Happy birthday Nancy Kress!

Nancy Kress between Delia Sherman and Ellen Datlow
Nancy Kress between Delia Sherman and Ellen Datlow

Nancy Anne Koningisor (photo ©Catriona Sparks) – this is her birth name – was born on January 20, 1948, in Buffalo, New York, USA.

After graduating in English, Nancy Kress worked for a few years as a teacher. In 1973 she married Michael Joseph Kress, with whom she had two sons. Their marriage ended in 1984 but she kept the surname.

Nancy Kress’s career as a writer began in 1976, for a few years with a production of short fiction. Her first novel, “The Prince of Morning Bells”, of the fantasy genre was published in 1981 and subsequently revised and republished in 2000.

Nancy Kress’s first science fiction novel was “An Alien Light”, published in 1988. The great success came for her after the publication of the novella “Beggars in Spain” in 1991, which won the Hugo and Nebula awards. It was expanded into a novel with the same title published in 1993.

In the following years, the novel had some sequels in what was called the Sleepless series with the novels “Beggars and Choosers” in 1994 and “Beggars Ride” in 1996 and with the novelette “Sleeping Dogs” in 1999. This cycle shows the typical elements of Nancy Kress since the scientific element is important but the author also develops its consequences and the characters a lot.

The theme of genetic engineering is present again in the first novel featuring FBI agent Robert Cavanaugh, “Oaths and Miracles” (1996). Nancy Kress adds thriller elements to a work that had a sequel in the 1998 novel “Stinger” and in the short story “Plant Engineering” in 2001.

In 1998, Nancy Kress married her colleague Charles Sheffield. Their marriage lasted until her husband’s death.

Meanwhile, Nancy Kress had begun a new cycle, called Probability, inspired by the novelette “The Flowers of Aulit Prison” (1996), winner of the Nebula award. The cycle consists of the novels “Probability Moon” (2000), “Probability Sun” (2001), and “Probability Space” (2002).

The 2003 novel “Crossfire” is something different for Nancy Kress since it’s about a human colony on a distant planet and a contact with alien species. The novel had a sequel, “Crucible”, in 2004.

In the following years, Nancy Kress published both novels and short fiction winning other awards such as the Nebula for her 2007 novella “Fountain of Age” and for her 2012 novella “After the Fall, Before the Fall”.

In 2014, Nancy Kress published the novella “Yesterday’s Kin”, later used as the first part of her 2017 novel “Tomorrow’s Kin”. Two sequels, “If Tomorrow Comes” and “Terran Tomorrow”, are already scheduled to be published in 2018.

Throughout her career, Nancy Kress showed how the division between hard and soft science fiction can be difficult writing many stories based on scientific concepts, often genetic engineering, using them to tell the consequences of the society of their developments. It’s one of the skills that made her a writer of great value and appreciated by the public.

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