Pro Guest of Honor

Maureen F. McHugh

Maureen McHugh is a spy. She is SF's deep mole in the rest of the world. Gathering intel is what she does. Here are a few of her aliases. Pick the one you like best and get to know her a little. You aren't going to meet anybody else this smart who is this easy to talk to.

Maureen McHugh is a Harmless SF Geek. OK, you know she writes the stuff. Her first novel, China Mountain Zhang, was nominated for the Nebula, while her story "The Lincoln Train" won the Hugo in 1996. She's the best world-builder in SF, and she is currently working on a novel based on her short story Nekropolis. You knew this. That's why she's here. But if that seems too intimidating as a way to start a conversation, ask her about the D & D campaign she ran for years, or get her to expound upon the coolest features of her favorite Magic: The Gathering deck.

Maureen McHugh is a Hi-Art New York Bohemian. An early deep cover mission took her to the artsy ghettos of the metropolis, and Maureen will talk small galleries in Soho, alternative theater, and hole-in-the-wall ethnic restaurants with the best of them. This year she has been having a passionate affair with contemporary poetry. Ask her to show you a poem, or talk about them, and I guarantee a beaming smile.

Maureen McHugh is a Dangerous Subversive. This has been obvious since China Mountain won the Tiptree Award. That book would sound some of the recurring chords in Maureen's work:

  • a fascination with gender roles;
  • a willingness to write stories about ordinary people who aren't Hidden Royalty Destined To Save The Universe;
  • what happens when the First World and the Third World collide (and the fact that in the big city those worlds already coexist.)

    One of the most startling things about Maureen's work is that the lower class characters have lives just as real as the middle class ones. The ability to see people we usually ignore is Maureen's mutant superpower. If you are, for instance, a fundamentally shy cross-dressing Latvian assembly-line worker, I especially urge you to seek Maureen out and talk to her, because you'll never find someone more interested in your story.

    Maureen McHugh is a Suburban Housewife from the Midwest. What makes Maureen a treasure is that as dangerous subversives go, she's friendlier than your favorite aunt. She'd serve you mashed potatoes as soon as look at you. She plays a finely honed game of penny-ante poker. She has a big dog named Smith. Ask about the dog. She gardens. She cooks. Boy, does she cook! Talk to Maureen about the best meal you ever had. Ask her about hers. Ask her about the grossest thing she ate during a year living in mainland China. (And if you go out for Chinese, let her order. In Chinese.) Just be aware that beneath that welcoming smile, her ferocious intellect is constantly assessing you. Luckily, she's just figuring out what she would cook if you came over for dinner.

    Maureen McHugh is a Spy. If you thought I was just being metaphorical, ask her about the time the CIA tried to recruit her.

    Maureen once said she wanted to be science fiction's Le Carre. Ask her what she meant by that.

    She really is a spy. She searches out hidden things. The good news is, she's our spy. We send her out into the big world, the real one outside SF, and time after time she comes back with coded documents, spy cam pics, overheard conversations: little nuggets of truth that make us see the rest of our lives all over again. Then she puts them in way cool fun exciting books. Thanks, Maureen.

    Maureen pays attention to the things everybody else misses. She listens to the people other writers don't have time for. Don't miss the chance to talk to her. Don't think she only wants to hang with her Important Writer Buddies. She's already sussed them out. Now she wants to meet you.

    Bio by Sean Stewart