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Rotsler, William

Entry updated 22 March 2023. Tagged: Artist, Author, Fan.

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(1926-1997) US author and artist who received four Hugos as Best Fan Artist, in 1975, 1979, 1996 and 1997, plus a 1996 Retro Hugo for his 1945 fan art; his huge output of cartoons, many still unpublished, may be remembered as much as his fiction. (An original Rotsler cartoon was tipped into each copy of the final issue of Science-Fiction Five-Yearly.) He began publishing sf with "Ship Me Tomorrow" in Galaxy for June 1970 and, although he initially kept his own name for autonomous work – using the pseudonym John Ryder Hall and the Ballantine House Name William Arrow for novelizations – all his novels since about 1980 were Ties of one sort or another. His first novel, Patron of the Arts (1974), remains his best received; incorporating his best known and most praised short story, "Patron of the Arts" (in Universe 2, anth 1972, ed Terry Carr), it describes in Wagnerian terms an all-encompassing artform, using holograms and other sf devices (see Arts), but vitiates some of its speculative interest through a contrived action plot. Rotsler's second novel, To the Land of the Electric Angel (1976), his last untied book-length tale, shares a similar setting – what seems to be an extrapolation of modern southern California – in a tale involving Cryonics, the reawakening of the hero in a Dystopian future, gladiatorial contests and much more. The Zandra series – Zandra (1978), The Far Frontier (1980) and The Hidden Worlds of Zandra (1983) – again shares this general background; access to Zandra is via a Stargate located in the Bermuda Triangle. This sequence is written with significantly less conviction than its predecessors, and the large casts of routinely differentiated characters generates the impression that Rotsler was attempting to work in a bestseller idiom dangerous to the creative mind. With Gregory Benford (whom see for details) he contributed Shiva Descending (1980) to the asteroid-Disaster subgenre.

His copious, often deceptively simple Fanzine cartoon work is commemorated by the Rotsler Award sponsored by the Southern California Institute for Fan Interests (SCIFI), presented annually since 1998 and honouring an individual artist's long-time contributions to Fandom. [JC/DRL]

see also: FAAn Awards.

William Rotsler

born Los Angeles, California: 3 July 1926

died California: 18 October 1997



Return to the Planet of the Apes

These ties are based not on the films but on the later animated Television series.


Mr Merlin

Tom Swift

Star Trek

individual titles


works as editor


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