Our Favorite Martian
When Howard Hendrix was taking his first biology classes in Albers Hall many eons ago, he found himself firmly grounded in the botanical basics. It was customary and orthodox, planted deep into examinations of down-to-Earth dirt and mundane single-cell lifeforms. How dull.
Forunately for two generations of science-fiction buffs, Hendrix has lavishly built on these early roots, evolving into an accomplished scrivener of the weird and fantastic. Think Charles Darwin meets Rod Serling. Since graduating in 1979 with a degree in biology, he’s penned a bookshelf of sci-fi thrillers such as Spears of God, The Labyrinth Key, Möbius Highway, Better Angels, Perception of Depth and Lightpaths. He also just released a new collection of essays, Visions of Mars—The Red Planet in Fiction and Science, and is working on an Encyclopedia of Mars due out in 2013.
Hendrix was just 9 years old when he first stumbled upon a copy of Ray Bradbury’s R is for Rocket. “Even at 9, I was picking up on themes and ideas in his work,” he says. “There was a real conscious lyricism of his prose. His writing is poetic and very vivid.”
Combined with his new degree, he began scribbling out tales of science fiction and fantasy in his spare time, landing short stories in such scholarly scientific journals as Tales of the Unanticipated (“The Notorious Sitting Judge of Bullfrog County”), Amazing Stories (“Chameleon on a Mirror”), Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine (“Incandescent Bliss”) and Analog Science Fiction Science Fact (“Palimpsest”).
It’s skyrocketed since then, and he’s now able to combine his writing with his job teaching literature at California State University Fresno.
But Hendrix is also something of an oddball in the sci-fi universe, a strange duck among a conflux of Klingons and space ‘droids. For one, he’s incessantly old-school.
“I persist in insisting that people have a right to push back against technology they perceive to be destructive to their ways of life and their beliefs.”
As a two-term vice president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Association, he took heat for complaining in a much-discussed rant that too many of his colleagues were becoming “pixel-stained technopeasant wretches.” A pithy phrase, indeed—“I actually got a death threat on that one.”