Czerneda, Julie E(lizabeth) 1955-

views updated

CZERNEDA, Julie E(lizabeth) 1955-

PERSONAL: Surname is pronounced Chur-nay-da; born April 11, 1955, in Exeter, Ontario, Canada; daughter of Everett Norman and Joy Margaret (Lace) Starink; married Roger Henry Czerneda (a computer consultant), July 24, 1976; children: Jennifer Lynn,

Scott Aleksander. Education: University of Waterloo, B.Sc. (with honors), 1976; graduate study at University of Saskatchewan, 1976-78, and Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, 1978. Hobbies and other interests: Wilderness camping, rocketry, collecting books, gardening, reading.

ADDRESSES: Home—4008 Martindale Crescent, Orillia, Ontario, Canada L3V 6H2. E-mail—julie. [email protected].

CAREER: University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, senior demonstrator in biology, 1979-82; writer and editor, 1985—; Czerneda Publishing, Inc., president, 1991-98. Conducts workshops on nontraditional careers for women, science fiction, science education, and publishing.

MEMBER: Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Ratepayers Association, Orillia and Coldwater Girls' Hockey Association, Leacock Association.

AWARDS, HONORS: Grants from Ontario Arts Council, 1991-92; Science-Fiction Book Club Editor's Choice award and Locus Recommended First Novel award, both 1997, both for A Thousand Words for Stranger; Science Fiction Book Club Editor's Choice award, 1998, for Beholder's Eye, 1999, for Ties of Power, and 2000, for Changing Vision; John W. Campbell Award finalist, 1999, for best new writer; Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, science-fiction category, finalist, 1999, for Ties of Power, winner, 2001, for In the Company of Others, and nominee, 2002, for To Trade the Stars; Prix Aurora Award finalist, long-form English 1999, and 2001, finalist, short-form English, 2001, for Beholder's Eye, Changing Vision, and "Down on the Farm", winner, long-form English, for In the Company of Others, winner, short-form English, for "Left Foot on a Blind Man," both awarded 2002; Philip K. Dick Award finalist for distinguished science-fiction, 2001, for In the Company of Others; Nebula preliminary ballot nominee, for Beholder's Eye, and 2003 for In the Company of Others.


"trade pact universe" series

A Thousand Words for Stranger, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1997.

Ties of Power, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1999.

To Trade the Stars, DAW Books (New York, NY), 2002.

"web shifters" series

Beholder's Eye, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1998.

Changing Vision, DAW Books (New York, NY), 2000.

Hidden in Sight, DAW Books (New York, NY), 2003.

"tales from the wonder zone" series

(Editor) Stardust, Trifolium Books (Markham, Ontario, Canada), 2001.

(With Annette Griessman) Science from the Wonder Zone, Trifolium Books (Markham, Ontario, Canada), 2001.

(Editor) Explorer, Trifolium Books (Markham, Ontario, Canada), 2002.

(Editor) Stardust: Teacher's Guide, Trifolium Books (Markham, Ontario, Canada), 2002.

(Editor) Orbiter, Trifolium Books (Markham, Ontario, Canada), 2002.

(With Annette Greissman) Stardust, Explorer, Orbiter: Teacher's Resources, Trifolium Books (Markham, Ontario, Canada), 2002.

science fiction

In the Company of Others, DAW Books (New York, NY), 2001.

(Editor) Space Inc. (story anthology), DAW Books (New York, NY), 2003.

Short fiction represented in anthologies, including First Contact, edited by Martin Greenberg and Larry Segriff, DAW Books, 1997, and Silicon Dreams, edited by Martin Greenberg and Larry Segriff, DAW Books, 2001.


Science Probe Nine, with teacher's guide, Wiley Canada, 1986, 2nd edition, 1993, published as Science Probe One, South-Western Publishing (Cincinnati, OH), 1996.

Science Explorations Ten, Wiley Canada, 1987, teacher's guide, 1988.

Science Dimensions Eight, Heath Canada, 1991.

Science Dimensions Nine, Heath Canada, 1992.

Science Dimensions Nine Investigations, Heath Canada, 1993.

By Design: Technology, Integration, and Exploration, Trifolium Books (Markham, Ontario, Canada), 1996.

All Aboard: Cross-Curricular Design and Technology Activities and Strategies, Trifolium Books (Markham, Ontario, Canada), 1996.

Take a Technowalk to Learn about Structures and Materials, Trifolium Books (Markham, Ontario, Canada), 1996.

(Editor and contributor) Packing Fraction and Other Tales of Science and Imagination, Trifolium Books (Markham, Ontario, Canada), 1998.

No Limits: Developing Scientific Literacy Using Science Fiction, Trifolium Books (Markham, Ontario, Canada), 1998.

"career connections" series

Great Careers for People Interested in Living Things, U*X*L* (Detroit, MI), 1993.

Career Connections: Teacher Resource Bank, Trifolium Books (Markham, Ontario, Canada), Volume I, 1993, Volume II, 1995, Volume III, 1997.

Great Careers for People Who Like to Work with Their Hands, Trifolium Books (Markham, Ontario, Canada), 1994.

(With Victoria Vincent) Great Careers for People Interested in Communications Technology, U*X*L* (Detroit, MI), 1995.

(Contributor) Great Careers for People Fascinated by Government and the Law, U*X*L (Detroit, MI), 1995.

Author of teachers' materials.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Species Imperative: Survival, 2004, Species Imperative: Migration, 2005, and The Stratification, Books 1 and 2 (prequels to "Trade Pact Universe" trilogy), all for DAW Books.

SIDELIGHTS: Nonfiction writer-editor and science-fiction author Julie E. Czerneda is a former researcher in animal communication and behavioral evolution. Her first science-fiction book, A Thousand Words for Stranger, recieved a Locus Recommended First Novel Award. In an interview with Kim Fawcett of the online SF Site, Czerneda explained that by the time she started writing science fiction, she had "a drawer filled with different manuscripts and ideas." Since her first book was published, these ideas have spawned several science fiction series plus the stand-alone novel In the Company of Others.

Czerneda told Fawcett, "My passion for science is the source of many things I put in my fiction and explore through storytelling." While she writes about the far future in her novels, the author has set some of her short stories in the near future. "I'm a sense of wonder person," she explained. "Writing about the far future lets me rip loose from the here and now in every way I want to imagine. I can have settings and aliens that let me pour out my own curiosity about what might be."

"Writing science fiction has always been something I use to let my imagination get out and have fun," Czerneda once revealed to CA. "A Thousand Words for Stranger started as a way to play with some biological concepts I was researching, namely evolution and population dynamics. I wondered how experiencing rapid evolution might affect a sentient species. I gave such a species, the Clan, an inheritable ability so desirable that they made every effort to enhance it. I linked this ability (telepathy/teleportation) to a biologically hard-wired selection process, making the 'cost' of increasing this ability rise geometrically with each generation. The story takes place as the Clan's evolution is about to hit the biological wall, and not all the powers at their command can save them. This discovery is made by one individual who struggles to over-come Clan xenophobia about other species, Strangers, in order to seek a solution. It was fun to write, especially when the characters took over the plot and surprised me! In a sense the same has happened to me, since I am now happily writing science fiction full-time and science looks to become my hobby!"

After her success with A Thousand Words for Stranger, Czerneda published an unrelated novel, Beholder's Eye, which introduces the character Esen, whom Czerneda described to CA as "a semi-immortal, accident-prone shapeshifter who has to confront the ultimate predator and still keep her identity secret." As the youngest among only a few survivors of her kind, Esen is sent to another world, where she is captured and must reveal her abilities to a human in order to escape. Her people are now in danger of extinction at the hands of the Enemy.

Book two of the "Web Shifters" series, Changing Vision, is set fifty years after Beholder's Eye. Here, Esen and her human friend, Paul Ragem, are living quietly on the Fringe, with Esen assuming the shape of a Lishcyn named Esolesy Ki. The two have formed a successful export business on a Fringe planet. Soon, however, they are thrown into interplanetary conflict, and Esen is forced to assume a number of identities to cover their tracks as they try to prevent massive war. Donna Scanlon, in a review for the online magazine Rambles, commented on Czerneda's use of humor throughout the book and wrote, "Czerneda keeps the various plot threads going at a furious pace, keeping the reader guessing and engaged." Scanlon also praised the author's use of "vivid, three-dimensional characterizations." Hidden in Sight, book three of the "Web Shifters" Series, was published in 2003.

With A Thousand Words for Stranger, Czerneda began her "Trade Pact Universe" trilogy. Book two of the series is Ties of Power, in which the Clan's powerful "Chooser," Sira, finds love with a telepathic human, Jason Morgan. As the two go into exile to live together, the Clan seeks to reclaim Sira's genetic heritage to further its evolution.

In 2002 Czerneda returned to the "Trade Pact Universe" trilogy, completing the third and final novel, To Trade the Stars. In this book Sira has become the Speaker for the Clan council as the Clan becomes a member of the Trade Pact in hopes that cooperating with humanity will save the race from extinction. Traveling to distant planets with her telepathic human mate, Jason Morgan, on their trading ship, Silver Fox, Sira leaves to help a friend while the ship is docked for repairs and finds herself in the hands of Jason's mortal enemies. Jason embarks on a search for her, and the two become entangled in a conflict that could destroy non-space. Harriet Klausner, reviewing the book for Paranormal Romance Reviews online, expressed delight with the book and called Czerneda's "Trade Pact Universe" "one of the top science-fiction series of the new millennium." Donna Scanlon in Rambles was pleased with the way Czerneda uses "interludes" to move the story from one set of characters to another; she also thought the author's use of back story is just enough to refresh series fans and brief new readers. Satisfied with the way the trilogy ends but sad to leave the beloved characters behind, Scanlon assured fans: "You can take joyful consolation in knowing that finishing the trilogy means that Czerneda is probably developing a new and wonderful world to visit in the future."

Taking a break from her two series, in 2001 Czerneda published a stand-alone novel, In the Company of Others, in which humans have created terraform colonies on several planets only to discover that a small, once-harmless alien life form has become deadly. The Quill, worn by some colonists as a bracelet for its soothing effect, now kills anyone landing on the planets. Hundreds of humans are stranded on space stations as planet Earth closes its doors for fear of contamination by the Quill. Two generations later, university researcher Gail Smith travels from Earth to the Thromberg space station in search of Aaron Pardell, the one man who was able to survive contact with the Quill. She hopes to solve the mystery of the alien life form and its devastating capabilities, but her presence activates a volatile political and social situation on the space stations. James Seidman, writing for the SF Site, called the novel "well-researched and technically believable." Harriet Klausner, in a review for Book-Browser, touted it as "a big juicy novel … populated by complex and diverse characters." In an online review for Under the Covers, R. F. Briggs commented on the novel's "intricate plot and fascinating inter-personal/socio-political machinations." Michael E. Picray, in a review for AllSciFi, wrote, "You can almost feel the wind on a virgin planet, and want to laugh and cry at the triumphs and frustrations as you read this book."

Apart from her science-fiction novels, Czerneda has written a number of books for the science classroom. One is No Limits: Developing Scientific Literacy Using Science Fiction, published in 1998. Czerneda once told CA, "No Limits comes from workshops I've been doing for more than five years on using science fiction in classrooms, sometimes as part of English class, but most often part of 'science and society' topics. It was a logical extension to go from science to storytelling concepts, but it turned out to be even more fun to see what happened when I took the students from analyzing the scientific premise of a story to critically examining popular science articles. They carried through critical reading skills, for example no longer viewing what was written as facts in isolation from authorship or context. It was a painless inroad to scientific literacy. To accompany No Limits as a teacher's resource, I needed stories with strong science content, yet suited to classroom use. Library science-fiction collections in most schools I visited just didn't cut it. I was very fortunate to have the enthusiastic support of several well-known science-fiction authors, including Robert J. Sawyer and world-renowned scientist and author Dr. Charles Sheffield, who wrote original short stories for a companion student anthology, Packing Fraction and Other Tales of Science and Imagination."

Beginning in 2001, Czerneda edited a series of anthologies of original science-fiction stories by various authors relating to elementary level science topics. With the series title "Tales from the Wonder Zone," each collection is geared toward a particular grade's curriculum. Thus far in the series are the titles Stardust, Explorer, and Orbiter, all complete with teacher's guides. Czerneda has also coauthored the series teacher's guide, Science from the Wonder Zone, with Annette Griessman.

Stardust contains five stories covering different topics. "Alien Games" deals with robotics, pulleys and gears, and friction as a boy and girl build a toy robot to retrieve their ball from an alien city. "Through the Looking Glass" delves into the properties of light as an inventor discovers his new liquid glass can slow light's movement. "The Doom of Planet D" covers the ecological balance and interdependence of all life, seen through the eyes of futuristic explorers who discover a dead planet. The former inhabitants selected only "cute" animals to survive, upsetting that balance and destroying their world. "Catching Rays" is about the use of the spectrophotometer and telescope to observe distant objects in the sky: a young girl and her friend become the first to realize that a new star is really an approaching spaceship. "Shine" deals with the transformation of energy into light and heat and the forming of colors as a boy's science project becomes a fantasy involving computers and fireflies. A thorough teacher's guide accompanies the anthology, with a CD-ROM for printing handouts and lots of support material. Rosemary Anderson of Resource Links concluded, "This is an interesting resource that blends what is with what if. It is definitely worth investigating for use in the science curriculum."

In her SF Site interview with Fawcett, Czerneda said of science fiction: "When I was in school, SF was this amazing discovery I made on my own, a wonder-filled explosion of ideas hidden in obscure parts of the library. When I grew up, and became a biologist, SF was still there, only I was using it to explore ideas of my own—many based on the science I was doing each day." Asked about science literacy and its importance to readers today and tomorrow, Czerneda said, "I'm fond of the comparison that in our changing culture, science fiction readers (and writers) are the ones who will continue to recognize the landscape."



Analog Science Fiction and Fact, July-August, 1999, Tom Easton, reviews of Packing Fraction and Other Tales of Science and Imagination and No Limits: Developing Scientific Literacy Using Science Fiction, p. 228.

Book Report, January, 1994, review of Great Careers for People Interested in Living Things, p. 54.

Canadian Book Review Annual, 1994, reviews of Great Careers for People Who Like to Work with Their Hands and Great Careers for People Interested in Living Things, p. 533.

CM: A Reviewing Journal of Canadian Materials for Young People, November, 1993, review of Great Careers for People Interested in Living Things and Career Connections: Teacher Resource Bank, Volume 1, p. 219.

Kliatt, September, 2001, review of In the Company of Others, p. 21.

Kliatt Young Adult Paperback Book Guide, January, 1999, review of Beholder's Eye, p. 16.

Locus, October, 1999, review of Ties of Power, p. 27.

Quill & Quire, October, 1998, review of Beholder's Eye, p. 43.

Resource Links, December, 1999, review of Packing Fraction, p. 25, review of No Limits, p. 34; April, 2002, Rosemary Anderson, review of Stardust ("Tales from the Wonder Zone"), p. 19.

School Library Journal, January, 1994, review of Great Careers for People Interested in Living Things, p. 118; November, 1996, review of Great Careers for People Interested in Communications Technology, p. 129.

Science Fiction Chronicle, July, 1998, review of A Thousand Words for Stranger, p. 43; August, 1999, review of Packing Fraction, p. 45.

Teacher Librarian, October, 1999, review of No Limits, p. 51.

Voice of Youth Advocates, June, 1999, review of Beholder's Eye, p. 108.


AllSciFi, Michael E. Picray and Harriet Klausner, reviews of In the Company of Others.

BookBrowser, (April 6, 2001), Harriet Klausner, review of In the Company of Others.

Books 'n' Bytes, (August 5, 2002) Harriet Klausner, review of In the Company of Others.

Julie E. Czerneda Web site, (September 8, 2003).

Paranormal Romance Reviews, (May 15, 2002) Harriet Klausner, review of To Trade the Stars.

Rambles, (February 25, 2003), Donna Scanlon, review of Changing Vision; (August 31, 2002), Donna Scanlon, review of To Trade the Stars.

SF Site, (October, 2000) Kim Fawcett, "A Conversation with Julie E. Czerneda," and James Seidman, review of In the Company of Others.

Under the Covers, (April 7, 2002), R. F. Briggs, review of In the Company of Others.

About this article

Czerneda, Julie E(lizabeth) 1955-

Updated About content Print Article