Entry updated 25 October 2021. Tagged: Author.
(1945- ) US author who has worked as a medic and as a firefighter. His early writing was poetry, with several volumes released from Finding True North & Critter (coll 1974 chap) onward. He began publishing sf anonymously with "Songs of a Sentient Flute" for Analog in February 1979, a collaboration with Frank Herbert published as by Herbert alone: Ransom wrote the first draft at Herbert's request, as related in Brian Herbert's Dreamer of Dune: The Biography of Frank Herbert (2003). Substantially revised, the story eventually became part of Medea: Harlan's World (anth 1985) edited by Harlan Ellison. Ransom is best known for the related Pandora sequence, also with Frank Herbert (whom see for details), sequelling the latter's Destination: Void (August 1965 Galaxy as "Do I Wake Or Dream?"; 1966; rev 1978). This series comprises The Jesus Incident (1979) – based on "Songs of a Sentient Flute" – The Lazarus Effect (1983) and The Ascension Factor (1988).
Ransom's first solo novel, Jaguar (part 1983 Kansas City Star; and elsewhere; fixup 1990), is also of interest for its depiction of the physically, psychologically and morally complex dream-driven pattern of connections between Earth and another planet, each planet containing two maturing adolescents whose sleep disorders allow them to make journeys between the worlds. The Jaguar – a disturbed World War Two vet who likewise roams the dreamways – must be halted before he disrupts the fragile tissues of reality. Slightly overweighted for the adventure-sf idiom in which it is told, Jaguar is all the same an intriguing attempt to say more than could easily be said, and to suggest Ecological reasons for self-restraint. The later ViraVax sequence beginning with ViraVax (1993) follows a similar procedure: an impressive presentation of the complex perils that inevitably accompany in-depth virological research (see Genetic Engineering) is conveyed through a Near Future storyline which focuses upon a suspenseful thriller-like action plot, here accompanied by strong images of body horror (see Horror in SF); in the sequel, Burn (1995), an apocalyptic cult has stolen the deadly virus, and threatens to unleash a Pandemic upon the world. The world is saved. [JC]
see also: Messiahs.
William Michael Ransom
born Puyallup, Washington: 6 June 1945
- The Jesus Incident (New York: Berkley/Putnam, 1979) with Frank Herbert [based on "Songs of a Sentient Flute", February 1979 Analog, with Herbert (Ransom anonymous): Pandora: hb/Paul Alexander]
- The Lazarus Effect (New York: Putnam, 1983) with Frank Herbert [Pandora: hb/Paul Alexander]
- The Ascension Factor (New York: Ace/Putnam, 1988) with Frank Herbert [Pandora: hb/Paul Alexander]
- The Pandora Sequence (Monument, Colorado: WordFire Press, 2012) [omni of the above three: Pandora: pb/]
- ViraVax (New York: Ace Books, 1993) [ViraVax: hb/Marvin Mattelson]
- Burn (New York: Ace Books, 1995) [ViraVax: hb/Doug Struthers]
- Jaguar (New York: Ace Books, 1990) [fixup: part first appeared 1983 Kansas City Star and elsewhere: pb/Royo]
collections and poetry (selected)
- Finding True North & Critter (Port Townsend, Washington: Copper Canyon Press, 1973) [poetry: coll: chap: pb/]
- The Single Man Looks at Winter (Port Townsend, Washington: Empty Bowl, 1983) [poetry: coll: chap: pb/]
- The Woman and the War Baby (Selah, Washington: Blue Begonia Press, 2008) [coll of linked poems: pb/]
previous versions of this entry