PM Press Blog

Terry Bisson (1942-2024)

Locus Magazine

Head shot of Terry Bisson

Author Terry Bisson, 81, died in the early hours of January 10, 2024.

Terry Ballantine Bisson was born February 12, 1942 in Kentucky. After attending Grinnell College in Iowa from 1960-62, and batting around LA and NY, he received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Louisville in 1964. In 1962, he married Deirde Holst, mother of his two sons and daughter; they divorced in 1966. From 1966-70 he lived in New York with second wife Mary Corey, scripting comics and saucer tales for tabloids and serving as editor of Web of Horror and True Intimate Confessions. He left the city to join the Red Rockers commune in the Colorado mountains (world’s largest hippy-built geodesic dome!) and other communes in the West and South while working as an auto mechanic. He returned to New York in 1976, serving as an editor and copy chief at Berkley and Ace until 1985, when he became a full-time writer. Meanwhile he was active in the John Brown Anti-Klan Committee with his current wife Judy Jensen (with whom he raised another son and two daughters). In the mid-’90s he was a consultant at HarperCollins and Avon, and taught in the writing program at The New School in New York and at Clarion and Odyssey. He and Jensen moved to the Bay Area in 2002, where he edited the ‘‘Outspoken Authors’’ series for PM Press, and hosted the SF in SF reading series for many years.

First novel Wyrldmaker appeared in 1981, followed by World Fantasy finalist Talking Man (1986) and Fire on the Mountain (1988). Other novels include Voyage to the Red Planet (1990), Pirates of the Universe (1990), The Pickup Artist (2001), and Any Day Now (2012). He completed the late Walter M. Miller, Jr.’s Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman (1997), and has co-written YA novels with Stephanie Spinner, written children’s books about NASCAR racing as ‘‘T.B. Calhoun,’’ produced numerous film and TV novelizations and media tie-ins, and written non-fiction titles, notably On A Move: The Story of Mumia Abu-Jamal (2001).

Bisson rose to prominence in the SF field with Hugo, Sturgeon, Locus, and Nebula Award winning story ‘‘Bears Discover Fire’’ (1990). Other notable short stories include Hugo finalists ‘‘Press Ann’’ (1991), ‘‘The Shadow Knows’’ (1993), ‘‘Dead Man’s Curve’’ (1994), ‘‘Get Me to the Church on Time’’ (1998); Nebula Award nominees ‘‘They’re Made out of Meat’’ (1991) and ‘‘Necronauts’’ (1995); Hugo, World Fantasy, and Nebula Award finalist ‘‘England Underway’’ (1993); Nebula Award winner and Hugo and Sturgeon finalist ‘‘macs’’ (1999); and novellas Dear Abbey (2003) and Planet of Mystery (2008). His short fiction has been collected in Bears Discover Fire (1993), In the Upper Room and Other Likely Stories (2000), Numbers Don’t Lie (2003), Greetings & Other Stories (2005), Billy’s Book (2009), and TVA Baby (2011). The Left Left Behind (2009) includes the title story, a play, and an interview and autobiography.

Bisson also wrote the long-running “This Month in History” series for Locus, recently profiled by the New Yorker. The micro-fiction series has run in the magazine for over 20 years. We will deeply miss his creativity, wry humor, and friendship. The field is lesser without him.

He is survived by his partner Judy, his sons and daughters, and many grandchildren.

A complete obituary and remembrances will appear in the February issue of Locus. For more details about his writing at the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction: