Spider Robinson; photo by Jax Coldwolf

(Photo by Jax Coldwolf)

Spider Robinson is renowned as one of our most popular science fiction writers. What, you may wonder, inspired him to get into this racket? How did he get started?

Turns out Spider was working full time as “a night watchman on a sewer project in Babylon, New York—guarding a hole in the ground to prevent anyone from stealing it.” He was bored out of his skull, figured he could write as well or better than the SF stuff he was reading during his shift, and wrote out his first short story, “The Guy with the Eyes.” He sent it to Ben Bova at Analog. Bova liked it. Bova bought it. Bova published it in Analog in 1971.

Since then Spider Robinson has won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, three Hugo Awards, a Nebula Award, and countless other international and regional awards. Most of his 36 books are still in print, in 10 languages.

His short work has appeared in magazines around the planet, from Omni and Analog to Xhurnal Izobretatel i Rationalizator (Moscow), and in numerous anthologies. The Usenet newsgroup alt.callahans and its many internet offshoots, inspired by his Callahan’s Place series, for many years constituted one of the largest non-porn networks in cyberspace.

In 2006 he became the only writer ever to collaborate on a novel with First GrandMaster of Science Fiction Robert A. Heinlein, posthumously completing VARIABLE STAR. That same year the Library of Congress invited him to Washington D.C. to be a guest of the First Lady at the White House for the National Book Festival. In 2008 he won the Robert A. Heinlein Award for Lifetime Excellence in Literature. Spider was born in New York City in 1948, and holds a Bachelor degree in English from the State University of New York. He was regular book reviewer for Galaxy, Analog and New Destinies magazines for nearly a decade, and contributed occasional book reviews to The Globe and Mail, Canada’s national newspaper, for which he also wrote a regular Op-Ed column from 1996-2004.

“Spider is technically guilty of having committed both editorship and agentry—but only on weekends, and not in years. A previous compulsion toward literary criticism was surgically corrected, but he still occasionally reviews books—a distinctly different sin.” – VCON 19 program book.

As an audiobook reader of his own and others’ work, he has won the Earphones Award and been a finalist for the Audie, and his podcast Spider On The Web has appeared online weekly since September 2007.

Spider’s musical taste runs from Amos Garett to Ray Charles, Zappa, the Beatles, and Tom Waits, to playing old John Thackeray albums. In 2000 he released Belaboring the Obvious, a CD featuring original music accompanied by guitar legend Amos Garrett. He has written songs in collaboration with David Crosby and with Todd Butler.

Spider is an excellent singer in his own right, equipped with a surprisingly deep, booming voice. With any luck he will take up a guitar and astound you with his talent.

A stage adaptation of Robinson’s short story God is an Iron (which formed the basis for his novel Mindkiller) has been staged by Montreal-based independent theatre company Black Box, and was performed at Worldcon 73 in Spokane, Wa.

He was married for over 30 years to the late Jeanne Robinson, a Boston-born writer, choreographer, former dancer and teacher. She was founder/artistic director of Halifax’s Nova Dance Theatre during its 8-year history. The Robinsons collaborated on the Hugo- Nebula- and Locus-winning Stardance Trilogy, concerning zero-gravity dance.

Spider Robinson is a wise and witty man with an incandescent enthusiasm for music, humour, and science fiction. He cares deeply about our future and has spent a lifetime advocating all that is best in our quirky species. Wonderful man. We are lucky to have him as our Master of Ceremonies.

Spider’s novels are available through major booksellers, or online at Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, and Amazon.co.uk.


1976 – Telempath

1977 – Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon

1979 – Stardance – with Jeanne Robinson

1981 – Time Traveler’s Strictly Cash

1982 – Mindkiller

1985 – Night of Power

1986 – Callahan’s Secret

1987 – Time Pressure

1989 – Callahan’s Lady

1991 – Starseed – with Jeanne Robinson

1992 – Lady Slings the Booze

1993 – The Callahan Touch

1995 – Starmind – with Jeanne Robinson

1996 – Callahan’s Legacy

1997 – Lifehouse

2000 – Callahan’s Key

2001 – The Free Lunch

2003 – Callahan’s Con

2004 – Very Bad Deaths

2006 – Variable Star – completing unfinished novel by Robert A. Heinlein

2008 – Very Hard Choices


1980 – Antinomy

1984 – Melancholy Elephants

1990 – True Minds

1998 – User Friendly

2001 – By Any Other Name

2002 – God Is an Iron and Other Stories


1980 – The Best of All Possible Worlds


2004 – The Crazy Years: Reflections of a Science Fiction Original


2000 – Belabouring the Obvious