In Memoriam: Howard Waldrop

Howard Waldrop (15 September 1946 – 14 January 2024), was a prolific short fiction author known for revealing tragic consequences through a voice of humor and for stand-alone alternate histories based on a desired setting rather than on a turning point of note. His short stories were published from 1972 to 2023, and his tragic short story about the extinction of the dodo, “The Ugly Chickens” won both a World Fantasy Award and Nebula Award. Howard lived much as he wrote, reaching many with his unique and colorful presence while focusing on the readers who understood the depth of diligence and character voice in his work.

Known around Texas SFF communities and humorous readings at conventions, he was the first Toastmaster of ArmadilloCon in Austin in 1979 and remained a frequent attendee. In addition to being a Guest of Honor at ArmadilloCon, he was also Guest of Honor at the 1995 World Fantasy Convention, 2003 ReaderCon, and 2019 LosCon. In 2021, he received a World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement. In the 1970s and 1980s, Waldrop also worked on two novels and a novella, though he remained known for his short fiction, his convention appearances, and his lively readings.

SFWA member, writer, and producer George R. R. Martin says, “If short story writers got the respect they deserve, Howard Waldrop would have been a SFWA Grand Master ten years ago. He was the best of our generation, and one of the best of all time.”

SFWA member and author Walter Jon Williams notes, Howard Waldrop method consisted of his drawing characters and situations from two or more of his unlikely interests—Technocracy, Fats Waller, and zeppelins, for three—and jamming them together in a single scenario. The result should have been chaos, but the end result was often genius, and always unforgettable.

Howard Waldrop lived 77 years.