In Memoriam – Phyllis Eisenstein

Phyllis Eisenstein (b.1946) died on December 7. Eisenstein’s novels included Sorcerer’s SonIn the Red Lord’s Reach, and Shadow of Earth.

Eisenstein published two volumes in the Tales of Alaric the Minstrel series and two volumes of the Book of Elementals trilogy. She also published two stand-alone novels.  Many of her early short stories were published in collaboration with her husband, Alex Eisenstein, with whom she shared a birthday. The couple was also active in the Chicago science fiction social scene and spent several years collecting science fiction art.

In the early 1970s, shortly after publishing her first short story, a group of fans created Windycon in Chicago. Although Phyllis wasn’t directly involved, she did describe herself as an agent provocateur in its formation. She later spent several years teaching science fiction writing to students at Columbia College in Chicago.

Eisenstein won what she always referred to as “The coveted Balrog Award” for her novel Born to Exile in the award’s inaugural year.  Her novella “In the Western Tradition” earned her a Nebula and Hugo nomination. She earned two additional Nebula nominations for “Attachment” and “The Island in the Lake” and another Hugo nomination for “Nightlife.”

6 Responses

  1. Sam Weller

    I am deeply saddened to learn of Phyllis Eisenstein’s passing. Phyllis was vital to my early writing career. She was an outstanding writer and teacher. I would not have become the biographer of Ray Bradbury had it not been for Phyllis’ guidance and mentorship. I hope Alex is okay. The two of them were connected at the hip.

    Thank you, Phyllis, for everything!

  2. Jane Frank

    It was only by chance that I happened to open the “In Memoriam” announcements, and to my surprise learn of Phyllis’s passing. Oh, so many years past of socializing with Phyllis and Alex at conventions, especially those in Chicago, with the “gang” – inevitably including Bob Weinberg and any other collectors that were in town. I remember with special fondness the Emshwiller retrospective she and Alex organized . . . I am so sorry to hear that she is gone!

  3. Gloria McMillan

    Still cannot believe it. I have been friends with Phyllis and Alex for over 40 years.
    I hope we can support Alex now. They were so close, real partners.

  4. George Guthridge

    Phyllis and her husband, Alex, initially got me interested in science fiction. They gave me entrance into the Chicago writers group and housed me whenever I attended. Phyllis was always delightful, knowledgeable about both writing and the genre, and very professional about her work. Ironically, I had just gotten on the Net today to look up her address when I found out the sad news.

  5. Christopher Sanburn

    Very sad news at the start of 2021 to read of her passing last month. Her work on Sorcerer’s Son enthralled me when I read it back in the early 80s. Back then I was reading a lot of sci-fi/fantasy to fuel my worlds I was creating for Dungeons & Dragons. She, Tolkien and Stephen R Donaldson were the top three authors I was using as source material for the games I’d hosted. My gaming days were long behind me but I’d really been looking forward to the possibility that “The City In Stone” might be published and I could visit “The Book of Elementals” world once more. Thank you so much, Phyllis, for the enchanting worlds you created and shared.

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