Chris Roberson (author)

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Chris Roberson
Born (1970-08-25) August 25, 1970 (age 43)
Nationality American

www.chrisroberson.net

Chris Roberson (born 1970) is a science fiction author, tromboner, and publisher based in Portland, Oregon, best known for alternate history novels and short stories.

Early life and career[edit]

Roberson grew up near Dallas, Texas, and attended the University of Texas, Austin. Graduating with a degree in English literature and a minor in history, he held a variety of jobs - including seven years as a product support engineer for Dell computers - before quitting his job in 2003 to launch small press MonkeyBrain Books.

He cites his upbringing in the 1970s and 1980s, as his major inspiration, since science fiction was particular commonplace in America at that time, saying:

"Everything from Saturday-morning cartoons to comic books to late-night B-movies to pulp novel reprints to blockbuster summer movies--it was all science fiction, in one form or another."[1]

After college, he has suggested that he leaned towards becoming a more literary, post-modernist writer, even writing a couple of novels to that end, which he says will never see the light of day, after realising that he simply "wasn't depressed enough for that line of work".[1] In his twenties, he wrote a couple of mystery novels, seeing them as a commercial venture, but found himself skirting around turning them into 'genre' titles, falling between the two camps of mystery and science fiction, and interesting publishers of neither. Ultimately he settled on writing science fiction, saying:

"My brain tends to work along the lines of science fiction tropes. Whenever I run into an odd little bit of trivia, some obscure historical fact or odd scientific principle, I can't help but start thinking of ways I could use it in a story."[1]

His writings have received positive reviews from Locus Magazine, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Asimov's Science Fiction, The New York Review of Science Fiction, Infinity Plus and RevolutionSF.[1] After many years in Austin, Texas, he relocated to Portland, Oregon, with his wife (Allison Baker) and their young daughter, Georgia.[2]

Clockwork Storybook[edit]

From 1998 to 2002, Roberson was part of writer's collective Clockwork Storybook, alongside noted comics author Bill Willingham (Fables), Matthew Sturges (co-writing with Willingham of Jack of Fables) and Mark Finn (Robert E. Howard scholar and playwright).

Starting as a writing group, CWSB became an online monthly anthology, and then a publishing imprint of the same name. Roberson produced four novels under CWSB, as the collective attempted to capitalise on the Print On Demand revolution. This ultimately fell through, and the four went their separate ways. Two (to date) of Roberson's CWSB books have been subsequently expanded and reprinted. Any Time At All (Sep, 2002) became Here, There & Everywhere (Pyr, 2005), and Set The Seas On Fire (Dec, 2001) was expanded for its April, 2007 release by Solaris. Voices of Thunder (Feb, 2001) has been revised to become Book Of Secrets for upcoming publication by Angry Robot in August, 2009.

Post-Clockwork works[edit]

Art by John Picacio.

Focusing, after the demise of Clockwork Storybook, on his writing, Roberson sold a short story (his first professional sale) to Roc anthology Live Without a Net, under the editorship of Lou Anders. It was published in 2003, and paved the way for future sales to Asimov's Science Fiction and other anthologies. In 2004, Anders, (by now considered by Roberson "something of a personal patron") by now an editorial director at Prometheus Books' new SF imprint Pyr, bought an expanded version of one of Roberson's CWSB books Any Time At All, which was published in 2005 as Here, There & Everywhere.

In 2003, having "discovered.. in the few years of helping run the CWSB imprint, that [he] really enjoyed being a publisher," Roberson started up his own imprint. Partly this move was inspired by the dissolution of CWSB, and Roberson having discovered a few projects by writers that he had wanted to bring out under that banner. He decided, however, that MonkeyBrain Books would deal exclusively in "traditional offset trade-paperbacks and hardcovers," distributed internationally, rather than printed on demand.[3]

He has also contributed several stories to the annual Tales of the Shadowmen anthologies.

He is preparing a series aimed at the Young Adult audience, entitled Celestial Empire, with the first collection subtitled Fire Star.

Roberson has also written short stories for such magazines as Asimov's Science Fiction, Postscripts, Black October, Fantastic Metropolis, RevolutionSF, Twilight Tales, Opi8, Alien Skin, Electric Velocipede, Subterranean and Lone Star Stories.

He is editor of the Adventure anthology series, first published by MonkeyBrain in November, 2005.

Roberson is also writing books for Black Library publishing; Dawn of War II, published March 2009, and Sons of Dorn, which came out in early 2010.

MonkeyBrain[edit]

Art by John Picacio.

Since 2003, he is the publisher (along with his business partner and spouse Allison Baker) of MonkeyBrain Books, an independent publishing house naturally based in Austin, Texas, which specialises in genre fiction and nonfiction genre studies.

In November, 2005, Roberson edited the first volume in a projected annual series of Adventure anthologies, comprising "original fiction in the spirit of early twentieth-century pulp fiction magazines" across the genres, featuring contributions from (among others) Lou Anders, Paul Di Filippo, Mark Finn, Michael Moorcock and Kim Newman. (Many of which featured authors would become MonkeyBrain stalwarts.)[4]

Comics[edit]

In July 2008, at the Comic-Con International in San Diego, it was announced that Roberson will be working on a comic book miniseries set in the universe of the DC/Vertigo series Fables, created by fellow-former-Clockwork Storybook author Bill Willingham.[5]

Roberson's miniseries is titled Cinderella: From Fabletown With Love, and described by the author as featuring "spies, sex, and shoes."[5] Illustrated by Shawn McManus and released in late 2009 / early 2010, it "answer(s) the question of what happened to Cinderella's fairy godmother."[5]

Roberson has was selected by DC Comics to finish the "Grounded" story arc in the Superman monthly title, which worked on in addition to his current Vertigo titles, iZombie and Cinderella: Fables are Forever.[6][7]

Awards and nominations[edit]

He has been a finalist for the World Fantasy Award three times - once each for writing (2004), publishing (2006), and editing (2006). (For Adventure Vol. 1, left.) On two occasions he has been a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. He won the Sidewise Award for Alternate History Long Form in 2009 for The Dragon's Nine Sons. He has also been nominated twice for the Sidewise Award for Alternate History Short Form, which he won in 2004 with his story "O One".

His novel Paragaea was included in Waterstone's Top Ten SF list for 2006.[8]

Bibliography[edit]

Novels and short stories[edit]

Roberson has written several novels and short stories and self-published (with the Clockwork Storybook team) some of them himself. (His works as publisher can be found here and here.)

Roberson also has two ongoing series:

Bonaventure-Carmody[edit]

Similar to the Wold Newton family by Philip José Farmer, Bonaventure-Carmody is about a family of adventurers that has many far-flung descendants.

Novels

Short stories

  • A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows in Masked (previously known as With Great Power) (Pocket Books, 2010)
  • Edison's Frankenstein in PostScripts (forthcoming)
  • Ill Met in Elvera on Pyr.com
  • Death on the Crosstime Express in Sideways in Crime by Lou Anders (ed.) (Solaris, 2008)
  • The Jewel of Leystall in Cross Plains Universe (MonkeyBrain Books, 2006)
  • The Funeral Affair
  • Secret Histories: Peter R. Bonaventure, 1885 in Cybermancy Incorporated
  • Secret Histories: Lord John Carmody, 1939 in Cybermancy Incorporated
  • Rogues Gallery: Aria Fox in Cybermancy Incorporated

Celestial Empire[edit]

Celestial Empire is about an alternate history world where, using its Treasure Fleet, Imperial China was greatly expanded in size and role by later emperors to the point that the Chinese Empire is a space-faring superpower.

Novels

Short stories

  • “Fire in the Lake” – Subterranean Magazine, Fall 2007
  • “Thy Saffron Wings” – Postscripts #15
  • "The Sky is Large and the Earth is Small" - Asimov's Science Fiction (July, 2007) (and in The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume 2 and The Year's Best Science Fiction, Twenty-Fifth Annual Collection)
  • "O One" in Live Without a Net(Right.) by Lou Anders (ed.) (Roc, 2003)
  • “Metal Dragon Year” – Interzone #213
  • "Gold Mountain" - Postscripts #5 (and in The Year's Best Science Fiction, Twenty-Third Annual Collection)
  • "Mirror of Fiery Brightness" - Subterranean Magazine, Fall 2008
  • “The Voyage of Night Shining White” – Novella from PS Publishing (and in Best Short Novels: 2007)
  • “Line of Dichotomy” - The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction: Volume 2 (Solaris, 2008; also available as chapbook)
  • "Red Hands, Black Hands" - Asimov's Science Fiction (December, 2004)
  • “All Under Heaven” - Firebirds Soaring (Firebird, 2009)
  • "Dragon King of the Eastern Sea" - We Think, Therefore We Are (DAW, 2009)
  • "History Repurposed - The Celestial Empire Stories" - an essay about the series that originally appeared in Vector Magazine #254

Comics[edit]

Titles published by DC Comics and the Vertigo imprint include:

Titles published by Boom! Studios include:

Titles published by IDW Publishing include:

Titles published by Dynamite Entertainment include:

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Interviews[edit]