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Pinsker, Sarah

Entry updated 24 July 2023. Tagged: Author.

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(1977-    ) US singer-songwriter and author, who began to publish work of genre interest with "Not Dying in Central Texas" in Nine for June 2012. She initially published only in shorter forms, though prolifically, with more than 50 stories released by 2019. "In Joy, Knowing the Abyss" (1-8 July 2013 Strange Horizons) won a Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. She may be best known for "Our Lady of the Open Road" (June 2015 Asimov's), which won a 2016 Nebula for best novelette. It is a tale which clearly adapts some of her hands-on understanding of the music business to a Near Future world where the immersive absorption of listeners in music online – already endemic in the real world, in this case via a Virtual Reality product called StageHolo – has radically diminished the audience for live performances.

This tale, along with a dozen others, has been assembled in Pinsker's first collection, Sooner or Later Everything Falls into the Sea (coll 2019), whose title story (February 2016 Lightspeed) also focuses on the stressed life of a performer; among the other longer stories included, "Wind Will Rove" (September/October 2017 Asimov's), is set on a Generation Starship whose records of its inhabitants' cultural heritage has been wiped (see Amnesia). The inventiveness of the collection as a whole is remarkable, as well as the highly professional level of the writing; this book won the Philip K Dick Award.

Pinsker's first novel, A Song for a New Day (2019), is set in a Near Future Dystopian America whose citizens, submissive to a government whose response to growing civil unrest, an increasingly deadly Pandemic, and the dissolution of the social contract is an enforcement of solitariness on the world within its power. The two female protagonists, both involved in the same environment described in "Our Lady of the Open Road" (see above), mutually illuminate the human dimensions of these times to come. A Song for a New Day won a Nebula as best novel. The author's story "Two Truths and a Lie" (17 June 2020 won another Nebula and a Hugo, both as best novelette. We Are Satellites (2021) explores dilemmas implicit in the increasing use of Pilot, a brain implant designed, at least initially, to aid students multi-task (see Education in SF); darker uses may easily be imagined. "Where Oaken Hearts Do Gather", (March/April 2021 Uncanny Magazine) won a Hugo, Nebula and Locus Award as best short story; Windhollow Faire, a fictional band cited in the tale, comes from Elizabeth Hand's Wylding Hall (2015). [JC]

Sarah Pinsker

born New York: 8 April 1977


collections and stories


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