William Sanders, author, editor, and pow-wow dancer, has died at the age of 75. He was co-founder and editor of the science fiction magazine Helix SF. He was born in Arkansas, April 28, 1942, and died in Oklahoma, June 29, 2017.
William Sanders, who also wrote under the pen name Will Sundown, wrote non-fiction, westerns, mysteries, and speculative histories. Many of his stories reflected his Cherokee heritage, such as the alternate history novel The Wild Blue and the Gray, the fantasy novel The Ballad of Billy Badass and the Rose of Turkestan, and his most anthologized story, “The Undiscovered.” His personal favorite of his works was the short story “Dry Bones.” He also wrote non-fiction articles and books on backpacking, bicycling, kayaking, and history.
Sanders graduated from Arkansas A&M College before serving in the U. S. Army. He had the usual list of pre-author careers: “musician, shipping clerk, construction laborer, encyclopedia salesman, traveling preacher, and dishwasher at the New York Stock Exchange cafeteria.” He twice won the Sidewise Award for Alternate History, for The Undiscovered in 1997 and Empire in 1992. His work received nominations for the Hugo, Nebula, and John Campbell awards.
Sanders, whom even his friends described as curmudgeonly, was fluent in profanity. He was not afraid of saying things the way he saw them. In 2008 he was involved in the “sheet head controversy,“when some comments he made in an e-mail he considered to be a private conversation were repeated and taken out of context. This resulted in some writers asking to have their stories removed from the Helix SF archives. The accusations of racism tarnished his reputation, but he let the slurs roll off of him. Sanders said arrogance was necessary for a writer.
How does any writer survive without arrogance? This business is full of rejection and criticism and disappointment – I don’t see how anyone can stand it, can go on slogging away at it, without an armor-plated confidence in his-her own worth.
Sanders is survived by his wife. The cause of death has not yet been released.