Terry Bisson, the award-winning science fiction author, died at home in Berkeley, Calif., on January 10, following a recent cancer diagnosis. He was 81.
The author first turned heads in the sci-fi world with his debut collection, Bears Discover Fire, published in 1990 by Tor—a collection full of “flair and sharp but homey good humor” and “astonishing range,” as per PW's starred review of that book. “Bisson's prose is a wonder of seemingly effortless control and precision,” the review said, calling him “one of science fiction's most promising short story practitioners.”
Bisson's peers agreed, with the collection's titular story winning the Hugo, Nebula, Sturgeon, Locus, and Asimov awards that year. The honors came four years after the publication of his novel Talking Man, published by Arbor House in 1986, which was nominated for a World Fantasy Award. PW’s review called that book “a charming, literate, laconic tale.”
Bisson also completed the sequel to the late Walter M. Miller Jr.'s iconic sci-fi novel A Canticle for Leibowitz, 1997's Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman. His most recent novel, 2012's Any Day Now, received a starred review in PW, which called it an “homage to the beat poets” told in “staccato, pared-down prose that suits the novel’s coming-of-age narrative.”
A longtime contributor to Locus magazine, Bisson wrote the monthly speculative column “This Month In History,” whose entries will be published in book form in a posthumous collection, Tomorrowing, by Duke University Press in May. In addition to his work as a writer, Bisson served as an editor and copy chief at Berkley and Ace until 1985, and was a longtime copywriter at Berkley/Putnam, Roc Books/Penguin, and Harper Prism, his agent, John Silbersack, told PW.
Bisson was born on February 12, 1942, in Madisonville, Ky., raised in nearby Owensboro, and was a longtime resident of Brooklyn, N.Y. He is survived by his wife, Judy Jensen, five children—including two from a previous marriage—and seven grandchildren.