Banks, Michael A. 1951-

views updated

BANKS, Michael A. 1951-

PERSONAL: Born March 21, 1951, in Princeton, IN; son of James and V. Sue (Galloway) Banks; children: one son, one daughter. Education: Studied engineering. Politics: Republican. Religion: "Episcopalian and Lutheran." Hobbies and other interests: Travel (both foreign and domestic), dogs (especially Siberian Huskies), industrial architecture, genealogy, classic cars, music (including rhythm and blues, blues, bluegrass, and late 1960s rock), freemasonry and Scottish Rite masonry, smokers' rights, mystery fiction, science fiction, model building, Scuba diving, Shorinryu karate, model rocketry, stamp and coin collecting, politics.

ADDRESSES: Home—P.O. Box 825, Oxford, OH 45056.

CAREER: Freelance writer and editor, 1981–; Computer Shopper, contributing editor, 1985–92; Windows, contributing editor, 1990–92. Served two terms as an elected official in Clermont County, OH, 1988–92. Military service: U.S. Air Force.



Be an Interplanetary Spy (juvenile; in "Ultraheros" series), Bantam (New York, NY), 1984.

(With Dean R. Lambe) The Odysseus Solution, Baen Books (New York, NY), 1986.

(With Mack Reynolds) Joe Mauser: Mercenary from Tomorrow, Baen Books (New York, NY), 1986.

(With Mack Reynolds) Sweet Dreams, Sweet Princes, 1986.


Understanding Science Fiction, Silver Burdett (Morristown, NJ), 1982.

(With Robert L. Cannon) The Rocket Book: A Guide to Building and Launching Model Rockets for Teachers and Students of the Space Age, Prentice-Hall (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1985.

(Compiler) Second Stage: Advanced Model Rocketry, Kalmbach Books (Milwaukee, WI), 1985, published as Advanced Model Rocketry, 1997.

Countdown: The Complete Guide to Model Rocketry, Tab Books (Blue Ridge Summit, PA), 1985.

DELPHI: The Official Guide, Prentice-Hall (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1987, revised edition, 1990.

The Modem Reference (also known as The Modem Book), Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1988, published as The Modem Reference: The Complete Guide to Selection, Installation, and Applications, Brady (New York, NY), 1991, 4th edition published as The Modern Reference, 4th Edition: The Complete Guide to PC Communications, Cyber-Age Books (Medford, NJ), 2000.

Getting the Most out of DeskMate 3, Brady (New York, NY), 1989, revised edition, 1990.

(With Ansen Dibell) Word Processing Secrets for Writers, Writer's Digest Books (Cincinnati, OH), 1989.

Quick and Easy Guide to REFLEX, Version 2, Compute! Books (Radnor, PA), 1990.

Understanding FAX and Electronic Mail, H. W. Sams (Carmel, IN), 1990.

Portable Communications: The Traveling Executive's Survival Guide, Brady (New York, NY), 1992.

Portable Power, Brady (New York, NY), 1992.

Welcome to—CompuServe for Windows, MIS Press (New York, NY), 1992.

Windows Shareware Book, John Wiley (New York, NY), 1992.

(With Jerry Pournelle) Pournelle's PC Communications Bible: The Ultimate Guide to Productivity with a Modem, Microsoft Press (Redmond, WA), 1992.

The WordPerfect Shareware Book, John Wiley (New York, NY), 1993.

Modem and Communication Madness!, H. W. Sams (Carmel, IN), 1995.

One-Stop CompuServe for Windows, MIS Press (New York, NY), 1996.

Web Psychos, Stalkers, and Pranksters, Coriolis Group Books (Scottsdale, AZ), 1997.

The Internet Unplugged: Utilities and Techniques for Internet Productivity … Online and Off, Pemberton Press (Wilson, CT), 1997.

The Modem Reference Guide: The Complete Guide to PC Communications, CyberAge Books/Information Today (Medford, NJ), 2000.

PC Confidential: Secure Your PC and Privacy from Snoops, Spies, Spouses, Supervisors, and Credit Card Thieves, with CD-ROM, Sybex (San Francisco, CA), 2000.

Web Psychos: And Other Horror Stories from the Net, 2003.

How to Become a Fulltime Freelance Writer: A Practical Guide to Setting Up a Successful Writing Business at Home, Writer Books (Waukesha, WI), 2003.

Also author of guidebooks and user manuals for software and consumer products. Contributor to books, including The Writer's Digest Guide to Word Processing, Writer's Digest Books (Cincinnati, OH) 1985; How to Write Tales of Horror, Science Fiction, and Fantasy, Writer's Digest Books (Cincinnati, OH), 1988; Handbook of Short Story Writing, Writer's Digest Books (Cincinnati, OH), 1988; PC Protection: The Complete PC Security Resource, Bantam, 1989; and The Beginner's Guide to Getting Published, Writer's Digest Books (Cincinnati, OH), 1994. Contributor of more than 3,000 articles to periodicals, including Age, Antique Week, Analog Science Fiction, Christian Reader, Computing Today, Popular Computing, Good Housekeeping, Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction, Omni, and Science.

SIDELIGHTS: Michael A. Banks combined an early interest in science fiction and rocketry with a growing expertise in the complex world of electronic communications. His published work includes science fiction novels, a text on science fiction, and numerous technical books intended to help the lay person make his or her way through the maze of software, shareware, and modems.

Banks's first book, Understanding Science Fiction, was published in 1982 for an audience of students and teachers. It was followed by three books in one year on the subject of model rocketry. Like Understanding Science Fiction and his later nonfiction books, these works gave evidence of Banks's continuing interest not only in technology, but in education.

Banks took a turn toward fiction with the novel The Odysseus Solution, written with Dean R. Lambe, an experienced science fiction reviewer. In the novel, a birdlike race of aliens, wishing to occupy Earth, has given human beings a treacherous gift in the form of matter duplicators. These devices wreck the human economy and, with the aid of the aliens' military might, civilization itself. The hero, Brent Erlanger, stumbles into an underground resistance movement, and the bulk of the book is devoted to his step-by-step initiation into their secrets. Tom Easton, of Analog, viewed the book's premise as "a nice twist on the old theme of alien invasion," and called the book "a good, fast read in the fine old tradition of Astounding/Analog with rather fewer implausibilities than we often see." Mark Apollo, of Voice of Youth Advocates, labeled the novel "action packed."

Meanwhile, Banks's career as a computer expert was proceeding, and he was to concentrate on that in the late 1980s and 1990s. When his The Modem Reference was published in 1988, science fiction writer and computer columnist Jerry Pournelle declared in BYTE magazine that Banks had compiled a complete guide to modems and their uses, and added, "It's the best reference work on small computer communications I know of." Pournelle mentioned, too, that if he had read the book when he himself was first learning how to use a modem, he would have saved himself "considerable trouble." The book has gone through several editions since its original publication.

Pournelle and Banks became coauthors for Pournelle's PC Communications Bible: The Ultimate Guide to Productivity with a Modem, in which both authors' considerable understanding of modems was applied to new developments in that field. Over the years, Banks's versatile expertise has also led him to write a book called Word Processing Secrets for Writers, which Library Journal reviewer Robin Kaplan called "well written," although Kaplan felt that the book was not as different from other word-processing manuals, or as specifically targeted to professional writers, as its title claimed. In addition, Banks has authored several books on how to use specific software programs, including CompuServe for Windows, DELPHI, Desk-Mate 3, and REFLEX, version 2.



American Reference Books Annual, 2001, review of The Modem Reference, 4th Edition: The Complete Guide to PC Communications, p. 697.

Analog, September, 1986, Tom Easton, review of The Odysseus Solution, pp. 183-184.

Booklist, May 15, 1996, p. 1557.

BYTE, May, 1988, Jerry Pournelle, review of The Modem Reference, p. 196.

Database, April-May, 1998, Margareta S. Knauff, review of The Internet Unplugged: Utilities and Techniques for Internet Productivity … Online and Off, p. 89.

Information Technology and Libraries, March, 1998, Scott Nicholson, review of The Internet Unplugged, p. 51.

Information Today, December, 2000, review of The Modem Reference, 4th Edition, p. 64.

Library Journal, March 15, 1989, Robin Kaplan, review of Pournelle's PC Communications Bible: The Ultimate Guide to Productivity with a Modem, p. 76.

New Technical Books, September, 1994, p. 4; April 5, 1995, p. 4.

Reference and Research Book News, February, 1999, review of The Internet Unplugged, p. 186.

Science Fiction Review, May, 1986, pp. 48-49.

Voice of Youth Advocates, June, 1986, Mark Apollo, review of The Odysseus Solution, p. 86.

About this article

Banks, Michael A. 1951-

Updated About content Print Article