Zebrowski, George 1945–
Zebrowski, George 1945–
(George T. Zebrowski)
PERSONAL: Surname is pronounced "Ze-broff-ski"; born December 28, 1945, in Villach, Austria; brought to the U.S., 1951; naturalized United States citizen; son of Antoni and Anna Zebrowski. Ethnicity: Polish. Education: State University of New York at Binghamton, B.A., 1969. Hobbies and other interests: Future studies, chess, classical music, films, tennis, swimming, philosophy of science, film.
ADDRESSES: Agent—Richard Curtis Associates, 171 East 74th St., New York, NY 10021.
CAREER: Science-fiction writer, editor, lecturer, and consultant. Binghamton Evening Press, Binghamton, NY, 1967; filtration plant operator, NY, 1969–70; State University of New York at Binghamton, lecturer in science fiction, 1971; lecturer for Science Fiction Writers Speakers Bureau; general editor and consultant, Crown Publishers, 1983–85. Editor, SFWA Bulletin, 1970–75, 1983–91.
MEMBER: Science Fiction Writers of America, H.G. Wells Society.
AWARDS, HONORS: Finalist for Nebula Award of Science Fiction Writers of America, 1971, for short story, "Heathen God," and 1984, for the story "The Eichmann Variations"; Nebula citation, 1975, for editorial work at SFWA Bulletin; "Best Books for Young Adults" citation, American Library Association, and named one of the best books of the year, Omni magazine, and The Good Book Guide recommendation, all 1983, all for Creations; Books for the Teen Age selection, 1985, for Sunspacer; named one of the one hundred all-time best works of science fiction, Library Journal, 1988, for Macrolife; Notable Book of the Year citation, New York Times Book Review, 1991, for Stranger Suns; one of the best novels of 1995 citations, Locus and Science Fiction Chronicle, for The Killing Star; John W. Campbell Award for best novel of the year, 1999, for Brute Orbits; Service Award Euom, Science Fiction Writers of America, 2000, for work as a Grievance Officer and Chairman of the Nebula Awards Anthology Committee from 1983–96; finalist for the Nebula Award, 2002, for short story "Wound the Wind."
SCIENCE FICTION EXCEPT AS NOTED
The Omega Point (second book in trilogy; also see below), Ace (New York, NY), 1972.
The Star Web, Laser Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1975.
The Monadic Universe and Other Stories, introduction by Thomas N. Scortia, Ace (New York, NY), 1977, expanded 2nd edition, introduction by Howard Waldrop, 1985.
Ashes and Stars (first book in trilogy; also see below), Ace (New York, NY), 1977.
Macrolife (novel; chosen for the Masterpiece of Science Fiction series), Harper (New York, NY), 1979, reissued with an introduction by Ian Watson, Easton Press (Norwalk, CT), 1989, reissued as Macrolife: A Mobile Utopia,, Pyr (Amherst, NY), 2006.
The Omega Point Trilogy (includes Ashes and Stars, The Omega Point, and previously unpublished concluding novel Mirror of Minds), Ace (New York, NY), 1983.
Sunspacer (juvenile trilogy; also see below), Harper (New York, NY), 1984.
The Stars Will Speak (juvenile trilogy; also see below), Harper (New York, NY), 1985.
Stranger Suns, Easton Press (Norwalk, CT), 1991.
(With Charles Pellegrino) The Killing Star, Easton Press (Norwalk, CT), 1995.
Beneath the Red Star: Studies on International Science Fiction (nonfiction; collected columns), edited by Pamela Sargent, Borgo Press (San Bernardino, CA), 1996.
The Sunspacers Trilogy (juvenile trilogy; includes Suns-pacer, The Stars Will Speak, and previously unpublished concluding novel Behind the Star), White Wolf (Clarkston, GA), 1996.
Brute Orbits, HarperPrism (New York, NY), 1998.
Cave of Stars, HarperPrism (New York, NY), 1999.
Swift Thoughts (collection), Golden Gryphon, 2002.
In the Distance, and ahead in Time (short story collection), Five Star (Waterville, ME), 2002.
Black Pockets and Other Dark Thoughts (horror; short story collection), Golden Gryphon Press (Urbana, IL), 2006.
Planet One: Tomorrow Today (anthology), Unity Press (Santa Cruz, CA), 1975.
(With Thomas N. Scortia) Human Machines: An Anthology of Stories about Cyborgs, Random House (New York, NY), 1975.
(With Jack Dann) Faster than Light: An Anthology of Stories about Interstellar Travel, Harper (New York, NY), 1976.
The Best of Thomas N. Scortia, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1981.
(With Isaac Asimov and Martin H. Greenberg) Creations: The Quest for Origins in Story and Science (anthology), Crown (New York, NY), 1983.
Nebula Awards 20, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1986.
Nebula Awards 21, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1987.
Synergy 1, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1987.
Nebula Awards 22, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1988.
Synergy 2, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1988.
Synergy 3, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1988.
Synergy 4, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1989.
(With Gregory Benford; and author of introduction and notes) Skylife: Space Habitats in Story and Science, Harcourt (New York, NY), 2000.
Synergy SF: New Science Fiction, Five Star (Waterville, ME), 2002.
Also author of five novels in the Star Trek series for Pocket Books: four with Pamela Sargent and one with Charles Pellegrino. Editor of Viewpoint (later Epilogue) magazine, 1964, and "Modern Classics of Science Fiction" series. Author of introduction to Things to Come by H.G. Wells, Gregg, 1975.
Contributor of more than one hundred and fifty stories and articles to anthologies, including Strange Gods, edited by Roger Elwood, Pocket (New York, NY), 1974; Infinity One, Immortal, edited by Jack Dann, 1978; with Patricia Warrick to Science Fiction: Contemporary Mythology, edited by Warrick, Martin H. Greenberg, and Joseph D. Olander, Harper (New York, NY), 1978; Science Fiction: Contemporary Mythology, 1978; Light Years and Dark, edited by Michael Bishop, Berkley, 1984; and Universe 16, edited by Terry Carr, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1986. Also contributor of short stories, reviews, and translations to periodicals, including Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Personal Computing, Bertrand Russell Society News, Nature, Science Fiction Review, and Washington Post Book World.
Many of Zebrowski's works have been translated into French, Dutch, Portuguese, Japanese, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Polish, and German. Manuscripts, drafts, first editions of published works, and letters are collected in the David Charles Paskow Science Fiction Collection, Rare Books and Manuscript Division, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia.
ADAPTATIONS: The short story "Heathen God" was produced as a play by Readers Theater, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, in April, 1983.
SIDELIGHTS: George Zebrowski has won the admiration of science-fiction enthusiasts with his stories and novels that "tackle difficult problems of philosophy, technology, and sociobiology … to analyze their impact on human beings," noted Dictionary of Literary Biography contributor Anthony Manousos. "Heathen God," a short story nominated for the Nebula Award in 1971, presents characters challenged to consider the importance of religious faith within a culture dominated by advances in science. Also a respected editor in the field, Zebrowski has contributed essays and introductions to collections of prize-winning stories and other science fiction books, and to novels by Arthur C. Clarke, Stanislaw Lem, H.G. Wells, Greg Bear, Joe Haldeman, and Samuel R. Delany.
Zebrowski's first novel, The Omega Point, later became the midpoint for a trilogy, published in 1983 as The Omega Point Trilogy, and also included the starting point Ashes and Stars, and the previously unpublished conclusion Mirror of Minds. In the trilogy, Gorgias, a Herculean (genetically engineered human-alien hybrids), and his son begin a war of terror against the Earth Federation, which almost wiped out the Herculean Empire. Kubri, who was born on earth, leads a group to track and kill Gorgias. The son (also named Gorgias) continues fighting the Earth Federation after his father's death. But the first Gorgias has not entirely left; with the help of a Herculean cult leader named Myraa, who teaches her followers to absorb dead souls, transforming them into higher beings, Gorgias is absorbed into an alternate universe. There, he learns of a power that has the potential to destroy all of humanity. "In these three ambitious short novels Zebrowski tackles an epic theme," wrote a Publishers Weekly contributor. Paula Newspeca Deal, writing in Voice of Youth Advocates, said of the trilogy: "This interesting psychological tale with a chase motif has a heavy dose of metaphysics and mysticism." Of the Mirror of Minds section, Analog reviewer Tom Easton wrote, "Zebrowski gets potent and vivid."
Macrolife, published in 1979, is possibly Zebrowski's best known work of fiction. Begun as the first novel in the setting of "macrolife"—self-reproducing, space-going habitats—it describes how the first macrolife were created, how the humans living on them developed them into a galactic civilization, and finally, how this civilization reacted to the end of the universe. In a 1988 Library Journal review, a critic considered it "the high point" in Zebrowski's "still developing" career. In 1999 Zebrowski published the novel, Cave of Stars, which takes place in the same setting, exploring part of the backstory only hinted at in Macrolife. "Tacking a sequel onto a classic is always a dicey business," wrote Paul Di Filippo of the Washington Post Book World review of Cave of Stars. Macrolife, wrote Di Filippo, "even in the face of two decades of fictional and scientific progress, still holds up remarkably well as an exemplar of hard sf." Noting that the time frame in Cave of Stars is more limited, Di Filippo wrote that the novel "lacks the dimensions of the earlier book, but makes up for this with a more intimate, character driven approach." Contributor to Voice of Youth Advocates Bill White, also reviewing Cave of Stars, called it "a compelling read, richly imagined and peopled with flawed, complex, somewhat alien, but wholly human characters." Di Filippo summed up: "You can trust yourself in the hands of certain masters, and George Zebrowski is one."
Zebrowski has also produced titles for young adults. In 1984, he published Sunspacer, the first book in the trilogy collected in The Sunspacer Trilogy, which also includes The Stars Will Speak and Zebrowski's serial "Behind the Stars." Sunspacer tells the story of Joe Sorby, who applies to attend college off-planet and, with his girlfriend, begins to work for fair treatment of miners living and working on Mercury. In The Stars Will Speak, Lissa Quintana-Green-Wolfe leaves her home on Earth to study a signal intercepted twenty years before, which no one has been able to decode. Lyle Blake Smythers, writing in School Library Journal, wrote that in The Stars Will Speak, Zebrowski uses "realistic science" and "believable characters whose fate captures readers' interest" to create not just a science-fiction novel for young adults, but a "serious and complex love story."
Brute Orbits, Zebrowski's 1998 novel, has reminded critics of the writings of science fiction pioneer Olaf Stapledon, who used science fiction as a medium for discussing social philosophy. The theme of Brute Orbits evokes that technique. The book follows the stories of several penal colonies set on asteroids. The criminals, unable to return to Earth until the asteroids return to an orbit near the planet, must form their own societies within the confines of their rock. "The criminals whom society casts out are reflections of its own sickness, and a key to its cure," wrote a Publishers Weekly reviewer. Easton, writing again in Analog, praised both Zebrowski and the novel as "thoughtful and stimulating," and noted that Brute Orbits is "well worth your attention."
In 1999, Zebrowski and his editor Pamela Sargent published Beneath the Red Star: Studies on International Science Fiction, a collection of revised reprints of his columns and articles from the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Washington Post, and other journals. A large portion of the book is dedicated to the works of Stanislaw Lem, a Polish science-fiction writer. Zebrowski criticizes the science-fiction community for not paying more attention to foreign writers. Lynn F. Williams, writing in Utopian Studies, noted that though some of the essays were printed as early as 1974, "they are still well worth reading." Extrapolation contributor G. Warlock Vance praised Zebrowski's focus on Lem, writing: "His views and research into Lem's fiction make for rewarding reading." Williams pointed out, Zebrowski is "one of the few American SF critics with the background and linguistic resources to understand and judge the fiction which came out of the Eastern Bloc in the decades before Communism's Great Fall."
In 2002, Zebrowski released another collection: this one of his fiction. The book, Swift Thoughts, contains twenty-four stories written by Zebrowski over the course of thirty years. All of the stories deal with the frailty of humanity, though they take the form of futuristic stories or alternative histories. A Publishers Weekly reviewer wrote that the stories "demonstrate impressive discipline, logic and mastery of his craft." Zebrowski's concluding story suggests that humans have a need to "rewrite reality itself." The reviewer, commenting on this concept, stated: "Few SF writers have done so with such mathematical elegance."
Swift Thoughts was followed by another compilation, In the Distance, and ahead in Time, which includes ten more out-of-print stories written by Zebrowski. A Booklist contributor considered the rescue of these stories a gesture "on behalf of the good guys and their readers," and found the first three stories, which follow the adventures of a character named Christian Praeger, "unpretentious but intelligent." Filippo, writing this time in Sci Fi Weekly, found the collection to be "not quite as excellent" as Swift Thoughts, but added that when Zebrowski "has both his horses pulling in tandem, he can achieve some fine effects."
Zebrowski's Black Pockets and Other Dark Thoughts is his first collection of horror-themed stories. A Publishers Weekly contributor found the stories to be both "outstanding" and "disturbing," while a California Bookwatch writer opined that the book "displays another edge to [Zebrowski's] creative talents."
Zebrowski once told CA: "I have been described as a 'hard SF writer with literary intent'—which makes me sound like a difficult person about to commit a crime of some sort. What 'literary' means in this description, I believe, is that I pay attention to the writerly virtues of style, characterization, and lucid storytelling, as much as I do to what makes a work science fiction—its scientific facts, speculative ideas, and philosophical considerations. Nothing wrong with that; I wouldn't think much of any 'hard SF' writer who would deliberately leave all that out. James Blish, a favorite writer of mine, once said that SF should be hard (thoroughgoing) all the way through—in its ideas and literary virtues, which seems to me to be beyond argument as a prescription. It's the ideal I started with as a writer.
"The knowledge of what one does as an SF writer can be clearly stated, but not easily practiced. One writes fiction which deals with the human impact of possible future changes in science and technology. Even if you remove 'science and technology' you still have 'the human impact of future changes.' You might remove 'future' since many SF works are set in the present or past; but you can still substitute 'imaginary but plausible' here and not violate the spirit of SF. The 'human impact' makes it literature; the 'plausible imaginary changes' make it SF. How well the 'literary' and 'science fictional' conceits come out depends on the ambition and skill of the writer."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 8: Twentieth-Century American Science-Fiction Writers, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1981.
Elliot, Jeffrey M. and Robert Reginald, The Work of George Zebrowski: An Annotated Bibliography and Guide, Borgo Press (San Bernadino, CA), 1986, 2nd edition, 1990, 3rd edition, 1996.
Gunn, James, editor, The New Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, Viking (New York, NY), 1988.
Shippey, T.A., and others, editors, Magill's Guide to Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature, 4 volumes, Salem Press (Pasadena, CA), 1996.
Twentieth Century Science Fiction Writers, 4th edition, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1995.
Analog, June, 1984, Tom Easton, review of The Omega Point Trilogy, pp. 168-169; May, 1999, Tom Easton, review of Brute Orbits, pp. 134-135.
Booklist, June 15, 1984, review of Sunspacer, p. 1472; December 1, 2002, review of Into the Distance and ahead in Time, p. 99.
California Bookwatch, August, 2006, review of Black Pockets and Other Dark Thoughts.
Extrapolation, fall, 1997, G. Warlock Vance, review of Beneath the Red Star: Studies on International Science Fiction, p. 240.
Library Journal, November 15, 1988, review of Macrolife, p. 31.
Publishers Weekly, October 14, 1983, review of The Omega Point Trilogy, p. 52; October 19, 1998, review of Brute Orbits, p. 59; February 11, 2002, review of Swift Thoughts; March 13, 2006, review of Black Pockets and Other Dark Thoughts, p. 46.
School Library Journal, May, 1984, Cathryn Male, review of Sunspacer, p. 95; October, 1985, Lyle Blake Smythers, review of The Stars Will Speak, p. 189.
Utopian Studies, winter, 1999, Lynn F. Williams, review of Beneath the Red Star, p. 304.
Voice of Youth Advocates, April, 1984, Paula Newspeca Deal, review of The Omega Point Trilogy, p. 40; December, 1985, John O. Christensen, review of The Stars Will Speak, p. 328; June, 2000, Bill White, review of Cave of Stars, p. 107.
Washington Post Book World, November 10, 1985, Cynthia Samuels, "Growing up Reading," p. 17; April 30, 2000, Paul Di Filippo, review of Cave of Stars, p. 13.
Sci Fi Weekly, http://www.scifi.com/sfw/ (January 30, 2007), Paul Di Filippo, review of Into the Distance and ahead in Time.