Hambly, Barbara 1951-
HAMBLY, Barbara 1951-
PERSONAL: Born August 28, 1951, in San Diego, CA. Education: University of California at Riverside, M.A. (medieval history); also studied at University of Bordeaux, France. Hobbies and other interests: Karate.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Del Rey Books, 201 East 50th St., New York, NY 10022.
CAREER: Freelance writer. Has worked as a research assistant, high school teacher, and karate instructor.
MEMBER: Science Fiction Writers of America (president, 1994-96).
The Quirinal Hill Affair, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1983, published as Search the Seven Hills, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1987.
Dragonsbane, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1986.
Those Who Hunt the Night, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1988, published as Immortal Blood, Unwin (London, England), 1988.
Beauty and the Beast (novelization of television script), Avon (New York, NY), 1989.
Song of Orpheus (novelization of television script), Avon (New York, NY), 1990.
Stranger at the Wedding, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1994, published as Sorcerer's Ward, HarperCollins (London, England), 1994.
Bride of the Rat God, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1994.
Traveling with the Dead (sequel to Those Who Hunt the Night), Del Rey (New York, NY), 1995.
Star Wars: Children of the Jedi, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1995.
Star Wars: Planet of Twilight, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1997.
Dragonshadow (sequel to Dragonsbane), Del Rey (New York, NY), 1999.
Knight of the Demon Queen (sequel to Dragonshadow), Del Rey (New York, NY), 2000.
(With Marc Scott Zicree) Magic Time, EOS (New York, NY), 2001
Sisters of the Raven, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2002.
The Time of the Dark, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1982.
The Walls of Air, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1983.
The Armies of Daylight, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1983.
Mother of Winter, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1996.
Icefalcon's Quest, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1998.
"SUN WOLF" SERIES
The Ladies of Mandrigyn, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1984.
The Witches of Wenshar, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1987.
The Unschooled Wizard, (includes The Ladies of the Mandrigyn and The Witches of Wenshar), Doubleday (New York, NY), 1987.
The Dark Hand of Magic, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1990.
The Rainbow Abyss, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1991.
Magicians of the Night, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1992.
Sun-Cross (includes The Rainbow Abyss and Magicians of the Night), Guild America, 1992.
"WINDROSE CHRONICLES" SERIES
The Silent Tower, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1986.
The Silicon Mage, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1988.
Darkmage (includes The Silent Tower and The Silicon Mage) Doubleday, 1988.
Dog Wizard, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1993.
"STAR TREK" SERIES
Ishmael: A Star Trek Novel, Pocket Books (New York, NY) 1985.
Ghost Walker, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1991.
Crossroad, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1994.
"BENJAMIN JANUARY" SERIES
A Free Man of Color, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 1997.
Fever Season, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 1998.
Graveyard Dust, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 1999.
Sold down the River, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2000.
Die upon a Kiss, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Wet Grave, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Days of the Dead, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2003.
(Editor) Women of the Night, Warner Aspect, 1994.
(Editor) Sisters of the Night, Warner Aspect, 1995.
Contributor of short fiction to anthologies and other publications, including Xanadu 2, edited by Jane Yolen and Martin H. Greenberg, 1994; South from Midnight, Southern Fried Press, 1994; Sandman: Book of Dreams, 1996; and War of Worlds: Global Dispatches, 1996. Also author of scripts for animated cartoons.
SIDELIGHTS: While prolific novelist Barbara Hambly pens primarily sword-and-sorcery fantasies, she also writes in a variety of other genres: everything from vampire stories to mysteries to science fiction. Her novels include Dragonshadow, about a couple who must free their young son from a band of demons who have entered the human dimension to feed on the magic of dragons, wizards, and other fantastic creatures; she has also enjoyed success with a series of historical mysteries featuring the free black man Benjamin January as he makes his way in pre-Civil War America. In addition, Hambly has created novelizations based on characters from popular films and television shows, among them Beauty and the Beast, Star Wars, and Star Trek. Considered a gifted storyteller, she has garnered a wide readership, and critics have praised her work. "Hambly's writing is witty and fast-paced," wrote Elizabeth Hand in the Washington Post Book World, while David Langford, in a St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers essay, remarked that Hambly "has a special talent for reclaiming and reworking familiar themes of fantasy, making them over into a seamless gestalt which is very much her own."
Hambly saw her writing career take shape in 1982 with publication of The Time of the Dark, the first book in her "Darwath" series. The series centers on a race of flying creatures known as the Dark Ones. Determined to take over a parallel Earth, the Dark Ones force graduate student Gil Patterson and auto mechanic Rudy Solis to defend the human race. Michael W. McClintock, reviewing The Time of the Dark in Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Review, found some faults, but wrote that Hambly "draws Gil and Rudy effectively, and the plot shows at least the possibility of interesting development." In contrast, Susan L. Nickerson in Library Journal described The Time of the Dark as a "heart stopping" and "unusually effective" fantasy work. The Walls of Air continues the adventure of Rudy and Gil, who have been taken to the Dark Ones' parallel world and transformed into a wizard and an elite guard respectively. While reviews for this novel were also mixed, Nickerson praised The Walls of Air for its "brisk action" and a feeling of impending menace which "keeps the reader deeply involved." The Armies of Daylight and Mother of Winter continue the "Darwath" saga, the latter novel drawing praise from a Publishers Weekly contributor who found "the story . . . involving, and the narrative intelligent."
In 1988 Hambly crafted a London-based vampire story with an odd twist: vampires as victims. Those Who Hunt the Night deals with a mysterious being who opens the coffins of vampires, exposing the nightstalkers to lethal sunlight and killing them as it drinks the vampire's blood. A frightened vampire enlists the help of ex-secret agent James Asher to find the culprit. Susan M. Schuller, writing in Voice of Youth Advocates, stated that Hambly "delves into vampire lore with gusto, detailing the lust for blood and the killing urge among the undead." Traveling with the Dead continues the adventures of Asher and his wife, Lydia, who battle together to prevent an alliance between human governments and the living dead. A Library Journal critic believed that Traveling with the Dead "captures both the subtle ambiance of turn-of-the-[twentieth-]century political intrigue and the even more baroque pathways of the human and the inhuman heart." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly remarked that Hambly's "vivid portraits" of the vampires "allow them to emerge as memorable personalities distinct from the viewpoints they represent."
Hambly has gained a strong following among mystery readers with her series of historical novels begun with 1997's A Free Man of Color. Set in early-nineteenth-century New Orleans, the book follows the exploits of Benjamin January, a free Creole with dark brown skin. January, a trained surgeon and pianist, returns to Louisiana after living in Paris and promptly becomes a murder suspect. Hambly does extensive research in preparation for each installment in the series, and her attention to detail pays off handsomely for readers. Marilyn Stasio, in the New York Times Book Review, praised A Free Man of Color as a "stunning first mystery"; Dick Adler described the novel in Chicago's Tribune Books as "magically rich and poignant." Commenting on Hambly's "seductive," detailed plots and vivid settings, Stasio maintained that Hambly paints her antebellum New Orleans setting as "a city that glitters with the sinister beauty of a snake."
In Fever Season, the second novel in the "Benjamin January" series, Hambly's talented musician/physician/sleuth works at a New Orleans charity hospital at a time when the city is in the grip of a cholera epidemic. January also realizes that free men of color are disappearing, and his investigations into the matter lead to a horrifying conclusion. According to a Publishers Weekly critic, Fever Season is "complex in plotting, rich in atmosphere, and written in powerful, lucid prose." A Booklist reviewer also praised the novel, calling it "rich, intense, and eye-opening."
January returns in several more novels by Hambly, among them Graveyard Dust, Die upon a Kiss, and Days of the Dead. In Graveyard Dust he confronts the power of Voodoo while attempting to free his sister from a murder rap and protect a young child from abuse. The year is 1834, and the free black man must also deal with racism and the still-raging cholera outbreak devastating New Orleans in a novel praised by a Publishers Weekly contributor for its "emotional authenticity, varied cast and rich historical trappings." Music enters the mix in Die upon a Kiss as pianist January performs in a production of the opera Othello with the orchestra of an opera company whose Italian cast members seem marked for murder. While noting that the plot is sometimes confusing, a Publishers Weekly contributor praised Hambly's "exquisite evocation" of the "exotic culture and menacing politics of antebellum New Orleans." Murder and mayhem continue to cross January's path in Days of the Dead, as the black sleuth and his new wife, Rose, travel south to Mexico to help a friend suspected of murder. January's efforts to exonerate his friend for the murder of the son of wealthy and eccentric Don Prospero de Castellon make for a characteristically intricate plotline in which Hambly introduces readers to a Mexico that a Publishers Weekly contributor described as "frighteningly alive, from its rampant poverty and self-serving politicians to the nation's preoccupation with and devotion to its dead." Praising not only Days of the Dead but the entire "Benjamin January" series, David Pitt noted in Booklist that Hambly's black protagonist is among the mystery genre's "most unusual and interesting protagonists" in a series that is tantamount to "literary time travel."
Other books by the prolific Hambly include several novels based on the popular Star Wars films as well as two based on the Star Trek television series created by the late Gene Roddenberry. In Ishmael: A Star Trek Novel, the Starship Enterprise's First Officer Spock travels back in time to visit the earth in 1867 in an effort to thwart a Klingon plan to change human history. Roland Green of Booklist praised Hambly's effort, recommending it "not only for Star Trek collections but as a good novel in its own right." Ishmael grabs the reader's attention throughout "with humor, action and personal interplay," according to Roberta Rogow in a review for Voice of Youth Advocates.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Detecting Women, Purple Moon Press (Dearborn, MI), 1996, p. 88.
Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, 1975-1991, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1992.
St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996, pp. 261-263.
Booklist, September 1, 1983, p. 31; July, 1985, p. 1519; April 1, 1995, p. 1355; February 1, 1997, p. 907; May 15, 1998, review of Fever Season; February 8, 1999, p. 199; February 15, 1999, Roberta Johnson, review of Dragonshadow, p. 1048; April 15, 1999, Sally Estes, review of Graveyard Dust, p. 1478; May 15, 1999, p. 1678; February 1, 2000, Roberta Johnson, review of Knight of the Demon Queen, p. 1011; May 1, 2000, GraceAnne A. De Candido, review of Those Who Hunt the Night and Traveling with the Dead, p. 1599, and Jenny McLarin, review of Sold down the River, p. 1617; March 15, 2001, David Pitt, review of Die upon a Kiss, p. 1333; October 12, 2001, Regina Schroeder, review of Magic Time, p. 388; May 1, 2003, David Pitt, review of Days of the Dead, p. 1545.
Davis Enterprise (Davis, CA), October 29, 1995.
Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 1996, p. 1107; May 15, 1997, review of A Free Man of Color, p. 741; November 15, 1997, p. 1678; January 15, 1999, p. 110; June 15, 1999, p. 921; September 15, 2001, review of Magic Time, p. 1331.
Kliatt, January, 1999, p. 18.
Library Journal, May 15, 1982, Susan L. Nickerson, review of The Time of the Dark, p. 1014; March 15, 1983, p. 603; March 15, 1985, Janet Cameron, review of The Ladies of Mandrigyn, p. 599; March 15, 1995, p. 101; August, 1995, review of Traveling with the Dead, p. 122; September 15, 1996, p. 101; June 1, 1997, p. 148; March 15, 1999, Jackie Cassada, review of Dragonshadow, p. 112; July, 1999, Shirley Gibson Coleman, review of Graveyard Dust, p. 131; January, 2000, Jackie Cassada, review of Knight of the Demon Queen, p. 167; March 1, 2000, review of Sold down the River, p. S8; June 1, 2001, Rex Klett, review of Die upon a Kiss, p. 222; December, 2001, Jackie Cassada, review of Magic Time, p. 180; August, 2002, Jackie Cassada, review of Sisters of the Raven, p. 151.
New Statesman, November 28, 1986, p. 35.
New York Times Book Review, August 2, 1998, Marilyn Stasio, review of Fever Season, p. 24; July 25, 1999, Marilyn Stasio, review of Graveyard Dust, p. 20; July 23, 2000, Marilyn Stasio, review of Sold down the River, p. 20; July 8, 2001, Marilyn Stasio, review of Die upon a Kiss, p. 18; July 21, 2002, Marilyn Stasio, review of Wet Grave, p. 16.
Publishers Weekly, March 13, 1995, p. 63; September 4, 1995, review of Traveling with the Dead; September 16, 1996, p. 74; May 5, 1997, p. 197; April 27, 1998, p. 48; February 8, 1999, review of Dragonshadow, p. 199; May 31, 1999, review of Graveyard Dust, p. 69; January 3, 2000, review of Knight of the Demon Queen, p. 61; June 5, 2000, review of Sold down the River, p. 75; April 23, 2001, review of Die upon a Kiss, p. 52; October 8, 2001, review of Magic Time, p. 48; May 13, 2002, review of Wet Grave, p. 53; June 9, 2003, review of Days of the Dead, p. 40.
Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Review, September, 1982, pp. 30-31.
Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), July 6, 1997, Dick Adler, review of A Free Man of Color, p. 2.
Voice of Youth Advocates, February, 1986, pp. 393-394; August-October, 1986, p. 162; April, 1989, p. 42; October, 1995, p. 232; August, 1998, p. 210; April, 1999, p. 13.
Washington Post Book World, January 29, 1989, p. 6.
Official Barbara Hambly Web site,http://www.barbarahambly.com/ (July 25, 2003).*