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Frankowski, Leo 1943–

Frankowski, Leo 1943–

PERSONAL: Born February 13, 1943, in Detroit, MI; son of Leo Stanley (a bar owner) and Agnes (a bartender; maiden name, Kulczynski) Frankowski; married; children: one daughter. Politics: "Closet libertarian." Religion: "Born-again pagan."

ADDRESSES: Home—Tver, Russia. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Baen Books, P.O. Box 1403, Riverdale, NY 10471.

CAREER: Writer and businessperson. Sterling Manufacturing and Design, Utica, MI, owner, president, and designer, c. 1977–2001; StarDate magazine, owner; Reluctant Publishing Ltd., president and editor, Grand Duchy of Avalon Foundation, founder.

Previously worked in more than one hundred positions, including bartender, engineer, karate instructor, electrician, welder, janitor, mechanic, computer and real estate salesman, school administrator, gardener, and industrial controls designer. Military service: U.S. Air Force, 1963–66; became airman first class.

MEMBER: Mensa, Society for Creative Anachronism, Science Fiction Fandom, Science Fiction Writers of America, National Science Fiction Writers Exchange, Michigan Writers Guild.

AWARDS, HONORS: Waterloo Award, National Science Fiction Writer's Exchange, 1985, for "The Story of Thadeause Wolczynski"; Nebula Award nomination from Science Fiction Writers of America, 1986, for The Cross-Time Engineer.

WRITINGS:

"CONRAD STARGARD" SERIES; SCIENCE FICTION

The Cross-Time Engineer, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1986.

The High-Tech Knight, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1987.

The Radiant Warrior, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1987, published as Conrad Stargard: The Radiant Warrior, Baen (Riverdale, NY), 2004.

Conrad's Time Machine: A Prequel to the Adventures of Conrad Stargard, Baen (Riverdale, NY), 2002.

Conrad's Lady (includes the novels The Flying Warlord, The Lord Conrad's Lady, and Conrad's Quest for Rubber), Baen (Riverdale, NY), 2005.

Series includes the novels The Flying Warlord, 1989; The Lord Conrad's Lady, 1990; and Conrad's Quest for Rubber, 1998 (see above).

OTHER SCIENCE-FICTION NOVELS

Copernick's Rebellion, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1987.

A Boy and His Tank, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1999.

The Fata Morgana, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1999.

(With Dave Grossman) The War with Earth, Baen (Riverdale, NY), 2003.

(With Dave Grossman) Kren of the Mitchegai, Baen (Riverdale, NY), 2004.

(With Dave Grossman) The Two-Space War, Baen (Riverdale, NY), 2004.

SIDELIGHTS: Science-fiction writer Leo Frankowski told CA: "Writing is a pleasant trade. You can do it anywhere, any time. You don't have to put up with illiterate customers or rush-hour traffic. All sorts of things are deductible, and it is possible, once established, to make a decent living at it. My main motivation is to sell my work to satisfied readers."

Frankowski added: "Current history texts leave the student with the impression that the Americas didn't exist before 1492, that the Middle East was unpopulated between the Fall of Babylon and 1960, and that Eastern Europe somehow materialized in time for World War I. Well, my ancestors assure me that Eastern Europe was there all along.

"While the monarchs of England and France were fighting their senseless dynastic wars, Poland resisted invasions by the Huns, the Tartars, the Kipchaks, the Turks, and the Lithuanians—the roughest of the bunch. From the fourteenth through the seventeenth centuries, Poland was the largest country in Europe, with the largest military forces and the highest cultural standards. Some of my motivation for writing has been to get this across to the American public.

"I also want to show what engineering is about. What is it exactly that these engineers do? How do they do it, and what do they think about it? People seem to think that engineering has something to do with science. It doesn't. Science is an essentially religious endeavor, trying to find out how the world was made. Engineering concerns itself with small, practical problems. Scientists and engineers have been on speaking terms for only the last fifty years, and they still don't do it very often.

"Engineering has even less to do with mathematics. Oh, engineers have been trained in math for the last century, but they rarely use it unless experimentation is expensive—as in the space shuttle program. The pyramids, the cathedrals, and the automobile were largely built without anything more than arithmetic.

"All the engineers do is solve small problems, generally without much fanfare or even much planning, doing things in a mundane, work-a-day fashion. Yet cumulatively, their work has been ultimately responsible for all human progress, even that in politics, science, and the fine arts. Without the products designed by engineers, 98 percent of humanity would be dead—or rather, would never have existed at all. The few of us left would not find our lives to be very uplifting."

In his novel A Boy and His Tank, Frankowski sets his story on New Kashubia where Mickolai Derdowski gets his girlfriend pregnant, which leads to his arrest by the leaders of the planet and a death sentence unless he decides to fight in the New Kashubia military. The novel follows Mickolai's adventures as he fights in a tank controlled by a supercomputer that can also create virtual realities called the "Dream World" for those inside the tank. This virtual reality is used for training as well as the tank operator's own wished-for realities. As a result, it can be difficult for the tank's human operator to tell the difference between reality and virtual reality. Writing on the SFSignal Web site, a reviewer called the effort "a fun book well worth the read," adding, "By mixing virtual reality with military sf, the book had a distinctly likable flavor and Frankowski's to-the-point writing style was well suited to making this adventure story come alive." Frankowski collaborated with Dave Grossman for the sequel titled The War with Earth, in which Mickolai discovers that all his earlier battles were not real and all his fallen comrades are alive only to be sent this time into a real battle. Don D'Ammassa, writing in the Chronicle, called the book "a reasonably entertaining quasi-military SF novel."

The Fata Morgana tells the story of two engineering entrepreneurs who discover the island of Westria when their yacht gets caught in a storm. Once there, however, they are caught up in a battle among the island country's religious and scientific adherents. A Publishers Weekly contributor commented: "Frankowski has a knack for writing amenable prose with enjoyable characters." Frankowski collaborated with Grossman again for The Two-Space War, in which a crew that travels on wooden spaceships with sails find themselves caught between two warring space empires. D'Ammassa, writing in the Chronicle, gave the book "high points for creativity and wry humor."

Frankowski is also the author of a series of novels featuring Conrad Stargard, including Conrad's Time Machine: A Prequel to the Adventures of Conrad Stargard. The hero's real name is Conrad Schwartz and is an engineer and Air Force veteran. In this installment of his adventures, Conrad and friends discover the plans for a time machine. Writing in the Library Journal, Jackie Cassada wrote that the book is "raucously funny and thoughtfully sobering." Booklist contributor Regina Schroeder called the book "satisfying weekend reading." In Conrad Stargard: The Radiant Warrior, Conrad is sent back to 1231 AD and is chased by Teutonic knights in Poland. A Library Bookwatch contributor noted that in the book "medieval Poland comes alive."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Analog Science Fiction-Science Fact, February, 1988, Tom Easton, review of Copernick's Rebellion, p. 190.

Booklist, September 1, 2002, Regina Schroeder, review of Conrad's Time Machine: A Prequel to the Adventures of Conrad Stargard, p. 70.

Chronicle, October, 2003, Don D'Ammassa, review of The War with Earth, p. 40; June, 2004, Don D'Ammassa, review of The Two-Space War, p. 40.

Internet Bookwatch, February, 2005, review of Conrad Stargard: The Radiant Warrior.

Library Bookwatch, February, 2005, review of Conrad Stargard: The Radiant Warrior.

Library Journal, August, 1999, Jackie Cassada, review of The Fata Morgana, p. 148; September 15, 2002, Jackie Cassada, review of Conrad's Time Machine, p. 97.

Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, January, 1990, Algis Budrys, review of The Radiant Warrior, p. 48; January, 1990, Algis Budrys, review of The High-Tech Knight, p. 48; May, 1990, Algis Budrys, review of The Flying Warlord, p. 48.

Publishers Weekly, February 22, 1999, review of A Boy and His Tank, p. 71; July 26, 1999, review of The Fata Morgana, p. 67; August 12, 2002, review of Conrad's Time Machine, p. 282.

Wilson Library Bulletin, June, 1989, Don Sakers, review of The High-Tech Knight, p. 108.

ONLINE

Fantastic Fiction, http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/ (November 3, 2005), information on author's works.

Leo Frankowski Home Page, http://leofrankowski.com (October 5, 2005).

SFSignal, http://www.sfsignal.com/ (October 5, 2005), review of A Boy and His Tank.

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