2002 Notable Authors

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Alden Carter
John Judson
Joseph Schafer
Stanley Grauman Weinbaum

Alden Carter, 1947-

Alden Carter was born in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, on April 7, 1947 and grew up in a home that placed a high value on books and reading. He knew as early as third grade that he wanted to be a writer, when a story he had written about a retired race horse who longed to race again made his sister cry, but his first book, Growing Season, was not published until 1984. In the interim, he received a BA degree from the University of Kansas in 1969. He then served in the Navy as an officer until 1974. After earning a teaching certificate at Montana State University in 1976, he taught high school English and journalism classes for four years in Marshfield, Wisconsin. Although Carter has authored over 30 books including nonfiction (20), picture books (6), and novels (9), he is best known for his realistic fiction for young adults.

Vivid characterization is a hallmark of Carter's young adult novels. Typically, a strong adolescent character confronts some major life problem and, as the story unfolds, the reader sees the character grow and mature. Growing Season (1984) deals with a teenage boy who moves with his family from a city to a farm during his senior year of high school and recounts the many adjustments and problems which he and his family encounter. This pattern is followed in Carter's later novels, many of which have been selected for best book lists. The focus of Sheila's Dying (1987) is the death from cancer of the teenage title character as told through the eyes of Sheila's boyfriend Jerry, who makes the difficult decision to stick with her after learning of her illness. In Robodad (1990), a chubby and disheveled young girl is seen coping with the challenges of puberty and, at the same time, her father's massive stroke, which has left him emotionless and vacant.

In an autobiographical sketch written for Putnam Publishing Group, Carter relates why he has chosen to write for young adults: "I find myself constantly impressed with their courage. Despite all the problems -- both traditional and recently invented -- that fill the teenage years, the vast majority not only survive, but triumph."

Carter lives in Marshfield, Wisconsin, is married and has two children. His hobbies include canoeing, hiking, bicycling, camping, reading and traveling. He frequently speaks to adult and young adult groups.

A selected bibliography reflects Carter's versatility as a writer and the diversity of subjects on which he has written.

Novels
Crescent Moon, Holiday House, 1999
Between a Rock and a Hard Place, Scholastic, 1995
Up Country, G.P. Putnam, 1989
Wart, Son of Toad, Putnam Pacer Books, 1985

Nonfiction
China Past -- China Future, Franklin Watts, 1994
The War of 1812: Second Fight for Independence, Franklin Watts, 1992
The Shoshoni, Franklin Watts, 1989
Radio: From Marconi to the Space Age, Franklin Watts, 1987

Photo-Picture Books for Children
I'm Tougher than Diabetes, Albert Whitman, 2001
Stretching Ourselves: Kids with Cerebral Palsy, Albert Whitman, 2000
Seeing Things My Way
, Albert Whitman, 1998
I'm Tougher than Asthma, Albert Whitman, 1996

Joseph Schafer, 1867-1941

Joseph Schafer was born December 29, 1867, in Muscoda, Wisconsin, and worked on the family farm until sent to normal school in Madison. He graduated in 1890, and taught high school for two years before deciding to continue his education.

He attended the University at Madison, where he fell under the influence of noted history scholar Professor Frederick Jackson Turner. Schafer received his first degree in history with honors from the University of Wisconsin in 1894, and his Ph.D. in 1906. He served as a professor of history at the University of Oregon for a number of years before returning to Wisconsin in 1920, to serve as the state's fourth Superintendent of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, succeeding Milo Quaife.

Schafer assumed the leadership of the Historical Society at a difficult time as the agency was just emerging from a protracted struggle in the political and public arenas over its operating policies and future plans. Although hampered by the onset of the Great Depression, the beginnings of World War II, and the pressures of an increasingly overcrowded facility still sharing space with the University Library, Schafer was nonetheless able to significantly advance the Society's mission and publications.

"The son of an immigrant school teacher from the Rhine Valley, Schafer had a deep interest in the process of acculturation, in the deep human experience of moving to a new country and adjusting to its economy and society, its language, customs and folkways." Clio's Servant.

Schafer achieved particular fame as an agricultural historian and for the series of "Domesday" books he instituted and authored: Wisconsin Domesday Book #1: The History of Agriculture in Wisconsin (1922); Domesday Book #2: Four Wisconsin Counties. Prairie and Forest (1927); and Domesday Book #3: The Wisconsin Lead Region (1932).

He also possessed a deep interest in historical biography leading to his authorship of Carl Schurz - Militant Liberal (1930) and his editing of two other noted works: The California Letters of Lucius Fairchild (1931) and The Memoirs of Jeremiah Curtin (1940).

As one of the pre-eminent historians from Wisconsin, Joseph Schafer had a profound influence on the literature of the state as well as the State Historical Society.

Stanley Grauman Weinbaum, 1902-1935

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1902, Weinbaum attended public school in Milwaukee and graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1923, with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering. Despite this degree, Weinbaum chose to leave the field in his early 30s, earning a living managing movie theaters and writing science fiction.

Weinbaum's first professionally-published science fiction story, A Martian Odyssey, appeared in the July 1934 issue of Wonder Stories magazine. By December 1935, he was dead of lung cancer. Yet, in that terribly brief time period, Weinbaum managed to establish himself as one of the all-time great science fiction writers. In 1970, the Science Fiction Writers of America voted A Martian Odyssey the best piece of short science fiction written to date.

Of him, Isaac Asimov states that "Weinbaum burst onto the science fiction scene like a nova, altering the nature of science fiction forever, and converting every other writer into an imitator." Frederik Pohl notes that "Weinbaum's name deserves to rank with those of Wells and Heinlein." Arthur C. Clarke laments that his brief 18-month career is "the saddest what-might-have-been in the whole history of science fiction."

Weinbaum is perhaps best known for his short stories and in particular for his ability, as noted by H.P. Lovecraft, "to envision wholly alien situations and psychologies and entities, to devise consistent events from wholly alien motives and to refrain from the cheap dramatics in which all adventure-pulpists wallow."

In an era when stock science fiction creatures tended to be horrible monsters fixated on destroying mankind, Weinbaum took a completely different path -- applying his wit and inventiveness to the creation of a host of imaginative, intelligent, and often likeable creatures leading lives of their own.

Weinbaum's works are, unfortunately, largely out-of-print at this time, but are still worth seeking out in used bookstores.

Bibliography:

The Best of Stanley G. Weinbaum Short Story Collection. Introduction by Isaac Asimov. Ballantine Books, 1974.
Dawn of Flame and Other Stories, 1936
The New Adam, 1939
The Black Flame, 1948 (restored edition 1995)
A Martian Odyssey and Others
, 1949
The Red Peri, 1952

John Judson, 1930-

John Judson has spent his career encouraging others in the creation, publication, and appreciation of poetry. He was born on September 9, 1930, in Stratford, Connecticut. He received his undergraduate degree in English from Colby College, Maine, and his M.F.A. from the University of Iowa. Before finding his niche as poet, publisher, editor, and teacher, he played semi-professional baseball, served with the Air Force in Korea, and worked as an electronics technician.

In 1963, he started the Juniper Press and Northeast, a little magazine. In 1965, he brought his press, his magazine, and his family to La Crosse, where he joined the English Department at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Under the direction of John Judson, Juniper Press and Northeast Magazine supported contemporary writing. It published little known contemporary authors, poets, and artists -- especially those from the Midwest -- at a time when Midwestern authors were ignored in favor of Eastern writers. A series that he edited and published on Juniper Press, Voyages to the Inland Seas, Essays and Poems, is an important source for the study of Midwestern Poetry during the 1970's.

Juniper Press began as a family affair. It operated out of his home in La Crosse and published small books, chapbooks, and limited edition fine-press books. Judson published many of his own poems on Juniper Press as well as many other poems in periodicals and by other publishers.

He encouraged Murphy Library at UW-La Crosse to collect little magazines and contemporary Midwestern poetry. This collection became nationally recognized. He sent his creative writing students to study the poetry and appreciate contemporary writing. Judson's influence included the undergraduates he taught in his poetry classes and those he encouraged in little magazine production.

Currently, John Judson is retired from the University of Wisconsin. In 2000, as an indication of his continuing influence, the Council for Wisconsin Writers awarded John Judson the Christopher Sholes Award for long service and support of writing.

Selected Works
Edited:
Voyages to the Inland Sea: essays and poems
 (several volumes in this series)
Northeast, 1963 (current issue Jan. 2002)

Authored:
Ash Is The Candle's Wick, 1974
West of Burnam, South of Troy (radio drama), 1973
North of Athens, 1980
Letters to Jirac II, 1980
August On A Lone Bassoon, 1981
The Carrabassett, Sweet William, was My River, 1981
Muse
(sic), 1992
Inardo Poems, 1996
Three Years Before The Braves Left Boston
, 2000