Today, we bid farewell to a luminary of the literary world, Michael Bishop, who left us on November 13, 2023, just a day after his 78th birthday. In his more than four decades of prolific writing, Bishop not only enriched the realms of science fiction and fantasy but also left an indelible mark on them.
Born on November 12, 1945, in Lincoln, Nebraska, Bishop’s early life was a tapestry of diverse experiences, thanks to his military brat upbringing. From attending kindergarten in Tokyo to spending his senior year in Seville, Spain, his formative years were as varied as the characters he later created. His parents’ divorce in 1951 did little to dampen his adventurous spirit, and he continued to embrace new experiences wherever his father was based.
Bishop’s academic journey led him to the University of Georgia, where he earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English. Post-graduation, he married Jeri Ellis Whitaker and began his career as an English teacher, first at the United States Air Force Academy Preparatory School and later at the University of Georgia in Athens. In 1974, Bishop made the bold decision to leave teaching and pursue writing full-time, a choice that would define the rest of his life.
His career was marked by significant achievements, including two Nebula Awards and four Locus Awards. His work “The Quickening” and the novel No Enemy But Time were particularly notable, earning him widespread acclaim. Bishop’s storytelling prowess was evident in his ability to weave complex narratives across various genres, from short stories in prestigious magazines to novels that spanned diverse themes.
In addition to his fiction, Bishop was a respected poet and essayist, with his works appearing in major newspapers and magazines. His collaborations with other authors, like Ian Watson and Paul Di Filippo, under the pseudonym Philip Lawson, showcased his versatility and willingness to explore new creative avenues.
Michael Bishop was not just a writer; he was a teacher and mentor too. As writer-in-residence at LaGrange College, he nurtured aspiring writers while continuing to contribute to the literary world. His personal life, marked by the tragic loss of his son Jamie in the Virginia Tech massacre, perhaps added a depth of emotion and understanding to his writing that few can match.
Bishop’s passing leaves a void in the literary world, but his legacy lives on in the vast and rich body of work he left behind. His novels and stories, marked by intellectual depth and a keen understanding of human nature, will continue to inspire and captivate readers for generations to come.
Michael Lawson Bishop, a master of the written word, a visionary in science fiction and fantasy, and a beloved mentor and family man, will be deeply missed. His journey may have ended, but his stories will forever remain a testament to his extraordinary talent. Rest in peace, Michael. Your words will continue to resonate in the hearts and minds of those who find solace, adventure, and inspiration in your incredible body of work.