Connie Willis

Constance Elaine Trimmer Willis (born December 31, 1945), commonly known as Connie Willis, is an American science fiction and fantasy writer. She has won eleven Hugo Awards and seven Nebula Awards for particular works—more major SF awards than any other writer[3]—most recently the "Best Novel" Hugo and Nebula Awards for Blackout/All Clear (2010).[4] She was inducted by the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2009[5][6] and the Science Fiction Writers of America named her its 28th SFWA Grand Master in 2011.[7]

Several of her works feature time travel by history students at the future University of Oxford—sometimes called the Time Travel series.[8] They are the short story "Fire Watch" (1982, also in several anthologies and the 1985 collection of the same name), the novels Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog (1992 and 1997), and the two-part novel Blackout/All Clear (2010).[8] All four won the annual Hugo Award, and Doomsday Book and Blackout/All Clear won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards,[4] making her the first author to win Hugo awards for all books in a series.

Willis is a 1967 graduate of Colorado State College, now the University of Northern Colorado, where she completed degrees in English and Elementary Education.[9][10] She lives in Greeley, Colorado, with her husband Courtney Willis, a former professor of physics at the University of Northern Colorado. They have one daughter, Cordelia.[11]

In a 1996 interview Willis said, "I sing soprano in a Congregationalist church choir. It is my belief that everything you need to know about the world can be learned in a church choir."[12]

Willis's first published story was "The Secret of Santa Titicaca" in Worlds of Fantasy, Winter 1970 (December).[13] At least seven stories followed (1978–81) before her debut novel, Water Witch by Willis and Cynthia Felice, published by Ace Books in 1982.[13] After receiving a National Endowment for the Arts grant that year, she left her teaching job and became a full-time writer.[14]

Scholar Gary K. Wolfe has written, "Willis, the erstwhile stand-up superstar of SF conventions—having her as your MC is like getting Billy Crystal back as host of the Oscars—and the author of some of the field's funniest stories, is a woman of considerably greater complexity and gravity than her personal popularity reflects, and for all her facility at screwball comedy knock-offs and snappy parody, she wants us to know that she's a writer of some gravity as well."[15]

Willis is known for writing "romantic 'screwball' comedy in the manner of 1940s Hollywood movies."[16]

Much of Willis's writing explores the social sciences. She often weaves technology into her stories in order to prompt readers to question what impact it has on the world. For instance, Lincoln's Dreams plumbs not just the psychology of dreams, but also their role as indicators of disease. The story portrays a young man's unrequited love for a young woman who might or might not be experiencing reincarnation or precognition, and whose outlook verges on suicidal. Similarly, Bellwether is almost exclusively concerned with human psychology.

Other Willis stories explore the so-called "hard" sciences, following in the classic science fiction tradition. "The Sidon in the Mirror" harks back to the interplanetary and interstellar romanticism of the 1930s and 1940s. "Samaritan" is another take on the theme of Robert A. Heinlein's "Jerry Was a Man", while "Blued Moon" is similarly reminiscent of Heinlein's "The Year of the Jackpot".

At the 2006 Hugo Awards ceremony, Willis presented writer Harlan Ellison with a special committee award. When Ellison got to the podium, Willis asked him "Are you going to be good?" When she asked the question a second time, Ellison put the microphone in his mouth, to the crowd's laughter. He then momentarily put his hand on her left breast.[17][18][19] Ellison subsequently complained that Willis refused to acknowledge his apology.[17]

Chance (1986) and The Winds of Marble Arch (1999) were nominated for the World Fantasy Award.

Willis was presented the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award at the Nebula Awards banquet in May 2012.[7]