Sheila Finch

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Sheila Finch (born 1935) is an American author of science fiction and fantasy.[1] She is best known for her sequence of stories about the Guild of Xenolinguists.

Childhood and education[edit]

Finch was born in Fulham, London, England where she attended local elementary schools. "Because most of the schools were closed for the duration of World War II, she didn’t get a lot of normal education before her tenth birthday – which was probably a blessing in disguise as she got to spend a lot of time reading books beyond her grade level."[2] She started her undergraduate career at Bishop Otter College in Chichester, West Sussex, England. While on holiday in Switzerland in 1955 she met her future husband, Clare Rayner, whom she married in June 1957 and emigrated with him to the United States. In the U.S., she first lived in Bloomington, Indiana where she obtained her M.A. from Indiana University in medieval literature and linguistics.[3]

Writing career[edit]

Finch began telling and writing stories at a very young age. She quotes her mother as saying that Finch began writing "books" for her dolls to read when she was five. She always knew she wanted to publish. She wrote for the literary magazines in high school and college. And she submitted stories and manuscripts to publishers, magazines and journals for a very long time.[4] Finch was a full-time college professor at El Camino Junior College in Torrance, California for a period of 30 years where she taught a variety of English and creative writing classes.[5] She continues to write science fiction and teaches creative writing courses at conferences around the world.

She lives in California. She has three children, eight grandchildren, one great-grandchild, and two cats.[6]


In her 1986 book Triad, Finch coined the term "xenolinguist" to describe the lingsters who decode alien languages.[7][8] The word has gained widespread acceptance in the science fiction industry and was used to describe the character Uhura in the remake of Star Trek.[9][10]

Finch created a series of tales about communicating with aliens which eventually was consolidated in collection of short stories entitled The Guild of Xenolinguists (Golden Gryphon Press, 2007). The Guild was founded on Earth in the middle of the 22nd century after first contact with a race from somewhere in the Orion Arm of the Milky Way Galaxy. A few early linguists, neurolinguists, ethnographers and computer scientists established the Guild which then took over the responsibility for training xenolinguists to make first contact and to record alien languages in the field. Later, the Guild provided translation services for the expanding commerce and colonization of the following centuries.[11]





  • Myths, Metaphors, and Science Fiction (2014)


  • "Reading the Bones" (1998) Nebula novella award winner
  • Tiger in the Sky (1999) Winner of the San Diego Book Award for Best Juvenile Fiction
  • Infinity's Web (1985) Winner of the Compton Crook Award for Best First Novel


  1. ^ "Summary Bibliography: Sheila Finch". Retrieved 2016-07-30. 
  2. ^ "Sheila Finch". Retrieved 2016-07-30. 
  3. ^ "Sheila Finch". Retrieved 2016-07-30. 
  4. ^ "(INTERVIEW OF Sheila Finch)". Retrieved 2016-07-30. 
  5. ^, -. "Sheila Finch". Retrieved 2016-07-30. 
  6. ^, -. "Sheila Finch". Retrieved 2016-07-30. 
  7. ^ Wade, Juliette (2009-07-19). "TalkToYoUniverse: Sheila Finch at TTYU!". TalkToYoUniverse. Retrieved 2016-07-30. 
  8. ^ "Science Fiction Citations for OED". Retrieved 2016-07-30. 
  9. ^ "Xenolinguistics. You have no idea what that means | Star Trek quotes". Retrieved 2016-07-30. 
  10. ^ "Star Trek Script - transcript from the screenplay and/or the J.J. Abrams reboot". Retrieved 2016-07-30. 
  11. ^ "Sheila Finch Bibliography". Retrieved 2016-07-30. 
  12. ^ "Compton Crook Award Winners". Baltimore Science Fiction Society. Retrieved June 25, 2012. 

External links[edit]