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Randall, Marta

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author, Editor.

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(1948-    ) Mexican-born editor and author, in US from infancy, who has taught in several sf writing workshops and served in Science Fiction Writers of America as vice-president 1981-1982 and president 1982-1984. She began publishing sf with "Smack Run" in New Worlds 5 (anth 1973 ed Michael Moorcock) as Marta Bergstresser, her then married name, used only on this one occasion. Her stories since then have not been frequent, but are almost always of high quality, tightly and densely written, even epigrammatic at points, and generally impart elements of Feminist discourse, with unbemused clarity of effect, to genre material. The intense force of a tale like "Lapidary Nights" (in Universe 17, anth 1987, ed Terry Carr) derives at least in part – though no "didactic" argument occupies the foreground – from its thorough assimilation of a feminist agenda. Her short work has been assembled as Collected Stories (coll 2007).

Randalls's first and perhaps most successful novel, Islands (1976; rev 1980), movingly depicts the life of a mortal woman in an age when Immortality is medically achievable for all but a few, including the protagonist. To cope with her world she plunges into the study of archaeology, and makes a discovery which enables her to transcend her corporeal life. In A City in the North (1976) an Alien species self-destructs in a morally dubious response to the colonizing presence on their planet of the human race (see Colonization of Other Worlds; Imperialism). The Kennerin/Newhome sequence – Journey (1978) and Dangerous Games (1980) – also treats its enabling premise with some ambivalence, for the Kennerin family's decision to create a Utopia on the planet they have purchased has complex consequences, some of them relating to Ecology; the series overall can be understood as a family saga, with perhaps some conscious echoes of the Western. The Sword of Winter (1983), like some of her later short fiction, is fantasy, though with Planetary-Romance features; and Those Who Favor Fire (1984) is a near-future Dystopia set in an Disaster-prone California much like today's.

With Robert Silverberg, Randall edited two volumes of the New Dimensions sequence, New Dimensions 11 (anth 1980) and New Dimensions 12 (anth 1981), which was then terminated; and was responsible solo for The Nebula Awards 19 (anth 1984). In the later 1980s she became less active as a writer, concentrating at least in part on the construction of "interactive time-travel games" (see Game-Worlds) for the California State Department of Mental Health, but her fiction, when it appeared, remained vividly alive; her final book to date is a mystery, Growing Light (1993) as by Martha Conley. [JC]

see also: Islands.

Marta Randall

born Mexico City, Mexico: 26 April 1948




  • Journey (New York: Pocket Books, 1978) [Kennerin/Newhome: pb/]
  • Dangerous Games (New York: Pocket Books, 1980) [Kennerin/Newhome: pb/]

individual titles


  • Collected Stories (Raleigh, North Carolina:, 2007) [coll: pb/Marta Randall]

works as editor


New Dimensions

individual titles


previous versions of this entry

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