Onward! This time, my subject is women SF writers whose surnames begin with K and who debuted in the 1970s¹.
Phyllis Ann Karr
Phyllis Ann Karr has written historicals, romances, mysteries, and science fiction. While I am fond of her non-fiction King Arthur Companion², genre fans might prefer to start with Karr’s 1982 The Idylls of the Queen, in which Karr drew on her knowledge of Mallory to craft an engaging Arthurian fantasy-mystery.
Leigh Kennedy’s best known work may be her “Her Furry Face,” a love story reprinted here. Of all her work, my favourite is 1986’s The Journal of Nicholas the American. The protagonist is a young empath struggling to fit into a society unwilling to accommodate the uniquely gifted.
Lee Killough first appeared under the Del Rey imprint. I suspect editors Lester and Judy-Lynn may have been searching for authors like Larry Niven at the time. Yes, there’s a faint resemblance, but Killough has greater talent than Niven for crafting memorable characters. I quite liked her re-contact novel A Voice Out of Ramah, which is out of print, and her collection Aventine, which is also out of print. The Killough novel that first caught my eye was 1979’s The Doppelgänger Gambit, an engaging police procedural that followed a desperate killer’s attempts to evade a panopticon state. Doppelgänger, happily, is available in a new edition, which sadly lacks the eye-catching Michael Herring cover of the original edition³, but which is definitely worth your time.
Nancy Kress has been publishing and winning awards since the mid-1970s. Her best-known work may be Beggars in Spain: the 1991 novella version won the Hugo and the Nebula, while her novel-length expansion was nominated for the same awards.
Katherine Kurtz has been active since her 1970 debut, Deryni Rising, set in a medieval fantasy world that features the psychically adept Deryni. Published as part of Ballantine’s Adult Fantasy series, it was first of a series still ongoing. By my count, there are at least eighteen books (fiction and non-fiction) in the lineup. It would seem logical for readers unfamiliar with Kurtz to start with Deryni Rising, the novel that launched her career.
* * *
This installment’s list of James’ Shame is embarrassingly short. I suspect that there are many other authors I could have discussed. Here are a few of the authors of whom I am aware, but whose works I have not read. If any of you have a suggestion as to where I should begin with the following authors, I would be grateful to hear it.
1: This series only covers women whose published careers began between 1970 and 1979. If their career began before 1970 or after 1979, then they fall outside my target range. Because I am concentrating on women whose surnames begin with K, I am excluding all women whose surnames begin with A through J and L through Z. For example, Eleanor Arneson is a fine author, but since A is not K, she is not listed here. Similarly, Katharine Kerr is omitted because although her surname does begin with K, her career began in the 1980s.
2: It was an invaluable resource when I was overseeing the script for an Arthurian musical comedy.
3: The characters in the book have holsters while their cover-art counterparts have chosen the far more exciting option of jamming their guns into their trouser waistbands. The cover is otherwise faithful to the book. Usually a cover that reflected the actual book meant that it was a Michael Whelan cover, but in this case the artist is Michael Herring.
In the words of Wikipedia editor TexasAndroid, prolific book reviewer and perennial Darwin Award nominee James Davis Nicoll is of “questionable notability.” His work has appeared in Publishers Weekly and Romantic Times as well as on his own websites, James Nicoll Reviews and Young People Read Old SFF (where he is assisted by editor Karen Lofstrom and web person Adrienne L. Travis). He is surprisingly flammable.