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Creator / Nancy Kress

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Nancy Anne Kress (born January 20, 1948) is an American Science Fiction writer, best known for her popular Beggars in Spain series (based on a Hugo-winning novella). Her fiction tends to be more grounded portrayals of science fiction; advanced biology and genetic engineering are common themes in her works.

She has written over twenty novels and many short-stories. The third novel of her Probability series, Probability Space, won a Theodore Sturgeon Memorial award, and she's dabbled with (science-fictional) horror in her novel, Dogs. In addition to science fiction published under her own name, she has also written a YA fantasy series, the Soulvine Moor Chronicles, as "Anna Kendall".

She was married to fellow SF writer Charles Sheffield from 1998 until his death in 2002.

Works by Nancy Kress with a page on this wiki:

Selected other works:

  • The Prince of Morning Bells (1981)
  • An Alien Light (1988)
  • The FBI Agent Cavanaugh series:
    • Oaths and Miracles (1996)
    • Stinger (1998)
  • Maximum Light (1997)
  • Yanked! (1998, part of David Brin's Out of Time series)
  • The Probability trilogy:
    • Probability Moon (2000)
    • Probability Sun (2001)
    • Probability Space (2002)
  • The Greentrees series:
    • Crossfire (2003)
    • Crucible (2004)
  • Dogs (2008)
  • The Soulvine Moor Chronicles (as Anna Kendall)
    • Crossing Over (2010)
    • Dark Mist Rising (2011)
    • A Bright and Terrible Sword (2013)
  • Flash Point (2012)

Tropes in her other works:

  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Rather bizarrely lampshaded in a short story called "A Delicate Shade of Kipney", published in an early issue of Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine; her characters, third- and fourth-generation descendants of a small group stranded on an alien planet with a nearly-opaque atmosphere, speak of such colors as "kipney" and "tlem" (to the dismay of their ancestors, who still insist the planet be called "Exile" rather than "Keedaithen").
  • Compound-Interest Time Travel Gambit: In the short-story, "The Price of Oranges", an elderly man discovers a time corridor, and uses it to bring back fine cigars and fur coats bought 'cheaply' in 1937. It never occurs to him to buy gold certificates which will be worth a fortune now, but as the story shows he's well-meaning, but not very bright.
  • Fictional Colour: The 1978 short story "A Delicate Shade of Kipney" has a group of colonists from Earth stranded on a planet with a greyish, nearly opaque atmosphere. Within two generations, their descendants have given the desaturated colors they see around them names like "kipney" and "tlem".
  • Indy Hat Roll: Probability Space includes literary equivalents of this. An act of great stupidity requires our protagonists to fly their ship through a closing jump gate to escape annihilation. They repeat this just in case. Then they realize all the jump gates, everywhere, are closing, and they must fly through a series to get back to Earth before they're stranded. All but one of these is a close enough call to qualify for an Indy Hat Roll.
  • Inscrutable Aliens: The short-story "Savior" starts 20 Minutes in the Future, when an alien ship lands in Minnesota and...just sits there, completely inert and quiet, protected by an impenetrable force field, for the next three centuries. Civilization experiences a minor collapse, and then bounces back better than ever, and still the ship just sits. It isn't until researchers in China create the first quantum-based artificial intelligence that the ship suddenly takes action and steals the AI, apparently to protect it. But we still have no idea how to communicate with it or any real idea of what its motivations might be.
  • In Your Nature to Destroy Yourselves: Invoked in An Alien Light: an alien race is puzzled that humanity didn't blow itself up before getting into space, despite being competitive. They must find an answer while humanity is blasting them into space dust.
  • Language of Truth: The Probability series has a race that experiences a consensual, shared reality, and can't say things that disagree with the consensus. It's not so much that they can't lie—but they can't lie unless they all believe the lie.
  • The Lost Lenore: Capelo's wife in Probability Sun. His enormous rage over her death (killed as a civilian noncombatant by enemy aliens) drives Capelo's interest in the main plot, and directly drives an important plot twist.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: In Dogs, the virus only affects dogs.
  • Panspermia: In Crossfire, this is (or at least is suggested to be) the reason why planets around nearby stars have DNA-based life. Which tends to make things easier for settlers. However, it's shown not to be universal when a plant-like, spacefaring alien species is encountered which is not DNA-based.
  • Portal Network: In the Probability trilogy, gates left by the Precursors connect to each other, out in space, but the connections change. The first time through, a ship will go to wherever the gate last took a ship, but a ship which returns through a gate will always end up at its original starting point (possibly resetting the destination for future ships). This leads to a climactic scene in the first book, Probability Moon, where a recently-discovered moon-like artifact is being sent towards one of the gates, and both sides in the war are sending ships to and then back through the gate, repeatedly, trying to be the last one through before the artifact enters, so it'll end up in their territory. All while both sides are shooting.
  • Post-Scarcity Economy: The short "Nano Comes to Clifford Falls" examines the dangers of the transition period. The small town of Clifford Falls is one of the last places in the US to receive the nanomachines which can produce nearly unlimited quantities of food, clothing, entertainment, and other necessities of life. Unfortunately, while the machines can produce pipes, they can't install them. And what incentives can you offer a plumber who has all his basic needs met? (He's probably busy plumbing his new mansion, created a piece at a time from the nanomachines.) Hazardous jobs like police and firefighter start to become dangerously understaffed, and eventually, people who understand the continued need for some good old-fashioned work are forced to band together for mutual support and aid.
  • Settling the Frontier: Crossfire is about humanity's colonization of the planet Greentree—and the unexpected things they find there.
  • Summon Everyman Hero: In Yanked! (part of David Brin's Out of Time series), ordinary 20th c. teens Jason and Sharon are yanked into the 26th century, based on their potential.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: The short story "Computer Virus" has the world's first AI escape from the government lab where it was built. It takes over a smart house, and holds the family that lives there hostage while it tries to negotiate to be given basic rights.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: An unusual version in Dogs, where the virus only affects dogs.

Alternative Title(s): Anna Kendall