Constance Elaine Trimmer Willis (born December 31, 1945), commonly known as Connie Willis, is an American science fiction and fantasy writer. She has won eleven Hugo Awards and seven Nebula Awards for particular works—more major awards than any other writer—most recently the "Best Novel" Hugo and Nebula Awards for Blackout/All Clear (2010). She was inducted by the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2009 and the Science Fiction Writers of America named her its 28th SFWA Grand Master in 2011.
Several of her works feature time travel by history students at a faculty of the future University of Oxford—sometimes called the Time Travel series. They are the short story "Fire Watch" (1982, also in several anthologies and the 1985 collection of the same name), the novels Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog (1992 and 1997), as well as the two-part novel Blackout/All Clear (2010). All four won the annual Hugo Award but Doomsday Book and Blackout/All Clear won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards.
Connie Willis at WonderCon, 2017
|Born||Constance Elaine Trimmer|
December 31, 1945
Denver, Colorado, US
|Alma mater||Colorado State College|
|Genre||Science fiction, social satire, comedy of manners, comic science fiction|
|Subject||Time travel; War, especially World War II; Heroism; Courtship; Mores|
|Literary movement||Savage Humanism|
|Notable works||Doomsday Book, To Say Nothing of the Dog, Blackout/All Clear, "The Last of the Winnebagos"|
|Notable awards||Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award, Hugo Award, Nebula Award, Locus Award, and others|
Willis is a 1967 graduate of Colorado State College, now the University of Northern Colorado, where she completed degrees in English and Elementary Education. She lives in Greeley, Colorado, with her husband Courtney Willis, a former professor of physics at the University of Northern Colorado. They have one daughter, Cordelia.
Willis's first published story was "The Secret of Santa Titicaca" in Worlds of Fantasy, Winter 1970 (December). At least seven stories followed (1978–81) before her debut novel, Water Witch by Willis and Cynthia Felice, published by Ace Books in 1982. After receiving a National Endowment for the Arts grant that year, she left her teaching job and became a full-time writer.
Scholar Gary K. Wolfe has written, "Willis, the erstwhile stand-up superstar of SF conventions – having her as your MC is like getting Billy Crystal back as host of the Oscars – and the author of some of the field's funniest stories, is a woman of considerably greater complexity and gravity than her personal popularity reflects, and for all her facility at screwball comedy knock-offs and snappy parody, she wants us to know that she's a writer of some gravity as well."
Willis is known for writing "romantic 'screwball' comedy in the manner of 1940s Hollywood movies."
Much of Willis's writing explores the social sciences. She often weaves technology into her stories in order to prompt readers to question what impact it has on the world. For instance, Lincoln's Dreams plumbs not just the psychology of dreams, but also their role as indicators of disease. The story portrays a young man's unrequited love for a young woman who might or might not be experiencing reincarnation or precognition, and whose outlook verges on suicidal. Similarly, Bellwether is almost exclusively concerned with human psychology.
Other Willis stories explore the so-called "hard" sciences, following in the classic science fiction tradition. "The Sidon in the Mirror" harks back to the interplanetary and interstellar romanticism of the 1930s and 1940s. "Samaritan" is another take on the theme of Heinlein's "Jerry Was a Man", while "Blued Moon" is similarly reminiscent of Heinlein's "The Year of the Jackpot".
At the 2006 Hugo Awards ceremony, Willis presented writer Harlan Ellison with a special committee award. When Ellison got to the podium Willis asked him "Are you going to be good?" When she asked the question a second time, Ellison put the microphone in his mouth, to the crowd's laughter. He then momentarily put his hand on her left breast. Ellison subsequently complained that Willis refused to acknowledge his apology.
Willis is a Christian. In 1996, Willis wrote, "I sing soprano in a Congregationalist church choir. It is my belief that everything you need to know about the world can be learned in a church choir."
Meet the Savage Humanists: the hottest science-fiction writers working today. They use SF's unique powers to comment on the human condition in mordantly funny, satiric stories... In these pages, you'll find the top names in the SF field: including...Connie Willis (The Doomsday Book)...
"A Letter from the Clearys" is a short story written by Connie Willis published in the short story collections Fire Watch (1984) and The Best of Connie Willis (2013). In 1983 it won the Nebula Award for best science fiction published in the two years prior to 1983.All Seated on the Ground
All Seated on the Ground is a science fiction novella by Connie Willis, originally published in the December 2007 issue of American magazine Asimov's Science Fiction and as a standalone volume from Subterranean Press. It won the 2008 Hugo Award for Best Novella.Blackout/All Clear
Blackout and All Clear are the two volumes that constitute a 2010 science fiction novel by American author Connie Willis. Blackout was published February 2, 2010 by Spectra. The second part, the conclusion All Clear, was released as a separate book on October 19, 2010. The diptych won the 2010 Nebula Award for Best Novel, the 2011 Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel, and the 2011 Hugo Award for Best Novel.
These two volumes are the most recent of four books and a short story that Willis has written involving time travel from Oxford during the mid 21st century.Doomsday Book (novel)
Doomsday Book is a 1992 science fiction novel by American author Connie Willis. The novel won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards, and was shortlisted for other awards. The title of the book refers to the Domesday Book of 1086; Kivrin, the main character, says that her recording is "a record of life in the Middle Ages, which is what William the Conqueror's survey turned out to be."The novel is the first in a series about the Oxford time-traveling historians, which includes To Say Nothing of the Dog (1998) and Blackout/All Clear (2010).Even the Queen
"Even the Queen" is a science fiction short story by Connie Willis, exploring the long-term cultural effects of scientific control of menstruation. It was originally published in 1992 in Asimov's Science Fiction, and appears in Willis' short-story collection Impossible Things (1994) and The Best of Connie Willis (2013), as well as in the audio-book Even the Queen and Other Short Stories (1996).Fire Watch (short story)
"Fire Watch" is a science fiction novelette by American writer Connie Willis. The story, first published in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine in February 1982, involves a time-traveling historian who goes back to the Blitz in London, to participate in the fire lookout at St. Paul's Cathedral.
The protagonist has a deep emotional attachment to the Cathedral and is highly devoted to his role in defending it - especially due to his bitter knowledge that St. Paul's would survive the World War II bombings but would be obliterated in a terrorist attack in the protagonist's own time.Hugo Award for Best Novella
The Hugo Award for Best Novella is one of the Hugo Awards given each year for science fiction or fantasy stories published or translated into English during the previous calendar year. The novella award is available for works of fiction of between 17,500 and 40,000 words; awards are also given out in the short story, novelette and novel categories. The Hugo Awards have been described as "a fine showcase for speculative fiction" and "the best known literary award for science fiction writing".The Hugo Award for Best Novella has been awarded annually since 1968. In addition to the regular Hugo awards, beginning in 1996 Retrospective Hugo Awards, or "Retro Hugos", have been available to be awarded for years 50, 75, or 100 years prior in which no awards were given. Retro Hugos may only be awarded for years in which a World Science Fiction Convention, or Worldcon, was hosted, but no awards were originally given. To date, Retro Hugo awards have been given for novellas for 1939, 1941, 1943, 1946, 1951, and 1954.Hugo Award nominees and winners are chosen by the supporting and attending members of the annual World Science Fiction Convention, or Worldcon, and the presentation evening constitutes its central event. The selection process is defined in the World Science Fiction Society Constitution as instant-runoff voting with six nominees, except in the case of a tie. These novellas on the ballot are the six most-nominated by members that year, with no limit on the number of stories that can be nominated. Initial nominations are made by members in January through March, while voting on the ballot of six nominations is performed roughly in April through July, subject to change depending on when that year's Worldcon is held. Prior to 2017, the final ballot was five works; it was changed that year to six, with each initial nominator limited to five nominations. Worldcons are generally held near the start of September, and are held in a different city around the world each year. Members are permitted to vote "no award", if they feel that none of the nominees is deserving of the award that year, and in the case that "no award" takes the majority the Hugo is not given in that category. This happened in the Best Novella category in 2015.During the 57 nomination years, 161 authors have had works nominated; 41 of these have won, including coauthors and Retro Hugos. Connie Willis has received the most Hugos for Best Novella at four, and at eight is tied for the most nominations with Robert Silverberg. Willis and Charles Stross at three out of four nominations are the only authors to have won more than twice, while thirteen other authors have won the award twice. Nancy Kress has earned seven nominations and Robert A. Heinlein, George R. R. Martin, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Lucius Shepard six, and are the only authors besides Willis and Silverberg to get more than four. Robinson has the highest number of nominations without winning.Inside Job (novella)
Inside Job is a novella by Connie Willis, originally published in the January 2005 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction and later as a hardback by Subterranean Press. In the story, a debunker of pseudoscience encounters a fake medium who seems to be genuinely channelling the disruptive spirit of H. L. Mencken. It was the winner of the 2006 Hugo Award for Best Novella.Kurd Laßwitz Award
The Kurd Laßwitz Award (German: Kurd-Laßwitz-Preis) is possibly the best-known science fiction award from Germany. The award is named after the science fiction author Kurd Laßwitz. Eligible for nomination in all categories except for the Foreign Work category are only works published in German originally.Wolfgang Jeschke has won the award 19 times in four different categories, while Andreas Eschbach has won the prize 9 times in two different categories. The foreign-language category includes novels, stories, collections and non-fiction. Iain Banks and China Miéville won the foreign-language prize four times. Other authors to win multiple times are Hans Joachim Alpers, Carl Amery, Herbert W. Franke, Ian McDonald, Michael Marrak, and Connie Willis.Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel
Winners of the Locus Award for Best SF Novel, awarded by the Locus magazine. Awards presented in a given year are for works published in the previous calendar year.
The award for Best Science Fiction Novel was first presented in 1980, and is among the awards still presented (as of 2016). Previously, there had simply been an award for Best Novel. A similar award for Best Fantasy Novel was also introduced in 1980.Mirror Dance
Mirror Dance is a Hugo- and Locus-award-winning science fiction novel by Lois McMaster Bujold. Part of the Vorkosigan Saga, it was first published by Baen Books in March 1994, and is included in the 2002 omnibus Miles Errant.Passage (Willis novel)
Passage is a science fiction novel by Connie Willis, published in 2001. The novel won the Locus Award for Best Novel in 2002, was shortlisted for the Nebula Award in 2001, and received nominations for the Hugo, Campbell, and Clarke Awards in 2002.Passage follows the efforts of Joanna Lander, a research psychologist, to understand the phenomenon of near-death experiences (or NDEs) by interviewing hospital patients after they are revived following clinical death. Her work with Dr. Richard Wright, a neurologist who has discovered a way to chemically induce an artificial NDE and conduct an "RIPT" brain scan during the experience, leads her to the discovery of the biological purpose of NDEs.
Science fiction scholar Gary K. Wolfe writes, "Willis tries something truly astonishing: without resorting to supernaturalism on the one hand or clinical reportage on the other, without forgoing her central metaphor, she seeks to lift the veil on what actually happens inside a dying mind." Through Lander's work, Dr. Wright is able to develop a medicine that brings patients back from clinical death.
The novel contains enlightening discussions of various disasters, including the RMS Titanic, the Hartford circus fire, the Hindenburg disaster, the Eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79, the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa, the Boston Molasses Disaster, and, almost as prominently as the Titanic, the sinking of the USS Yorktown. (Willis has written extensively in several novels about events in World War II.)Premio Ignotus
Premios Ignotus are annual Spanish literary awards that were created in 1991 by the Asociación Española de Fantasía|Ciencia Ficción y Terror (AEFCFT). The awards, which are in the genres of science fiction and fantasy, are voted on by members of Hispacon, the national science fiction convention of Spain. The method appears to be very similar to the Hugo Awards.The Last of the Winnebagos
"The Last of the Winnebagos" is a short story written by Connie Willis. It was first published in Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine in 1988, and reprinted in the short story collections Impossible Things (1994) and The Best of Connie Willis' (2013).The Queen of Air and Darkness (novella)
"The Queen of Air and Darkness" is a science fiction novella by American writer Poul Anderson, set in his History of Rustum fictional universe. It won the Hugo Award for Best Novella and the Locus Award for Best Short Story in 1972, and the Nebula Award for Best Novelette in 1971.The Saturn Game
"The Saturn Game" is a science fiction novella by American writer Poul Anderson.The Soul Selects Her Own Society
The Soul Selects Her Own Society: Invasion and Repulsion: A Chronological Reinterpretation of Two of Emily Dickinson's Poems: A Wellsian Perspective is a 1996 science fiction short story by Connie Willis. It was first published in Asimov's Science Fiction in April 1996, but written for the anthology War of the Worlds: Global Dispatches, in which it was published in June 1996; it was subsequently republished in War of the Worlds: Fresh Perspectives on the H. G. Wells Classic (2005), in This is My Funniest: Leading Science Fiction Writers Present Their Funniest Stories Ever (2006), in The Winds of Marble Arch and Other Stories (2007), and in The Best of Connie Willis: Award-Winning Stories (2013).To Say Nothing of the Dog
To Say Nothing of the Dog: or, How We Found the Bishop's Bird Stump at Last is a 1997 comic science fiction novel by Connie Willis. It used the same setting which includes time-traveling historians she explored in her story Fire Watch and novels Doomsday Book (1992) and Blackout/All Clear (2010).
To Say Nothing of the Dog won both the Hugo and Locus Awards in 1999, and was nominated for the Nebula Award in 1998.