Alan Dean Foster
Desert Nights, Rising Stars Faculty 2021
About Alan Dean Foster
Born in New York City in 1946, Foster was raised in Los Angeles. After receiving a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science and a Master of Fine Arts in Cinema from UCLA (1968, l969) he spent two years as a copywriter for a small Studio City, Calif. advertising and public relations firm.
His writing career began when August Derleth bought a long Lovecraftian letter of Foster's in 1968 and much to Foster's surprise, published it as a short story in Derleth's bi-annual magazine The Arkham Collector. Sales of short fiction to other magazines followed. His first attempt at a novel, The Tar-Aiym Krang, was bought by Betty Ballantine and published by Ballantine Books in 1972. It incorporates a number of suggestions from famed SF editor John W. Campbell.
Since then, Foster's sometimes humorous, occasionally poignant, but always entertaining short fiction has appeared in all the major SF magazines as well as in original anthologies and several "Best of the Year" compendiums. His published oeurve includes more than 120 books.
Foster's work to date includes excursions into hard science-fiction, fantasy, horror, detective, western, historical, and contemporary fiction. He has also written numerous non-fiction articles on film, science, and scuba diving, as well as having produced the novel versions of many films, including such well-known productions as Star Wars, the first three Alien films, Alien Nation, The Chronicles of Riddick, Star Trek, Terminator:Salvation, and both Transformers films. Other works include scripts for talking records, radio, computer games, op-eds for the New York Times, and the story for the first Star Trek movie. His novel Shadowkeep was the first ever book adapation of an original computer game. In addition to publication in English his work has been translated into more than fifty languages and has won awards in Spain and Russia. His novel Cyber Way won the Southwest Book Award for Fiction in 1990, the first work of science-fiction ever to do so. He is the recipient of the Faust, the IAMTW Lifetime achievement award.
Though restricted (for now) to the exploration of one world, Foster's love of the far-away and exotic has led him to travel extensively. After graduating from college he lived for a summer with the family of a Tahitian policeman and camped out in French Polynesia. He and his wife JoAnn Oxley, of Moran, Texas, have traveled to Europe and throughout Asia and the Pacific in addition to exploring the back roads of Tanzania and Kenya. Foster has camped out in the "Green Hell" region of the Southeastern Peruvian jungle, photographing army ants and pan-frying piranha (lots of small bones; tastes a lot like trout); has ridden forty-foot whale sharks in the remote waters off Western Australia, and was one of three people on the first commercial air flight into Northern Australia's Bungle Bungle National Park. He has rappelled into New Mexico's fabled Lechugilla Cave, white-water rafted the length of the Zambezi's Batoka Gorge, driven solo the length and breadth of Namibia, crossed the Andes by car, sifted the sands of unexplored archeological sites in Peru, gone swimming with giant otters in Brazil, surveyed remote Papua New Guinea and West Papua both above and below the water, and dived unexplored reefs throughout the South Pacific and Indian Ocean. His filmed footage of Great White Sharks feeding off South Australia has appeared on both American television and the BBC.
Besides traveling he enjoys listening to both classical music and heavy metal. In April of 2020 he began writing orchestral music and to date has written a number of short pieces in addition to two symphonies. Other pastimes include hiking, body surfing, and scuba diving. In his age and weight class he is a current world and Eurasian champion in powerlifting (bench press). He studied karate with Aaron and Chuck Norris before Norris decided to give up teaching for acting. He has taught screenwriting, literature, and film history at UCLA and Los Angeles City College as well as having lectured at universities and conferences around the world. A life member of the Science-Fiction Writers of America, he also spent two years serving on the Planning and Zoning Commission of his home town of Prescott, Arizona. Foster's correspondence and manuscripts are in the Special Collection of the Hayden Library of Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona.
The Fosters reside in Prescott in a house built of brick salvaged from a turn-of-the-century miners' hotel/ brothel, along with assorted dogs, cats, fish, several hundred houseplants, visiting javelina, roadrunners, eagles, red-tailed hawks, skunks, coyotes, bobcats, and the ensorceled chair of the nefarious Dr. John Dee. He is presently at work on several new novels and media projects.