Gardner Dozois (1947-2018)

Editor and author Gardner Dozois, 70, died May 27, 2018 at a Philadelphia PA hospital of a sudden overwhelming systemic infection. Dozois was involved in science fiction for over 50 years, and was easily one of the most influential editors in the modern era of the field.

Gardner Raymond Dozois was born July 23, 1947 in Salem MA. He published short fiction in the early ’60s, served as a military journalist from 1966-69, and began working in publishing as a reader for magazines including Galaxy, If, Worlds of Fantasy, and Worlds of Tomorrow in the early 1970s. He helped found Asimov’s Science Fiction in 1976, was a slush reader and associate editor there, and became editor-in-chief in 1985 (his first issue was January 1986). He remained at the helm until his retirement in 2004, shepherding countless major writers into print. He won 15 Hugo Awards for his editing between 1988 and 2004.

Dozois also shaped the field with his vital Year’s Best anthologies, taking over Lester Del Rey’s Best Science Fiction Stories of the Year series in 1977 with volume six and continuing it until 1981. In 1984 he launched the first volume of The Year’s Best Science Fiction, which ran for an astonishing 35 years — The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirty-Fifth Annual Collection will be out this July. The massive volumes clearly delineated the shape of the field, and Dozois’s extensive introductory summaries of the year in publishing were unfailingly erudite, carefully researched, and complete. His retrospective anthologies The Best of the Best: 20 Years of the Year’s Best Science Fiction (2005) and The Best of the Best, Volume 2: 20 Years of the Best Short Science Fiction Novels (2007) are distillations of his editorial taste and offer a representative snapshot of the field’s development in recent decades. He was also an influential critic, writing extensively on the field, and reviewing short fiction for Locus on a monthly basis since October 2008 in his Gardnerspace column; the final installment appeared last month, in the June 2018 issue.

Dozois was also a gifted fiction writer, known for his dark and ambitious short stories. He began publishing with “The Empty Man” (1966) and became a notable figure in the New Wave with Hugo and Nebula Award finalists “A Special Kind of Morning” (1971) and “Chains of the Sea” (1972). “The Peacemaker” (1983) was a Hugo finalist and won a Nebula Award, as did “Morning Child” (1984), and other notable works include Nebula Award finalists “A Dream at Noonday” (1971), “Horse of Air” (1970), “A Kingdom by the Sea” (1972), “Disciples” (1981), “The Gods of Mars” (1985, with Jack Dann & Michael Swanwick), and “A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows” (1999). “Counterfactual” (2006) won a Sidewise Award. His short fiction was first collected in The Visible Man (1977), and other collections include Geodesic Dreams: The Best Short Fiction of Gardner Dozois (1992), Strange Days: Fabulous Journeys with Gardner Dozois (2001), Morning Child and Other Stories (2004), and When the Great Days Come (2011). He often wrote in collaboration with authors including Jack Dann, Michael Swanwick, and his wife Susan Casper, and some of those stories are collected in Slow Dancing through Time (1990).

His debut novel was Nightmare Blue (1975) in collaboration with George Alec Effinger, and his first solo novel was Strangers (1974; expanded 1978). He wrote short novel Shadow Twin (2005) with Daniel Abraham and George R.R. Martin, and they expanded it as Hunter’s Run in 2007.

The first anthology he edited was A Day in the Life (1972), and he edited around 150 anthologies in all, including more than 30 in the Magic Tales series co-edited with Jack Dann, more than 20 theme anthologies featuring stories drawn from Asimov’s (many co-edited with Sheila Williams), and in recent years several high-profile editorial collaborations with George R.R. Martin, including Jack Vance tribute volume Songs of the Dying Earth (2009), Old Mars (2013), Dangerous Women (2013), Rogues (2014), Old Venus (2015), and The Book of Swords (2017). Other notable anthologies include The Good Old Stuff: Adventure SF in the Grand Tradition (1998); The Good New Stuff: Adventure SF in the Grand Tradition (1999), and The New Space Opera (2007), co-edited with Jonathan Strahan.

His significant critical work includes essay “The Fiction of James Tiptree, Jr.” (1976); non-fiction anthology Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy: Twenty Dynamic Essays by Today’s Top Professionals (1991; expanded 1997), co-edited with Tina Lee, Stanley Schmidt, Ian Randal Strock & Sheila Williams; and all those Year’s Best summations and short fiction columns. Dozois taught at many Clarion workshops, and was a frequent and lively presence at conventions. Being Gardner Dozois: An Interview by Michael Swanwick (2001) is a delightful and wide-ranging book-length discussion of his career in science fiction.

Dozois was inducted into the SF Hall of Fame in 2011, received a Skylark Award in 2016, and won the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award in 2018. He was predeceased by his wife of 47 years, writer Susan Casper, who died in February 2017. He is survived by son Christopher Casper, daughter-in-law Nicole, grandchildren Tyler and Isabella, and sister Gail. Dozois will also be sorely missed by the countless authors, editors, and readers whose lives he touched.

An obituary, with photos and appreciations, will appear in the July 2018 issue of Locus.

2 thoughts on “Gardner Dozois (1947-2018)

  • May 31, 2018 at 5:52 am
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    Gardner was a Titan of the genre. He now, sadly, joins the pantheon of Great SFF Editors that includes Dave Hartwell and John Campbell (to name just two). His loss will be felt for years.

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