Martha Wells

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Martha Wells
Image of Wells at the 2018 Texas book Festival
Wells at the 2018 Texas Book Festival
Born (1964-09-01) September 1, 1964 (age 59)
Fort Worth, Texas, U.S.
EducationTexas A&M University (BA)
GenreFantasy, science fiction

Martha Wells (born September 1, 1964)[1] is an American writer of speculative fiction. She has published a number of fantasy novels, young adult novels, media tie-ins, short stories, and nonfiction essays on fantasy and science fiction subjects. Her novels have been translated into twelve languages.[2] Wells has won four Hugo Awards, two Nebula Awards and three Locus Awards for her science fiction series The Murderbot Diaries. She is also known for her fantasy series Ile-Rien and The Books of the Raksura. Wells is praised for the complex, realistically detailed societies she creates; this is often credited to her academic background in anthropology.[3][4]


Martha Wells was born in Fort Worth, Texas, and has a B.A. in Anthropology from Texas A&M University.[1] She lives in College Station, Texas, with her husband. She was involved in SF/F fandom in college and was chairman of AggieCon 17.[5] In May 2023, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. [6]


As an aspiring writer Wells attended many local writing workshops and conventions, including the Turkey City Writer's Workshop taught by Bruce Sterling.[7] She has also taught writing workshops at ArmadilloCon, WorldCon, ApolloCon, and Writespace Houston,[8] and was the Special Workshop Guest at FenCon in 2018.[9]

Her first published novel, The Element of Fire (1993), was a finalist for that year's Compton Crook Award, and a runner-up for the 1994 William Crawford Award. Her second novel, City of Bones (1995), received a starred review from Publishers Weekly and a black diamond review from Kirkus Reviews, and was on the 1995 Locus Recommended Reading List for fantasy. Her third novel, The Death of the Necromancer (1998), was nominated for a Nebula Award.[10] The Element of Fire and The Death of the Necromancer are stand-alone novels which take place in the country of Ile-Rien, which is also the setting for the Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy: The Wizard Hunters (2003), The Ships of Air (2004), and The Gate of Gods (2005). Her fourth novel was a stand-alone fantasy, Wheel of the Infinite. In 2006, she released a revised edition of The Element of Fire.[11]

She has written media tie-ins, including:

  • Reliquary and Entanglement set in the Stargate Atlantis universe
  • "Archaeology 101", a short story based on Stargate SG-1 for issue No. 8 (Jan/Feb 2006) of the official Stargate Magazine
  • Star Wars novel, Empire and Rebellion: Razor's Edge.[12]

Her fantasy short stories include "The Potter's Daughter" in the anthology Elemental (2006), which was selected to appear in The Year's Best Fantasy #7 (2007).[13] This story features one of the main characters from The Element of Fire. Three prequel short stories to the Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy were published in Black Gate Magazine in 2007[14][15] and 2008.[16]

Wells' longest-running fantasy series is The Books of the Raksura, which included five novels and two short fiction collections published by Night Shade Books: The Cloud Roads (2011), The Serpent Sea (2012), The Siren Depths (2012), Stories of the Raksura Vol 1: The Falling World & The Tale of Indigo and Cloud (2014), Stories of the Raksura Vol 2: The Dead City & The Dark Earth Below (2015), The Edge of Worlds (2016), and The Harbors of the Sun (2017). The series was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Series in 2018,[17] and The Edge of Worlds was reviewed in The New York Times.[18]

Wells has written two young adult fantasy novels, Emilie and the Hollow World and Emilie and the Sky World, published by Angry Robot/Strange Chemistry in 2013 and 2014.[19]

Wells was toastmaster of the World Fantasy Convention in 2017,[20] where she delivered a speech called "Unbury the Future"[21] about marginalized creators in the history of science fiction and fantasy, movies, and other media, and the deliberate suppression of the existence of those creators. The speech was well-received and generated a great deal of discussion.[22]

During 2018, Wells was the leader of the story team and lead writer for the new Dominaria expansion of the card game Magic: The Gathering.[23]

In May 2018, her Murderbot Diaries novella All Systems Red was number 8 on The New York Times Bestseller List for Audio.[24] The book won the 2017 Nebula Award for Best Novella,[25] the 2018 Hugo Award for Best Novella,[26] the 2018 Locus Award for Best Novella,[27] and the American Library Association's Alex Award,[28] and was nominated for the 2017 Philip K. Dick Award.[29] It was followed by the sequel novellas Artificial Condition (2018), Rogue Protocol (2018), and Exit Strategy (2018);[30] a short story, "Compulsory" (2018);[31] and a full novel sequel, Network Effect (2020), which made The New York Times Bestseller List for Novel.[32] On April 26, 2021, publishing announced that they had signed a deal with Wells for six books, including three more Murderbot Diaries.[33][34]

In September 2022, Tor Book shared the cover of Witch King, the latest novel by Wells that was released on May 30, 2023.[35] Tor describes the book as a story "of power and friendship, of trust and betrayal, and of the families we choose."[36]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Work Award Category Result Ref.
1994 The Element of Fire Compton Crook Award Nominated
Crawford Award Nominated
1998 The Death of the Necromancer Nebula Award Best Novel Nominated [37]
2002 The Death of the Necromancer (French edition) Imaginales Award Nominated
2004 The Element of Fire (French edition) Nominated
2018 The Books of the Raksura Hugo Award Best Series Nominated [38]
The Murderbot Diaries: All Systems Red Alex Award Won [39]
Hugo Award Best Novella Won [26]
Locus Award Best Novella Won [27]
Nebula Award Best Novella Won [25]
Philip K. Dick Award Nominated [40]
Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award Best SF Novel Nominated
2019 The Murderbot Diaries: Exit Strategy BSFA Award Best Shorter Fiction Nominated [41]
The Murderbot Diaries: Artificial Condition Hugo Award Best Novella[a] Won [43]
Locus Award Best Novella[b] Won [44]
Nebula Award Best Novella Nominated [45]
2021 The Murderbot Diaries: Network Effect Hugo Award Best Novel Won [46]
Locus Award Best Science Fiction Novel Won [47]
Nebula Award Best Novel Won [48]
The Murderbot Diaries Hugo Award Best Series Won [46]
2023 Witch King Dragon Awards Best Fantasy Novel Won [49]
2024 Witch King Nebula Award Best Novel Nominated [50]
Hugo Award Best Novel Nominated [51]
  • Nomination for Journal d’un AssaSynth, tomes 1 à 4 (translated by Mathilde Montier) in the 2020 Grand Prix de l'Imaginaire awards in the Nouvelle étrangère category[52]
  • Nominations for Tagebuch eines Killerbots (The Murderbot Diaries Omnibus) for Best Foreign Novel published in German and for translator Frank Böhmert for Best Translation in the 2020 Kurd Laßwitz Preis[53]
  • Finalist for The Murderbot Diaries, Books 1–4 (translated by Naoya Nakahara) in the Seiun Award in the Best Translated Novel category[54]
  • Winner for Sistemas críticos (translated by Carla Bataller Estruch) in the Ignotus Award in the Best Foreign Short Story category[55]
  • Winner for Journal d’un AssaSynth, tomes 1 à 4 (translated by Mathilde Montier) in the 2020 Prix Bob Morane in the Romans étrangers category[56]
  • Locus Recommended List in 1994 for The Element of Fire
  • Locus Recommended List in 1995 for City of Bones
  • Martha Wells declined a Nebula finalist slot in the Best Novella category for Fugitive Telemetry in the 2021 Nebula Awards,[57] giving the reason that The Murderbot Diaries had already won two Nebulas (for Best Novella and Best Novel) and that the spot would be of more benefit to another writer. Due to a three-way tie for sixth place, declining allowed two additional novellas a spot on the 2021 ballot.[58] Wells also declined a Hugo Nomination for Fugitive Telemetry that year. [59]
  • Network Effect (translated by Frank Böhmert) was a finalist for the Kurd Laßwitz Preis 2022 for Best SF in German translation.[60]
  • Finalist for Network Effect (translated by Naoya Nakahara) for the Seiun Award in the international longform category[61]
  • On October 19, 2022, she was made a member of the Texas Literary Hall of Fame[62]
  • Martha Wells declined a Nebula finalist slot and a Hugo finalist slot in the Best Novel category for System Collapse in 2024 [63] [64]

Published works[edit]

Stand-alone fantasy novels[edit]

  • City of Bones (1995, ISBN 0-312-85686-5)
  • Wheel of the Infinite (2000, ISBN 0-380-97335-9)
  • Witch King (2023, ISBN 978-1250826794)


Books of the Raksura[edit]

Short stories
  • "The Forest Boy" (2009) – prequel to The Cloud Roads. In the collection Stories of the Raksura Vol 1.
  • "The Almost Last Voyage of the Wind-ship Escarpment" (2011) – set in the same world. In the collection Stories of the Raksura Vol 2.
  • "Adaptation" (2012) – prequel to The Cloud Roads. In the collection Stories of the Raksura Vol 1.
  • "Mimesis" (2013) – in the anthology The Other Half of the Sky (2013, ISBN 9781936460441) and in the collection Stories of the Raksura Vol 2.
  • "Trading Lesson" (2013) – in the collection Stories of the Raksura Vol 1
  • "Birthright" (2017) – in the anthology Mech: Age of Steel (2013, ISBN 9781941987858)


Young-adult fantasy

Star Wars[edit]

Stargate universe[edit]

The Murderbot Diaries[edit]

Science fiction series:

Other short stories[edit]

  • "Thorns" (1995, Realms of Fantasy)
  • "Bad Medicine" (1997, Realms of Fantasy)
  • "Wolf Night" (2006, Lone Star Stories[71])
  • "Revenants" (2012, in the anthology Tales of the Emerald Serpent)
  • "Soul of Fire" (2014, in the anthology Tales of the Emerald Serpent II: A Knight in the Silk Purse)
  • "The Dark Gates" (2015, in the anthology The Gods of Lovecraft)
  • "Obsolescence" Take Us to a Better Place (2020, ISBN 978-159591-028-8)
  • "The Salt Witch" (2020, Uncanny Magazine)


  • "Don't Make Me Tongue You: John Crichton and D'Argo and the Dysfunctional Buddy Relationship" (2005, Farscape Forever, ISBN 1-932100-61-X)
  • "Neville Longbottom: the Hero with a Thousand Faces" (2006, Mapping the World of Harry Potter, ISBN 1-932100-59-8)
  • "Donna Noble Saves the Universe" (2012, Chicks Unravel Time: Women Journey Through Every Season of Doctor Who, ISBN 9781935234128)
  • "A Life Less Ordinary: The Environment, Magic Systems, and Non-Humans" (2014, A Kobold Guide to Magic, ISBN 978-1936781287)
  • "The Ups and Downs of a Long Career" (2019, The Writer's Book of Doubt, ISBN 978-0648334224)


  1. ^ Rogue Protocol and Exit Strategy also made the preliminary shortlist but Wells declined the nominations.[42]
  2. ^ Rogue Protocol was also shortlisted for the award.[44]


  1. ^ a b "Martha Wells: Unburied Future". Locus Online. August 13, 2018.
  2. ^ "Martha Wells – Bibliography". official site. Retrieved December 2, 2018.
  3. ^ "Shaun Farrell interviews Martha Wells for Far Sector SFFH March 2006".
  4. ^ "ActuSF Interview with Martha Wells".
  5. ^ "AggieCon XVII Program exerpt". Retrieved December 2, 2018.
  6. ^ "Lots of Travel, plus Cancer". Retrieved August 11, 2023.
  7. ^ Re:Fiction (September 19, 2017). "Interview with Martha Wells".
  8. ^ "Writers' Family Reunion". Writespace Writing Center. Archived from the original on June 12, 2018.
  9. ^ "FenCon XV – September 21–23, 2018".
  10. ^ "The Locus Index to SF Awards Index". Locus. Archived from the original on December 3, 2008. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  11. ^ "The Element of Fire by Martha Wells". official site. Retrieved December 2, 2018.
  12. ^ "Media Tie-ins".
  13. ^ Hartwell, David G.; Cramer, Kathryn, eds. (2007). Year's best fantasy 7 (1st ed.). San Francisco: Tachyon Publications. ISBN 9781892391506. OCLC 153153135.
  14. ^ "Table of Contents". Black Gate (10).
  15. ^ "Table of Contents". Black Gate (11).
  16. ^ "Table of Contents". Black Gate (12).
  17. ^ "Press Release: WorldCon 76 Announces 2018 Hugo Award Finalists".
  18. ^ Jemisin, N. K. (April 19, 2016). "Otherworldy: The Latest in Science Fiction and Fantasy". The New York Times. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  19. ^ "Young Adult Fantasy by Martha Wells".
  20. ^ "World Fantasy 2017 – An annual gathering and reunion of professionals, collectors, and others interested in the field of light and dark fantasy art and literature". Archived from the original on March 7, 2018. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  21. ^ "'Unbury the Future': Martha Wells' Full Speech from the 2017 World Fantasy Awards". November 7, 2017.
  22. ^ "World Fantasy Con 2017: A Mixed Montage".
  23. ^ Whitbrook, James. "Scifi Author Martha Wells Is Bringing Magic: The Gathering Back to Where It All Began". io9. Retrieved February 14, 2018.
  24. ^ "Audio Fiction Books Bestsellers". The New York Times. May 1, 2018. Retrieved June 19, 2019.
  25. ^ a b "All Systems Red". Nebula Awards. Archived from the original on May 20, 2018. Retrieved May 20, 2018 – via
  26. ^ a b "2018 Hugo Awards". Hugo Awards. March 15, 2018. Archived from the original on April 2, 2018. Retrieved August 20, 2018 – via
  27. ^ a b "2018 Locus Awards Winners". Locus. June 23, 2018.
  28. ^ "American Library Association announces 2018 youth media award winners". American Library Association. February 12, 2018. Archived from the original on February 13, 2018. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
  29. ^ "Philip K. Dick Award Nominees Announced". Philip K. Dick Award. January 11, 2018. Archived from the original on March 20, 2018. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
  30. ^ "Ghosts, Robots, and Monsters: A Round-up of New Sci-Fi and Fantasy". The New York Times. November 30, 2018. Retrieved May 6, 2020.
  31. ^ "The Future of Work: 'Compulsory' by Martha Wells". Wired. December 17, 2018. Retrieved February 4, 2019.
  32. ^ Harris, Lee (March 11, 2019). "Murderbot Will Return in...Network Effect". Retrieved March 12, 2019.
  33. ^ Templeton, Molly (April 26, 2021). "'Tordotcom Publishing Acquires Six Martha Wells Books—Including Three Murderbot Diaries'". Retrieved April 26, 2021.
  34. ^ Pedersen, Erik (April 25, 2021). "How 'Murderbot Diaries' author Martha Wells overcame a career in crisis to create the killer series". Orange County Register. Retrieved May 28, 2022.
  35. ^ Brown, Alex (May 31, 2023). "A Lavish, Crunchy Fantasy: Witch King by Martha Wells". Retrieved November 21, 2023.
  36. ^ (September 21, 2022). "Revealing Witch King, Murderbot Author Martha Wells' New Epic Fantasy". Retrieved November 16, 2022.
  37. ^ "1998 Nebula Awards" – via
  38. ^ "2018 Hugo and Campbell Award Finalists". Locus. March 31, 2018.
  39. ^ "American Library Association announces 2018 youth media award winners". American Library Association. February 19, 2018. Retrieved November 25, 2018.
  40. ^ "Philip K. Dick Award Nominees Announced".
  41. ^ "Awards Shortlist" – via
  42. ^ "2019 Hugo Results" (PDF).
  43. ^ "2019 Hugo Award Finalists Announced". April 2, 2019. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
  44. ^ a b "2019 Locus Awards Winners". Locus. June 29, 2019.
  45. ^ "Announcing the 2018 Nebula Award Finalists". February 20, 2019. Retrieved March 13, 2019.
  46. ^ a b "Martha Wells Awards". Science Fiction Awards Database. Locus Science Fiction Foundation. Retrieved December 19, 2021.
  47. ^ "2021 Locus Awards Winners". Locus. June 26, 2021.
  48. ^ "SFWA Announces the 56th Annual Nebula Award® Winners". The Nebula Awards®. June 5, 2021. Retrieved June 5, 2021.
  49. ^ "2023 Dragon Awards" – via
  50. ^ "SFWA Announces the Finalists for the 59th Nebula Awards" – via
  51. ^ "2024 Hugo Award Finalists" – via
  52. ^ "Grand Prix de l'Imaginaire 2020".
  53. ^ "2020 Kurd Laßwitz Preis".
  54. ^ "2020 Seiun Awards Nominees". Locus. May 7, 2020.
  55. ^ "Ignotus 2020 Awards for the best Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror in Spain". File770. November 16, 2020.
  56. ^ "Prix Bob Morane 2020". File770. September 2020.
  57. ^ "SFWA Announces Nebula Award Finalists". March 8, 2022.
  58. ^ "The Nebula Nomination Decline".
  59. ^ "2022 Hugo, Lodestar and Astounding Awards" (PDF).
  60. ^ "Kurd Laßwitz Preis 2022 Finalists". March 20, 2022.
  61. ^ "2022 Seiun Award Nominees". File770. May 15, 2022.
  62. ^ "Texas Literary Hall of Fame". TCU Library. October 19, 2022.
  63. ^ "SFWA Announces the Finalists for the 59th Nebula Awards" – via
  64. ^ "2024 Hugo Award Finalists" – via
  65. ^ Holloway, Samantha. "Book review by Samantha Holloway: All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries)". New York Journal of Books. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
  66. ^ "Fiction Book Review: All Systems Red by Martha Wells". Publishers Weekly. May 2, 2017. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
  67. ^ Sheehan, Jason (January 27, 2019). "Sulky, Cynical 'Murderbot' Is One of Sci-Fi's Most Human Characters". NPR. Retrieved July 24, 2019.
  68. ^ Wells, Martha. "The Future of Work: Compulsory". Wired. Retrieved October 24, 2022.
  69. ^ Wells, Martha. "Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory". TOR. Retrieved October 24, 2022.
  70. ^ Wells, Martha. "System Collapse". Macmillan Publishers. Retrieved November 16, 2023.
  71. ^ Wells, Martha. "Wolf Night". Lone Star Stories. Retrieved October 24, 2022.

External links[edit]