Ian Watson is a British SF/fantasy author. He was educated at Valliol College, Oxford: BA, 1963 (1st class honors); BLitt, 1965; MA, 1966. Has first SF publication: “Roof Garden Under Saturn” in New Worlds (November, 1969); First SF novel: The Embedding: A Novel of Mind Control (Scribner’s, 1973); First SF collection: The Very Slow Time Machine (Ace, 1979).
Known for his provocative ideas, he has published some 40 books, the most notable of which are his award-winning The Jonah Kit (Gollancz, 1975), The Embedding (Gollancz, 1973), and Miracle Visitors (Gollancz, 1978), with the latter two listed in David Pringle’s Science Fiction: The 100 Best Novels. Other early works include Orgasmachine (1976) [published in French], Alien Embassy (1977), The Martian Inca (1977), God’s World (1979), and Deathhunter (1981). His literary concerns have included politics, linguistics, psychology, and other behavioral sciences; and he has been quoted as saying that SF is the only true literature of today. On the other hand, his The Gardens of Delight (1980) and some of his other novels clearly are fantasy.
Watson’s “Black Current” fantasy series consists of The Book of the River (1984), The Book of the Stars (1984), and The Book of Being (1985); and were published by Gollancz in 1986, assembled as The Books of the Black Current. His recursive SF novel, Chekhov’s Journey, was issued in 1983; and his “Warhammer” series is outright space opera. The Book of Ian Watson appeared in 1985, the same year as another collection of his short fiction, Slow Birds and Other Stories; and two other collections, Savage Rites and Other Stories and Stalin’s Teardrops, were published in 1989 and 1991, respectively. A novel, based on his popular novella of the same name, The Flies of Memory, appeared in 1990 from Gollancz. His more recent work includes Hard Questions (1996), Oracle (1997), The Great Escape (2002), and Mockymen (2003).
His edited anthologies include Pictures at an Exhibition (1981), Changes (1983) [with Michael Bishop], and Afterlives (1986) [with Pamela Sargent]. Watson developed for the screen Brian Aldiss’ story “Super-Toys Last All Summer Long” that became the 2001 SF movie AI.
He was interviewed in the Spring 1982 issue (#42) of the Science Fiction Review, and in the October 2003 issue (#27) of Albedo One [about working with Stanley Kubrick and other matters]. Critic Christopher Priest has said that Watson’s books have a “Wagnerian” quality to them.
Awards, Honors and GoHships:
- 1975 — Prix Apollo
- 1976 — SfanCon 7
- 1978 — BSFA Award (Novel), Futura Award
- 1980 — Shoestringcon 2
- 1981 — Yorcon II, Cymrucon 1981
- 1990 — Uniconze
- 1991 — German X-Con
- 1993 — Philcon 1993
- 1995 — Graphicon
- 2000 — Picocon 17
- 2004 — Novacon 34
- 2006 — Picocon 23
- 2007 — Recombination
- 2009 — MC at FantasyCon 2009