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Westerfeld, Scott

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1963-    ) US composer and author – married since 2001 to Justine Larbalestier – whose first sf novel, Polymorph (1997), a tale immersed in a heatedly entangled New York, features a Shapeshifter protagonist who seems to match the city, both protagonist and venue being rendered in ways that hint of his Urban Fantasies [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below] to come, though Westerfeld focused first on sf. The young protagonist of Fine Prey (1998), which is a Young Adult tale like most of his later work, must endure restrictive schooling to make her fit to cope with the Alien civilization that has conquered Earth. Evolution's Darling (2002), which was given a Philip K Dick Award special citation, focuses on an AI who acquires human characteristics by relating to a human teenager. Westerfeld's first series is also sf, and a far cry from the Near Future tales of urban life, whether or not supernaturalized, that would become his normal focus. The Succession sequence – The Risen Empire (2003) and The Killing of Worlds (2003), both fittingly assembled almost immediately as Succession (omni 2003) as the two volumes together in fact comprise one tightly-woven novel – is Space Opera, and deals with conflict between a rigidly controlled Galactic Empire and its foes (including a deadly Hive Mind and Berserker-like drones), which may or may not be justified in attempting to topple the seemingly immortal emperor (see Immortality) who is concealing a dirty secret about the undead in his service. The protagonist, an emotionally reticent tactical genius (see Hornblower in Space), masterminds intriguingly narrated battles between his ship and more heavily armed foes, with super-Weapons adroitly deployed, and the tale climaxes with a sense of prologue: a sense that there is much more to be told.

Westerfeld then initiated the two Young Adult that established his name. The Peeps sequence comprising Peeps (2005; vt Parasite Positive 2007) and The Last Days (2006), an Urban Fantasy series set again in New York, whose protagonist has been infected with a sexually-transmitted symbiont (see Parasitism and Symbiosis) that becomes active only when ancient Monsters from far Underground threaten the surface of the planet (see Horror in SF); the second volume introduces a second protagonist, an infected female teenage Vampire rock singer (see Music) whose tunes draw the monsters forth. The sequence (again) ends abruptly; a third volume may be forthcoming. The Uglies sequence – comprising Uglies (2005), Pretties (2005), Specials (2006), Extras (2007), plus some Graphic Novels attached to the main storyline – is set in a somewhat abstract urban environment, a seeming Utopia where all children are cosmetically transformed at the age of sixteen into "cuties". Rebel "uglies" inhabit a hidden Keep; the Dystopian implications underlying the commodification of young females are convincingly unpacked.

The Leviathan Young Adult sequence comprising Leviathan (2009), Behemoth (2010) and Goliath (2011) is set in an Alternate History Europe, and retells World War One in Steampunk terms as a conflict between engine-obsessed Clankers and Darwinists, whose understanding of Evolution persuades them to contemplate creating new species (see Eugenics). Leviathan itself is a sentient Airship; the young protagonists – a dispossessed heir to the Austrian throne and a girl disguised as a boy – must work out the gearing of this world before New York is destroyed, ending any chance of a just peace. Historical characters like Nikola Tesla have charismatic roles to play. For details of the Zeroes sequence beginning with Zeroes (2015) with Deborah Biancotti and Margo Lanagan, see the entry for Biancotti. Horizon (2016) begins a Shared-World sequence set in a mysterious enclave reminiscent of the setting of Lost (2004-2011), where a group of children must apply their high-tech training to ensure their survival. Westerfeld is a remarkably polished writer, whose finessing of Genre SF and Young Adult topoi is at times superbly accomplished, though occasionally a mechanical reduction of story to routine diminishes the sense of legerdemainic competence he conveys at his best. [JC]

Scott David Westerfeld

born Dallas, Texas: 5 May 1963






  • Peeps (New York: Penguin/Razorbill, 2005) [Peeps: hb/David Greenwood]
  • The Last Days (New York: Penguin/Razorbill, 2006) [Peeps: hb/]


  • Uglies (New York: Simon Pulse, 2005) [Uglies: pb/Carissa Pelleteri]
  • Pretties (New York: Simon Pulse, 2005) [Uglies: pb/Carissa Pelleteri]
    • Uglies & Pretties (New York: Simon Pulse, 2015) [omni of the above two: Uglies: pb/Monica Stevenson]
  • Specials (New York: Simon Pulse, 2006) [Uglies: hb/Howard Pyle]
  • Extras (New York: Simon Pulse, 2007) [Uglies: hb/Howard Pyle]
  • Bogus to Bubbly: An Insider's Guide to the World of Uglies (New York: Simon Pulse, 2008) [Uglies: pb/]
  • Uglies: Shay's Story (New York: Ballantine Books/Del Rey, 2012) with Devin Grayson [graph: Uglies: illus/Steven Cummings: pb/Espen Grundetjem]
  • Uglies: Cutters (New York: Ballantine Books/Del Rey, 2012) with Devin Grayson [graph: Uglies: illus/pb/Steven Cummings]




  • Horizon (New York: Scholastic, 2016) [shared-world series: Horizon: pb/Paul Price, Larry Rostant]


  • Imposters (New York: Scholastic, 2018) [Imposters: hb/Christopher Stengel]
  • Shatter City (New York: Scholastic, 2019) [Imposters: hb/Peter Crowther]
  • Mirror's Edge (New York: Scholastic, 2021) [Imposters: hb/Aykut Aydogdu]
  • Youngbloods (New York: Scholastic, 2022) [Imposters: hb/]

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