Canadian Science Fiction Novelist & Poet
Phyllis Fay Gotlieb
May 26, 1926 - July 14, 2009
Phyllis Fay Gotlieb, née Bloom, poet, short story writer, novelist (b at Toronto 25 May 1926). Phyllis Gotlieb was raised and educated in Toronto and attended the University of Toronto (BA, 1948; MA 1950). A celebrated poet and internationally popular writer, Gotlieb has been called the mother of contemporary Canadian science fiction.
Phyllis Gotlieb's first published work, Who Knows One (1961), is a pamphlet of poems; it has been followed by other poetic collections that joyfully celebrate the wonder of the natural universe. Her poetry explores family relationships, historical roots, and human psychology and biology, concerns evident in her first full-length volume, Within the Zodiac (1964).
In the poems of Ordinary Moving (1969), Phyllis Gotlieb often makes use of other people's words - childhood rhymes, folk verse, telephone numbers, parts of the human skeleton - to which she adds her own feelings and penetrating insights into the human condition. Also in 1969, Gotlieb published Why Should I Have All the Grief? (1969), a novel about the aftermath of Auschwitz projected into contemporary Canadian Jewish life. Doctor Umlaut's Earthly Kingdom (1974) includes shorter poems and several verse plays commissioned by the CBC. The Works: Collected Poems was published in 1978, and Red Blood, Black Ink, White Paper: New and Selected poems, 1961-2001 in 2002.
Phyllis Gotlieb is also a prolific and frequently translated science fiction writer. Like her poetry, her science fiction has a magical charm in its blending of fantasy and metaphysics, and also focuses on ethical questions. Sunburst (1964) examines the problems created by members of the community afflicted with telepathic powers, and O Master Caliban! (1976) evokes a world containing semi-human machines and genetic mutation. Her other fantasy novels include the bestselling Starcats trilogy: A Judgment of Dragons (1980), featuring 2 cat protagonists, Emperor, Swords, Pentacles (1982) and The Kingdom of the Cats (1985). A Judgment of Dragons won the inaugural Aurora Award for best Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Novel.
Phyllis Gotlieb has also written numerous science fiction stories, published in various magazines, anthologies and the collections Son of the Morning (1985) and Blue Apes (1995). Heart of Red Iron, a sequel to O Master Caliban!, was published in 1989. Flesh and Gold (1998), Violent Stars (1999) and MindWorlds (2002) make up the GalFed trilogy. Her feminist fantasy novel Birthstones was published in 2007. The Sunburst Award, Canada's first juried prize for Literature of the Fantastic, was named in honour of Phyllis Gotlieb's first science fiction novel.