Timothy Zahn

Photo credit: Kent Akselsen

Timothy Zahn was born in Chicago in 1951 and grew up in the western suburb of Lombard. He attended Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, earning a B.S. degree in physics in 1973, and moved to the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, for graduate work. He earned a M.S. degree there, also in physics, in 1975, and continued work toward a doctorate. Also in 1975, he began a new hobby: writing science fiction. (He saw a really bad TV show and decided he could surely write better than that.) At first a strictly spare-time avocation, over the next three years he began to give more time to it, selling his first story in December 1978 (“Ernie,” Analog, September 1979). Still working toward an eventual career in physics, he contemplated taking a year off after getting his doctorate to see how far his writing could take him.

That year arrived earlier than expected. In July 1979, his thesis adviser died suddenly of a heart attack—ironically, the same day Zahn received word that his second story had been bought by Analog. With three years of work on his thesis project effectively wiped out, he worked for another semester on a new project. But by that time writing had become far more interesting to him than physics. And so, in January 1980, he left the university and began the grand experiment. With his wife of five months, Anna, working full-time to support them, Zahn produced eighteen stories that first year.

Since then Zahn has published over a hundred short stories and novelettes, fifty-three novels, and five short fiction collections. Along the way he has won a Hugo Award (for the novella “Cascade Point,” in 1984) and has been nominated twice more. He is best known for his eleven Star Wars books (Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising, The Last Command, Specter of the Past, Vision of the Future, Survivor’s Quest, Outbound Flight, Allegiance, Choices of One, Scoundrels, and Thrawn).

His latest books are A Call to Arms, the second of the Manticore Ascendant series with David Weber; StarCraft: Evolution; Star Wars: Thrawn; and Pawn: Sibyl’s War Book 1. Upcoming books include Cobra Traitor, the third of the Cobra Rebellion trilogy; A Call to Vengeance (with David Weber), and Knight: Sibyl’s War Book 2.

You can contact him at Facebook.com/TimothyZahn.