Zenna Henderson

Zenna Chlarson Henderson (November 1, 1917 – May 11, 1983) was an American elementary school teacher and science fiction and fantasy author. Her first story was published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in 1951. Her work is cited as pre-feminist, often featuring middle-aged women, children, and their relationships, but with stereotyped gender roles. Many of her stories center around humanoid aliens called "The People" who have special powers. Henderson was nominated for a Hugo Award in 1959 for her novelette "Captivity." Science fiction authors Lois McMaster Bujold, Orson Scott Card, Connie Willis, and Kathy Tyers have cited her as an influence on their work.[1]

Zenna Henderson
Zenna Henderson c.1953
Zenna Henderson c.1953
BornNovember 1, 1917
Tucson, Arizona
DiedMay 11, 1983 (aged 65)
Tucson, Arizona
OccupationTeacher, novelist, short story author
GenreScience fiction, fantasy
Literary movementScience fiction, fantasy
Notable worksPilgrimage: The Book of the People


Henderson was born during 1917 in Tucson, Arizona,[2] the daughter of Louis Rudolph Chlarson and Emily Vernell Rowley.[3] She was the oldest of five children.[4]:386 She began reading science fiction at age 12 from magazines such as Astounding Stories, Amazing Stories, and fantasy from Weird Tales.[4]:76 She cited Heinlein, Bradbury, Clement, and Asimov as her favorite science fiction writers.[2]

She received a bachelor of arts in education from Arizona State College during 1940, and taught school, primarily in the Tucson area, mainly first grade. She also taught in a "semi-ghost mining town," at Fort Huachuca, in France and Connecticut,[3] as well as in a Japanese internment camp in Sacaton, Arizona, during World War II.[2] She married Richard Harry Henderson during 1943,[5] but they were divorced soon after.[4]:386 In 1955 she received her MA, also from Arizona State College, and continued to teach elementary school.[2]

Henderson was one of the first 203 female science fiction authors to publish in American science fiction magazines between 1926 and 1960.[4]:313 She never used a male pseudonym.[5] In an essay on the increase in women authors of science fiction in 1950, Sam Merwin mentioned her as an up-and-coming woman SF writer.[4]:250 Her first story was published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in 1951.[4]:253 Her work has been referred to as feminist,[6] but perhaps more accurately is cited as pre-feminist.[7] Some feminist critics disliked the gender stereotypes present in her fiction, though her work depicts middle-aged and old women as well as women's relationships.[2] In an analysis of "Subcommittee," Farah Medlesohn examines how Henderson uses stereotypical gender roles to emphasize how feminine communication is conducive to peacemaking. In "Subcommittee," the wife of a general, Serena, befriends an alien mother and her child. Through their sharing of "women's things" like cooking and knitting, Serena finds out that the aliens need salt to continue their species. After hearing that peace negotiations are deteriorating, Serena interrupts a meeting with her revelation and a proposed solution. Unlike other popular science fiction at the time, which often centered around war with aliens, "Subcommittee" focuses on conflict resolution. The characters' gender roles enabled the ending plot twist, but were not the focus of speculation.[8]

Henderson was born and baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Though she never renounced her membership, after her marriage, she was no longer a churchgoing Latter-day Saint.[5] In the standard reference Contemporary Authors, she identified as Methodist,[9] and according to Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature, Volume 2, she was a member of Catalina United Methodist Church in Tucson.[10] During her later years, she attended an independent charismatic fellowship.[11] Her work contains many Christian themes and Biblical names. Many of her stories include The People, aliens who have traveled to Earth, which is their promised land. The People also invoke God as "the Power, the Presence and the Name."[2]

Zenna Henderson died of cancer during 1983 in Tucson, Arizona, and was buried in the St. David Cemetery[12] in St. David, Arizona.[2]


Most of Henderson's stories emphasize the theme of being different and the dangers therein. They often feature children or young people. Most are part of her series concerning the history of "The People", humanoid beings from a faraway planet who are forced to emigrate to Earth when their home world is destroyed by a natural disaster. Scattered mostly throughout the American Southwest during their landing before 1900, they are set apart by their desire to preserve their home culture, including their religious and spiritual beliefs. Their unusual abilities include telepathy, telekinesis, prophecy, and healing, which they call the "Signs and Persuasions". The People suppress their unusual abilities as they attempt to integrate into human life. The stories describe groups of The People, as well as lonely isolated individuals, most often as they attempt to find communities and remain distinct in a world that does not understand them. This aspect of individuality was a common theme in most of Henderson's writing. New York Times reviewer Basil Davenport described the stories as "haunting".[13] Brian W. Aldiss and David Wingrove noted that "As a sentimental portrait of the alien [the series] out-Simaks Simak."[14] In a book on early women science fiction writers, Eric Davin noted that all of her stories focus on "the search for community and communication," a theme that many women's science fiction stories from the time share.[4]:288 Henderson's years as a school teacher helped her to write believable child characters.[15]

Beginning with "Ararat" (1952), Henderson's The People stories appeared in magazines and anthologies, as well as the novelized Pilgrimage: The Book of the People (1961) and The People: No Different Flesh (1966). Other volumes include The People Collection (1991) and Ingathering: The Complete People Stories (1995).[16]

A common conflict in Henderson's stories is when a child has unusual powers that a school teacher discovers through observation.[15] In "The Last Step," a children's teacher in a future Martian colony takes various petty measures to interrupt a children's game on the grounds that they take it too seriously, unaware that the "game" is in fact using sympathetic magic to save the colony from an upcoming hostile invasion. In "The Believing Child", a young daughter of a migrant worker believes so strongly in an imaginary magic word that its powers come true; she then uses her newfound powers to take revenge on her abusive classmates. Compared to these are more frequent, gentler tales like "The Anything Box," in which a teacher learns that an unhappy little girl has discovered a box in which she can see her heart's desire. After struggling with her desire to steal the Anything Box for herself, the teacher must instruct the girl on how to use it safely without becoming "lost" in it.

Henderson mentions mental illness in several tales, including obsessive-compulsive disorder in "Swept and Garnished", and agoraphobia in "Incident After". In "One Of Them", a woman's latent telepathic powers cause her to lose her identity as she unwittingly probes the minds of her co-workers. In "You Know What, Teacher?" a young girl confides in her teacher of her father's philandering, and of her mother's plan for revenge.

Adaptations in other media

Henderson's story "Pottage" was made into the 1972 ABC-TV Movie, The People, featuring William Shatner, Kim Darby, and Diane Varsi, and concerning the story of a group of humanoid extraterrestrials who live in an isolated rural community on Earth.[17] It was the directorial debut for John Korty and was produced by his sometime partner Francis Ford Coppola.[18] It has been released on VHS format by Prism Entertainment and DVD format by American Zoetrope.

Henderson's story "Hush" was adapted as an episode of the George A. Romero TV series Tales from the Darkside. The episode first aired in 1988.[19]


Henderson was nominated for a Hugo Award in 1959 for her novelette "Captivity".[20] Her books were long out of print until the 1995 release of Ingathering: The Complete People Stories, published by the New England Science Fiction Association Press.[1] Ingathering was a second place finalist in the 1996 Locus Award for Best Collection.[21]


  • Pilgrimage: The Book of the People (1961)[22]
  • The Anything Box (1965)
  • The People: No Different Flesh (1967)
  • Holding Wonder (1971)
  • The People Collection (1991) (ISBN 055213659X, cover art by Mark Harrison)
  • Ingathering: The Complete People Stories: 1995, NESFA Press, ISBN 0-915368-58-7.


  1. ^ a b Hunter, Preston. "Zenna and Her People". www.adherents.com. Retrieved June 22, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Smith, Curtis C. (1981). Twentieth Century Science Fiction Writers. New York: St. Martin's. Archived from the original on April 23, 2009.
  3. ^ a b Pohl, Frederik; Greenberg, Martin H.; Olander, Joseph (1980). The Great Science Fiction Series. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-06-013383-2.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Davin, Eric Leif. Partners in Wonder: Women and the Birth of Science Fiction, 1926–1965. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books.
  5. ^ a b c "Mormon Literature Database – Henderson, Zenna Chlarson". Brigham Young University. 2003. Archived from the original on February 4, 2012.
  6. ^ Jenkins III, Henry (January 19, 2005). "Star Trek Rerun Reread Rewritten: Fan Writing as Textual Poaching". In Redmond, Sean. Liquid Metal: The Science Fiction Film Reader. Wallflower Press. ISBN 9781903364871.
  7. ^ Sawyer, Andy; Seed, David (2000). Speaking Science Fiction: Dialogues and Interpretations. Liverpool University Press. ISBN 978-0-85323-844-7.
  8. ^ Mendlesohn, Farah (Summer 1994). "Gender, Power, and Conflict Resolution: "Subcommittee" by Zenna Henderson". Extrapolation (Kent State University Press). 35 (2): 120–129. ISSN 0014-5483.
  9. ^ "Contemporary Authors: New Revision Series". 84. 2000. ISSN 0275-7176.
  10. ^ Reginald, Robert (2010). Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature, Volume 2. Borgo Press. pp. 934–935. ISBN 0-941028-77-1.
  11. ^ Patterson, Bill. "Discussion: Zenna Henderson's religion?". rec.arts.sf.written. Retrieved December 13, 2014.
  12. ^ "Zenna Chlarson Henderson". Find a Grave. 2007. Retrieved July 30, 2007.
  13. ^ "Realm of the Spaceman", The New York Times Book Review, January 29, 1956
  14. ^ Aldiss & Wingrove, Trillion Year Spree, Victor Gollancz, 1986, p.407
  15. ^ a b Miesel, Sandra (1978). "Introduction". Pilgrimage: The book of the people. Boston: Greg. pp. vii–xv. ISBN 9780839824985.
  16. ^ Wands, D. C. (May 22, 2007). "Zenna Henderson". Fantastic Fiction. Retrieved May 28, 2007.
  17. ^ "The People (1972) (TV)". IMDb. 2007. Retrieved May 28, 2007.
  18. ^ Miller, Ron (April 21, 1995). "Film studios beckon but director John Korty prefers freedom of TV". San Jose Mercury News.
  19. ^ ""Tales from the Darkside" Hush (TV Episode 1988)". IMDB. IMDB.com. Retrieved June 22, 2017.
  20. ^ "1959 Hugo Awards". The Hugo Awards. World Science Fiction Society. July 26, 2007. Retrieved June 22, 2017.
  21. ^ "Locus Awards 1996". Science Fiction Awards Database. Retrieved September 17, 2018.
  22. ^ Gale, Floyd C. (December 1961). "Galaxy's 5 Star Shelf". Galaxy Science Fiction. pp. 144–147.

External links

Anything Box

Anything Box is an Electronic/Synthpop/New Wave musical group originally from Paterson, New Jersey and now based in Long Beach, California. Formed in 1986, they are best known for their 1989 single "Living in Oblivion". They also garnered some attention for releasing an album entirely in MP3 format in 2003. With a current lineup consisting solely of Claude Strilio, the past members have included long-time members Dania Morales and Paul Rijnders, as well as Carlos Pacheco, Mike Zacek, Gary Strilio, Dave South and Barry Bunch. The band is noted for its melodic, synth-driven dance beats from its early years as well as its fusion of electronics and guitars which is its current musical focus. The band also receives praise for its album artwork which ranges from oil paintings to electronic paintings which are all works of Claude Strilio. Anything Box (also known as Abox by fans) has released several albums, EPs, and singles, and continues to perform around the world.

The band's name comes from the title of a book of short stories by Zenna Henderson, The Anything Box. In the title story, a young girl imagines the world as she would have it, apparently by staring at an empty space between her hands. Her school teacher discovers that the box is invisible, but real.

Anything Box's most recent release is Peace (Endpop.com, January 2018) which is a re-mastered version of their first album, and features remixes of their hits "Living In Oblivion" and "Jubilation".

Bud Webster

Clarence Howard "Bud" Webster (July 27, 1952 – February 14, 2016) was an American science fiction and fantasy writer who is also known for his essays on both the history of science fiction and sf/fantasy anthologies as well. He is perhaps best known for the Bubba Pritchert series, which have won two Analytical Laboratory readers' awards from Analog Science Fiction and Fact magazine. Farewell Blues was featured on the cover of the January/February 2015 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Webster is also known for his survey of Groff Conklin's contribution to science fiction in 41 Above the Rest: An Index and Checklist for the Anthologies of Groff Conklin.Webster was a contributing editor and columnist for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Bulletin and published a collection of those columns titled Anthropology 101: Reflections, Inspections and Dissections of SF Anthologies through Merry Blacksmith Press. His Bulletin column, "Anthropology 101", examines the history of science fiction and fantasy through classic anthologies and anthologists, frequently pairing books by different editors but also presenting two or more books by the same anthologist. The column has included multi-installment pieces on Frederik Pohl, Robert Silverberg, Harry Harrison and more recently, Terry Carr. In addition, he has co-wrote three Bulletin articles with Dr. Jerry Pournelle. He was also a frequent contributor to the "Curiosity" page of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. He was the poetry editor and columnist for Helix SF, an online speculative fiction quarterly. After Helix SF ceased publication, he took his column, "Past Masters", to Jim Baen's Universe, and when that closed, to Eric Flint's Grantville Gazette. The "Past Masters" columns are retrospective appraisals of so-called "classic" science fiction and fantasy authors, and include extensive bibliographies. Some of the authors covered in the "Past Masters" series include Zenna Henderson, Fredric Brown, Edgar Pangborn, and Murray Leinster.

Webster was poetry editor at Black Gate, a print fantasy magazine, for which he also wrote a column about little-known authors titled "Who?!" The only one of the columns appeared in Black Gate 15 and discussed author Tom Reamy.

In 2007, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) appointed Webster Estates Liaison, placing him in charge of their Estates Project, which makes it possible for publishers to contact the agents or individuals who represent the literary estates of deceased science-fiction and fantasy writers so that material by those authors can be reprinted. The Estates database currently contains information on more than 450 sf/fantasy authors.

In March 2012, SFWA announced that Webster would be given their Service to SFWA Award at the Nebula Awards banquet in May for his work on the SFWA Estates Project.In June 2013, Merry Blacksmith Press published a collection of Webster's essays about science fiction and fantasy authors and books titled Past Masters and Other Bookish Natterings, including articles on Clifford D. Simak. R. A. Lafferty, Judith Merril and others. This volume also includes short-short essays originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction as part of their "Curiosities" column, as well as three articles co-written with Jerry Pournelle.

Webster was also a collector of science fiction books, and is the author of The Joy of Booking: Webster's Guide to Buying and Selling Used SF and Fantasy Books.

First Voyages

First Voyages is an anthology of science fiction short stories edited by Damon Knight, Martin H. Greenberg and Joseph D. Olander, first published in paperback by Avon Books in May 1981. It is a compilation of the first published stories of twenty prominent authors in the genre, and an expansion of Knight's earlier First Flight: Maiden Voyages in Space and Time (Lancer Books, 1963), which covered ten of the same stories and authors.

Hector Garrido

Hector Garrido is an American book cover illustrator. He illustrated numerous science fiction, horror and adventure book covers, including all the covers for the Baroness series of pulp novels, and covers for the Destroyer series. He also illustrated romance and gothic novels, and Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys novels. Some of his work is considered good girl art. He was active from 1965 to 1995.

Magical Wishes

Magical Wishes is an anthology of themed fantasy and science fiction short stories on the subject of wishes edited by Isaac Asimov, Martin H. Greenberg and Charles G. Waugh as the seventh volume in their Isaac Asimov's Magical Worlds of Fantasy series. It was first published in paperback by Signet/New American Library in November 1986. The first British edition was issued in trade paperback by Robinson in July 1987.The book collects sixteen novellas, novelettes and short stories by various fantasy and science fiction authors, with an introduction by Asimov.

Mildred Clingerman

Mildred McElroy Clingerman (March 14, 1918 – February 26, 1997) was an American science fiction author.

Clingerman was born Mildred McElroy in Allen, Oklahoma and her family moved to Tucson, Arizona in 1929. She graduated from Tucson High School and attended the University of Arizona. She married Stuart Clingerman in 1937.Most of her short stories were published in the 1950s in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, edited by Anthony Boucher. Boucher included her story "The Wild Wood" in the seventh volume (1958) of The Best from Fantasy and Science Fiction and dedicated the book to her, calling her the "most serendipitous of discoveries." Her science fiction was collected as A Cupful of Space in 1961. She also published in mainstream magazines like Good Housekeeping and Collier's. Her story "The Little Witch of Elm Street" appeared in Woman's Home Companion in 1956.Married women are portrayed in stories like “The Wild Wood” (January 1957 F&SF) or “A Red Heart and Blue Roses” (original to her collection); they suffer violations of body space, male intrusiveness, and the impostures of aliens. Her stories have also appeared in several anthologies, including literature textbooks for middle and high school students. A 2017 anthology, The Clingerman Files, includes all of her originally published stories.

Clingerman was a collector of books of all kinds, especially those by and about Kenneth Grahame, and of Victorian travel journals.Clingerman was as strongly associated with F&SF as Zenna Henderson. She was a founder of the Tucson Writer's Club and served on the board of the Tucson Press Club. She was posthumously awarded the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award in 2014.


NESFA Press is the publishing arm of the New England Science Fiction Association, Inc. The NESFA Press primarily produces three types of books:

Books honoring the guest(s) of honor at their annual convention, Boskone, and at some Worldcons and other conventions.

Books in the NESFA's Choice series, which bring back into print the works of deserving classic SF writers such as James Schmitz, Cordwainer Smith, C. M. Kornbluth, and Zenna Henderson.

Reference books on science fiction and science fiction fandom.

Pilgrimage (disambiguation)

A pilgrimage is a long journey or search of great moral significance.

Speculations (book)

Speculations is an anthology of 17 short science fiction stories published by Houghton Mifflin in 1982. It was edited by Isaac Asimov and Alice Laurance. Instead of crediting the authors in the usual manner, it encouraged readers to guess who wrote which story, and provided a code which could be broken to give the answers.

Tales Beyond Time

Tales Beyond Time: From Fantasy to Science Fiction is an anthology of fantasy and science fiction short stories, edited by L. Sprague de Camp and Catherine Crook de Camp. It was first published in hardcover by Lothrop Lee & Shepard in 1973, and in paperback by William Morrow; a large print edition followed from G. K. Hall & Co. in 1974. It was the second such anthology assembled by the de Camps, following their earlier 3000 Years of Fantasy and Science Fiction (1972).

The People (1972 film)

The People is a 1972 television film, broadcast as an ABC Movie of the Week on January 22, 1972. It is mostly based on a novella by Zenna Henderson, "Pottage", but also contains elements from her stories "Ararat", "Gilead", and "Captivity". It stars Kim Darby, William Shatner, Diane Varsi and Dan O'Herlihy.

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