Sheila Finch

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

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 and always knew she wanted to publish. She wrote for the literary magazines in high school and college, and submitted stories and manuscripts to publishers, magazines and journals for a very long time before getting her first science fiction story professionally published ("A Long Way Home," Asimov's SF, 1982.).[4] Finch was a full-time college professor at El Camino Junior College in Torrance, California for a period of 30 years. (She retired in 2004.) where she taught a variety of English and creative writing classes.[5] She is a member of SFWA and served as Vice-President and Chair of the Grievance Committee for five years. She continues to write science fiction and occasional articles about science fiction. She is a Founding Member (1977-) of the Asilomar Writers Consortium.

She lives in California.[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]



  • Infinity's Web (1985)[12]
  • Triad (1986)
  • The Garden of the Shaped (1987)
  • Shaper's Legacy (1988)
  • Shaping the Dawn (1989)
  • Tiger in the Sky (1999)
  • Reading the Bones (2005)
  • Birds (2005)
  • Villa Far From Rome (2016)

Short fiction[edit]

  • The Guild of Xenolinguists (2007)
Title Year First published Reprinted/collected Notes
A very small dispensation 2013 Finch, Sheila (Oct–Nov 2013). "A very small dispensation". Asimov's Science Fiction. 37 (10–11): 74–81.CS1 maint: Date format (link)


  • 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". Archived from the original on 2017-01-19. Retrieved 2016-07-30.
  12. ^ Winner of the 1986 Compton Crook Award; See "Compton Crook Award Winners". Baltimore Science Fiction Society.
  13. ^ Short stories unless otherwise noted.

External links[edit]