Suzette Haden Elgin (1936-2015)

SF writer and poet Suzette Haden Elgin, 78, died January 27, 2015.

She began publishing SF with “For the Sake of Grace” in F&SF (1969), part of her Coyote Jones series, which also includes novels The Communipaths (1970), Furthest (1971), At the Seventh Level (1972), Star-Anchored, Star-Angered (1979), and Yonder Comes the Other End of Time (1986). She also wrote the Planet Ozark series, including Twelve Fair Kingdoms (1981), The Grand Jubilee (1981), and And then There’ll be Fireworks (1981). She is best known for her Native Tongue SF trilogy: Native Tongue (1984), The Judas Rose (1987), and Earthsong (1994); the latter was longlisted for the Tiptree Award. She also wrote standalone Peacetalk 101 (2003).

Elgin founded the Science Fiction Poetry Association in 1978; the organization’s Elgin Award, for best poetry book and chapbook of the year, is named in her honor. She wrote the The Science Fiction Poetry Handbook (1986; expanded 2004).

Patricia Anne Wilkins was born November 18, 1936 in Missouri. She earned a PhD in linguistics from UC San Diego in 1973, and taught there from 1972-80, when she retired. She was married twice, to Peter Haden (married 1955; he predeceased her) and George Elgin (married 1964; he survives her).

Her interest in linguistics is apparent in her SF, particularly in the Native Tongue books and First Diction and Grammar of Láadan (1985), a work of non-fiction about the language she constructed for the Coyote Jones series. She was widely published as a linguist as well, notably with her Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense series, beginning with The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense (1980).

See the March issue of Locus for a complete obituary. See her entry in the Science Fiction Encyclopedia for more on her work.