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Zenna Henderson Books In Order

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Publication Order of The People Books

Pilgrimage (1961)Description / Buy at Amazon
No Different Flesh (1967)Description / Buy at Amazon
The People Collection (1991)Description / Buy at Amazon
Ingathering (1991)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Collections

The Anything Box (1965)Description / Buy at Amazon
Holding Wonder (1971)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Zenna Henderson Collection (1991)Description / Buy at Amazon
Believing (2020)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

The Penguin Book of Modern Fantasy by Women(1995)Description / Buy at Amazon
Women of Futures Past(2016)Description / Buy at Amazon

Zenna Henderson is a bestselling science fiction author who is best known for her “People” collection of stories.

The author who was the second of five siblings and was christened Zena Chlarson was born in 1917 in Tucson, Arizona. She was the daughter of Emily Vernell Chlarson who worked for a wealthy family as a housekeeper.
Her mother had moved to Mexico in 1912 when the Mormon settlement in Mexico Colonia Diaz was destroyed. Her father was a dairyman, carpenter, and chauffeur named Louis Rudolph Chlarson.

As a child, she went to high school in Phoenix and then went to Arizona State Teachers’ College. She would then become a teacher which is a career she has pursued for most of her life.
As a teacher, she has worked with elementary school children in the Tucson area for many years.

Zenna has also worked on an internment camp for Japanese Americans named the Gila River Relocation Center and at the Waterford, Connecticut-based Seaside Children’s Hospital.
In 1944, she married the miner Richard H. Henderson only to divorce seven years later. She would ultimately go back to college following her divorce and graduated with her master’s degree.

Henderson published “Come on Wagon,” her first science fiction story in 19651 and it was this work that would make her what she is today.

The work was published in the December 1951 issue of the “Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy: and was praised by Sam Merwyn, who said that Zenna was on the cutting edge of women’s science fiction writing.
In 1959, Zenna published “Captivity,” the long story that would earn her a nomination for a Hugo award.

Zenna Henderson is now best known for The People series of novels which she began publishing in 1952 all through to 1980. These were stories about a bunch of human-looking aliens stranded on Earth who have to find a way to survive.
Along with the 1966 published “The People” and “Pilgrimage,” which she published in 1961, much of her short fiction can be read in the 1971 published volume “Holding Wonder” and “The Anything Box,” which she published in 1965.
Given the popularity of the “People” series of stories, they were made into a 1972 TV series that starred William Shatner and Kim Darby.

A complete collection of all of Zenna Henderson’s stories titled Ingathering, which included previously uncollected works was published in 1995 soon after her death.

Zenna Henderson’s works of fiction have often been referred to as pre-feminist.

Nonetheless, while most of her female characters portray stereotypical female roles from the 1950s, she is known for expertly portraying a wide range of personalities and ages without falling into 2-dimensional roles or overused tropes.
To some extent, her fiction has been significantly influenced by her work with children as seen in her ideas about camaraderie and belonging and how sometimes it can be difficult to feel part of a group.

She also finds some inspiration especially when it comes to themes of ostracism from her childhood and young adulthood experiences being raised as a Mormon and leaving to go marry a Methodist.

Many of Zenna’s stories are about exploring the dangers of living in an uncaring world while being different and she often showcases the importance of patient communication and community.

A common theme in her stories is a child discovered by a caring teacher who turns out to be exceptional or endowed with extraordinary powers.

Zenna Henderson’s “Pilgrimage” tells the simple story of a starship that crashed on Earth about a century ago. The passengers of the starship have fled their planet due to some unexplained catastrophe.

The life pods on the starship drop the survivors at different locations and soon there are several diverse groups named “The People,” who populate the Earth, even if they are not aware of the existence of the other groups.
Over time “The People” breed with humans since they look exactly just like us, even if they have some paranormal powers such as telepathy, super empathy, and levitation.

They make their home on Earth and somehow manage to hide their many supernatural capabilities from the uninitiated who are for the most part humans.

There are about half a dozen interconnected stories which are mostly all about the lives of “The People” and humans whom they refer to as “The Outsiders.”
At some point come into contact with them and realize that they have some supernatural powers.

While these are quite simple stories, they still manage to be quite charming.

They are heartwarming, light, and fun stories with a dash of fantasy or maybe science fiction but without the catastrophes, evil warlords, wars, supervillains, deep space, and blasters making it a perfect read.

“The People” is a work that tells the story of Meris and Mark a couple who one stormy night stumble upon a young girl. She had fallen to the Earth from a pod in the sky and they soon discover that she is endowed with special abilities.
The couple is grieving the loss of their child and once they take in Lala they have to deal with the emotional issues that arise from that action. What follows is a story that involves compassion, magic, and a sense of rightness.

Shifting between the present day and the past which encompasses the race memories of the People, it is a work that provides a deeply fulfilling and magical story of how life was for the People while they lived on their planet and why they had to leave.
In some instances, the author explains what happened to some members of “The People” when they landed on Earth which adds a lot of interest and texture to the current story.

They also include an exploration of the persecution of “The People” in addition to stories of personal joy and tragedy.

While you will frequently find yourself racing for the Kleenex box, the overall mood is often upbeat and full of hope that everything is ultimately going to be fine.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Zenna Henderson

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