Anderson, Barth

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Anderson, Barth

PERSONAL:

Married; children. Education: University of California, San Diego, attended the Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer's Workshop.

ADDRESSES:

Home—MN. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Spectrum Award for best short fiction, 2004, for the short story "Lark till Dawn, Princess."

WRITINGS:

The Patron Saint of Plagues, Bantam Spectra (New York, NY), 2006.

The Magician and the Fool, Bantam Spectra Books (New York, NY), 2008.

Contributor of short fiction to anthologies, including Mojo: Conjure Stories, edited by Nalo Hopkinson, Aspect (New York, NY), 2003; Polyphony, Volume 3, edited by Deborah Layne and Jay Lake, Wheatland Press (Wilsonville, OR), 2003; and Paper Cities: An Anthology of Urban Fantasy, edited by Ekaterina Sedia, Senses Five Press (New York, NY), 2008. Contributor of short fiction to periodicals, including Talebones, New Genres, Strange Horizons, Asimov's, Abyss & Apex, Fortean Bureau, Flytrap, Clarkesworld, Lone Star Stories, and Weird Tales. Also writes food articles for the Mix and Cooperative Grocer. Author of the online journal Daddio.

SIDELIGHTS:

Barth Anderson is a science fiction, fantasy, and horror writer who has written short stories for numerous periodicals and anthologies. His first book, The Patron Saint of Plagues, was called "one of the most impressive debut efforts of the year" by SFFWorld.com Web site contributor Karen Burnham, who noted that the novel "deftly combines … unique and intelligent world-building with a frankly hard to put down thriller plot." A bio-thriller in which people have chips implanted in their brains connected to the central government in Mexico, the novel takes place in the near future where Mexico has undergone an insurrection and weakened the United States, which is no longer a world power. Instead, the United States has become a third-world country whose lands have been left infertile due to factory farming. Rival battles are ongoing over borders, and Ascenscion—formerly known as Mexico City—has grown to be the most populated city in the world. David Pitt, writing in Booklist, noted that "the just-around-the-corner world is very well realized."

In the novel, Sister Domenica is a nun who has enthralled the masses through her secret broadcasts over the airwaves and who predicts a wave of death. The "Sister," however, happens to be a performance artist who underwent a procedure to realign her faith. Her powers of prophecy come through visitations by a strange woman in white whom Sister Domenica thinks could be any number of people, from the Virgin Mary to the ghost of an ancestor. It is this strange apparition who tells her what will come to pass. The question remains, however, whether she is really having visions from a supernatural being or is psychotic because of her surgery. In the meantime, a plague is growing and threatens to develop into a worldwide epidemic. Before long, Sister Domenica's prophecy comes true as Ascenion's hospitals become filled with victims of a deadly fever. A top virus hunter for the American Centers for Disease Control, Henry David Stark, is smuggled into Mexico and to track down the disease's origins and find a way either to cure or to control the epidemic. As he proceeds in his investigation, he discovers that the virus is man-made and that the killer is someone he knows.

In a review of The Patron Saint of Plagues on the SF Crowsnest.com Web site, Phil Jones characterized it as, "overall, an impressive first book" and "more a ‘who done it’ crime thriller with the virus itself a major character." Referring to the novel as "part medical thriller, part speculative fiction, and part apocalyptic prophecy," SF Site Web site contributor Nathan Brazil called the author's first book "a competent, often exciting work, well worth a look if the theme appeals." Other reviewers also praised the book. Calling it "a very ambitious novel," BookLoons Web site contributor Belle Dessler wrote: "Combining a biological threat with a futuristic setting would have been difficult enough, but Anderson goes a step further, turning his depiction of the near-future into a completely different world [from] the one we know."

Anderson's sophomore effort, The Magician and the Fool, revolves around the Tarot, an ancient occult practice to tell the future using a deck a special cards. "Tarot is a tool, like my computer," the author told Darin C. Bradley in an interview for the Strange Horizons Web site. "I don't know how it works, but it works, and I use it every day. Like my computer, Tarot seems magical, but I'm pretty sure it's not. Sorry if I sound blasé, but I've been throwing cards for almost thirty years, so it feels as normal as driving to me. It's not necessarily tied into ‘spirituality’ at all."

In his book, Anderson features Jeremiah Rosemont, a one-time renowned art historian and scholar who has given up academia under a cloud of disgrace. He decides to live a simple nomadic life and is traveling through Central America when a man he does not know offers him a ticket to Rome. Jeremiah accepts and soon finds himself in mysterious surroundings as he walks through a back door at a hotel and discovers strange revelers, including various people from his past. Before long, Jeremiah is involved in a mystery that began with the fall of Troy and involves a hunt for the oldest known tarot deck, a mystical treasure that people are willing to sacrifice fortunes and lives to obtain. In the meantime, in Minnesota a killer from the fourteenth century and an accomplice hunt for the Boy King, a homeless man who has an evil paranormal gift. As Jeremiah continues his quest, he soon finds that his own fate is inescapably intertwined with that of the Boy King. A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that readers "willing to surrender themselves to this talented author's compelling vision will find a fevered dream universe."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, March 15, 2006, David Pitt, review of The Patron Saint of Plagues, p. 32.

Emerald City, April, 2006, Cheryl Morgan, "Day of the Dead," review of The Patron Saint of Plagues.

Publishers Weekly, February 4, 2008, review of The Magician and the Fool, p. 37.

ONLINE

Barth Anderson Home Page,http://www.barthanderson.co (July 8, 2008).

Bloggasm,http://bloggasm.com/ (January 31, 2006), Simon Owens, "Bloggasm Interview: Barth Anderson."

BookLoons,http://www.bookloons.com/ (July 8, 2008), Belle Dessler, review of The Patron Saint of Plagues.

io9,http://io9.com/ (January 25, 2008), "io9 Asks Barth Anderson Why Plague Lit Left SF Behind."

SciFi.com,http://www.scifi.com/ (April 18, 2008), John Jospeh Adams, "Magician Throws Tarot," interview with author.

SciFiDimensions,http://www.scifidimensions.com/ (July 8, 2008), Carlos Aranaga, review of The Patron Saint of Plagues.

SF Crowsnest.com,http://www.sfcrowsnest.com/ (January 9, 2007), Phil Jones, review of The Patron Saint of Plagues.

SFFWorld.comhttp://www.sffworld.com/ (July 8, 2008), Karen Burnham, review of The Patron Saint of Plagues.

SF Site,http://www.sfsite.com/ (July 8, 2008), Nathan Brazil, review of The Patron Saint of Plagues.

Strange Horizons,http://www.strangehorizons.com/ (May 1, 2006), Darin C. Bradley, "Interview: Barth Anderson."

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