Robinson, Spider

Spider Robinson, novelist, short-story writer, columnist (b at New York, NY 24 Nov 1948). An award-winning SCIENCE FICTION writer, Spider Robinson was educated at the State University of New York and moved to Canada in 1973. His first novel, Telempath (1976), set on Earth after a devastating epidemic, suggests that humanity's survival depends on its participation in a larger and more diverse community of species and planets; the first 4 chapters of the novel won a Hugo Award as a novella. He won the Hugo and Nebula Awards in 1978, along with his wife and collaborator, Jeanne Robinson, for "Stardance," which became the nucleus for Stardance (1979), a novel whose protagonist helps propel humanity upwards into a galaxy rich with communicating species.

His first published story, "The Guy with the Eyes" (1973), inaugurated his long-running Callahan series, a mixture of comic and serious stories that involve the patrons (humans, aliens and time travellers) of Callahan's saloon. Works in this series include Callahan's Crosstime Saloon (1977), Off the Wall at Callahan's (1994), The Callahan Chronicles (1997), and Callahan's Con (2003). Two further series have spun off from the Callahan books: the Lady Sally's House series and the Mary's Place series. The very popular Callahan books have also produced role-playing and CD-ROM games, and one of the largest USENET groups on the internet.

Robinson is a prolific writer, having produced more than 30 books. His many other works include Mindkillers (1982), set in the crime and computer-ridden world of near-future Halifax, and several story collections, including Melancholy Elephants (1984), whose title story won Robinson a third Hugo Award in 1983. Starmind, co-authored with Jeanne Robinson, was published in 1994, followed by Deathkiller (1997) and User Friendly (1998). Very Bad Deaths (2004) is a dark science fiction thriller set in British Columbia. The Crazy Years (2004) is a collection of essays originally published in Robinson's column, "Future Tense," in the GLOBE AND MAIL.

Variable Star (2006) combines Robinson's story-telling abilities with the ideas of science fiction pioneer Robert A. Heinlein. Robinson was chosen by the Heinlein Prize Trust to create this novel, based on a 7-page story outline written by Heinlein in 1955. Robinson described this writing experience as "the greatest honour and the most terrifying challenge of my career."