(My Kate Wilhelm collection)
Today I learned on twitter that Kate Wilhelm passed away on March 8th. A sadness has descended far more than I thought it would for someone I’ve never met…. But the intimate activity of reading always casts an entrancing net of familiarity with the creation and creator. If she’s new to you, I recommend her most famous Hugo- and Nebula-winning fix-up novel Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang (1976)–I’ve linked ta review from my friend Admiral Ironbombs. I’d returned to the novel myself over the last week in audiobook form on my drive to work. It’s as powerful and unsettling as I remember it from my first read-through as a teen somewhere between 2006 and 2008.
As frequent readers of my site might know, she is one of my favorite authors—especially in short story (novella) form–her short story collection The Downstairs Room and Other Speculative Fiction (1968) is required SF reading. My favorite short fiction includes the Nebula-nominated “Baby, You Were Great!” (1967) and the Nebula-Award winning “The Planners” (1968). They are entrancing, layered, and articulate visions… unforgettable.
In 2015 I put together a guest post series on her fiction. I’ve been included below my reviews and also those my guest reviewers.
If you have any favorite Wilhelm related-books/stories/memories/tangents/ thoughts/ruminations/reflections I’d love to know the comments!
List of my previously posted reviews
Collection: The Mile-Long Spaceship (1963)
Collection: The Downstairs Room and Other Speculative Fiction (1968)
Novel: Margaret and I (1971)
Novel: Juniper Time (1979)
List of Guest Posts
The Infinity Box (1975) via Heloise over at Heloise Merlin’s Weblog
The Killer Thing (1967) via 2theD over at Potpourri of SF Literature
Margaret and I (1971) via Max Cairnduff over at Pechorin’s Journal
Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang (1976) via Admiral Ironbombs over at Battered, Tattered, Yellowed, & Creased
Welcome, Chaos (1983) via Megan over at From Couch to Moon
Year of the Cloud (1970) via Mike White over at The Finch and the Pea
For reference, here is a complete list of her Hugo + Nebula nominations and wins (Because there were numerous changes to the award process over the years I have no included her stories/novels that were considered below the cutoff or preliminary nominations).
Nebula Award (14 nominations and 3 wins)
Best Novel nomination for The Clone (1965) with Theodore L. Thomas
Best Short Story nomination for “Baby, You Were Great!” (1967)
Best Short Story WIN for “The Planners” (1968)
Best Novelette nomination for “April Fools’ Day Forever” (1970)
Best Short Story nomination for “A Cold Dark Night with Snow” (1970)
Best Novel nomination for Margaret and I (1971)
Best Novella nomination for ”The Infinity Box” (1971) and “The Plastic Abyss” (1971)
Best Novelette nomination for “The Encounter” (1971)
Best Novelette nomination for “The Funeral” (1972)
Best Novel nomination for Where Late The Sweet Birds Sang (1976)
Best Novel nomination for Juniper Time (1979)
Best Novella nomination for “The Winter Beach” (1981)
Best Novella nomination for “The Gorgon Field” (1985)
Best Novelette WIN for “The Girl Who Fell from the Sky” (1986)
Best Short Story WIN for “Forever Yours, Anna” (1987)
Best Novella nomination for “Naming the Flowers” (1992)
Best Short story nomination for “I Know What You Are Thinking” (1994)
Hugo Award (4 nominations and 1 win)
Best Novelette nomination for “A Brother to Dragons, a Companion of Owls” (1974)
Best Novel WIN for Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang (1976)
Best Novella nomination for “With Thimbles, With Forks, and Hope” (1981)
Best Short Story nomination for “Forever Yours, Anna” (1987)
Best Short Story nomination for “I Know What You’re Thinking” (1994)
17 thoughts on “Updates: Kate Wilhelm (June 8, 1928-March 8, 2018)”
Thank you for this. She was one of my favorites, also. SHARED!
You’re welcome. It’s hit me surprisingly hard… Do you have a favorite novel/short story?
“The Downstairs Room” was the first book of sci-fi short stories I ever read, so it is warmly situated in my heart! Thanks for asking!
Best to you,
I have very high regard for both “Where the Sweet Birds Sang” and “Juniper Time,” and also enjoyed her thriller “The Clewiston Test.” It’s unfortunate that so much of her SF is hard to find.
As someone who only buys old editions, I’m not always aware of how difficult SF is to find. But, other than Where Late, the interest in my guest post series on her SF was absolutely minimal…. I find it really unfortunate that interest in her SF revolves mostly around a single (but very deserving) book (sort of like Herbert and Dune although on a smaller scale). I find her best work (BY FAR) to be her short fiction. And one reason why Where Late is so successful is that it’s a fix-up novel comprised of her favorite length to work with — the novella.
It didn’t occur to me until now, but Wilhelm is probably best remembered for her mysteries. Many of her SF (or SF-ish) titles – especially if there is a female protagonist pictured on the cover, like “Fault Lines,” “Juniper Time” or “The Clewiston Test,” — might be shelved in with the crime fiction. They don’t look like prototypical SF paperbacks.
Juniper Time was crime fiction?
I read and reviewed it a while back — but I don’t remember that vibe. I did read a portion of The Clewiston Test and I can definitely see that it’s more crime fiction.
Oh definitely not, Juniper Time is SF. But the 1980 paperback could definitely get it placed in with Wilhelm’s crime fiction in a used bookstore.
My personal favorite is one that you don’t have listed–“A Sense Of Shadow.” But “Margaret and i” is my second favorite.
Yeah, I’ve not read it. What is the premise?
The premise is that a wealthy old man dies and his will specifies that his heirs have to live together in his house for a period of time following his death, at which point strange things begin happening. I’d rather not say more–it’s kind of SF psychological horror.
Yeah, I only listed some of her award winning/nominated stuff. She wrote so much!
Thanks. I did not know about A Sense of Shadow.
I did read and review Margaret and I.
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Hugely influential, although perhaps as much through her work with the Clarion Workshops (which she helped found with her late husband, Damon Knight) as via her fiction. Her book Storyteller, about the art of writing & her Clarion experiences, is excellent.
Despite reading far more f&sf than crime/detective books, on hearing the news I immediately thought of the one or two ‘Barbara Holloway’ novels I read. For the Defense was the first one I read, which I thought was very good.
As said above, there’s very little in print – in the UK Where Late… is an SFMasterwork but everything else is o/p. There was one of those big yellow Gollancz Gateway volumes but it’s o/p already.
In the US there seems to be only Where Late…, several mysteries/crime novels, and Storyteller. .
Sounds like a new short story collection of hers needs to hit the shelves! But, reprints of influential/deserving short story collections/anthologies SO INFREQUENTLY happen…. Other than Dangerous Visions….
Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang was awesome. She is an author on my to-do list, and I’m sad to hear of her passing. It’s always sad when an author passes and you feel like you hardly got the chance to know them.
Have you read anything else by her? But yes, I agree…. Surprisingly hard hit by her death.