McFarland & Co. has just released Michael Bishop and the Persistence of Wonder, by Joe Sanders, a professor emeritus at Lakeland Community College, in Ohio. The book is described as a “critical study of the writings” of Michael Bishop.
I’m only a few pages into it, but I know already I’m going to enjoy it. Michael has been a close friend for thirty-five years. How good is his work? Back in the sixties and early seventies, when I was teaching high school English, I discovered quickly that requiring my students to read Charles Dickens and Henry James would accomplish nothing. I had an English teacher during my sophomore years who read to us every afternoon from A Tale of Two Cities. Yawn.
The trick was to find somebody a high school kid, or a Ph.D., would love. Mark Twain. James Thurber. Conan Doyle. The plan was to demonstrate that books are fun. Do that, and the students will find Henry James and Charles Dickens on their own.
I wanted to introduce my students also to fantasy and science fiction. For that, I used Robert Heinlein and Ray Bradbury. If I were teaching today, Mike Bishop would also be at the top of the batting order. He’s flat out a pleasure to read.
He’s won two Nebulas, for “The Quickening,” a novelette in 1981, and for No Enemy But Time, a novel in 1982. He’s received a wide range of other awards, written sixteen novels, and 140 short stories. He’s been the guest of honor at virtually every major science fiction convention in the country, plus one in Italy.
As of now, there are ten collections of his stories with, I hope, more to come. They Include The Door Gunner and Other Perilous Flights of Fancy: A Michael Bishop Retrospective (2012); Other Arms Reach Out to Me: Georgia Stories (2017); and Close Encounters with the Deity (1986).
His novels include And Strange at Ecbatan the Trees (1976); Transfigurations (1979); Who Made Stevie Crye? (1984); Ancient of Days, (1985); Unicorn Mountain (1988); Philip K. Dick Is Dead, Alas (1989); Count Geiger’s Blues (1992); Brittle Innings (1994); and Joel- Brock the Brave and the Valorous Smalls (2016).
Michael approaches his work from a wide range of angles. Pulling everything together in an effort to analyze his fiction would be a challenge for anyone. I’m looking forward to diving back into Joe Sanders’ book this evening. My own analysis: I’ll settle for the simple observation that I’ve never started anything by Michael Bishop that I didn’t finish. I should add that I had the pleasure of serving as his editor for a contribution to Going Interstellar.
Signed copies of a substantial number of his books can be acquired at