In Memoriam – William B. Sanders

William B. Sanders (1942-2017​) aka, William Sundown, was a writer and editor of science fiction. His work frequently drew on his own Native American heritage, coupled with a dry humor and biting cynicism. His novels included alternate histories, Journey to Fusang (1988), which Roger Zelazny called “a clever romp through maybes and might-have-beens” and which received a John Campbell Award nomination, The Wild Blue and the Gray (1991), and The Ballad of Bi​l​ly Badass and the Rose of Turkestan (1998), which Poul Anderson called “One crackling hell of a book – suspenseful, funny, sad, angry, with people in it who come alive and whom we really get to care about, and with a close, unblinkered look at lifeways that are strange to most of us but touch our hearts” as well as stories “The Undiscovered” and  “Empire”, which won the Sidew​ise​ Award for Alternate History in 1997 and 2002 respectively.
A graduate of Arkansas A&M College, he worked in the US Army Security Agency from 1963 to 1966. In 1973 he launched his writing career with sports and outdoor subject writing that included books and magazine columns. In 1998 he began writing speculative fiction.
Sanders also wrote in genres like mystery and action/adventure, using his extensive knowledge of history to inform the books. In 2003, he published Conquest: Hernando de Soto and the Indians, 1539-1543, a book retracing routes de Soto might have traveled. Other nonfiction articles and books covered martial arts, kayaking, and other outdoor sports.
From 2006-2008, Sanders edited and published Helix SF with co-editor Lawrence Watt-Evans. The magazine was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine in 2008. Notable works published in Helix SF included story “The Button Bin” by Mike Allen (Fall 2007), which was nominated for a 2008 Nebula Award, story “Captive Girl​” by Jennifer Pelland (Fall 2006), nominated for a 2007 Nebula Award, poem “Search” by Geoffrey Landis, (Fall 2008) winner of the Rhysling Award for long form poetry, and poem “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Hole” by Lawrence Schimel (Winter 2007), third place winner of the Rhysling Award for short poetry. Controversy over a rejection letter led to Sanders closing the magazine in late 2008 after several authors asked for their work to be removed from the magazine archives.
Saunders is s​urvived by his wife, Phyllis Sanders.