Katherine MacLean

Katherine Anne MacLean (born January 22, 1925) is an American science fiction author best known for her short fiction of the 1950s which examined the impact of technological advances on individuals and society.



Damon Knight wrote, "As a science fiction writer she has few peers; her work is not only technically brilliant but has a rare human warmth and richness."[1] Brian Aldiss noted that she could "do the hard stuff magnificently," while Theodore Sturgeon observed that she "generally starts from a base of hard science, or rationalizes psi phenomena with beautifully finished logic."

According to The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, she "was in the vanguard of those sf writers trying to apply to the soft sciences the machinery of the hard sciences".[2]

Her stories have been included in anthologies and a few have had radio and television adaptations. Three collections of her stories have been published.

It was while she worked as a laboratory technician in 1947 that she began writing science fiction. Strongly influenced by Ludwig von Bertalanffy's General Systems Theory, her fiction has often demonstrated a foresight in scientific advancements.


MacLean received a Nebula Award in 1971, for her novella "The Missing Man" (Analog, March, 1971) and she was a Professional Guest of Honor at the first WisCon in 1977. She was honored in 2003 by the Science Fiction Writers of America as an SFWA Author Emeritus. In 2011, she received the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award.


The Diploids and Other Flights of Fancy (Avon, 1962), her first short story collection, includes "The Diploids" (a.k.a. "Six Fingers"), "Feedback", "Pictures Don't Lie", "Incommunicado", "The Snow Ball Effect", "Defense Mechanism" and "And Be Merry" (a.k.a. "The Pyramid in the Desert").

Her second collection, The Trouble with You Earth People (Donning/Starblaze, 1980) contains "The Trouble with You Earth People", "The Gambling Hell and the Sinful Girl", "Syndrome Johnny", "Trouble with Treaties" (with Tom Condit), "The Origin of the Species", "Collision Orbit", "The Fittest", "These Truths", "Contagion", "Brain Wipe" and her Nebula Award-winning "The Missing Man".

Short stories and novelettes

  • "Defense Mechanism" (1949). This tale of hidden telepathic abilities was Katherine MacLean's first story to see print when it was published in Astounding Science Fiction (October, 1949).
  • "And Be Merry" (1950). Originally in Astounding Science Fiction (February, 1950), this story was first anthologized in Groff Conklin's Omnibus of Science Fiction (Crown, 1952) and has also been published under the title "The Pyramid in the Desert." In January 2006, MacLean reflected on the science behind the story:
"And Be Merry" (Eat Drink and Be Merry for Tomorrow We Die) A lab biologist, female, takes advantage of her husband going off on an archeology trip, to use the privacy to experiment on herself for rejuvenation by a severe and dangerous method. Succeeding, she contemplates immortality, finding that safety from accidental death has become so valuable to her that she becomes a coward, cowering from all possible risk, seeing shelter in a hospital, and is only rescued from mindless panic by her husband finding her, realizing the source of her terror and rescuing her from immortality by claiming she has a slow growing tumor in an unreachable part of the body.
Finding she has no chance of evading eventual death, she immediately loses her obsession with safety, becomes interested in biochemistry again, and invents a new theory. (New at the time.) Mutation from background radiation does not just strike the sperm and egg making chromosome changes in the embryo and mutated progeny, it also strikes the chromosomes in each cell of any living creature, damages and mutates them also, and produces cancer. This cannot be prevented. She called it "somatic mutation" and used the new concept of body deterioration by slow radiation damage (age) to underpin her rediscovered recklessness, and be happy.
Even now most biotechs have not fully accepted the implication that every cell in the body can generate an entire copy of the person. But perhaps a copy will be changed and mutated for the worse by exposure to ambient radiation and other mutagens. Perhaps a cell needs to generate a placenta around it to develop into an entire body. Something like that is holding up the biochemists from successfully making copies of individuals from body or blood cells. Not for long! I wrote three more stories with novel genetic ideas before 1953. Some have not been followed up by scientists yet.[3]
  • "Incommunicado" (1950). In this novelette about communication and computers, written by MacLean in 1947, she demonstrated an ability to foresee the future evolution of personal computers. Passages in this story anticipate such latter-day digital configurations as Google Book Search, Google Video Search, PDA devices, podcasting and portable music players. At a space station operated by a computer, the station's workers begin to unconsciously develop a musical rapport with their computer in a feedback loop. When published in the June 1950 issue of Astounding Science Fiction, cover artist Miller contributed one of the more striking Astounding covers of the 1950s, blending an emotional musical performance with cyber technology. The story was reprinted a decade later in Groff Conklin's anthology, Six Great Short Science Fiction Novels (Dell, 1960), followed by MacLean's collection, The Diploids (Avon, 1962). In January, 2006, MacLean recalled this incident, trying to gate-crash a convention of electronic engineers a few years after Incommunicado was published in 1950:
In the 1930s and 1940s, scientists and boys planning to be scientists read Astounding (Analog) with close attention to the hottest most promising ideas and took them up as soon as they could get funded lab space. They did not openly express their gratitude to science fiction, because the funding depended on keeping claim to have originated the ideas they had put so much work into testing and verifying....
"I hastily looked around for a door to a lecture hall where I could sneak some listening time and get a line on current research, and be out of sight before the desk was reoccupied by the guardian of the gate....
Too late, a man built like a fullback in a business suit was bearing down on me. "I see you don't have your badge. May I have your name? I'll look it up in the registry...."
"Katherine MacLean, I came in because I am interested in--"
He interrupted. "Katherine MacLean! Are you that Katherine MacLean?" He gripped my hand and hung on. Who was that Katherine Maclean? Was I being mistaken for someone else?
"Are you the Katherine MacLean who wrote 'Incommunicado'?"
Speechless with relief, I nodded. I would not be arrested or thrown out if they would accept me as a science fiction writer. He kept his grip on my hand and turned around and bellowed to his group of chatting friends, "Guess who I've got here. The little woman who wrote 'Incommunicado'!"
...I had not been aware that my playing with communication ideas would attract the attention of prestigious Bell Telephone researchers. I had left radio and wavelength theory to my Dad as one of his hobbies and learned early that I could get a nasty shock from playing with his wiring. I could not account for their enthusiasm. I went back to the typewriter and lost myself in the story again.
The point is, that scientists not only read Astounding-Analog, they were fans of the writers and understood all the Ideas, even the obscure Ideas that were merely hinted at.[3]
  • "Feedback" (1951). A sociological setback occurs when conformity becomes a closed circle, prompting even more conformity; a teacher who speaks in favor of individuality is regarded as subversive. Originally in Astounding Science Fiction (July, 1951).
  • "Syndrome Johnny" (1951). Published before it was even certain that DNA carried genetic information, this story is about a series of engineered retroviral plagues, initially propagated by blood transfusion, that are genetically re-engineering the human race. First published in Galaxy Science Fiction (July, 1951).
  • "Pictures Don't Lie'" (1951). Radio contact with extraterrestrial ship arriving on Earth. Originally in Galaxy Science Fiction (August, 1951), it was adapted to radio, television and comic books. The adaptation on the UK series Out of This World was telecast August 11, 1962. The EC Comics version of this story was "Chewed Out!", illustrated by Joe Orlando for Weird Science 12 (March–April 1952). In expanding the basic premise and adding comedic elements, scripter Al Feldstein established the setting as Blytheville, Arkansas. On several occasions MacLean noted that she ranked EC's interpretation as superior to her own story.
  • "The Man Who Staked the Stars" (1952, as Charles Dye). A business mobster under investigation is slowly turned against himself by an internal doppelgänger. Originally in Planet Stories (July, 1952). This story is available online free in Project Gutenberg.
  • "The Snowball Effect" (1952). A sociology professor, challenged to prove his theories of the dynamic growth of organizations, rewrites the rules of a smalltown sewing circle to have "more growth drive than the Roman Empire." He is far more successful than he ever anticipated. Originally in Galaxy Science Fiction (September, 1952),[4] and adapted for the X Minus One radio series in 1956.[5]
  • "Games" (1953). A boy becomes the characters in his make-believe games. Originally in Galaxy Science Fiction (March, 1953). Available online
  • "The Diploids" (1953). In this novella, a young lawyer suspects he may be an alien because of certain physical and biochemical abnormalities but discovers that he is a commercial human embryonic cell line, sold for research and illegally grown to maturity. Originally in Thrilling Wonder Stories (April, 1953). Also titled "Six Fingers."
  • "Cosmic Checkmate" (1958). This collaboration by MacLean and Charles V. De Vet, published in Astounding Science Fiction (March, 1958), was nominated for a 1959 Hugo. It was expanded as Second Game in 1962 and again in 1981. Two gamers play a multi-level game to determine whether Earth's civilization wins.
  • "Unhuman Sacrifice" (1958). Published in Astounding Science Fiction (March, 1958), reprinted in Damon Knight's anthology A Century of Science Fiction (1962). The attempts of a missionary to spread the word on an alien planet are frustrated by the aliens' life cycle.
  • "The Kidnapping of Baroness 5" (1995) Originally published in Analog; republished in the anthologies Women of Other Worlds (edited by Helen Merrick & Tess Williams) and A Woman's Liberation (edited by Connie Willis and Sheila Williams). In a post-apocalyptic world, a geneticist struggles to help preserve and lengthen the lives of the genetically damaged descendants of the survivors of a genetic experiment to extend the human lifespan that went horribly wrong. Instead, with each generation, lifespan gets shorter, and as less and less knowledge is passed down to each succeeding generation, society has regressed to a feudal state. She fits into society by casting herself as a sort of "good witch" cum healer, passing off her medical expertise and her efforts to correct the damage to the human aging process as magic.
  • "Contagion" (1950). Originally published in Galaxy Science Fiction (October 1950), reprinted in Women of Wonder (1975).[6]


  • The Man in the Bird Cage (1971)
  • Missing Man (1975). In a balkanized New York City, an engineer working for the city's disaster planning section has his inside knowledge exploited to cause disasters. The novel is an expanded version of MacLean's 1971 Nebula Award-winning novella of the same name.
  • Dark Wing (1979) with husband Carl West. In a world where medical knowledge has been outlawed, a young man discovers a medical kit, remnant of times past, which he uses to help those around him and to fight his way towards a better understanding of science and medicine.


  • For Martin Greenberg's Fantastic Lives: Autobiographical Essays by Notable Science Fiction Writers (Southern Illinois University Press, 1981) she wrote "The Expanding Mind," a memoir of her youth and the impact of science fiction on the mind of a young girl.
  • For Eric Leif Davin's Partners in Wonder: Women and the Birth of Science Fiction, 1926-1965, MacLean supplied him with a detailed description of her negotiations with John W. Campbell in regards to the publication of her earliest stories.[7]


  1. ^ Knight, Damon (1962). A Century of Science Fiction. New York: Simon and Schuster. p. 151. Retrieved July 21, 2012.
  2. ^ John Clute and Peter Nicholls, eds., The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, St. Martin's Griffin, 1995
  3. ^ a b "Katherine MacLean". www.BookRags.com.
  4. ^ Katherine MacLean title listing at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
  5. ^ http://www.otrplotspot.com/xMinusOne.html
  6. ^ Katherine MacLean title listing at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
  7. ^ Davin, Eric Leif. Partners in Wonder: Women and the Birth of Science Fiction, 1926-1965, Lexington Books, 2006.

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1974 New Zealand Royal Visit Honours

The 1974 New Zealand Royal Visit Honours were appointments by Elizabeth II to the Royal Victorian Order, to mark her visit to New Zealand that year. The Queen was accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales, Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips on the tour, and attended the 10th British Commonwealth Games in Christchurch and celebrations at Waitangi to mark New Zealand Day. The honours were announced at the conclusion of the tour on 7 and 8 February 1974.The recipients of honours are displayed here as they were styled before their new honour.

A Meeting with Medusa

A Meeting with Medusa is a science fiction novella by British writer Arthur C. Clarke. It was originally published in 1971 and has since been included in the anthology Nebula Award Stories Eight as well as several collections of Clarke's writings.

A sequel, The Medusa Chronicles, was published in 2016 as a collaborative effort between Alastair Reynolds and Stephen Baxter.

Aliens from Analog

Aliens from Analog is the seventh in a series of anthologies of science fiction stories drawn from Analog magazine and edited by then-current Analog editor Stanley Schmidt. It was first published in paperback by Davis Publications and hardcover by The Dial Press in 1983.The book collects eleven short stories, novelettes and novellas first published in Analog and its predecessor title Astounding, together with an introduction by Schmidt.

Author Emeritus

Author Emeritus was an honorary title annually bestowed by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America upon a living writer. It was created in 1995 "as a way to recognize and appreciate senior writers in the genres of science fiction and fantasy who have made significant contributions to our field but who are no longer active or whose excellent work may no longer be as widely known as it once was." The Author Emeritus is invited to speak at the annual Nebula Awards banquet.The Author Emeritus was inaugurated in 1995 and conferred 14 times in 16 years to 2010 (at the 1994 to 2009 Nebula Awards banquets). Three years later, no more had been named and SFWA simply stated, "This year's Nebula Awards Weekend will not feature an Author Emeritus." By October 2013, early in the 20th year of the honor, SFWA had made unavailable general information about the Author Emeritus and a compiled list of honorees.

1995 Emil Petaja

1996 Wilson Tucker

1997 Judith Merril

1998 Nelson S. Bond

1999 William Tenn

2000 Daniel Keyes

2001 Robert Sheckley

2002 —

2003 Katherine MacLean

2004 Charles L. Harness—declined the banquet invitation due to being unable to travel and was honored by SFWA as an "Author of Distinction"

2005 —

2006 William F. Nolan

2007 D. G. Compton

2008 Ardath Mayhar

2009 M. J. Engh

2010 Neal Barrett, Jr.

Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award

Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award honors underread science fiction and fantasy authors with the intention of drawing renewed attention to the winners. The award was initiated in 2001 by the Cordwainer Smith Foundation.

Crossroads in Time

Crossroads in Time is an anthology of science fiction short stories edited by Groff Conklin. It was first published in paperback by Permabooks in November 1953. It has also been translated into Spanish.The book collects eighteen novellas, novelettes and short stories by various science fiction authors, together with an introduction by the editor. The stories were previously published from 1936-1953 in various science fiction and other magazines.

Enemy Mine (novella)

"Enemy Mine" is a science fiction novella by American writer Barry B. Longyear. It was originally published in the September 1979 issue of Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. Later, it was collected by Longyear in the 1980 book Manifest Destiny. A longer, novel form was published, based on the film. It also appears in Longyear's anthology The Enemy Papers (1998): this version was labeled as "The Author's cut" and was significantly revised.

Every Heart a Doorway

Every Heart a Doorway is a novella by Seanan McGuire. Set in a boarding school for teenagers who have passed through "doorways" into fantasy worlds only to be evicted back into the real world. It was critically acclaimed upon release, and it won the 2017 Hugo Award for Best Novella, the 2016 Nebula Award for Best Novella, and the 2017 Locus Award for Best Novella. and the Alex Awards for 2017

Hydra Club

The Hydra Club was a social organization of science fiction professionals and fans. It met in New York City during the 1940s and 1950s.

It was founded October 25, 1947 in the apartment of Judith Merril and Frederik Pohl on Grove Street in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York. As nine founders were present, the club took its name from the legendary nine-headed monster, the Hydra.

Among its members were Lester del Rey, David A. Kyle, Frederik Pohl, Judith Merril, Martin Greenberg, Robert W. Lowndes, Philip Klass, Jack Gillespie, David Reiner, L. Jerome Stanton, Fletcher and Inga Pratt, Willy Ley, George O. Smith, Basil Davenport, Sam Merwin, Harry Harrison, Jerome Bixby, Groff Conklin, Bea Mahaffey, Murray Leinster, Jack Coggins, and J. Harry Dockweiler.An article by Merril about the club in the November 1951 Marvel Science Fiction was accompanied by Harry Harrison's drawing caricaturing 41 members:

Harrison's caption adds, "The remaining twenty-odd members showed up too late at the meeting."

List of short stories by Harry Harrison

This is a list of all short stories published by science-fiction author Harry Harrison, along with the collections they appeared in, if any.

Nebula Awards Showcase 2004

Nebula Awards Showcase 2004 is an anthology of award-winning science fiction short works edited by Vonda N. McIntyre. It was first published in trade paperback by Roc/New American Library in March 2004.The book collects pieces that won or were nominated for the Nebula Awards for best novel, novella, novelette and short story for the year 2003, tributes to recently deceased author and SWFA founder Damon Knight, profiles of 2003 grand master winner Ursula K. Le Guin and 2003 Author Emeritus Katherine MacLean, with representative pieces by both, and various other nonfiction pieces related to the awards, together with an introduction by the editor. Not all nominees for the various awards are included, and the best novel is represented by an excerpt. Each story is prefaced with a short introduction by its author.

Operation Future

Operation Future is an anthology of science fiction short stories edited by Groff Conklin. It was first published in paperback by Permabooks in July 1955 and reprinted in September 1956.The book collects nineteen novellas, novelettes and short stories by various science fiction authors, together with an introduction by the editor. The stories were previously published from 1939-1954 in various science fiction and other magazines.

Science Fiction Inventions

Science Fiction Inventions is a reprint anthology of science fiction stories, edited by Damon Knight and published by Lancer Books as an original paperback in 1967.

Six Great Short Science Fiction Novels

Six Great Short Science Fiction Novels is an anthology of science fiction short stories edited by Groff Conklin. It was first published in paperback by Dell in November 1960. The book should not be confused with his similarly titled earlier anthology, 6 Great Short Novels of Science Fiction.

The book collects six novellas and novelettes by various science fiction authors, together with an introduction by the editor. The stories were previously published from 1954-1960 in various science fiction and other magazines.


Stardance is a science fiction novel by Spider Robinson and Jeanne Robinson, published by Dial Press in 1979 as part of its Quantum science fiction line. The novel's opening segment originally appeared in Analog in 1977 as the novella "Stardance", followed by the serialized conclusion, "Stardance II", in Analog in 1978.After the Dial hardcover appeared in 1979, Stardance was reprinted in paperback by Dell Books in 1980, followed by reissues from Tor Books and Baen Books over the next decade. Baen compiled the novel, together with its sequel, Starseed, in a mass market paperback omnibus, The Star Dancers, in 1997; in 2006, Baen published a hardcover omnibus, The Stardance Trilogy, adding a third novel, Starmind.

The Persistence of Vision (short story)

"The Persistence of Vision" is a science fiction novella by American writer John Varley. It won both the Hugo and Nebula awards for best novella in 1979. It was included in the anthology of the same name and in The John Varley Reader.

Year's Best SF 3

Year's Best SF 3 is a science fiction anthology, edited by David G. Hartwell, that was published in 1998. It is the third in the Year's Best SF series.

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