- SHEFFIELD, Charles
- (1935-)UK-born physicist and writer, in the USA from the mid-1960s, publishing the first of nearly 100 technical papers and science articles in 1962, and the first of 80 or more sf stories, "What Song the Sirens Sang", for Gal in 1977; many of these stories are assembled in Vectors(coll 1979), Hidden Variables (coll 1981), Dancing With Myself (coll 1993) and Georgia on my Mind, and Other Places (coll 1995), the title story of which won the 1993 NEBULA and the 1994 HUGO awards for Best Novelette. His first novel, Sight of Proteus (1978), describes in ultimately optimistic terms the wide-ranging effects of machine-driven shapechanging technologies which might open the way to the nearby stars; the book almost instantly established CS's reputation for briskly argued, cleverly plotted, sanguine HARD SF, a reputation only marginally darkened by its first sequel Proteus Unbound (1989), which recasts material from the earlier book. Both tales were assembled as Proteus Manifest (omni 1989; rev vt Proteus Combined 1994); a second sequel is Proteus in the Underworld (1995). CS's second novel, The Web Between the Stars (1979; exp1989), famously posited a sky-hook space elevator at almost exactly the same time as Arthur C. CLARKE presented an astonishingly similar space elevator in THE FOUNTAINS OF PARADISE (1979); the concepts had clearly been arrived at independently, and their similarity only underscored the clarity of each man's scientific imagination.In the 1980s, with an exuberance that seemed almost irresponsible in a writer of his scientific bent, CS ranged very widely in his choice of metier. The Selkie (1982) with David F. BISCHOFF, a SCIENCE-FANTASY novel tinged with elements of horror, describes a MUTANT race of male "wereseals" who must mate with human women to perpetuate their kind. My Brother's Keeper (1982) is an sf thriller whose MCGUFFIN, astonishingly, is half of the protagonist's brother's brain, housed in half the protagonist's head. Erasmus Magister (coll of linked stories 1982) features Erasmus DARWIN in a series oflightly told scientific adventures, and The McAndrew Chronicles (coll of linked stories 1983;rev vt One Man's Universe 1994) follows the exploits of the eponymous inventor. Between the Strokes of Night (1985) is a "cosmogony opera" sometimes compared to novels by Greg BEAR aboutexploring, understanding and transforming the Universe; in this case, exiled from Earth, humanity finds infinite resources in "S-space" and travels down the aisles of time to visit the Galaxy. The Nimrod Hunt (1986; with original text restored, exp vt The Mind Pool 1993) featuresintricately interesting ALIENS and CYBORGS in a SPACE-OPERA setting. Trader's World (fixup 1988) moves from a post- HOLOCAUST venue to higherthings, including the threat of alien INVASION. Cold as Ice (1992), an intricate and polished space opera, depicts with glad clarity a Solar System full of highly active and scientifically curious human beings. TheHeritage Universe sequence for younger readers - Summertide (1990), Divergence (1991) and Transcendence (1992), with a further volume published only in German - fills much of the Universe with BIG DUMB OBJECTS and sets in train a complex of plots hinging upon theirdecipherment and use. Some of his tales are dark enough, and ironies are frequently evident; but CS continues to seem ready to feel that the Universe may be enjoyed.JCOther works (all nonfiction): Commercial Operations in Space 1980-2000 (anth 1981) ed with John L. McLucas; Earthwatch: A Survey of the World from Space (1981 UK); Man on Earth: How Civilization and Technology Changed the Face of the World - A Survey from Space (1983); Space Careers (1984) with Carol Rosin; Brother to Dragons (1992); Godspeed (1993); The Judas Cross (1994) with David Bischoff; Future Quartet (anth 1994); The World of 2044: Technological Development and the Future of Society (anth 1994) with Marcelo Alonso and Morton A. Kaplan.
Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. Academic. 2011.