Mary Robinette Kowal

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Mary Robinette Kowal
BornMary Robinette Harrison
(1969-02-08) February 8, 1969 (age 54)
Raleigh, North Carolina, U.S.
Alma materEast Carolina University
GenreScience fiction, fantasy, fantasy of manners
Notable works
Notable awards

Mary Robinette Kowal (née Harrison; born February 8, 1969)[1] is an American author and puppeteer.[2] Originally a puppeteer by primary trade after receiving a bachelor's degree in art education, she became art director for science fiction magazines and by 2010 was also authoring her first full-length published novels. The majority of her work is characterized by science fiction themes, such as interplanetary travel; a common element present in many of her novels is historical or alternate history fantasy, such as in her Glamourist Histories and Lady Astronaut books.

Kowal has been active in the sci-fi and fantasy community, acting as secretary, vice president (2010), and later president (2019-2021) of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. In response to frustration from the fanbase over panel selection, and perceived misallocation of resources in advance of the 2018 WorldCon, the board named her chair of programming. She has since returned as a chair at the 2021 WorldCon, which was delayed to mid-December 2021 on account of COVID-19.

Professional magazines such as Asimov's and Uncanny have published her stories across the years, since "Portrait of Ari" was picked up by Strange Horizons in 2006, which eventually resulted in an Astounding Award for Best New Writer. Tor Books has been the main avenue for her longer fiction. Both her novels and short fiction have received praise and accolades, including (though not limited to) four Hugo Awards and a single Nebula Award. The Calculating Stars, perhaps her most decorated and recognizable work, won both the Hugo Award for Best Novel and the Nebula Award for Best Novel.

She continues to write and puppeteer, in addition to voicing audio books, and lives in Nashville with her husband.

Life and career[edit]

Mary Robinette Harrison was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, attended William G. Enloe High School,[3][4] and studied at East Carolina University. She graduated with a degree in Art Education with a minor in theater and began work as a professional puppeteer in 1989.

She has performed for the Center for Puppetry Arts; Jim Henson Productions; and her own production company, Other Hand Productions.[5] She also worked in Iceland on the children's television show LazyTown for two seasons.[6] She was accepted as a participant in a Sesame Puppetry Workshop.[7]

Kowal served as art director for Shimmer Magazine and in 2010 was named art director for Weird Tales.[8] She served as secretary of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America for two years, was elected to the position of SFWA Vice President in 2010, and was elected SFWA President in 2019.[9] In 2008, her second year of eligibility, she won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.[10]

Kowal's work as an author includes "For Solo Cello, op. 12",[11] (originally published in Cosmos Magazine and reprinted in Science Fiction: The Best of the Year, 2008 Edition,[12]) which made the preliminary ballot for the 2007 Nebula Awards.[13] Her fiction has also appeared in Talebones Magazine, Strange Horizons, and Apex Digest, among other venues.[14] Her debut novel Shades of Milk and Honey was nominated for the 2010 Nebula Award for Best Novel.[15] Two of her short fiction works have been nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Short Story: "Evil Robot Monkey" in 2009[16] and "For Want of a Nail", which won the award in 2011.[17] Her novelette "The Lady Astronaut of Mars" was ineligible for the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novelette because it had only been released as part of an audiobook, but was later published in text format[18] and went on to win the 2014 Hugo Award for Best Novelette.[19] The Calculating Stars, the first novel in her Lady Astronaut series, won the 2019 Hugo Award for Best Novel, the 2018 Nebula Award for Best Novel, and the 2018 Sidewise Award for Alternate History.[20][21][22]

After appearing several times as a guest star in the podcast, Writing Excuses, she became a full-time cast member at the start of the sixth season in 2011.[23]

Kowal is also a voice actor and recorded audiobook versions of books written by other authors such as John Scalzi, Seanan McGuire, Cory Doctorow and Kage Baker.[24]

In July 2018, after criticism[25] that many authors who were Hugo award finalists at the August 2018 World Science Fiction Convention had not been selected to participate on that year's panels, Kowal took over as Programming chair and "repaired and replaced" many sessions by working with a large and diverse team to do so.[26]

Kowal served as President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America from 2019 to 2021.[27]

Kowal served as Chair of the DisCon III the 2021 Worldcon after the original Chairs resigned.[28]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year[29] Title Award Category Result Ref
2008 John W. Campbell Award Won [30]
"Evil Robot Monkey" Hugo Award Hugo–Short Story Shortlisted [31]
2009 "First Flight" Locus Award Locus–Novelette Nominated [32]
2010 Shades of Milk and Honey Nebula Award Nebula–Novel Shortlisted [33]
Locus Award Locus–First Novel Nominated [34]
"For Want of a Nail" Hugo Award Hugo–Short Story Won [35]
2011 "Kiss Me Twice" Nebula Award Nebula–Novella Shortlisted [36]
Hugo Award Hugo–Novella Shortlisted [37]
Locus Award Locus–Novella Nominated [38]
2012 Writing Excuses (Season 6) Hugo Award Hugo–Related Work Shortlisted [39]
Glamour in Glass Nebula Award Nebula–Novel Shortlisted [40]
Locus Award Locus–Fantasy Novel Nominated [41]
The Lady Astronaut of Mars Hugo Award Hugo–Novelette Won [42]
Locus Award Locus–Novelette Nominated [41]
2013 Writing Excuses (Season 7) Hugo Award Hugo–Related Work Won [43]
2014 Writing Excuses (Season 8) Hugo Award Hugo–Related Work Shortlisted [44]
2015 "For Want of a Nail" Seiun Award Translated Story Shortlisted [45]
2016 Ghost Talkers Mythopoeic Award Best Fantasy Novel Shortlisted [46]
2017 "The Worshipful Society of Glovers" Locus Award Locus–Novelette Nominated [47]
2018 The Calculating Stars Hugo Award Hugo–Novel Won [48]
Nebula Award Nebula–Novel Won [49]
Locus Award Locus–Scifi Novel Won [50]
John W. Campbell Memorial Award Shortlisted [51]
2020 The Relentless Moon Hugo Award Hugo–Novel Shortlisted [52]
Locus Award Locus–Scifi Novel Nominated [53]
2021 The Lady Astronaut Universe Hugo Award Hugo–Series Shortlisted [52]
2023 The Spare Man Hugo Award Hugo–Novel Pending [54]



  • Ghost Talkers, Tor Books, 2016, ISBN 978-0-7653-7825-5
  • The Spare Man, Tor Books, 2022
Glamourist Histories series
Lady Astronaut Universe

Short fiction[edit]

Title Year First published Notes
"Kiss Me Twice" 2011 Asimov's Science Fiction Finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Novella
"Forest of Memory" 2014 / Novella
"A Fire in the Heavens" 2014 Shadows Beneath Novelette
"Like Native Things" 2015 Kowal, Mary Robinette (July 2015). "Like native things". Asimov's Science Fiction. 39 (7): 10–21. Novelette
"The Worshipful Society of Glovers" 2017 Kowal, Mary Robinette (Jul–Aug 2017). "The Worshipful Society of Glovers". Uncanny. 17. Novelette

Children's books[edit]

Audio books[edit]

  • Sanderson, Brandon and Mary Robinette Kowal. "The Original" (Recorded Books, 2020) ISBN 9781980062738


  1. ^ Biography for Mary Robinette Kowal at IMDb
  2. ^ "Mary Robinette Kowal - Hugo-Award Winning Author". Mary Robinette Kowal.
  3. ^ Kowal, Mary Robinette (2010-08-30). "Mary's Dragon*Con 2010 schedule". Mary Robinette Kowal. Retrieved 2019-12-23.
  4. ^ Kowal, Mary Robinette (2010-08-03). "Book Release Day for Shades of Milk and Honey". Mary Robinette Kowal. Retrieved 2019-12-23.
  5. ^ Mary Robinette Kowal (Web Lackey, Actor, Writer) (archive), Willamette Radio Workshop
  6. ^ "FAQ". Mary Robinette Kowal. 9 January 2006.
  7. ^ Kowal, Mary Robinette (January 3, 2014). "My audition for the Sesame Street puppetry workshop. Video and results". Mary Robinette Kowal.
  8. ^ VanderMeer promoted to editor in chief,, 2010-01-25.
  9. ^ An Interview With Mary Robinette Kowal
  10. ^ "2008 Hugo Award Results Announced". August 10, 2008.
  11. ^ Kowal, Mary Robinette (April 13, 2015). "For Solo Cello, op. 12 by Mary Robinette Kowal". Mary Robinette Kowal.
  12. ^ Science Fiction: The Best of the Year, Rich Horton, Editor. ISBN 978-0809572502
  13. ^ Nebula Awards preliminary ballot released 2008-01-11
  14. ^ "Bibliography". Mary Robinette Kowal. 3 November 2005.
  15. ^ "SFWA announces the 2010 Nebula Award Nominees". SFWA. 2011-02-22. Retrieved 2013-12-06.
  16. ^ "The Locus Index to SF Awards: 2009 Hugo Awards". 2009-08-09. Archived from the original on 2009-03-26. Retrieved 2013-12-06.
  17. ^ Locus Publications (21 August 2011). "Locus Online News » 2011 Hugo and Campbell Awards Winners". Retrieved 2013-12-06.
  18. ^ "The Lady Astronaut of Mars". September 11, 2013. Retrieved 17 August 2014.
  19. ^ "2014 Hugo Award Winners". The Hugo Awards. August 17, 2014. Retrieved 17 August 2014.
  20. ^ Cheryl (2019-04-02). "2019 Hugo Award & 1944 Retro Hugo Award Finalists". The Hugo Awards. Retrieved 2019-05-19.
  21. ^ "Nebula Awards 2019". Science Fiction Awards Database. Locus. Retrieved 2019-04-07.
  22. ^ "Sidewise Awards". Uchronia. Retrieved 2020-05-18.
  23. ^ "6.1: Can Creativity be Taught?". Writing Excuses. 6 June 2011. Retrieved 2013-12-06.
  24. ^ "Audio Fiction". Mary Robinette Kowal. 12 June 2007.
  26. ^ "MRK's WorldCon 2018 Programming update". 2018-07-18. Retrieved 2019-08-18.
  27. ^ "2019 Officer Election Results". SFWA. 2019-05-06. Retrieved 2019-05-19.
  28. ^ "DisCon III Committee and Staff". DisCon III. 2021-12-15. Retrieved 2021-12-25.
  29. ^ based on when the work was published; exception: series, tv shows, related work, translated
  30. ^ "Campbell Award". The Hugo Awards. 2007-08-09. Retrieved 2019-07-03.
  31. ^ "2009 Hugo Awards". The Hugo Awards. 2009-08-18. Retrieved 2019-07-03.
  32. ^ admin (2010-04-20). "2010 Locus Awards Finalists". Locus Online. Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  33. ^ "2010 Nebula Awards". The Nebula Awards. Retrieved 2019-07-03.
  34. ^ admin (2011-06-26). "Locus Awards 2011 Winners". Locus Online. Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  35. ^ "2011 Hugo Awards". The Hugo Awards. 2011-04-25. Retrieved 2019-07-03.
  36. ^ "2011 Nebula Awards". The Nebula Awards. Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  37. ^ "2012 Hugo Awards". The Hugo Awards. 2012-04-07. Retrieved 2019-07-03.
  38. ^ admin (2012-06-16). "2012 Locus Awards Winners". Locus Online. Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  39. ^ "2012 Hugo Awards". The Hugo Awards. 2012-04-07. Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  40. ^ "2012 Nebula Awards". The Nebula Awards. Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  41. ^ a b "Announcing the 2013 Locus Award Winners!". 2013-06-29. Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  42. ^ "2014 Hugo Awards". The Hugo Awards. 2014-04-18. Retrieved 2019-07-03.
  43. ^ "2013 Hugo Awards". The Hugo Awards. 2012-12-22. Retrieved 2019-07-03.
  44. ^ "2014 Hugo Awards". The Hugo Awards. 2014-04-18. Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  45. ^ admin (2015-06-30). "2015 Seiun Awards Winners". Locus Online. Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  46. ^ "The Mythopoeic Society - Mythopoeic Awards 2017". Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  47. ^ locusmag (2018-06-23). "2018 Locus Awards Winners". Locus Online. Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  48. ^ "2018 Nebula Awards". The Nebula Awards. Retrieved 2019-07-03.
  49. ^ Cheryl (2019-04-02). "2019 Hugo Award & 1944 Retro Hugo Award Finalists". The Hugo Awards. Retrieved 2019-07-03.
  50. ^ locusmag (2019-06-29). "2019 Locus Awards Winners". Locus Online. Retrieved 2019-07-03.
  51. ^ "Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction News and Events". Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction. Archived from the original on 2018-08-30. Retrieved 2019-07-03.
  52. ^ a b "2021 Hugo Awards". January 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  53. ^ "2021 Locus Awards".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  54. ^ "2023 Hugo Awards". World Science Fiction Society. 2023-08-13. Retrieved 2023-07-06.
  55. ^ a b "Mary Robinette Kowal will Return to Space with Two New Lady Astronaut Novels!". 2018-09-18. Retrieved 2018-11-21.
  56. ^ Short stories unless otherwise noted.
  57. ^ "Free Fiction". Mary Robinette Kowal. 22 November 2007. Retrieved 2022-02-18.
  58. ^ "Molly on the Moon". Macmillan. Retrieved 2022-02-18.

External links[edit]