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Robson, Justina 1968-

Robson, Justina 1968-

PERSONAL:

Born June 11, 1968, in Leeds, England; daughter of Alec (a textile chemistry professor) and Ruth Bones (a doctor of textile physics) Robson; married Richard Fennell, February 18, 1999 (divorced, 2007); children: Daniel. Ethnicity: "Caucasian." Education: University of York, B.A. (honors), 1991. Religion: "Atheist." Hobbies and other interests: Yoga, fitness, mathematics, art, science.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Leeds, England. Agent—John R. Parker, MBA Literary Agents Ltd., 62 Grafton Way, London W1P 5LD, England.

CAREER:

Writer and educator. Leeds Leisure Services, Leeds, England, yoga teacher, 1999-2006.

MEMBER:

British Science Fiction Association, British Fantasy Society.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Amazon.co.uk Bursary, 2000.

WRITINGS:

FICTION

Silver Screen (science fiction), Macmillan (London, England), 1999, Prometheus (New York, NY), 2005.

Mappa Mundi (science fiction), Macmillan (London, England), 2001.

Natural History, Macmillan (London, England), 2003, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2005.

Living Next Door to the God of Love, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2006.

Keeping It Real, Gollancz (London, England), 2006.

Contributor of stories to magazines.

SIDELIGHTS:

Justina Robson once told CA: "I write because it's the most fun you can have on your own. I get to study all kinds of subjects, read all the books I want and get paid for what I enjoy. I've written stories as long as I've been able to write. Everything in my life and research goes into my work, nothing in particular, unless it's a fact I need.

"I write one or two drafts as exploratory work, then mine-out the story and write a final draft after a lot of thinking about what's interesting in the work and how to best present it. The first two drafts are thrown out—they barely resemble the end product.

"I write about whatever interests me at the time. A recurring theme is my attempt to understand what makes individuals who they are and how the way we see ourselves determines what we perceive of the world around us."

Robson's first novel Silver Screen was originally published in England in 1999 and then in the United States in 2005. The novel features Anjuli, a young woman who starts to question what it means to be human in a world where her boyfriend is becoming a cyborg via his job. A California Bookwatch contributor called the novel "fast-paced and compelling." A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted that "prose is lean and dynamic, and the speculative concepts are cutting edge." Robson writes of a mind-altering program in her novel Mappa Mundi. Unfortunately, Mikhail Guskov is trying to steal the program for nefarious uses, setting FBI agent Jude Westhorpe on his trail. In the meantime, the Pentagon and CIA are collaborating on an even more dangerous mind-control device. A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that the author "maintains throat-tightening suspense." Regina Schroeder, writing in Booklist, referred to the novel as "a solidly written, entertaining story." Jackie Cassada in the Library Journal, noted the novel's "cinematic detail and a well-plotted story."

Natural History was Robson's debut in the United States. Human and machine hybrids called the Forged perform the lowly and dangerous tasks of life for the Unevolved, or normal humans. When a Forged explorer returns from space with the magical "Stuff," the explorer wants to use it to instantly transport the Forged to a new planet. "Fans of the sweeping, politically and psychologically aware space opera … will be intrigued," wrote a Publishers Weekly contributor. In a review in the Library Journal, Jackie Cassada called Natural History "a thought-provoking sf adventure with appeal to fans of both hard science and issue-oriented speculative fiction." A Kirkus Reviews contributor commented: "Quirky, highly intelligent, uneven, sometimes exposition-clogged, often utterly remarkable: alert, agile readers will find it thoroughly rewarding."

In her novel, Living Next Door to the God of Love, Robson tells the story of Francine, a schoolgirl living in a futuristic world where synthetic people are made out "Stuff." When Francine runs away from home to Sankhara, a high-interaction universe, she meets and falls in love with Jalaeka, described as "an androgynous, magnetic blend of Jesus Christ and David Bowie" by Dave Itzkoff in a review in the New York Times. Jalaeka's special power is to morph into whatever others want him to be. Itzkoff noted that "the first thing a reader notices about [Robson's] work is the exquisite precision and thoughtfulness of her writing." The reviewer added that the novel "is nothing short of a modern-day fairy tale." A Publishers Weekly contributor called the novel a "bizarre exploration of theories about human nature." Robson is also author of Keeping it Real. The tale features Lila Black, a cyborg special agent who works at keeping the various dimensions that exist side-by-side in her world from intersecting and causing contact between their singular inhabitants, from humans to gods and elves.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, March 1, 2006, Regina Schroeder, review of Living Next Door to the God of Love, p. 77; August 1, 2006, Regina Schroeder, review of Mappa Mundi, p. 57.

Bookseller, December 9, 2005, review of Keeping it Real, includes review of Living Next Door to the God of Love, p. 31.

California Bookwatch, April, 2006, review of Silver Screen.

Entertainment Weekly, October 21, 2005, Neil Drumming and Ted Rose, review of Silver Screen, p. 79.

Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2004, review of Natural History, p. 1031; September 1, 2005, review of Silver Screen, p. 948.

Library Journal, January 1, 2005, Jackie Cassada, review of Natural History, p. 102; August 1, 2006, Jackie Cassada, review of Mappa Mundi, p. 77.

New York Times, July 9, 2006, Dave Itzkoff, review of Living Next Door to the God of Love.

Publishers Weekly, November 15, 2004, review of Natural History, p. 45; February 6, 2006, review of Living Next Door to the God of Love, p. 48; July 10, 2006, review of Mappa Mundi, p. 57.

ONLINE

Strange Horizonshttp://www.strangehorizons.com/ (April 21, 2003), Cheryl Morgan, "Interview: Justina Robson."

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