Rebecca Roanhorse

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Rebecca Roanhorse
Rebecca Roanhorse 2019.jpg
Alma materYale University
University of New Mexico
science fiction writer
AwardsJohn W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, 2018
Hugo Award for Best Short Story, 2018
Nebula Award for Best Short Story, 2017[1]

Rebecca Roanhorse (born 1971) is an American science fiction and fantasy writer from New Mexico. She has written short stories and science fiction novels featuring Navajo characters.[2] Her work received Hugo and Nebula awards, among others.

Background and family[edit]

Rebecca Roanhorse was born in Conway, Arkansas. She was raised in Fort Worth, Texas, where she says she found it difficult to be Black and Native in the 1970s and 1980s; thus, she turned to reading and writing, especially science fiction, as a form of escape.[3] She lived for several years in the Navajo Nation, calls it her second home, and travels back there regularly to visit family.[4] She currently lives in New Mexico with her husband, who is Navajo,[5] their daughter, and pug Lucy.[6]


She received a B.A degree in Religious Studies from Yale University and an M.A in Theology degree from the Union Theological Seminary. She holds a J.D. degree from the University of New Mexico.[citation needed]

She has attended the Voices of Our Nation Arts Foundation workshop.[citation needed]

She formerly clerked at the Navajo Supreme Court.[6]

Awards and nominations[edit]

In 2018 Roanhorse received the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Her short story "Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™" (Apex Magazine 2017) won two major awards: the 2018 Hugo Award for Best Short Story and the 2017 Nebula Award for Best Short Story. The story also earned her nominations for the 2018 Locus Award for Best Short Story, the 2018 Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, and the 2018 World Fantasy Award for Best Short Story.[7]

In February 2019, Roanhorse's novel Trail of Lightning was nominated for 2018 Nebula Award for Best Novel.[8] In April 2019, it was also nominated for the 2019 Hugo Award for Best Novel.[9] In June 2019, Trail of Lightning won the 2019 Locus Award for Best First Novel.[10] Trail of Lightning was also nominated for the 2019 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel.[11]

Written works[edit]


The Sixth World series

Short stories and essays[edit]

  • "Native in Space" in Invisible 3, edited by Jim Hines and Mary Anne Mohanraj (June 27, 2017)[14]
  • "Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™" in Apex Magazine (August 8, 2017)[15]
  • "Postcards from the Apocalypse" in Uncanny Magazine (January/February 2018)[16]
  • "Harvest" in New Suns, edited by Nisi Shawl (March 12, 2019)[17]


Her first novel, Trail of Lightning, is an "apocalyptic adventure" set in Dinétah, formerly the Navajo reservation in the Southwestern United States, with mostly Navajo characters. The novel has been criticized for misrepresenting Navajo teachings and spirituality, not respecting Navajo sensibilities and harming the culture.[18] A group of Navajo writers and cultural workers have publicly condemned it as an inaccurate cultural appropriation that uses an at-times mocking and derisive tone.[19] When asked in a Reddit AMA about including Navajo cultural aspects into her works, Roanhorse said her goal was "accuracy and respect" and gave examples of what she fictionalized and what she considered off limits.[4]

"I think a lot of Native characters that we see are stuck in the past. So it was important for me to do that, to show Native American readers and non-Native American readers that we're alive and we're thriving in our cultures", she said in 2018.[5]


  1. ^ Nebula Awards, 2017. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  2. ^ Kerry Lengel, "Navajo legends come to life in Rebecca Roanhorse's debut novel 'Trail of Lightning'" AZ Central (June 22, 2018).
  3. ^ "Rebecca Roanhorse: From Legend to Fantasy". Locus Magazine. September 1, 2018. Retrieved 20 March 2019.
  4. ^ a b Rocket, Stubby the (2018-07-20). "Rebecca Roanhorse on Which Aspects of Diné Culture Are Featured in Trail of Lightning". Retrieved 2018-12-20.
  5. ^ a b Kyle Muzyka, "A correction of stereotypes: Rebecca Roanhorse's post-apocalyptic books draw on Indigenous experience" CBC Radio (November 16, 2018).
  6. ^ a b "Reddit AMA". Reddit. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
  7. ^ "sfadb : Rebecca Roanhorse Awards". Retrieved 2018-12-20.
  8. ^ "2019 Nebula Award Nominees". Retrieved 2019-02-21.
  9. ^ "2019 Hugo Award Finalists Announced". Retrieved 2019-04-03.
  10. ^ locusmag (2019-06-29). "2019 Locus Awards Winners". Locus Online. Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  11. ^ "World Fantasy Awards℠ 2019 | World Fantasy Convention". Retrieved 2019-07-25.
  12. ^ "Resistance Reborn". Amazon. Amazon. Retrieved 5 November 2019.
  13. ^ "Race to the Sun". Amazon. Amazon. Retrieved 5 November 2019.
  14. ^ "Invisible 3: Essays and Poems on Representation in SF/F". Retrieved 2019-04-06.
  15. ^ "Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™". Apex Magazine. 2017-08-08. Retrieved 2019-04-06.
  16. ^ Roanhorse, Rebecca. "Postcards from the Apocalypse". Uncanny Magazine. Retrieved 2019-04-06.
  17. ^ New Suns. 2019-03-12. ISBN 9781781085783.
  18. ^ Denetdale, Jennifer. "New novel twists Diné teachings, spirituality." Navajo Times: Window Rock, November 21, 2018, Opinion.
  19. ^ Saad Bee Hózhǫ́/Diné Writers' Association. "Trail of Lightning is an appropriation of Diné cultural beliefs." Indian Country Today. December 5, 2018. Opinion column, open letter

External links[edit]