Marion Zimmer Bradley Bibliography Apa

Marion Zimmer Bradley
BornMarion Eleanor Zimmer
(1930-06-03)June 3, 1930
Albany, New York, United States
DiedSeptember 25, 1999(1999-09-25) (aged 69)
Berkeley, California, United States
Pen nameMorgan Ives, Miriam Gardner, John Dexter, Lee Chapman
OccupationNovelist, editor
GenreFantasy, science fiction,science fantasy,historical fantasy

Marion Eleanor Zimmer Bradley (June 3, 1930 – September 25, 1999) was an American author of fantasy, historical fantasy, science fiction, and science fantasynovels, and is best known for the Arthurian fiction novel The Mists of Avalon, and the Darkover series. While some critics have noted a feminist perspective in her writing,[1] her popularity has been posthumously marred by multiple accusations against her of child sexual abuse and rape by two of her children, Mark and Moira Greyland, among many others. Zimmer Bradley's first child, David R. Bradley, and her brother, Paul Edwin Zimmer, also became published science fiction and fantasy authors.


Born on a farm in Albany, New York, during the Great Depression, she began writing in 1947. She was married to Robert Alden Bradley from October 26, 1949 until their divorce on May 19, 1964. They had a son, David Robert Bradley (1950–2008). During the 1950s she was introduced to the cultural and campaigning lesbian group the Daughters of Bilitis.

After her divorce, Bradley married numismatistWalter H. Breen on June 3, 1964. They had a daughter, Moira Greyland, who is a professional harpist and singer,[2][3] and a son, Mark Greyland.

In 1965, Bradley graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas. Afterward, she moved to Berkeley, California, to pursue graduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley between 1965 and 1967. In 1966, she helped found and named the Society for Creative Anachronism and was involved in developing several local groups, some in New York after her move to Staten Island.

Bradley and Breen separated in 1979 but remained married, and continued a business relationship and lived on the same street for over a decade. They officially divorced on May 9, 1990, the year Breen was arrested on child molestation charges after a 13-year-old boy reported that Breen had been molesting him for four years.[4] She had edited Breen's book Greek Love, which was dedicated to her, and in 1965 had contributed an article, "Feminine Equivalents of Greek Love in Modern Literature", to Breen's journal The International Journal of Greek Love.[5][6] She had known about Breen's sexual interests and previously accepted his sexual abuse of a 14-year-old boy.[7]


While she was attending the College for Teachers (now University at Albany, SUNY) in Albany, Bradley became involved in Western esoteric tradition. She later completed the Rosicrucian correspondence course.[8]

In the late 1950s or early 1960s, Bradley and Walter H. Breen founded the Aquarian Order of the Restoration based on the work of Dion Fortune.[8][9][10] By 1961 she was formally initiating others, including Ramfis S. Firethorn.[11]

Bradley was active in Darkmoon Circle, which was founded in 1978 by several women who were members of her Aquarian Order of the Restoration. Bradley renovated her garage to provide a meeting room for Darkmoon Circle as well as for other local Pagan groups.[12] In 1981 Bradley, Diana L. Paxson, and Elisabeth Waters incorporated the Center for Non-Traditional Religion.[8]

In the 1990s Bradley said she would return to Christianity, telling an interviewer: "I just go regularly to the Episcopalian church... That pagan thing... I feel that I've gotten past it. I would like people to explore the possibilities."[13]


After suffering declining health for years, Bradley died at Alta Bates Medical Center in Berkeley on September 25, 1999, four days after suffering a debilitating heart attack.[14] Her ashes were later scattered at Glastonbury Tor in Somerset, England.

Child sex abuse allegations[edit]

In 2014, her daughter, Moira Greyland, accused her of sexual abuse from the age of three to 12. In an email to The Guardian, Greyland said that she had not spoken out before because:

I thought that my mother's fans would be angry with me for saying anything against someone who had championed women's rights and made so many of them feel differently about themselves and their lives. I didn't want to hurt anyone she had helped, so I just kept my mouth shut.

Greyland also claimed that she was not the only victim and that she was one of the people who reported her father, Walter H. Breen, for child molestation, for which he received multiple convictions.[15][16][17] By her own admission, Bradley was aware of her husband's behavior although she chose not to report him.[18]

In response to these allegations, on July 2, 2014, Victor Gollancz Ltd, the publisher of Bradley's digital backlist, announced that it will donate all income from the sales of Bradley's e-books to the charity Save the Children.[19] The author Janni Lee Simner, who has continued to write works in Bradley's Darkover series, announced on June 13, 2014 that she would be donating advances from her two Darkover books, her Darkover royalties and at the request of her husband, Larry Hammer, payment for his sale to Bradley’s magazine, to the American anti-sexual assault organization Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.[20]

Since the allegations were made public, Greyland and her brother Mark have spoken at length about their experiences [21][22] and a number of famous science fiction authors have publicly condemned Bradley. Among the first was John Scalzi, who within a day of the allegations being made public, described the allegations as "horrific".[23]Hugo Award winner Jim C. Hines wrote "All of which makes the revelations about Marion Zimmer Bradley protecting a known child rapist and molesting her own daughter and others even more tragic."[24]G Willow Wilson, World Fantasy award winner, said she was "speechless".[25]Diana L. Paxson, who collaborated with Bradley on a number of novels and who continued to write novels set in the Avalon Series after Bradley's death, said that she was "shocked and appalled to read Moira Greyland’s posts about her mother." [26]

Literary career[edit]

Bradley stated that when she was a child she enjoyed reading adventure fantasy authors such as Henry Kuttner, Edmond Hamilton, C.L. Moore, and Leigh Brackett,[27] especially when they wrote about "the glint of strange suns on worlds that never were and never would be". Her first novel and much of her subsequent work show their influence strongly. At 17, she wrote her first novel The Forest House, her retelling of Norma; it was published after her death.

Bradley made her first sale as an adjunct to an amateur fiction contest in Amazing Stories in 1949 with the short story "Outpost". "Outpost" was published in Amazing Stories Vol. 23, No. 12, the December 1949 issue; it had previously appeared in the fanzine Spacewarp Vol. 4, No. 3, in December 1948. Her first professional publication was a short story "Women Only", which appeared in the second (and final) issue of Vortex Science Fiction in 1953.[28] Her first published novel-length work was Falcons of Narabedla, first published in the May 1957 issue of Other Worlds.

Early in her career, writing as Morgan Ives, Miriam Gardner, John Dexter, and Lee Chapman, Bradley produced several works outside the speculative fiction genre, including gay and lesbian pulp fiction novels; I Am a Lesbian was published in 1962. Though relatively tame by today's standards, her novels were considered pornographic when published, and for a long time she refused to disclose the titles she wrote under these pseudonyms.

Her 1958 novel The Planet Savers introduced the planet of Darkover, which became the setting of a popular series by Bradley and other authors. The Darkover milieu is a science fantasy fictional world, with science fiction as well as fantasy overtones: Darkover is a lost human colony where psi powers developed to an unusual degree, and work like magic, while technology has regressed to a more-or-less medieval stage. Bradley wrote many Darkover novels by herself, but in her later years collaborated with other authors for publication; her literary collaborators have continued the series since her death.

Bradley took an active role in science fiction and fantasy fandom, promoting interaction with professional authors and publishers and making several important contributions to the subculture. In her teens she wrote letters to the pulp magazines of the time, such as the above-mentioned Amazing Stories and Thrilling Wonder Stories. Starting in the late 1940s and continuing in the 1950s and 1960s, she published her own fanzines, including Astra's Tower, Day*Star, and Anything Box. She also co-edited fanzines, including Ugly Bird with Redd Boggs, MEZRAB with her first husband Robert Bradley, and Allerlei with her second husband Walter Breen. Bradley contributed to several other fanzines, including The Gorgon and The Nekromantikon. In the 1970s, as part of the contemporary wave of enthusiasm for J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional world of Middle-earth, she wrote two short fanfic stories about Arwen and published them in chapbook format. One story, "The Jewel of Arwen" (originally published in a different form in the fanzine I Palantir #2, August 1961), appeared in her professional anthology The Best of Marion Zimmer Bradley (1985), but was dropped from later reprints. She continued to contribute to different science fiction and fantasy fanzines and magazines throughout her career.

In 1966, Bradley became a co-founder of the Society for Creative Anachronism and is credited with coining the name of that group.[29][30]

For many years, Bradley actively encouraged Darkover fan fiction. She encouraged submissions from unpublished authors and reprinted some of it in commercial Darkover anthologies. This ended after a dispute with a fan over an unpublished Darkover novel of Bradley's that had similarities to one of the fan's stories. As a result, the novel remained unpublished and Bradley demanded the cessation of all Darkover fan fiction.[31]

Bradley was the editor of the long-running Sword and Sorceressanthology series, which encouraged submissions of fantasy stories featuring original and non-traditional heroines from young and upcoming authors. Although she particularly encouraged young female authors, she was not averse to including stories from men in her anthologies. Mercedes Lackey was one of many authors who first appeared in the anthologies. Bradley also maintained a large family of writers at her home in Berkeley, California. Bradley was editing the final Sword and Sorceress manuscript until the week of her death.

Her most famous single novel may be The Mists of Avalon,[32][33] a retelling of the Camelot legend from the point of view of Morgaine and Gwenhwyfar. It grew into a series of books and, like the Darkover series, the later novels are written with or by other authors and have continued to appear since Bradley's death.

In 1962, the critic Damon Knight stated that "(h)er work is distinctively feminine in tone, but lacks the clichés, overemphasis and other kittenish tricks which often make female fiction unreadable by males".[34]

Bradley was posthumously awarded the World Fantasy Award for lifetime achievement in 2000.



  • Falcons of Narabedla (1957)
  • The Door Through Space (1961)
  • Seven from the Stars (1961)
  • The Colours Of Space (1963)
  • Castle Terror (1965)
  • Souvenir of Monique (1967)
  • Bluebeard's Daughter (1968)
  • The Brass Dragon (1970)
  • In the Steps of the Master – The Sixth Sense #2 (1973) (based on television series The Sixth Sense, created by Anthony Lawrence)
  • Hunters of the Red Moon (1973) (novelette)
  • The Jewel of Arwen (1974) (novelette)
  • The Parting of Arwen (1974) (novelette)
  • Can Ellen Be Saved? (1975) (adaptation of a teleplay by Emmett Roberts)
  • The Endless Voyage (1975)
  • Drums of Darkness (1976)
  • The Ruins of Isis (1978)
  • The Catch Trap (1979)
  • The Endless Universe (1979) (rewrite of The Endless Voyage)
  • The House Between the Worlds (1980)
  • Survey Ship (1980)
  • The Colors of Space (1983) (unabridged edition)
  • Night's Daughter (1985)
  • Warrior Woman (1985)
  • The Firebrand (1987)
  • Black Trillium (1990) (with Julian May and Andre Norton)
  • Lady of the Trillium (1995) (with Elisabeth Waters, initially uncredited)
  • Tiger Burning Bright (1995) (with Mercedes Lackey and Andre Norton)
  • The Gratitude of Kings (1997) (with Elisabeth Waters)

Short story collections[edit]

  • The Dark Intruder and Other Stories (1964)
  • The Best of Marion Zimmer Bradley (1985)
  • Jamie and Other Stories (1988)
  • Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover (Darkover collection) (1993)


Atlantean series[edit]

Avalon series[edit]

Main article: Avalon series

Colin MacLaren series[edit]

Shadow's Gate series[edit]

(with Rosemary Edghill)

Darkover series[edit]

Main articles: Darkover series and List of Darkover books

The Clingfire trilogy[edit]
Modern Darkover[edit]

(also known as The Children of Kings trilogy) (written principally by Deborah J. Ross)

Glenraven series[edit]

(with Holly Lisle)

Survivors series[edit]

(with Paul Edwin Zimmer)

Omnibus editions[edit]

  • The Children of Hastur (omnibus edition of The Heritage of Hastur and Sharra's Exile) (1982)
  • The Oath of Renuciates (omnibus edition of The Shattered Chain and Thendara House) (1984)
  • The Darkover Saga (a slipcase set containing Hawkmistress, Sharra's Exile; The Shattered Chain; Stormqueen!; Sword of Chaos) (1984)
  • The Ages of Chaos (omnibus edition of Stormqueen!'- and Hawkmistress!) (2002)
  • The Forbidden Circle (omnibus edition of The Spell Sword and The Forbidden Tower) (2002)
  • Heritage And Exile (omnibus edition of The Heritage of Hastur and Sharra's Exile) (2002)
  • The Saga of the Renunciates (omnibus edition of '-The Shattered Chain, Thendara House and City of Sorcery) (2002)
  • A World Divided (omnibus edition of Star of Danger, Winds of Darkover and The Bloody Sun) (2003)
  • First Contact (omnibus edition of Darkover Landfall and Two to Conquer) (2004)
  • To Save a World (omnibus edition of The Planet Savers and World Wreckers) (2004)


  • The Best of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine (1994)
  • The Best of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine – Vol. II (1995) (with Elisabeth Waters)

Darkover anthologies[edit]

(edited by Marion Zimmer Bradley, with some short stories by her, but mostly by other writers)

Other anthologies[edit]

Novels under pen names[edit]

  • Writing under the pseudonymLee Chapman
  • Writing under the pseudonym John Dexter
  • Writing under the pseudonym Miriam Gardner
    • My Sister, My Love (1963)
    • Twilight Lovers (1964)
    • The Strange Women (1967)
  • Writing under the pseudonym Morgan Ives
    • Spare Her Heaven (1963)
    • Anything Goes (1964)
    • Knives of Desire (1966)



  • Songs from Rivendell (a.k.a. The Rivendell Suite) music and arrangements for several poems from the novels The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (1960) – included with other Tolkien songs on Broceliande's CD "The Starlit Jewel", available from Flowinglass Music. (Recorded earlier with many of the same musicians by the group Avalon Rising)

Editorial positions[edit]

Scholarly work[edit]

  • Bradley, Marion Zimmer. "Feminine equivalents of Greek Love in modern fiction". International Journal of Greek Love, Vol.1, No.1. (1965). Pages 48–58.[6]
  • Checklist: A complete, cumulative checklist of lesbian, variant, and homosexual fiction in English (1960) and addenda (1961, 1962, 1963).
  • A Gay Bibliography (1975).
  • The Necessity for Beauty: Robert W. Chambers & the Romantic Tradition (1974)

Other works[edit]

Bradley created several different fanzines, including The Anything Box (2 issues, 1959), Astra's Tower (5 issues, 1947–50), Astra's Tower, Special Leaflet (5 issues, 1952–62), Day*Star (28 issues, 1954–72), Fantasy Ambler (1 issue, 1962), Gemini, Jr. (1 issue, 1951), Gemini FAPA (3 issues, 1951–60), On the Ragged Edge (1 issue, undated), and Catch Trap (at least issues 89–106, early 1960s). She co-edited several other fanzines, including Allerlei (at least 17 issues, 1960–65, with Walter Breen), Anduril (1 issue, 1962, with David Bradley and Paul Zimmer), MEZRAB (7 issues, 1950–52, with Robert A. Bradley), and Ugly Bird (2 issues, 1956–59, with Redd Boggs).

She also contributed to The Ladder and The Mattachine Review. As Elfrieda or Elfrida Rivers, she contributed at least to the underground newspaperThe East Village Other, the neo-Pagan periodical Green Egg and also Sybil Leek's Astrology Journal, where she wrote horoscopes and book reviews and had her own column as well as occasionally worked as editors with her husband Walter Breen.


  • Lee Chapman
  • John Dexter
  • Miriam Gardner
  • Valerie Graves
  • Morgan Ives
  • Elfrieda Rivers (also Alfrida Rivers and Elfrida Rivers)
  • Astara Zimmer (also Astra Zimmer and Astra Zimmer Bradley)


  1. ^"Contemporary Literary Criticism: Bradley, Marion Zimmer". ENotes. 
  2. ^[1] Moira Greyland's website
  3. ^[2]"Avalon's Daughter" at
  4. ^Serrano, Richard A. (October 3, 1991). "Rare Coins Expert Charged With Child Molestation". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 5, 2008. 
  5. ^=John Dececco, Phd; Vern L Bullough, RN, PhD (February 4, 2014). Before Stonewall: Activists for Gay and Lesbian Rights in Historical Context. Routledge. pp. 314–315. ISBN 978-1-317-76628-5. 
  6. ^ abZimmer Bradley, Marion (1965). "Feminine equivalents of Greek love in modern fiction". International Journal of Greek Love. 1 (1): 48–58. Retrieved 2014-06-16.  
  7. ^Rothon, Robert (February 17, 2007). "For the love of coins, past lives and boys". Retrieved April 23, 2009. 
  8. ^ abc"Marion Zimmer Bradley and the Mists of Avalon", Diana L. Paxson, Arthuriana, Vol. 9, No. 1, SPECIAL DOUBLE ISSUE ON MODERN AND POST-MODERN ARTHURIAN LITERATURE AND TEACHING KING ARTHUR AT HARVARD (SPRING 1999), pp. 110–126, Scriptorium Press
  9. ^"Rosemary Guiley, 2008, The Encyclopedia of Witches, Witchcraft and Wicca", Checkmark Books
  10. ^Diana L. Paxson, 2008, "Trance-Portation: Learning to Navigate the Inner World", Diana L. Paxson, Weiser Books
  11. ^Shelley Rabinovitch and James Lewis (editors), 2004, "The Encyclopedia of Modern Witchcraft and Neo-Paganism", Citadel
  12. ^"Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 27, 2014. Retrieved June 23, 2014.  "The Pagan Revival and the Fellowship of the Spiral Path", official website of the Fellowship of the Spiral Path
  13. ^"Marion Bradley; Writer of Fantasy Novels", obituary, LA Times
  14. ^Marion Zimmer Bradley, 69, Writer of Darkover Fantasies, New York Times, 29 Sep 1999,
  15. ^Flood, Alison (June 27, 2014). "SFF community reeling after Marion Zimmer Bradley's daughter accuses her of abuse". The Guardian. Retrieved June 27, 2014. 
  16. ^Rosenberg, Alyssa (June 27, 2014). "Re-reading feminist author Marion Zimmer Bradley in the wake of sexual assault allegations". Washington Post. Retrieved June 27, 2014. 
  17. ^Seidl, Christian (June 29, 2014). "Hat die Avalon-Autorin ihre Tochter missbraucht?". Bild. Retrieved June 29, 2014. 
  18. ^Goldin, Stephen (1999). "Timeline of Events". Marion Zimmer Bradley: In Her Own Words. Stephen Goldin. Archived from the original on September 11, 2016. Retrieved 2015-07-27. 
  19. ^"Marion Zimmer Bradley". Victor Gollancz Ltd. July 2, 2014. Retrieved July 2, 2014. 
  20. ^"On doing a thing I needed to do". Janni Lee Simner. June 13, 2014. Retrieved July 10, 2014. 
  21. ^"The Story of Moira Greyland (Guest Post)". July 23, 2015. Archived from the original on May 20, 2016. Retrieved July 24, 2014. 
  22. ^"Secret Keeper No More: An Interview With Mark Greyland". July 16, 2015. Archived from the original on July 17, 2014. Retrieved July 17, 2014. 
  23. ^"This is horrible: Marion Zimmer Bradley's daughter alleges she was molested by her mother". John Scalzi. June 13, 2014. Retrieved July 11, 2014. 
  24. ^"Rape, Abuse, and Marion Zimmer Bradley". Jim C. Hines. June 23, 2014. Retrieved June 23, 2014. 
  25. ^"I'm speechless about this news re: Marion Zimmer Bradley. I can forgive artists for falling short of their ideals, but not for CHILD ABUSE". G. Willow Wilson. June 25, 2014. Retrieved June 25, 2014. 
  26. ^"Marion Zimmer Bradley". Diana L. Paxson. June 25, 2014. Archived from the original on April 28, 2016. Retrieved May 26, 2016. 
  27. ^Edward James, "Bradley, Marion Zimmer", St. James Guide To Fantasy Writers, ed. David Pringle, St. James Press, 1996, ISBN 1-55862-205-5, p. 68-71.
  28. ^Publication Listing – Title: Vortex Science Fiction Vol. 1, No. 2, Internet Speculative Fiction Database
  29. ^"Latter-Day Knights Battle for Imaginary Kingdoms"Archived May 15, 2008, at the Wayback Machine., The Epoch Times
  30. ^"... Marion Zimmer Bradley, came up with 'Society for Creative Anachronism' which quickly caught on."Archived July 27, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  31. ^"The Contraband Incident: The Strange Case of Marion Zimmer Bradley." Coker, Catherine. 2011. – Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 6. doi:10.3983/twc.2011.0236. Texas A & M University, College Station, TX
  32. ^"Marion Zimmer Bradley, 69, Writer of Darkover Fantasies", obituary, NY Times
  33. ^"Marion Zimmer Bradley", obituary, The Independent.
  34. ^Knight, Damon (1962). A Century of Science Fiction. New York: Simon and Schuster. p. 136. Retrieved July 21, 2012. 

External links[edit]

Cover of "I Am A Lesbian" published by Marion Zimmer Bradley under the pseudonym Lee Chapman.  Monarch Book, 1962.
Name: Marion Zimmer Bradley
Also Known As: MZB, Marion Astra Zimmer, Brian Morley, Marlene Longman, Dee O’Brien, Jessie Dumont, Lee Chapman, Morgan Ives, John Dexter, Marion Breen, Astra Zimmer, Valerie Graves, Elfrida Rivers, Elfrieda Rivers, Ms. Bee, M'ZeeBee, Miriam Gardner, John Jay Wells (a collaboration with Juanita Coulson) [1]
Occupation: author, editor
Medium:Novels and short stories
Works:Too many to list; series include Darkover and the Mists of Avalon
Official Website(s): (Was at from ? - 2010) & primary works by format
Fan Website(s):
a portrait of MZB from a flyer for an autograph session at the iconic Uncle Hugo's Science Fiction Bookstore in Minneapolis, Minnesota, year unknown
On Fanlore:Related pages

Marion Zimmer Bradley (1930-1999) wrote the Darkover series and some of the books in the Mists of Avalon series. The latter in particular has inspired a great deal of fanfiction.

Bradley passed away September 25, 1999.

Bradley's Darkover franchise has been continued by Deborah J. Ross and Elisabeth Waters.

Her Official Depository

Bradley's personal papers and letters were donated to the "Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center" at Boston University, and were opened to the public in September 2009, ten years after her death.

This collection was begun in September 1991 or before. [2]

The language and timing of the above statement appear to be somewhat contrary to the restrictions that Elisabeth Waters quoted in 2008: "Some of the material is sealed until 50 years after her death, and the collection is open only to “a qualified scholar” who has to be in the physical library building in Boston, so it’s not exactly readily available." [3][4]

See Bradley, Marion Zimmer (1930-1999).

Another academic library with a Bradley collection of papers: The Marion Zimmer Bradley Papers (Collection 1955). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles. See Marion Zimmer Bradley papers, 1956-1999 at OAC, Online Archive of California.

Trademarks and Publishing Companies

"Note: Darkover (R) is a registered trademark and may not be used except by permission of the Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust," is a statement used on "official" places where fans may congregate. [5]

The Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust registered the trademark for Darkover on March 23, 2010. While her first Darkover book was published in 1958, this trademark cites the first use of Darkover ("in commerce" and otherwise) as September 14, 1962. [6]

Two of Bradley's own companies that superseded her literary trust were MZB Enterprises and Thendara House.

Many of Bradley's professional books were issued by DAW Books, as well as other for-profit publishers.

A Legend in Copyright Tangles: "Contraband" and The Marion Zimmer Bradley Fanfiction Controversy

Bradley's conflict with a fanfiction author in the early to mid-1990s became a legend, supposedly making it impossible for her to publish one of her own novels, Contraband.

This controversy is commonly used as a straw man argument by people, both inside and outside fandom, who cite the Bradley story as their objection to fanworks. This case is, however, is very complicated and nuanced. See Marion Zimmer Bradley Fanfiction Controversy.

Also see Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust.

Why Write? Why Edit?

1992 Interview

Some excerpts from a 1992 interview published in "Science Fiction Review" (Issue #7, February 1992):

Darrell Schweitzer: Obviously you're as busy as ever. So why did you decide to start a Fantasy magazine?

Marion Zimmer Bradley: Whenever anybody says "Why?" to me my automatic response is "Why not?" I think it's just that I'd been editing Sword and Sorceress for so long and discovering so much new talent, and I always got about twice as much good material as I could use. So I thought to myself, Gee, I'd like to edit a Fantasy magazine someday. Back in the 60s I tried to get AMAZING STORIES. Ted White had it then. A publisher— some big combine—was going to buy it, and they made me an offer. I was going to edit it free for one year, and then if they succeeded they would pay me to do it. And I thought, hey, this is wonderful. Then Ted White came and cried all over me and said I was taking the bread out of the mouth of his daughter and his wife. So I finally decided that of all the things I didn't want to do, taking bread out of the mouths of Ted White's family was the first among them. So I let it go. The would-be buyer dropped it. They didn't want the magazine unless I came with it. But the idea of editing stayed in my mind.

Schweitzer: So Ted went on as editor.

Bradley: So much the worse for the magazine.

Bradley: Yes, I think I'd been planning a writing career since I was about eight years old.

Schweitzer: How many people were making a living writing Science Fiction then?

Bradley: I haven't a clue. I never slopped to think what other people were doing. I just did things my own way and muddled through somehow. When I was a young married woman my husband wanted me to get a job, and I said that was fine if he wanted to do his share of the housekeeping; but no way was I going to go work eight hours and then come home and wash and clean and cook when he worked eight hours then came home and put his feel up and read the newspaper. I suppose in a way writing was an act of feminine protest, if you use that kind of language. Also, he said that he didn't mind my writing if I didn't mind living on his salary, and I never did. And I didn't want my son David taken care of for fifty cents an hour by an ignorant girl out of the cotton patch.

2013 Interview

From a 2013 interview with her Trust, see Author Interview: Marion Zimmer Bradley Trust: Ann Sharp and Lisa Waters.

What pushed Marion Zimmer Bradley to become a working fiction writer? Why did she go down that creative path?

A.) MZB used to say that she didn’t want her children raised by someone whose market value was less than hers, and writing enabled her to work at home. She really wanted to become an opera singer, but she didn’t have the resources to train [7] ; writing was her second choice.

MZB became a formidable editor, launching a fiction magazine and a successful series of anthologies based on her Darkover world. Why did she decide to become an editor? Did financial need drive her, or did she see it as a way to pay forward? Was she trying to channel fan fiction into building new writers?

A.) It definitely was not financial need; by the time she edited her first anthology, she was financially secure. She firmly believed in paying forward and never forgot the support that she had received as a young writer. The Darkover anthologies did start as a way of publishing the best of the fan fiction. In her Sword and Sorceress anthologies, while she certainly encouraged new writers, there was no fan fiction involved. She was enormously proud of what we still call “MZB’s writers”: the authors who made their first sale to her and went on to successful careers of their own. [8]


In her pro-writing, MZB wrote, or collaborated, on at least seven series, 25 additional standalone novels, and countless short stories. [9][10]

Her first contribution to a fanzine was an article "in a happily defunct hektographed format." [11]

Her first fanzine may have been Astra's Tower, and was mentioned by Bradley in 1985: "I published my first fanzine on a pan hectograph which cost me five dollars, paying a dollar for a ream of paper, thirty cents for a special hectograph ribbon and about a dollar for thirty three-cent stamps to mail it out with..." [12]

While plagued with health problems for many years, in 1989, Bradley's health took a turn for the worse; it's widely believed both among fans and sf/f industry professionals that after that date, most or all of the books published under her name were either collaborations or entirely ghostwritten by other individuals. [13] Some sources assert that Bradley was entirely unable to write after 1989. Evidence for this belief varies widely where specific works are concerned, sometimes amounting to little more than rumor & speculation, while in other instances collaborators received cover credits or other acknowledgement. In the case of at least one series, the copyrights were later reassigned to the second author.

Official books are still being written under Bradley's name by other people via the Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Trust.

Darkover Series

A fantasy science-fiction series mainly set on the Lost Colony planet Darkover, where some of the inhabitants had extra-sensory perception/psi powers.

She edited early zines of this universe, Mezrab and "her earlier fanzine, Astra's Tower."[14] Later on, she edited and gave her name to published anthologies of stories by other authors in the Darkover universe.

See Darkover for more information on that series.

Mists of Avalon Series

The Mists of Avalon is a fantasy series set in the Arthurian tradition, but with a feminist slant, in the point of view of Morgaine and Guinevere. The first book of that name was quite successful both in and out of the SFF genre. Later novels in the series were co-written with other authors, who have continued the series after MZB's death.

"The Mists of Avalon" As an Apex

Bradley's sister-in-law, Diana Paxson, wrote in 2001, that the success of The Mists of Avalon, while gratifying and exciting, was also an unexpected strain on Bradley:

But no one expected what happened when The Mists of Avalon was published. Some of its success was no doubt due to the editorial and promotional genius of Judy Lynn Benjamin Del Rey, who got the book reviewed in the New York Times. But the rest has to be put down to Marion’s ability to resonate with the zeitgeist. Glowing reviews certainly helped, but what made the book a bestseller was word-of-mouth publicity, and that’s what keeps it selling today. People bought and read and loved it, then bought copies for their friends. Suddenly Marion found herself world-famous.

This was not what she had expected, especially when people began to phone her in the middle of the night wanting spiritual counsel. Morgaine herself could not have fulfilled all the expectations being laid upon the author of The Mists of Avalon. Marion continued to write, but she began to withdraw from public life.

Her health was also beginning to fail. To the heart trouble from which she had suffered for many years was added diabetes, and then a series of strokes. [15]

Early Pulp Fiction

Wikipedia lists pseudonyms that she used early in her career -- Morgan Ives, Miriam Gardner, John Dexter, and Lee Chapman, among others, that she used to write gay and lesbian pulp fiction novels. For example, I Am a Lesbian was published in 1962. Though relatively tame by today's standards, they were considered pornographic when published, and were a rare source of gay lit of the time.[16][17]

Other Non-Science Fiction Fiction

Bradley responded to a fan in late 1977 who was offended when he saw a romance novel by Bradley at the supermarket and scolded her (and Andre Norton) for wasting her time writing "trash", and his time by using her time and energies on things that weren't science fiction. Bradley replied:

Well, that letter sets a kind of record for what one of our associates here calls "the long range conclusion jump." Just to set the record straight, Dan, I write romantic novels (which are usually not boy-meets-girl slush but super natural horror packaged as "Gothics" to meet the exigencies of the market) because. A), I like writing them, and, B), because it's about my only chance to get weird or horror fiction into print without resorting to the pages of fanzines which pay nothing at all. I cannot speak for Andre Norton, but I assume that since, like me, she could sell all the s-f she wanted to write, that she too writes Gothic novels for the very simple reason that she likes writing them! Now, I'm not defending what I write. It doesn't need it. If anyone doesn't want to read any of my Gothics — some of which are, as I say, a way to publish supernatural horror fiction, and others straight suspense or mystery fiction with female protagonists — he or she may go and spend the money on some other book, a banana split or a beer, and I'll even say "Bottoms upl" I'm not apologizing for writing Gothics. I like writing them, and I like reading them, too. And while, early in my career, I wrote quite a number of books of which I am not particularly proud, because I needed the money, you will never find them on a newsstand in Chicago, or anywhere else, because I didn't put my name on them. Anything with my name on, I am quite proud to have written.

What troubles me is the arrogant assumption that I am wasting my tame and my talents "writing trash." By what right to you judge a book you haven't read, and assume it is trash? By what right do you presume to judge the reading preferences of others? When I was a kid, I lived through a period of time when science fiction was considered trash. When I read the works of Edmond Hamilton, Robert Heinlein, Leigh Brackett and company, I was admonished by concerned schoolteachers that I should stop reading that "unscientific trash" and apply my good brain to something with substance. Having outlived that period, I resolved to live and let live, read and let read, and I suggest that we all try to show tolerance for the reading and other preferences of others. [18]

Comments on Fandom

In 1985, Bradley wrote about some of the things fandom had provided her.

From: Fandom: Its Value to the Professional:

I have a great deal in common with such science fiction "greats", as Harlan Ellison, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Robert Silverberg and Donald Wollheim — amid others too numerous to mention: I came up through the ranks of fandom to become a pro writer. My first works, like theirs, were published in the letter columns of the old pulp magazines; later, in the pages of hectographed or mimeographed fanzines published by other young science fiction or fantasy fiction enthusiasts. Many of these fans, like myself, aspired to be professionals, and many of them actually made it; those I have mentioned, and many more. So many of these science fiction and fantasy professionals came from the ranks of fandom, back in the days when science fiction was still a rather minor genre, that I once lightheartedly quipped that reading the 1965 membership list of the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) was like reading the 1955 membership list of the Fantasy Amateur Press Association (FAPA).

This is not nearly as true as it used to be. In the years since 1966 or so, more and more writers are entering the ranks of science fiction and fantasy who have never had anything to do with fandom, and who tend, in fact, to be a little scornful of organized fandom, even when they attend its conventions and accept its rewards. Writers such as Samuel R. Delaney, Ursula Le Guin, and Joanna Russ, clinging to their intellectual credentials from academia, are often gracious to fans when they must interact with them, but they do not, as do I and most of the others mentioned above, recognize their origins in fandom; and such writers as Gene Wolfe and Stephen King, while they may use fandom for publicity purposes, are occasionally snide or sarcastic about it. Fewer and fewer fans aspire to become professionals in any field or if they do, it is harder to get in touch with their fellows.

Harlan Ellison, in one of his speeches, has attacked fandom for attempting to stereotype any writer as forever after somehow "belonging" to them, as if the writer had a duty to continue to write what his fans wanted. This is one of the very real dangers, and must be respected. The fact that I have chose to remain attached to fandom as a part of my "roots" does not imply that Harlan must consider himself bound in honor to do the same; and there is something to be said for the attitude of total indifference to one's admirers, especially where the alternative is remain bound by their wishes and desires.

What are the other benefits of fandom to the actual or potential writer? The first, of course, is feedback. The fanzines are a good place to get your first work published, and to get into the habit of sitting there at the typewriter, of actually applying the seat of the pants to the seat of, the chair and turning out words: For a beginner it is good to know that the editor needs your work so badly that he/she is not going to be critical. After a while you get to where turning out words is, quite literally, no sweat; you can sit down and just do it. When you agonize over every word because it might mean money or a chance at the big time, you may be too timid to write because if you wrote you'd have to submit it and if you submit it, it might get rejected. Writing for fanzines, less is at stake; even if you get rejected, you can say "Who the hell is that editor to reject me? Just a fan like me!" and the rejection isn't so serious. And when you have had a couple of hundred fanzine articles, letters, reviews, and stories in print, you begin to realize what writing is all about, and it's easier to expose yourself to the hard realities of the marketplace.

I must confess myself quite partial in this assessment of fandom. I owe so much to fandom, from friendship to first exposure, from my first taste of professional confidence to a strong voice of support whenever I falter in my dedication to my chosen profession, that it would be worse than ungrateful to turn away from it. Some people seem to feel that at a certain age or professional level, a writer, should turn his or her back on fandom, concentrating on professional activities only. Maybe they are right. I have never been very good, though, at doing what I "should" do. My latest fannish endeavor, editing the Darkover fiction magazine Starstone, sharpened my knowledge of how to write short fiction by seeing others make all my mistakes, I was encouraged to avoid them, and for the first time in my life I can now write short stories and send them out knowing they will be sold. Until about five years ago, my short stories sold by accident, and I never knew why one story would sell and the other would pile up a dozen rejection slips. This endeavour led to the increase in my short-story sales, and also led to the editing of the two Darkover anthologies which in turn seems to have led to the editing of a completely professional anthology, which I have just turned in to DAW Books called Sword and Sorceress.

... if fans present the danger of keeping their idols frozen or locked into a single pattern, they also present a challenge and an opportunity. Fandom gives me the opportunity to hear the opinions of women younger than my own daughters; if I keep in touch with their needs and wants and tastes, I will not slip into the past, writing complacently of what I have always written, but will respond to what they are saying to me and of me. Some people think that in Darkover fandom I am simply surrounding myself with "adoring fans" and getting soothing strokes add endless egoboo (a fannish term for, pridefully soliciting compliments, coming from the words "ego" and "boost"). That's far from true; my fans are my most challenging and demanding audience and never hesitate to let me know where I fall short of pleasing them. Some of them have attempted to prove and, have actually proved, that they can write as well as I do myself in my own field. And certainly they give me plenty of blunt and challenging criticism.

The writer who listens can learn, like any performer, as much from the boos and whistles as from the thunder of applause. These are, the straws in the wind that warn, of changes in the needs of the readership, that demand a writer grow with changing times and changes in the readership, that help the perceptive writer learn and grow. The writer, like any artist, who loses touch with the audience is already dead.

I want to live a long time.

Her Own Activities as a Fan

None of MZB's writing for fanworks is listed at her official bibliography.

Becoming a Fan

Bradley wrote an autobiography in September 1990, and it included some comments about how she became a fan. Some excerpts:

Oh, yes, science fiction. The first such story I remember reading was a Roy Rockwood novel, THROUGH SPACE TO MARS, in my grade school library when I was about seven; at eleven I read the well-known KING IN YELLOW by Robert W. Chambers, whose historicals I had read. It had belonged to my grandfather; my mother scolded me because she thought it would give me nightmares, but it never did. I spent a summer in the Thousand Islands near the St. Lawrence River and was allowed when I went home to take the train from Watertown. My summer employer, on bidding me goodbye, tucked into my hands a copy of Dale Carnegie's HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE, saying he wished someone had given him a copy at myage. At Utica, where I had to change trains, I was thoroughly bored with the hypocritical platitudes of Mr Carnegie — which showed how to lie and cheat to be rich and popular — and I got off resolved to consign Carnegie to a wastebasket and buy myself a copy of Weird Tales. It came under the same ban as KING IN YELLOW, but I thought my mother — who never censored my reading otherwise — would not really mind; and I was a big girl now.

But Weird Tales was not on that newsstand; so I bought a copy of Startling Stories, summer 1946. The lead story was "The Dark World" by Henry Kuttner (I later learned it was by Catherine Moore Kuttner — she told me herself), and as the train went through the long twilight to Albany, I discovered science fiction and fandom together. By the time I got to Albany I had discovered not only that I wanted to write, but what I wanted to write. I atttended Teacher's College in Albany for a couple of years and met my first husband through the pages of Planet Stories.

In Texas I kept on being a fan; and there I began writing and selling when I was barely 23; to the late Tony Boucher at F&SF. I also had a son, David. I have also written everything I could sell and got my feet wet in editing — during my second marriage — by creating an astrology magazine (1966-67). In 1955 or thereabout I sold my first novel, SEVEN FROM THE STARS, and in the same year, I think, my first Darkover novel, THE PLANET SAVERS. I certainly never looked back from there. [19]

Her Tolkien Fandom Activities

"Notably, perhaps the most erudite and insightful writer who championed and defended Tolkien was Marion Zimmer Bradley. Her 1962 “Men, Halflings, and Hero Worship” appearing in Astra's Tower, holds up very well even some 50 years later. She also wrote two Tolkien pastiches and one crossover story with Aragorn entering her own created world of Darkover. She published what would be a single issue of her own Tolkien fanzine, Andúril." [20]

  • The Jewel of Arwen, a fictional story set in Tolkien’s world, was published in I Palantir (1961), then as a standalonechapbook (1974), and it appeared in the first edition of her professional retrospective anthology "The Best of Marion Zimmer Bradley" in 1985. Later reprints of this book do not include "The Jewel of Arwen," most likely due to pressure from the Tolkien estate. "
  • Songs from Rivendell, a 1960 songbook of Tolkien songs, was made into a recording at some point before 1991 by Moira Breen (Bradley's daughter) [21], and was then authorized in 1996 by the Tolkien Estate.
  • The Middle-Earth Songbook, a 1976 zine of Tolkien filksongs was created by two fans and includes over a hundred pages of songs set in the world of JRR Tolkien, including Bradley's melodies for Tolkien's own songs, "used by Bradley's permission."
  • "Lament for Boromir" was a song by Bradley. It was sung as early as 1978 at a con [22] , and appears on the 2001 CD The Starlit Jewel, along with several other Tolkien songs by Bradley.

Her Own Writing in Darkover Fanzines

Marion contributed directly and indirectly to a number or fanzines about Darkover. A complete list is here: Darkover.

Many of the stories she wrote in zines were then published for-profit at a later date in the DAW Books professional anthologies.

Her Sime~Gen Fandom Activites

Other Fan Activities

  • Bradley wrote that her first letter printed in a science fiction zine was in 1946 "when I was a kid of sixteen." [24]
  • Bradley was active in science-fiction and fantasy fandom during the 1960s and 70s, promoting interaction with professional authors and publishers and making several important contributions to the subculture.
  • Like many imaginative writers, Bradley took her inspiration indirectly, and directly, from other creative works. One of the books that most influenced Bradley was "The King in Yellow"; she writes about this novel, its seminal place in her childhood and as a later inspiration, in many issues of Darkover Newsletter, as well as in numerous interviews. [need cite for interviews].
  • Other examples of these inspirations were her responses to Ursula Le Guin's book "Left Hand of Darkness" -- "Well, I extracted a promise to send me MZB's address so I could write her a fan letter about one of her Darkover novels, World Wreckers and tell her that my very popular ST fanzine series, Kraith, had been generated by adding Darkover to ST and shaking well. They did. I did. And MZB wrote me back and explained that she had written World Wreckers in answer to Ursula LeGuin's Left Hand of Darkness because LHOD had omitted a crucial sex scene. It was such a glaring omission that MZB felt she had to answer with a book of her own, which was World Wreckers." [25] Another example was Bradley's retooling, response based on a book by Leigh Brackett: "My novel COLORS OF SPACE began as a rebuttal with the basic idea of Leigh Brackett's STARMEN OF LLYRDIS —a political situation where only one race could travel in space, due to physical problems. Leigh never recognized it till I told her." [26]
  • Bradley extolled her love of the mystery books by Dick Francis in many issues of Darkover Newsletters. She also fangirled in that newsletter about the gothic/mystery novels of Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Mertz.

Convention Attendee and Convention Guest of Honor

Bradley was a relentless attender of cons, and a frequent guest of honor.

Some examples from the hundreds (?) of cons Bradley attended:

Her Star Trek Fandom Activities

  • "The Immovable Object," published in the zine The Other Side of Paradise #2, edited by Amy Falkowitz and Signe Landon in 1977, related the early days of the Enterprise under Captain Kirk.
  • "Cross Currents", published in Obsc'zine #4, edited by Lori Chapek-Carleton, was a short Uhuru/Chapel story.
  • there is a mention that the actress Nichelle Nichols was the model for "Mardee Haskell," the heroine of the Gothic novel "The Drum and the Darkness," by novel by Bradley [27]

Influences of "Star Trek" on Her Writing

From issue #15/16 of the Nichelle Nichols newsletter, Amani in 1976:

Nichelle has sent us a rather interesting news release about the next Marion Zimmer Bradley release. No doubt Marion Zimmer Bradley is familiar to many of you as the author of the Darkover series of novels. The news release states that she has now completed a Gothic novel for the Ballentine series of Zodiac Gothics, tentatively carrying the title The Drum and the Darkness. [28]

Ms. Bradley has used our own Nichelle Nichols as the model for her heroine in the novel, "Mardee Haskell." The story is laid in Haiti. Mardee Haskell is a Leo who portrays a vigorous and definite personality instead of the usual fragile and vulnerable Gothic heroine. By profession, she is an actress. She becomes entangled in a group of people who are filming a story based on the Slave Revolt of 1781 which made Haiti the first Black republic in the New World, if not the first one in history. Mardee and two members of the motion picture company act out an ancient tragedy, which becomes a story of blood and violence.

While blocking out her novel, Ms. Bradley was watching a series of Star Trek reruns. Over several evenings, she noticed Nichelle's beauty, elegance, and exquisite diction. Ms. Bradley did not know Nichelle's astrological sign, but decided that she seemed to have the fire and vivacity of a true Leo. Actually she wasn't far off -- Nichelle's sign is really Capricorn with a strong Leo rising.

Since the story is laid in Haiti, Marcy Rudo, the editor at Ballentine Books in charge of the Zodiac Gothics had asked that the heroine of the book be black. Ms. Bradley could think of no one lovelier nor more suitable than our own Nichelle Nichols to serve as the model for her heroine. Since the novel is, in essence, a fantasy, the author found it entirely appropriate to use Nichelle's "Lt. Uhura" as her model.

Friends, isn't it interesting to see the odd peripheral ways in which Star Trek is continuing to influence people at the most unexpected times?
In the Darkover Newsletter #11 (undated, published in 1978), MZB cautioned other fan writes of Trek:

... one of the first things I ever wrote to Jacqueline was that she would never do anything worth doing, professionally, until she got out of Roddenberry's Star Trek universe and started creating her own. And of course, this ties in with the fannish question I get very tired of hearing... 'Where do you get your ideas? As if ideas were a precious commodity, so scarce that I would be reduced to stealing them...

In 1980, MZB wrote of Star Trek fandom in the The Keeper's Price's forward:

Not until women saw Star Trek did they start identifying themselves, just as young children did, with the heroes and heroines of that universe. They were too old to put on Vulcan ears and Enterprise T-shirts and play at being Spock, Kirk, Uhura, and their friends, so they wrote stories about them instead. And, in a wave of amateur fiction, completely unlike any phenomenon in science fiction history, these stories somehow got published in amateur magazines. There were hundreds of them; or let me amend that; there were thousands, though I have only read a few hundred. And when they were sated with Star Trek, many of them turned to Darkover. I don’t agree with Jacqueline Lichtenberg that ‘Darkover is just an advanced version of Star Trek for grownups.’ I was never that much of a Star Trek fan,[29][30] and not till after I knew Jacqueline did I ever learn much about the phenomenon of Star Trek fandom. Jacqueline, driven like myself, one of those who created her own fantasy world in her teens and transmuted it into a professional series as an adult, used Star Trek fandom, calculatedly (as I used the fanzines built around the old pulp fiction) as a way of learning her craft and getting her early writings in print... [31]

Bradley as a Mentor to Other Fan Writers

There were many instances of Bradley's encouragement to other fiction writers who wrote both original fantasy fiction, as well as fan fiction, and many people remember her kind words and assistance:

I wrote a letter of appreciation to one of my favorite authors, Marion Zimmer Bradley. To my surprise, she wrote back, three pages of single-spaced typewriting. At that time, the Friends of Darkover held periodic writing contests and published its own fanzine. I sent her a couple of stories and received encouraging comments (and, as I remember, an award for one of the stories and fanzine publication of the other). When Marion began editing the first Sword & Sorceress, she suggested I send her a story for consideration. I was as elated by the invitation as if it had been an actual acceptance, and threw myself into writing the best story I could. It was a modest little story, a respectable first sale. Marion showed me that I could take my writing seriously, even if I didn’t yet know how to do it at a professional level.[32]

Vera Nazarian: There are no words sufficient to say how much of an impact Marion had on me as a young writer starting out. She bought my first story “Wound on the Moon” for Sword and Sorceress #2 (DAW Books, 1985), and my second and my third, and so on, so she gave me my “pro wings.” But that’s not all—her wonderful advice on storytelling, her supportive rejections—yup, there were tons of rejections, including the very first rejection where she graciously went through a novella with a red pen and gave me, a teenager just starting out, a detailed edit critique free of charge and encouraged me to rewrite and resubmit—all of this helped give me a focus and a direction and an understanding of the writing and editing process. And not only that, I also learned a great deal about shared world writing by writing in the world of Darkover. Basically I would not be the writer that I am now without her. I owe her everything, and am profoundly honored to be one of “Marion’s own writers” as so many of us went on to be. [33][34]

Bradley, however, could also be a harsh critic, as well as mercurial in her assessment and evaluation. As with any writing and publishing business, Marion did not mentor writers she felt did not meet her standards. One young writer remembers painfully how Marion’s rejection letter caused her to stop writing for years. [35] Another remembers being told that her story was “objectionable” because it reversed traditional gender tropes, leaving the hero to suffer a fate worse than death (aka sexual assault). [36] These reactions to Marion’s rejection letters may have been exacerbated, in part, because of her reputation for encouraging and promoting new writers.

Also see Zauberspiegel - ... Jacqueline Lichtenberg on Jacqueline Lichtenberg, Marion Zimmer Bradley and Sime~Gen, Archived version (April of some unknown year)

Also see Marion Zimmer Bradley's Influence on the Sime~Gen Universe.

Bradley as a Voice for Differences

Sexuality and Desire

Bradley's books often explored several topics that were quasi-taboo at the time, including homosexuality (male and female) and polyamory, and was influential on the role of feminism in science fiction fandom.

She herself was quite aware of this:


I have not really intended to become the spokeswoman for the gay and lesbian community in science fiction, but I have always known (since my late teens, anyhow) that I was just as strongly homosexual as I was heterosexual, and felt that if my husbands didn't mind, nobody else had any right to; so that I have always felt free to write for lesbian publications, etc, under my own name, and have never made any secret of the fact that I consider myself at least bisexual, and probably, more honestly, an offbeat lesbian who simply manages to form occasional strong attachments to men. [37]


I have also dealt with strong and intense friendships between men in World Wreckers, I dealt with explicit homosexuality, which is why at a recent Lunacon where a disgruntled member of Gay Liberation got up and demanded to know why there was so much anti-homosexual prejudice in science fiction! The chairman's attempt at an answer was interrupted by people yelling all over the hall "Let Marion answer that! Marion Bradley can speak about that!" Whereupon I rose and told the man that I honestly felt that there was no generalised editorial prejudice - that individual editors might be prejudiced, but that I personally knew many homosexuals in the science fiction world and that if they did not choose to put their sexual orientation into their own work, that was a personal choice, not a matter of taboo, or so I believed. More recently I have written a book where homosexuality is endemic and thematic to the plot, and I had no difficulty in getting it published. (The Heritage of Hastur: Daw, August 1975). [38]


Professional fiction, by its very nature, must appeal to a very broad base of interest; and this is more and more true as more publishers are swallowed up into conglomerates and distributed through mass market places such as Waldenbooks and B. Dalton. I feel that by being accessible to my fans, I have given them a place to talk about some of the especially sensitive subjects on which I can only touch in my books. It is easier, and safer, for these young people to talk about women's rights, homosexuality, unusual approaches to religion, gender roles in society, and extrasensory perception on Darkover rather than in the worlds of suburbia or middle America where they themselves live. Many, perhaps most of my fans live as misfits among, their churchgoing, Barbara-Cartland-reading, soap-opera-watching peers, and find little support for any attempt at looking for a window on a larger and less constricted world of thought. I know how they feel. I too grew up in that kind of world and was emotionally battered when I tried to find something bigger and less constricted; and I found a world where I could find people who had thought about these things and were not afraid to talk about them. And the world,! [39]


While many fans considered her a feminist and applauded her activities and writing that expanded on feminism, and Bradley never considered herself a feminist, saying over and over again that it wasn't feminist ideals she disliked, it was the formal "feminism." In 1985, she described Samuel R. Delaney, Ursula Le Guin, and Joanna Russ [40]" as "clinging to their intellectual credentials from academia." [41][42]


Only in the last year have I had any contact with any rational movement women (a bisexual rap group in the Women's Centre in Berkeley) who made me realize that the women I had identified with the label "Women's Liberation" did NOT speak for the entire movement; that most of them were where I had always thought of myself. So now I am more tolerant of some of the language they use. But I cannot accept the more extreme ideas like "No woman can possibly live with a man" or "Every man exploits women." This is simply untrue. [43]


Fans in general relate to me as an intelligent human being without regard to sex or gender. (Not to mention that in fandom I have met virtually the only intelligent women I have ever met anywhere — women outside fandom can't see over the top of the kitchen sink, and even in the feminist movement, they seem too busy discussing politics to get much fun out of life. If I wrong any particular feminists I'm sorry — I'm not anti-feminist, just terribly sensitive on the subject, and tired of being trashed because I am insufficiently anti-masculist for some groups or because I (1) live with a man and have no current intention of leaving, or because I (2) let Jaelle fall in love with a mere male in SHATTERED CHAIN. By the way, talking about UNINVITED passes up there— a woman who wants them can get all the male attention she wants in fandom, and she can do it without having to compromise her conscience and try to look like That Cosmopolitan Girl. [44]


People call me a feminist, but I'm not; to me a feminist is one of these Berkeley crazies who goes around writing writing slogans..." [45]


In 1991, a fan told her:

I think you must be pulling our leg when you sound so bitter about "feminism." Surely you know that you are the "Number One Feminist" for thousands of women. You are certainly my favorite feminist. Anything that reinforces strong, independent, thinking women, and women working together is a boon to the feminist movement. Don't ever think that because one (or one million) feminist doesn't like your style that means you aren't a feminist. Of course you are! I know quite a few young women today who say they couldn't have made it through growing up if they hadn't had Darkover and those wonderful strong Amazons to relate to. In fact, it was one of these women who introduced me to your work. You've got fans, MZB, feminist fans you'll never even hear about. [46]

Bradley's Attitudes Regarding Fanworks Based on Her Canon

Some 1977 Comments on Fandom

One of the reasons I always liked fandom is that men in fandom never related to me as a sex object or judged me by my cleavage but always treated me as one of the boys. I can count on my fingers the numbers of uninvited passes I've had thrown at me in fandom, whereas in other societies, I long since lost count and had to develop a hard keep-away stare to ward them off. Fans in general relate to me as an intelligent human being without regard to sex or gender. (Not to mention that in fandom I have met virtually the only intelligent women I have ever met anywhere —women outside fandom can't see over the top of the kitchen sink, and even in the feminist movement, they seem too busy discussing politics to get much fun out of life. If I wrong any particular feminists I'm sorry — I'm not anti-feminist, just terribly sensitive on the subject, and tired of being trashed because I am insufficiently anti-masculist for some groups or because I (1) live with a man and have no current intention of leaving, or because I (2) let Jaelle fall in love with a mere male in SHATTERED CHAIN. [47]

A 1978 Discussion of Fanfic and Copyright

Bradley actively encouraged fan writers to write Darkover and other fan fiction in her universes, a topic that came up early on and was worrisome to some.

In an undated Darkover Newsletter (certainly 1978, most likely March), a fan wrote a con report about Boskone and describes how a fan approached her, and several others, and instigated a lengthy discussion about the inherent problems regarding Marion Zimmer Bradley's heavy involvement in Darkover fandom. While the account below was written for publication in the newsletter, it is specifically addressed to Bradley. It provides much foreshadowing, and in fact predicts, the events that would occur fourteen years later:


Linda Bushyager... wondered about the problems involved when pro writers allow (and even encourage) fans to write fiction in their universes. We all floundered around in this discussion because none of us understand copyright law, and because we consider this a potentially sensitive subject... [Name redacted] wondered why you as pros encourage fans to write Darkover and Sims fiction. We said (1) to make us happy and allow us the egoboo of getting published (2) to collect ideas on what interests us, for possible future work, thus allowing us to contribute to your work. We said you did much of the fanzine [referring to Starstone] yourselves, because fans were going to write fan fiction anyway, and this way they can do it officially and legally. You aren't just out for egoboo or professional or personal self-aggrandizement. (And, what the heck, if this publicity manages to help win a Hugo for you, well, your influence on the sf field can only be good.)... [Name redacted] is particularly concerned that fan writers might get hurt feelings if one of you takes one of our ideas and uses it professional. We said, 'No, we'd be pleased,' and besides we trust you. Hopefully, we all manage to trust each other, and we fans get to feel part of a living universe. But I still thinks she feels that this would be unfair to us, that you would be using us, albeit with our very willing consent. I said certainly, you're 'using' us, and we 'use' the opportunities you provide, and everybody's happy... [Name redacted] also worried about the possibility of YOU getting hurt, at least in reputation, if some encouraged fan writes a story or zine in your universe and proceeds to get it copyrighted themselves, perhaps leading to legal hassles. All we could say is, we have to trust each other. [48]

Bradley responded in the same newsletter:

... While I can't speak for Jacqueline, I participate in Darkover fandom because it is FUN. I would be writing non-publishable peripheral Darkover stories for my own amusement, and publishing fanzines about something or other... where does it say I have to be professional all the time. I am a fan. I think [name redacted] argument stems from a fear that Jacqueline and I will exploit young writers using their ideas in our professional work, ideas which they, themselves, might later make use of in their own private world... I have encouraged young writers to speak in their own voice -- one of the first things I ever wrote to Jacqueline was that she would never do anything worth doing, professionally, until she got out of Roddenberry's Star Trek universe and started creating her own. And of course, this ties in with the fannish question I get very tired of hearing... 'Where do you get your ideas? As if ideas were a precious commodity, so scarce that I would be reduced to stealing them... I can get a couple of thousand story ideas between breakfast and dinner, and very few of them will I ever have time to write... So why should I snitch any of the fannish ideas about what happens in the Starstone world (which I, frankly, regard as a 'parallel world' to Darkover, not MY Darkover, not quite.) Now, I suppose if I were sick, or exhausted, or overworked, or had writer's block, and happened to come across a fannish story with the gem of a good idea it in, I might write the kid and say, 'Hey, I like that idea, and you probably don't have the skill to make a novel out of it. I'll give you (say) twenty bucks for the idea.' And if the kid should say, 'Hey, wow, I'm flattered, use it for nothing,' I would still say, 'No, I want you to sell it to me, so that you kick if I do something completely different than you want to, or so you won't later think I ripped you off, when you get older.' On the contrary, if the kid says, 'I want to use it in my own private world some day for a story of my own,' then I would just have to start with that idea and work on it till its own author would never know I began there... Mostly I let other people write about Darkover because it is so much fun to read a new Darkover story without having to sit down and slog through the writing of it! I don't need to borrow ideas. After all, I KNOW what really happened... and yes, it's egoboo, but it's not just an ego trip. I'm just sharing, I think. I don't have as much time to write Darkover stories as I'd like to. I have to do other books that pay me more. So I like to think somebody's keeping it warm for me when I'm not there. [49]

See more at Darkovans Invade Boskone!.

For more on this topic, see Marion Zimmer Bradley Fanfiction Controversy.

Bradley's Attitudes Regarding Fiction Based on Her Canon

Bradley had said that she didn't so much create Darkover as she discovered it, and she encouraged fan fiction writers to write in, what she called, her "back yard." She herself edited fiction fanzines, the DAW anthologies, and the long-running publication Darkover Newsletter in which there was much discussion regarding fannish creations.

Bradley published her own fanworks zine, Starstone and Bitter Honeymoon and Other Stories: The Amorous Adventures of Dyan Ardais. She also gave specific approval to several other zines, including Moon Phases, as well as implicit approval to others.

She was actively aware of, participated in, and actively encouraged fan writers to write Darkover and other fan fiction in her universes, especially in her contributions and comments in the long-running Darkover Newsletter.

Bradley and Walter Breen's first mention of their interest in publishing a zine of Darkover fanworks (which they called "apocryphal stories") was in August 1976. In Darkover Newsletter #2, Walter Breen proposed the zine that later became Starstone:

[1976]: APOCRYPHAL STORIES: An annual publication is being prepared, to contain additions to the Darkover mythos by other hands, including (but not limited to) poems, songs, short stories, ballads, and other material filling in gaps, similar to what has been going on for some years now in Star Trek's various parallel universes. We have seen quite a few such items already ranging in merit from hopelessly crude to highly creditable. And now a forum exists for these and similar pieces. Submissions to this publication (whose name has not yet been decided on—let us hear your proposals) are welcome at Box 472. It is too soon, as yet, to talk about publication date or cost.[50]

Bradley, in the same newsletter, added her comments regarding their zine of fanworks:

[1976]: About the annual magazine — I guess it had to happen. People started sending us poetry, outlines for fiction, and the like. Also, I have written odd bits of background material such as a study of the female reproductive cycle on a planet with four moons, which is hardly suitable for the newsletter. So there will be, sometime next spring, an issue of a Darkover fanzine devoted to fiction, poetry, apocrypha of various sorts, and possibly some material written for publication which was deleted by editorial requirements or my own self-censorship amd second thoughts. For instance, I agreed to give the editors, for the first issue, a description of the Arilinn Tower (Jeff's quarters) which was deleted by the editor from BLOODY SUN, and a description of the battle with the catmen from SPELL SWORD which didn't make it into the final manuscript of SPELL SWORD, for various reasons. There will also be a couple of poems, and possibly the music to various folksongs quoted in the texts. As yet we have no title; Jessica Salmonson suggested in one of her letters that ARILINN would be a good title for such a magazine, but we're open to your ideas. Send anything you want to have considered for publication to Tracy Blackstone, Box 472, Berkeley CA 94701.[51]

In early 1978, she wrote:

Mostly I let other people write about Darkover because it is so much fun to read a new Darkover story without having to sit down and slog through the writing of it! I don't need to borrow ideas. After all, I KNOW what really happened... and yes, it's egoboo, but it's not just an ego trip. I'm just sharing, I think. I don't have as much time to write Darkover stories as I'd like to. I have to do other books that pay me more. So I like to think somebody's keeping it warm for me when I'm not there. [52]

After Darkover became popular both from Bradley's published books and among fanwriters, Bradley began to accept submissions from fan and professional authors for a series of Darkover anthologies published by DAW, beginning with The Keeper's Price (1980). It was in the author's foreward for "The Keeper's Price" that Bradley stated her own disapproval with authors who sought to suppress fan fiction set in the worlds they had created, as well as why she enjoyed writing alongside fans in Darkover:
[1980]: …by reading the Darkover short stories written by my young fans, and sometimes criticizing them and trying to explain just what is wrong with them, I have somehow learned to write short stories myself and been encouraged to try my hand at this best and subtlest of fictional forms. The four stories in this volume are, I think, among the best of my short stories, and they were written because, after seeing the kind of mistakes I could recognize in other people’s stories, I could learn to avoid them in my own writing. So that I have learned as much from my fans as I hope they have learned from me about the art of writing.

Some critics have been disturbed about the possibility that I might exploit my young fans, or steal their ideas, or use their work in future novels. No, except that everything I read finds its way into my subconscious, there to undergo a sea-change which alters raw ideas into fiction. But this is just as likely to happen with a story by roger Zelanzy – or Daphne du Maurier – or Agatha Christie – or Pearl S. Buck.

Of course I get ideas from my young fans, just as I give them ideas. But as for stealing their ideas – I have quite enough ideas of my own. If their ideas find lodgment in my head, it is in the same way that I “got the idea” for my novel Planet Savers by reading a classic study of a multiple personality, as an assignment in my psychology class; or that I might get an idea from National Geographic or Scientific American, which are magazines in which I browse when temporarily short of inspiration…

This is why I don’t mind other writers writing about Darkover, and at the same time, I have no wish and no need to exploit their ideas. If I ever do make use of a fan’s writing, it will be so altered and transmuted by its trip through my own personal dream-space that even the inventor would never recognize her idea, so alien it would be when I got through with it!

Nor do I feel threatened by stories not consistent with my own personal view of Darkover. To me all Darkover stories written by anyone else are presumed to be in a parallel world to “my” Darkover; or one of the parallel universes, which can be very close to my Darkover, or very different, just as the young writer wishes.

Because, in a very real sense, I regard myself not as the “inventor” of Darkover, but its discoverer. I others wish to play in my fantasy world, who am I to slam its gates and in churlish voice demand that they build their own? If they are capable of it, they will do someday. Meanwhile, if they wish to write of Darkover, they will. All the selfish exclusiveness of the Conan Doyle estate (which went so far as to demand that the late Ellery Queen anthology, ‘The Misadventures of Sherlock Holmes’, a very fine volume of Holmes pastiches, be withdrawn from sale and never reprinted, thus denying Holmes lovers a wonderful reading experience) as not stopped lovers of Sherlock from writing their own stories and secretly sharing them. Why should I deny myself the pleasure of seeing these young writers learning to their thing by , for a little while, doing my things with me?

Or, look at it this way. When I was a little kid, I was a great lover of ‘pretend’ games, but after I was nine or ten, I could never get anyone to play them with me. And now I have a lot of fans, and friends, who will come into my magic garden and play the old ‘pretend games’ with me.[53]
In 1993, Bradley wrote this in the forward to her pro-book, "Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover":

I was the very first writer to encourage other writers to write in my universe. Not everybody approved; Lester Del Rey told me that he, for one, would never consent to read a single world of Darkover fiction written by anyone else. All I can say to that is that it is a free country and he is entitled to his opinion. It's his loss. Most of the Darkover stories were about as good as any slush anywhere, which means not very good, at least at first; but after reading a lot of it, I came to the conclusion that a lot of it -being written by women who where obsessed with writing - was readable.

From a FAQ on her official website, updated in 2010:

Can I write a Darkover story? No. Darkover is the property of Marion Zimmer Bradley and her heirs, and the right to prepare a derivitiave work belongs to the copyright holder. This means that even if you don't publish it or make money from it; it's still illegal. Nobody is allowed to write a Darkover story or novel without a contract with the Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust. You may not write a Darkover story in English, French, German, or any other language. Any legitimate editor you sent it to would not publish it because that would be a violation of copyright laws and the Berne Convention. If you have an idea for a Darkover story, create a new background -- a new universe -- rename your characters, and write it so that the story is clearly NOT Darkovan. [54]

Again, for more on this topic, see Marion Zimmer Bradley Fanfiction Controversy.

Bradley's Attitudes Regarding Filks

The undated note below illustrates some of Bradley's thoughts and appreciation regarding filks based on her, and other people's, canon. It appears to be complicated!

Approval and/or Tolerance:

From an undated note (likely 1978-ish) by Bradley to a fan named Karen MacLeod:

"Dear Karen - I heard your copy of UNTO ZEOR FOREVER at Jacqueline's and it haunted me for days. It is wonderful to find musical talent in s-f (and rare). Your songs are head and shoulders above most fannish filk songs and I wish I could have my own copy -- if I sent you a blank tape could you copy it for me in exchange for my recording some of the Darkover songs or Tolkien songs for you, or something like that? Incidentally, if I had known that you were also the composer of that music I would have made extra time to talk to you at Darkovercon. Maybe next time! ~ a fellow composer/music lover, Admiringly, Marion Bradley." [55]

From a con report by Judy Gerjouy for the July 1978 Darkovercon: "The Arilinn group sang a Darkover filksong, "The Keeper of the Arilinn Tower," which was extremely funny and certainly worth hearing. I had heard it before, so I took the opportunity to watch Marion and Walter as they fell apart laughing." [56]

There was filking by Cindy McQuillin promoted on the January 1979 Darkovercon flyer. Bradley was McQuillin's benefactor and many of her filks were rehersed for, and recorded in, Bradley's home. [57]

Elisabeth Waters commented: "Marion always said that "filk singing should be done in private by consenting adults." [58]


A 1982 flyer for Fantasy Worlds Festival, sponsored by Bradley, made mention that there would be all the usual con activities as well as "and (shudder) filksinging room."

In 1986, Mercedes Lackey explained to a fan that Bradley disliked filks about as much as Bradley disliked RPGs based on her canon:

You wouldn't blow cigarette smoke in the face of an asthmatic, would you? She has some real reasons for not wanting her world and particularly her characters used in RPG's, and most of them have to do with the fact that she's a real psi-sensitive. She'll react to what you do to her universe the same way that asthmatic would react to the cigarette smoke. And a minor "allergy" is filking--now mind you, I am an impassioned filker, but I won't inflict it on Marion. Don't corner her and sing at her—don't send her tapes. Send 'em to Lisa Waters and Ann Sharp, they'll listen without breaking out in hives! [59]

Bradley's Attitudes Regarding Maps

Bradley was very much against fans making maps based on her books. In 1992, she said: "I hate maps." [60]

Walter Breen

from Darkover Newsletter #5, artist: Diana Paxson, from an invitation sent out inviting various local fans/writers etc. to celebrate Marion's Silver Jubilee as writer in 1977.
A note from Bradley to Karen MacLeod, regarding a song based on Sime~Gen, date unknown, likely 1978

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