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John Varley Books In Order

Publication Order of Eight Worlds Books

The Ophiuchi Hotline (1977)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Persistence of Vision (1977)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Blue Champagne (1986)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Irontown Blues (2018)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Gaea Trilogy Books

Titan (1979)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Wizard (1979)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Demon (1984)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Metal Books

Steel Beach (1992)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Golden Globe (1998)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Thunder and Lightning Books

Red Thunder (2003)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Red Lightning (2006)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Rolling Thunder (2008)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Dark Lightning (2014)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Millennium (1983)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Tango Charlie and Foxtrot Romeo (With: Samuel R. Delany) (1989)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Mammoth (2005)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Slow Apocalypse (2012)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Short Story Collections

The Barbie Murders (1980)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The John Varley Reader (2004)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Good-Bye, Robinson Crusoe and Other Stories (2013)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Chapbooks

In The Hall Of The Martian Kings (1977)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Press Enter (1984)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Anthologies

Nebula Awards 13(1980)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

John Varley is a bestselling science fiction author best known for his novels on Big Ideas, compelling characters, and plausible science. He wrote his first piece of fiction “Picnic on Nearside,” a short story in 1974 before he published his world-beating debut novel “The Ophiuchi Hotline” in 1977. His “Eight World” series that would become his most popular is about the future in a densely populated solar system, sentient black holes, gigantic themes, fluid genders, mind uploading and more. Varley was brought up in Austin Texas, and spent much of his childhood on a farm where he used to run behind DDT spraying trucks getting bitten by mosquitoes. Varley got out of the hellish humidity of his hometown when he won the National Merit Scholar and went to study Physics at Michigan State University. He soon dropped out of college and spent a year on the road with a friend before ending up in San Francisco. After a failed attempt at becoming a hippie, he went back to crisscrossing the country until he decided to become a science fiction author in 1973.

Over the years, Varley has written several novels and a ton of short stories though his first attempt titled “Gas Giant” was pretty terrible. After four years struggling to become an author, he had a breakthrough when he got “The Ophiuchi Hotline” published in 1977. However, his short story “Overdrawn at the Memory Bank” had been a major success in 1974 and it went on to be adapted for television in 1983. It was this success that gave him the motivation to publish his debut that would become the foundation for his most successful “Eight Worlds” series of novels. His works have often been compared to those of Robert Heinlein, given the similarities in aspects of free love, free societies, and descriptive writing styles. In the “Thunder and Lightning” series, he derives many of his characters such as Polly, Jubal Cassie, Manuel Garcia, and Podkayne from Heinlein. His novels also include routine sex changes and prominent female characters. While he achieved much success with his novels, John Varley took a decade long hiatus and worked in Hollywood for a time. He made good money writing scripts but his most significant work during this time was the screenplay Millennium that he adapted from his bestselling short story Air Raid. It is for his novels and short stories that he is best known as he is the winner of several Nebula, Hugo and Locus awards among many others over the years.

For a time, John Varley lived in Portland Oregon where he met his first editor Lee Emmett who he asserts is one of the best editors he has ever had. The lived in a nice apartment in the suburbs together with Cirocco their nineteen-year-old dog. They then spent several years going from a motorhome on California’s Central Coast to Little Armenia or Thai Town in Hollywood before finally settling down in Vancouver, Washington.

“The Ophiuchi Hotline” by John Varley is a boisterous science fiction story set in a future where humanity has colonized all eight planets of the solar system. But humanity does not have access to Earth, the most comfortable of the planets ever since it was conquered by aliens with superior technologies. They had not bothered to kill anyone but the destruction of Earth’s infrastructure had made starvation of the billions that were left behind inevitable. The human race had been traumatized but had picked up the pieces and had managed to become stronger by spreading across the solar system. They had also made a home on a region near the furthest planet Pluto, where they learned how to pick up transmissions that laid out advanced techniques and knowledge. This knowledge would help them skip a few hundred years of arduous technological development. Their government believes they no longer need Earth given how much they have advanced away from the devastated planet. But some still dream of reconquering their pleasant home. In the meantime, the party that has been supplying the transmissions that had enabled them to develop in leaps and bounds is demanding payment for centuries of information provided. It is in these circumstances that a geneticist named Lilo Alexandr Calypso who has been using information from the Opiuchi hotline is introduced.

“Steel Beach” by John Varley is a novel set in the “Eight Series” world, where humanity was evicted from their homeland on planet Earth by alien invaders. The lead in the novel is a newspaper reporter named Hildy Johnson who lives on Luna. Luna had become the most important and most populous civilization since the invasion. Hildy calls it the Bulwark of the Race, the Front Line of the Planet and Refuge of Humanity. It is also the frontline if the alien invaders decide to come back and try to wipe out the human race from the Galaxy. While it is on Earth’s doorstep, the people on Luna hardly think of the aliens who are now living on Earth since they have never stepped foot on the planet in two centuries. Most of them have grown complacent and lazy since their world is run by a central benevolent supercomputer that ensures all their needs are met. As such, Earth is a distant memory, particularly when they read about how they had to work and fend for themselves on the planet they once called home. However, all is not well as Hildy who attempts several suicides learns that the leading cause of death in her society is suicide. Even worse is the acknowledgment of depression by the central computer that should be immune to any emotion.

John Varley’s “The Golden Globe” is a novel with one of the most intriguing characters in science fiction. Kenneth Valentine, otherwise known as Sparky is a washed-out television star who now wanders the solar system as a thief, conman, itinerant thespian and miscreant. At the start of the novel, he is performing on a planet just beyond Pluto, where a production of Romeo and Juliet has been organized. Since the thespian that is supposed to play Juliet is not feeling well, he offers to play both Mercutio and Juliet. But he is forced to leave for Pluto, where he is soon back to his old ways as he engaged in conmanship and acting alongside other illegal activities to make some money. But then he learns that a production of King Lear had contacted one of the most famous directors who is also his friend to work with them. The only problem is that the production is happening on the moon and there is not enough time to get there. It also becomes apparent that there are several other parties apart from the detective looking for him. He is forced to leave Pluto as he travels the solar system hoping to get to the Moon and stay one step ahead of his detractors. Similar to the second novel in the series it has a sardonic and cartoony aspect that is evocative of Terry Pratchett.

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