William Sanders (writer)

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William Sanders (April 28, 1942 - June 29, 2017) was an American speculative fiction writer, primarily of short fiction, and was the senior editor of the now defunct online science fiction magazine Helix SF

Sanders has written several novels, including Journey to Fusang (1988), The Wild Blue and the Gray (1991) and The Ballad of Billy Badass & the Rose of Turkestan (1999). The first two are alternate histories with a humorous bent while the last is a fantasy novel.[1]

He has also written a number of mystery novels, including a series featuring Western writer Taggart Roper beginning with The Next Victim (St. Martin's Press 1993),[2] as well as novels marketed by the publisher as Action/Adventure, beginning with Hardball (Berkley Jove 1992).[3] In an author's afterword to his short story "Ninekiller and the Neterw", included in the Roger Zelazny tribute collection "Lord of the Fantastic", Sanders credits Roger Zelazny for talking Sanders into returning to writing SF/F stories with American Indian themes.

Sanders, a former powwow dancer,[4] is best known for his use of American Indian themes and his dry, often cynical sense of humor.[4] His most-anthologized and perhaps best known work is "The Undiscovered", an alternate history in which Shakespeare is transported to Virginia and writes "Hamlet" for the Cherokee tribe.[4] The story won the Sidewise Award for Alternate History in 1997. Sanders won a second Sidewise Award for his story Empire in 2002. Sanders has said that he considers his best story to be Dry Bones.[5]

A stickler for detail and accuracy, Sanders has studied history, which led to the publication in 2003 of Conquest: Hernando de Soto and the Indians, 1539-1543, a book begun some two decades earlier and researched by travelling extensively in the southeastern quarter of the US, by motorcycle and small boat and on foot, retracing Soto's probable routes.[citation needed]

As a non-fiction writer, he has written numerous articles on the martial arts and outdoor sports, as well as books on bicycle racing, kayaking, and backpacking.[citation needed] As Sundown Slim he wrote a very funny humor column for "Competitive Cycling", a bike racing magazine in the mid 1970s. He also contributed to Bike World Magazine in the same period.

From 2006 until the final issue in 2008, Sanders was the editor and publisher of the online quarterly magazine Helix SF. During this time, he wrote a rejection letter in which he called Muslim terrorists "sheet heads" "worm brained" and "incapable of honesty." Sanders would later deny that he was referring to Muslims as a whole,[6] but the controversy ultimately resulted in several authors asking to pull their stories from the Helix archives, after they found out Sanders had offered that option to N.K. Jemisin.[7]

Sanders and his wife lived in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Sanders died after a prolonged illness on June 29, 2017.[8]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Authors : Sanders, William : SFE : Science Fiction Encyclopedia". Retrieved 8 February 2015. 
  2. ^ William Sanders. "THE NEXT VICTIM". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved 8 February 2015. 
  3. ^ Brown, Robert. "William Sanders Interview". Chronicle. Retrieved 8 February 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c "The Year's Best Science Fiction: Fifteenth Annual Collection". Retrieved 8 February 2015. 
  5. ^ [1] Archived April 22, 2005, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ "Conversations With A Mean Old Bastard". Sff.net. Retrieved 2013-03-27. 
  7. ^ "Racist Rejection Letter Stirs Controversy in SF Community". Technoccult. 2008-07-15. Retrieved 2013-03-27. 
  8. ^ http://kryptonradio.com/2017/07/01/william-sanders-editor-helix-dead-75/

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