|After graduating from the University of Chicago in 1932 with degrees in psychology and physiology, Fritz Leiber followed his father's footsteps by becoming an actor. After a few years, though, he left the world of acting, marrying Jonquil Stephens in 1936. Two years later, she gave birth to a son and, in 1939, Leiber published his first fantasy story, "Two Sought Adventure". This story began one of the most long-lived and acclaimed fantasy series of all adventures of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, also known as the Swords series. With this series, Leiber is credited with coining the term "swords and sorcery." Though working as an editor during the daytime, over the next ten years he wrote nearly 40 short stories and serials, including his first masterwork, CONJURE WIFE, published in novel form in 1953. In 1947, the influential publisher Arkham House collected many of his early stories under the title NIGHT'S BLACK AGENTS. The novel THE GREEN MILLENNIUM, about a mysterious green cat, was published in 1954. It was the first of many works by Leiber, an avowed cat-lover, to feature cats in important roles. 1958 was an important year for Leiber. "Lean Times in Lankhmar" was published, introducing Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser to a new generation, and he won the Hugo Award for THE BIG TIME, the first novel of his Changewar trilogy. It was also the year that he became a full-time writer. Leiber won further Hugos for a novel, THE WANDERER (1964), and a short story, "Gonna Roll the Bones" (1967), which also won a Nebula Award. The next year, the first two Swords books were published--a novel, SWORDS OF LANKHMAR, and a collection, SWORDS AGAINST WIZARDRY. These two books were extremely popular and became very influential to many future fantasy writers. When his wife died in 1969, Leiber went into an alcoholic depression that lasted several years, but he continued writing, producing another Hugo and Nebula winner, "Ill Met in Lankhmar", arguably his most well-known story. Moving to San Francisco, Leiber wrote the partly autobiographical novel, OUR LADY OF DARKNESS, and continued to write short stories, including award winners like "Belsen Express" (1975), "Catch that Zeppelin!" (1975), and "The Button Molder" (1979). In the 1980s, Leiber wrote less, but did continue the Swords series, with the KNIGHT & KNAVE OF SWORDS collection receiving several award nominations. He married longtime friend Margo Skinner in 1992, but, sadly, he died later that year. Before he died, Leiber had begun a large-scale effort to collect all of the Swords stories together, sequentially, and in revised and corrected versions. This project was completed posthumously, in the mid-1990s, and will serve to introduce yet more generations to Leiber's unique vision of fantasy.
|British writer Neil Gaiman is an artist whose creativity does not limit itself to a particular medium or genre. The creator of popular works for adults and children, Gaiman is perhaps best known for his graphic novels. He has, however, also written critically acclaimed novels and collections of short fiction, as well as scripts for films and television, poems, and even song lyrics. His works cross genre boundaries, touching on fantasy, science fiction, horror, comedy, and fairy tales. A New Yorker article ("Kid Goth," 01/25/2010) quotes Alan Moore describing Gaiman's work as, "kind of fey in the best sense of the word. His best effects come out of people or characters or situations in the real world being starkly juxtaposed wit this misty fantasy world."||Born in 1960 in Portsmouth, Gaiman grew up in East Grinstead in West Sussex. His family is of Polish-Jewish origin, and although his parents remained deeply connected with Judaism, they were also practicing Scientologists. In fact, his father held an official position with the Church of Scientology until his death in 2009. (This would at times complicate young Neil's life--at one point he was denied entry to a primary school because of his father's affiliation.) Although Gaiman rejected Scientology as an adult, he did meet his first wife, Mary McGrath, while she was also studying Dianetics. ||Gaiman's first published work was journalistic, and throughout his 20's he actively pursued work writing for magazines and newspapers. He wrote a never-published biography of the band Duran Duran. In 1987 Gaiman bridged his non-fiction work and the creative fiction that would become his forte with the publication of DON'T PANIC: THE OFFICIAL HITCHHIKER'S GUID TO THE GALAXY COMPANION. In the 1980s he also became friends with British comics author Alan Moore (THE WATCHMEN, V FOR VENDETTA, etc.), and through this friendship, Gaiman started getting work writing for comics. He made a name for himself, albeit perhaps as an underground figure, with his SANDMAN series, published between 1989 and 1996. This nine-time Eisner Award winning series follows Dream (aka Morpheus), the lord of the dream world--along with his often-bickering siblings Death, Despair, Destiny, Destruction, Desire, and Delirium--on various mystical and gothic adventures. ||Dysfunctional families return as a theme for Gaiman, notably in CORALINE, a children's book that topped the best-sellers charts in 2002 about a young girl who enters a parallel reality where she finds a much more satisfactory family. Other stand-out work includes THE WOLVES IN THE WALLS (2003), a book illustrated by Dave McKean which was adapted for opera; novels AMERICAN GODS (2001), ANANSI BOYS (2005), and THE GRAVEYARD BOOK (2008), which adapted Rudyard Kipling's THE JUNGLEBOOK; as well as co-authoring the script for Robert Zemeckis's BEOWOLF. Always attuned to trends and innovations, Gaiman was one of the first writers to keep a blog, launching his effort in 2001. As of 2010, he had 1.4 million readers.||A family man himself, Gaiman has three children with his first wife. Over the years he has formed several celebrity friendships, including with musicians Tori Amos and Stephin Merritt of the Magnetic Fields. In January 2010, he announced his engagement to singer/songwriter Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls. At that time, Gaiman was living in Minneapolis, where he moved from England in 1992.