Rogow, Roberta 1942–
Rogow, Roberta 1942–
PERSONAL: Born March 7, 1942; daughter of Stanley (a lawyer and actor) and Shirley (a psychologist; maiden name, Heller) Winston; married Murray Rogow (a press agent and writer), November 3, 1963 (died, September 22, 2002); children: Miriam Ann (a mystery writer), Louise Katherine. Education: Queens College of the City University of New York, B.A., 1962; Columbia University, M.L.S., 1971. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Jewish. Hobbies and other interests: Needlework, science fiction costuming, songwriting, singing in choir, science fiction conventions.
ADDRESSES: Office—Union Free Public Library, Friberger Park, Union, NJ 07083.
CAREER: Writer and librarian. Paterson Free Public Library, Paterson, NJ, various positions, 1971–82; Ridgefield Public Library, Ridgefield, NJ, children's librarian, 1982–87; Union Free Public Library, Union, NJ, children's librarian, 1987–. Other Worlds Books, Fair Lawn, NJ, editor, publisher, and owner, 1978–95.
MEMBER: Science Fiction Writers of America, New Jersey Library Association, Science Fiction Association of Bergen County.
MYSTERY NOVELS; FEATURING CHARLES DODGSON AND ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE
The Problem of the Missing Miss, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1998.
The Problem of the Missing Hoyden, Robert Hale (London, England), 1999.
The Problem of the Spiteful Spiritualist, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1999.
The Problem of the Evil Editor: A Charles Dodgson/Arthur Conan Doyle Mystery, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2000.
The Problem of the Surly Servant: A Charles Dodgson/Arthur Conan Doyle Mystery, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2001.
Trexindex: An Index to Star Trek Fanzines, Other Worlds Books (Fair Lawn, NJ), 1976.
FutureSpeak: A Fan's Guide to the Language of Science Fiction, Paragon House (New York, NY), 1991.
Also author of five supplements to Trexindex, c. 1976–87. Contributor to anthologies, including Merovingen Nights #3: Troubled Waters, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1988; Merovingen Nights #4: Smuggler's Gold, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1988; Merovingen Nights #5: Divine Right, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1989; Merovingen Nights #6: Flood Tide, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1990; The Resurrected Holmes: New Cases from the Notes of John H. Watson, 1990; and Don't Open This Book!, 1998. Author of column, "Child's Play," Mystery Scene Magazine. Beyond … Science Fiction and Fantasy, editor, 1987–91; GRIP, editor, beginning 1978. Contributor of stories to periodicals.
SIDELIGHTS: While pursuing a primary career as a librarian and a secondary career in science fiction fan-related writing, Roberta Rogow also became a mystery novelist. Her first series of mysteries is set in Victorian England and features the creator of Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle, working in conjunction with Charles Dodgson, the real name of Lewis Carroll, author of Alice in Wonderland. (In real life, however, the pair never met.) Rogow uses a relatively young Doyle in her novels, one who has recently completed medical school, as the Watson-type character while Dodgson is aged and wise, the senior partner of the tandem. GraceAnne A. DeCandido in Booklist called the books an "utterly charming series."
In the first novel, The Problem of the Missing Miss, Doyle and Dodgson have an accidental meeting in 1885 in a Brighton, England, train station. The pair become involved with the case of a young girl, Alicia Marbury, kidnapped by those political forces working in opposition to her father, Lord Richard, a member of Parliament. The father was once a student of Dodgson's, and Alicia was coming to visit Dodgson. Rogow also ties in historical fact from the time period; the kidnappers have taken Alicia because they want her father to stop his sponsorship of a bill intended to deter child prostitution. Writing in Publishers Weekly, a critic commented positively on "Rogow's engaging tale."
The Problem of the Evil Editor: A Charles Dodgson/Arthur Conan Doyle Mystery has the pair directly involved in an investigation into the murder of a children's magazine editor, Samuel Bassett, who has wronged Dodgson by selling books intended for charity at a profit. After a visit to Bassett's office by Dodgson and Doyle, they find themselves caught up in a London workers' riot and briefly held by the police. Throughout the series, Rogow works in relevant literary and history figures, and this book is no exception. The two are released when noted author Oscar Wilde helps them out. A reviewer in Publishers Weekly noted: "While the playful tone may be a bit at odds with the murderer's sad and sordid motives, Rogow's sly injokes and seamless blend of fact and fiction should delight many."
Rogow told CA: "I have two full-time careers. By day I am a municipal librarian in New Jersey, as I have been since 1971. Weekends and vacations are devoted to the subculture of science fiction in all its manifestations. The union of librarianship and science fiction led to the writing of FutureSpeak: A Fan's Guide to the Language of Science Fiction, published by Paragon House in 1991.
"I grew up in an upper-middle class Jewish suburban household; my mother was a psychologist and my father was a corporation lawyer. I went through the New York City school system and graduated from Queens College of the City University of New York with a degree in music and theater in 1962. After a decade of musical and acting studies and 'working in show biz' with a variety of fringe groups, I abandoned the elusive dream of stardom. I married Murray Rogow, a theatrical press agent, and temporarily hung up my costumes to give birth to Miriam in 1964 and Louise in 1968.
"I resumed my studies in 1969 at the Columbia School of Library Science, where I earned my master's degree in 1971. My theatrical and musical talents were utilized at the Paterson Free Public Library, Ridgefield Public Library, and Union Free Public Library, where I held positions in the children's and young adults' departments. I also served on several committees of the New Jersey Library Association.
"My second career in science fiction began when I discovered the early novels of Robert Heinlein and the story collections of C.L. Moore. The lure of faraway worlds and strange people drew me into science fiction in its 'silver age.' However, I remained a 'passifan' who only read the stories—until I discovered the world of Star Trek. I got hooked and devoured each weekly episode and rerun. A 'Trekker' had been born. At a library convention I met two fellow Trekkers who were active in the committee that ran the first Star Trek conventions. I attended my first convention in 1973, where I found hundreds of devotees who could spend a whole weekend talking 'Trek.' I also discovered 'fanzines,' those non-commercial publications produced by amateur publishers or on copying machines and sold at conventions. In the fanzines, writers could take the Star Trek characters and put them in new situations and universes.
"I had always wanted to share my stories. Now I had an audience. There was little or no money to be made from this, but there was the light at the end of the tunnel—I might someday see my writing in print. Two years later, in 1976, one of my stories was accepted and printed; the second career was begun. I plunged into fandom with both feet. I felt that if I could write for fanzines, I could also edit them. My own fanzine, GRIP, was begun in 1978. Between 1978 and 1987, I was involved with two other fanzines. I not only published my own magazines, I sold them at conventions. I extended my efforts to promoting items on consignment from other fanzine publishers all over the country.
"Once, after reading the first part of a two-part story in a fanzine, I was unable to find the second half of the continued story. In trying to solve this problem, the librarian in me took over, and I began compiling and publishing Trexindex: An Index to Star Trek Magazines. It was a massive effort in which I indexed, by story and author, over 500 titles from the previous ten years. Five supplements of Trexindex followed, the last appearing in 1987, when other demands on my time caused me to turn the project over to Bill Hupe, who has since done two more supplements.
"My songwriting, guitar playing, and folksinging talents also found their way into my science fiction life. I began writing and performing parodies about the Star Trek characters, science fiction books and films, and the 'fannish' life (such parodies are called 'filk' songs, from a misprint on a convention songsheet). I have published nine collections of my 'filk' songs and have recorded and produced six audiocassettes, which are sold at science fiction conventions across the United States.
"My writing found a paying market when C.J. Cherryh accepted my story 'Nessus' Shirt' for the 'Shared Universe' anthology Merovingen Nights #3: Troubled Waters. More sales followed. I have had stories in four of the Merovingen Nights anthologies.
"In addition to my writing and singing activities, I have participated in many other areas of the science fiction world. I have entered my original needlepoints in science fiction convention art shows. I have participated in masquerades, wearing homemade costumes based on science fiction characters that have earned me a wall full of trophies. I have even served on convention committees, running the dealer's room or assisting backstage at the masquerades. All this experience has been distilled into FutureSpeak, which uses a dictionary format to clarify the mysterious subculture of science fiction fandom by explaining the words and phrases of its many worlds. Fannish jargon, writers' terminology, and the scientific background materials that make up the 'science' in science fiction are all part of this 'language.' Both 'fans' and 'mundanes' have found FutureSpeak both fascinating and informative."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, July, 2001, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of The Problem of the Surly Servant: A Charles Dodgson/Arthur Conan Doyle Mystery, p. 1989.
Publishers Weekly, March 9, 1998, review of The Problem of the Missing Miss, p. 51; May 8, 2000, review of The Problem of the Evil Editor: A Charles Dodgson/Arthur Conan Doyle Mystery, p. 208.
Writer's Digest, September, 1998, Peter Blocksom, "First Novelist Profile: Roberta Rogow," interview with Roberta Rogow.