John Varley (author)

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John Herbert Varley (born August 9, 1947 in Austin, Texas) is an American science fiction author.



Varley grew up in Fort Worth, Texas, moved to Port Arthur in 1957, and graduated from Nederland High School. He went to Michigan State University on a National Merit Scholarship because, of the schools that he could afford, it was the farthest from Texas. He started as a physics major, switched to English, then left school before his 20th birthday and arrived in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury just in time for the "Summer of Love" in 1967. There he worked at various unskilled jobs, depended on St. Anthony's Mission for meals, and panhandled outside the Cala Market on Stanyan Street (since closed) before deciding that writing had to be a better way to make a living. He was serendipitously present at Woodstock in 1969 when his car ran out of gas a half-mile away. He also has lived at various times in Portland and Eugene, Oregon, New York, San Francisco again, Berkeley, and Los Angeles.

He has written several novels (his first attempt, Gas Giant, was, he admits, "pretty bad") and numerous short stories, many of them in a future history ("The Eight Worlds") These stories are set a century or two after a race of mysterious and omnipotent aliens have almost completely eradicated humans from the Earth (they regard whales and dolphins to be the superior Terran lifeforms and humans as only an infestation). But humans have inhabited virtually every other corner of the solar system, often through the use of wild biological modifications learned, in part, by eavesdropping on alien communications. His detailed speculations on the ways humans might use advances in biological science were revelatory in the 1970s when his story collection The Persistence of Vision was released. The title story in that collection won the Hugo and Nebula awards, and it has been suggested that "Overdrawn at the Memory Bank", which was adapted and televised for PBS in 1983, may have inspired some portions of the movie Total Recall (although the primary inspiration was clearly the credited source, the Philip K. Dick story "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale").[citation needed] In addition, two of his short stories ("Options" and "Blue Champagne") were adapted into episodes of the short-lived 1998 Sci-Fi channel TV series Welcome to Paradox.

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