Martha Wells was born in 1964 in Fort Worth, Texas, and graduated
from Texas A&M University with a B.A. in Anthropology. She is the author of fourteen science fiction and fantasy novels, including the Nebula-nominated The Death of the Necromancer, as well as a number of short stories and nonfiction articles. Her books have been published in seven languages.
Her first novel, The Element of Fire, was published by Tor in hardcover in July 1993 and was a finalist for the 1993 Compton Crook/Stephen Tall Award and a runner-up for the 1994 Crawford Award. The French edition, Le feu primordial, was a 2003 Imaginales Award nominee.
Her third novel The Death of the Necromancer (Avon Eos) was a 1998 Nebula Award Nominee and the French edition was a 2002 Imaginales Award nominee.
The Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy, published by HarperCollins Eos -- The Wizard Hunters (May 2003), The Ships of Air (July 2004), and The Gate of Gods, (November 2005) -- is set in the same world as The Element of Fire and The Death of the Necromancer. She has also published two media tie-in novels: Stargate Atlantis: Reliquary, released in March 2006, and Stargate Atlantis: Entanglement in March 2007.
She has had short stories published in Realms of Fantasy, Black Gate, Lone Star Stories,
and in the anthologies Elemental, Tales of the Emerald Serpent, and The Other Half of the Sky, and has essays in the non-fiction anthologies Farscape Forever, Mapping the World of Harry Potter, and Chicks Unravel Time.
Her latest fantasy novels were published by Night Shade Books: The Cloud Roads in March 2011, and the sequels, The Serpent Sea, in January 2012, and The Siren Depths, in December 2012. She had a young adult fantasy, Emilie and the Hollow World, published in April 2013 by Strange Chemistry Books. A second YA fantasy is due out in 2014, and her Star Wars novel, Empire and Rebellion: Razor's Edge is due out in October 2013.
Listing in the Locus Awards Index.
Martha Wells Biography the Guest of Honor Bio for the ArmadilloCon 24 Program Book
Austin, Texas, August 2002.
by Rory Harper
You want to know how you can tell that a story is Really Good? Here's the secret - you
read it, and then let the memories simmer and bleach out for a couple of years. Then,
when you consider it again, do you remember the plot-line more or the people that you
got to know in it? Making good plots isn't easy, but making genuine people is art. If it
was the people you remember, the writer did something Really Hard and wrote a Really
Martha Wells is a Texas writer with a spreading reputation for writing intelligent,
inventive, and Really Good fantasy. Her novels seem to travel well, having been
published in French, Italian, Russian, German, Bulgarian, Dutch, and Polish. If there's a
central similarity distinguishing all her books it is that the extraordinary places they occur
in are as important characters as the complex people who inhabit them. They're all
intricately plotted and textured, but stylistically transparent. You feel that you're in a real
place, watching real things happening.
Her first book, Element of Fire (1993), is set in Ile-Rien, a world much like 17th century
France, though in it sorcery, magic, and the world of Faery are quite real. The words
'magic' and 'Faery' instantly evoke all sorts of clichéd images in our heads, but Martha
declines to replicate any of those images in the book, instead giving us a treatment much
more original - and interesting. Its protagonists, Thomas Boniface, Captain of the
Queen's Guard, and Kade Carrion, renegade fairy, are witty, cynical, unpredictable, and
deeply human. (Oddly enough, Martha is all of these things, too? Many readers
consider Element a classic of its kind. It was a finalist for the 1993 Compton
Crook/Stephen Tall Award, and a runner-up for the 1994 Crawford Award.
Martha followed it with something completely different. City of Bones (1995) isn't like
any other book you've ever met. Its main character is Charisat, the vibrant, multi-tiered
city that dominates the Great Waste. Charisat's world was largely destroyed a few
millennia ago, and life is now hard and dangerous at best. Especially for Khat, savage
from the Waste, thief, and dealer in antiquities. He and his partner Sagai are unwillingly
drawn into a search for crucial Remnants of the Ancients that may finally save or destroy
The Death of the Necromancer (1998) is set in cosmopolitan Viene, capital of Ile-Rien.
We encounter Nicholas Valiarde, driven to make himself the secret master of Ile-Rien's
criminal underworld so that he might destroy the men whose false accusations of
necromancy ruined his father. Then he finds something so terrifying that he must forgo
his plans for revenge. He turns to his friend Arisilde, the opium-addicted, disconnected-from-reality-as-we-know-it wreck who perhaps still is the most powerful wizard who
ever lived. The Death of the Necromancer was a 1998 Nebula Nominee, made the
Library Journal Best Genre Fiction of 1998 List, and, this year, the French edition was a
Nominee for the First Annual Imaginales Award.
Wheel of the Infinite (2000) is an exotic travelog. We accompany Maskelle through the
glorious Celestial Empire, which isn't 12th century Cambodia. Maskelle, dark and subtle
and acidic, is still the Voice of the Adversary, even though she's been exiled for more
than a decade. Now she must once more return to the intrigues of Duvalpore, the capital,
because the Wheel, which must be remade every year to mirror and establish all reality,
has gone horrendously wrong. Rian is the misplaced swordsman who accidentally joins
her caravan of traveling thespians. And let's not forget the damned demon-possessed
Martha's currently working on the second novel in a trilogy that begins twenty years
after the events in The Death of the Necromancer. Civilization may fall under the
onslaught of the mysterious Gardier, whose terrifying airships defy the weapons,
sorcerous and otherwise, of Ile-Rien.
The first novel in the series, The Wizard Hunters, will be published next July. I've read it
already. It's Really Good. You're going to like Ilias and Giliead, whose hobby is killing
homicidal wizards, and, most of all, Tremaine, the suicidal, sharp-edged, and
dangerously self-reliant daughter of Nicholas Valiarde, as they struggle to save Ile-Rien
(and other worlds) from destruction and enslavement.
Martha lives in College Station with Troyce Wilson, her tidy and endearing husband.
More about her and her work can be found at www.charisat.com. She was the chairman
of the legendary AggieCon 17, and is still active in multiple fan communities.
© Rory Harper 2002
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