limits so he deserves more attention.

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