- A Dozen Tough Jobs (1989)
- Them Bones (1984)
- The Texas-Israeli War (1974) with Jake Saunders
Short Story Collections
- Horse of a Different Color (2013)
- Other Worlds, Better Lives: Selected Long Fiction, 1989-2003 (2008)
- Things Will Never Be the Same (2007)
- Heart of Whitenesse (2005)
- Custer’s Last Jump and other Collaboration (2003)
- A Better World’s in Birth! (2003)
- Flying Saucer Rock and Roll (2001)
- Night of the Cooters (1993)
- Strange Monsters of the Recent Past (1991)
- Going Home Again (1988)
- All About Strange Monsters of the Recent Past (1987)
- Howard Who? (1986)
- Night of the Cooters: More Neat Stories
- Strange Things in Up Close
- The Ugly Chickens
- Heirs of the Perisphere
- Custer’s Last Jump
- Save A Place In the Lifeboat for Me
- Fair Game
- What Makes Heironymous Run?
- The Lions Are Asleep This Night
- Ike at the Mike
- Dr. Hudson’s Secret Gorilla
- Horror,We Got
- God’s Hooks and more..
by Bjorn El. Lundin (SHS) 1997, Updated 2015
Why is it a fact that a great writer like Howard Waldrop remains relatively unknown? Everybody who is coming to this page looking for an answer to that question will probably not find the answer here. Here is some background information about this creator of excellent science fiction, but not the answer to why his books are so difficult to find or why he is relatively unknown. Howard Waldrop was born in Houston (Chickasaw County), Mississippi, September 15, 1946. After his family moved to Texas in 1950, he spent part of every summer in either Houston, Mississippi, or Bruce, Calhoun County, Mississippi , until he graduated from high school. His Mississippi background has influenced some of his stories, especially A Dozen Tough Jobs. In addition, the character named Madison Yazoo Leake in the novel Them Bones was named after three Mississippi counties. He is a graduate of the University of Texas, where he majored in English (Waldrop letter). One thing is for sure: somewhere in his studies he picked up an excellent knowledge of history. This fact is evident in several of his works, whether the history is native American history, world history or the history of the United States. Howard Waldrop is a fiction writer with the best history knowledge that I have come across.
One remarkable thing is that Waldrop manages to make the history fun and interesting , and it always fits in nicely. Some writers use their knowledge in a certain field only to show off. Waldrop really uses his history in a way that fits naturally in the story. A good example appears in the novel Them Bones where he combines ancient American history with ancient world history and molds them both to fit in his own universe. He does this in a very convincing way and leaves the reader with the thought: What if?
Howard Waldrop lived in Austin, Texas, before moving for a time to the state of Washington, where he spent his days fly fishing for trout. As Waldrop himself says: “If I’m going to write and be poor, I might just as well do it in a place where I can fish for trout all the time” (Waldrop letter). This statement may very well capture the spirit of Howard Waldrop, who has made himself a reputation in the science fiction world by constantly selling his works to the publisher that pays the least. Of course, this doesn’t change the fact that he is born with talent and that he has received awards like the Nebula and the World Fantasy Award. He got both the Nebula and the World Fantasy Award for his short story The Ugly Chickens. It was also nominated for a Hugo. (A Reader Friendly Guide to Howard Waldrop). All readers of science fiction who have grown tired of the mainstream, everyday kind of stories should try to find any work by Howard Waldrop. It may take some searching. but it will be worth the effort.
Waldrop has now moved back to Austin from Washington state because, as he explained in an interview with Locus magazine, “after living there for seven years, they started closing down the river from March through June” so he had to drive twenty miles to a lake to fish when he just lived 100 feet from the river. (Note: Amazon lists him now as living in Santa Fe, New Mexico, but also mentions Austin, Texas).
According to a Wikipedia article, Waldrop is “a member of the Turkey City Writer’s Workshop, has attended the Rio Hondo Writing Workshop, and has taught at the Clarion Workshop. In 2004 he started writing movie reviews with Lawrence Person for Locus Online. He is a frequent attendee of ArmadilloCon, the local science fiction convention held annually in Austin and was the Toastmaster at the very first ArmadilloCon (1979) and again at #29 in 2007; he was Guest of Honor at ArmadilloCon 5 (1983). Waldrop was one of three writer Guests of Honor at the 1995 World Fantasy Convention held in Baltimore and at Readercon 15 held in Burlington, Massachusetts, in 2003.” He worked on the TV shows The Twilight Zone and Beauty and the Beast.
Although his books have been difficult to find, Amazon now shows new reprints of almost all of Waldrop’s books.
A Review of Them Bones
by Bjorn E. Lundin (SHS) 1997
In his first individual novel (Note: he wrote The Texas-Israeli War together with Jake Sanders), Waldrop creates something very close to a masterpiece in the genre of science fiction. He does this by letting an amazing story be told from three different point of views, in three different places, and (at least I think so) three different times. Does this sounds confusing? It really isn’t. That’s the problem with this novel. Anyone who tries to explain it may make the book sound like a silly and hilarious story, when it is really very serious.
The main story begins in a nearby future, where nuclear wars and diseases have ravaged the world. Scientists have discovered a way to travel back in time. They are now going to try to stop this third World War by sending a task force of 148 people to destroy an air base in Louisiana. Sounds simple enough doesn’t it? The only problem is that time is a thing that is best left alone. The task force gets separated, and Madison Yazoo Leake is on his own (Yazoo is the name of a town in Mississippi). It is through Yazoo’ s eyes that most of the story is told. Here is an excerpt from the book, it is in the beginning when Yazoo begins to understand that something is wrong: .”I walked toward the man, held up my hand. He was unarmed. He had on a red-and-white striped loincloth and wore a pair of moccasins. His hair was black, pulled back in two braids, and had a single feather in it. He had one small pearl in his left ear…I stopped. He regarded me calmly. His skin was an even copper color, like an old penny. He had no tattoos…My arm was still up in greeting ‘Hello, ”I said. ‘Amigo. Friend.’ ‘Hello,’ he said, in Greek'” (Them Bones, 25) The other sections are told from third person point of view by a group of archeologists who stumble upon some strange findings (that kind of explains the title). The final part is told as the diary of Marie Smith, one of the 147 remaining members of the task force.
This novel is very good, and I would strongly recommend everybody to read it. If not for the joy of reading a good book, you can read it to be amazed by the skills of this very talented and intelligent author. On my scale I’ll give it four points out of four possible. In other words: Read it!
- The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction: Howard Waldrop (excellent source of information about Waldrop)
- Read the award winning The Ugly Chickens online.
- Review of A Dozen Tough Jobs on Amazon.
- Locus Science Fiction Magazine has interview with Waldrop, 2003.
- Three Ways of Looking at Howard Waldrop (and Then Some) by Jed Hartman, 2001
- InternetSpeculativFictionDataBase ( isfdb) has a summary bibliography for Waldrop
- Wikipedia article for Waldrop
- Letter from Howard Waldrop to Jim Atkinson. May 7, 1997.
- Howard Waldrop: A Bibliography. Internet. Available http:// www.sff.net/people/Waldrop/novels.htm
- Waldrop, Howard and Eileen Gunn. “A Reader Friendly Guide to Howard Waldrop.” Ed. Janna Silverstein. Internet. Available http:// www.sff.net/people/Waldrop/novels.htm
- Leeper, Evelyn C. “Review of Strange Things in Close Up.” Online. Available http:// julmara.chalmers.se/SF_archive/Authors/Waldrop,Howard
- Waldrop, Howard. Them Bones. New York: The Berkeley Publishing Group, 1984. (an Ace Science Fiction Book, 200 Madison Avenue, NY. NY, 10016)