Carol Emshwiller (1921-2019)

Author Carol Emshwiller, 97, died February 2, 2019 in Durham NC, where she was living with her daughter.

She began her long career with “This Thing Called Love” in Future (1955), and was known for her experimental and feminist fiction. Many early stories appeared in F&SF and the Orbit anthologies, and some of her most striking early work is collected in Joy in Our Cause (1974). Other collections include Verging on the Pertinent (1989), World Fantasy Award winner The Start of the End of It All and Other Stories (1990), Report to the Men’s Club and Other Stories (2002), and I Live With You (2005). Collections In the Time of War and Other Stories of Conflict (2011) and Master of the Road to Nowhere and Other Tales of the Fantastic (2011) were published in a single volume, dos-a-dos. The Collected Short Stories of Carol Emshwiller: Vol 1 (2011) and The Collected Short Stories of Carol Emshwiller: Vol 2 (2016) were far-ranging career retrospectives. Her stories “Creature” (2002) and “I Live with You” (2005) won Nebula Awards.

Though best known as a story writer, Emshwiller also wrote strange, powerful novels, including Carmen Dog (1988), set in a world where women transform into dogs (and vice versa); alien invasion tale The Mount (2002), a Philip K. Dick Award winner; YA Mister Boots (2005) about a man who transforms into a horse (or vice versa); and aliens-stranded-on-Earth novel The Secret City (2007). She also wrote a pair of Westerns, Ledoyt (1995) and sequel Leaping Man Hill (1999). She received a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 2005, and was a World Fantasy guest of honor in 2007.    

Agnes Carolyn Fries was born April 12, 1921 in Ann Arbor MI. She attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, earning BAs in Music and Design, and attended the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris from 1949-50 as a Fulbright Fellow. In 1949 she married artist and experimental filmmaker Ed Emshwiller; he predeceased her in 1990. Luis Ortiz wrote about their lives and work (and how they intertwined) in Infinity x Two: The Art & Life of Ed and Carol Emshwiller (2007). She had two daughters and a son, who survive her.

2 thoughts on “Carol Emshwiller (1921-2019)

  • June 7, 2019 at 12:12 am

    The story about the inscrutable aliens wrecking human infrastructure, sabotaging power plants, impregnating old women and sheep with their thousands of their little fish-creature larvae, and who hated all cats, stuck in my mind all these years. The woman hides all the neighborhood cats in the attic and protects them. When the particular alien taking advantage of her (simply by noticing she exists and pretending to care for her) floats up awkwardly into the air, she yells at him, “Call that flying? ‘Cause /I/ don’t!”

    I’m not sure how accurate my memory of all that is. But I remembered her name, and even how to spell it.


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