Recognized as a major science-fiction and fantasy writer since 1975, Marion Zimmer was born in East Greenbush, New York, a community near Albany. She grew up doing chores on the family farm. Her elementary school entrance was delayed a year; however, once in school, she skipped two grades. As a teenager, she contracted rheumatic fever, which probably helped steer her in the direction of intellectual, rather than athletic, pursuits. Her early reading included Arthurian legend, and while still in high school, she began a novel set in ancient Britain that influenced the later The Mists of Avalon. Following some study at New York State College for Teachers, she married Robert A. Bradley, after which she lived in various small towns in Texas. They had one son, David Robert.
Divorced in 1963, Marion Zimmer Bradley entered Hardin-Simmons University, graduating in 1963 with a triple major. Bradley’s first published science-fiction stories, “Women Only” and “Keyhole,” appeared in Vortex in 1953. Her first science-fiction novel, The Door Through Space, set on the planet Wolf, was followed by the first Darkover novel, The Sword of Aldones, which was nominated for the Hugo Award.
Like William Faulkner, who created the mythical Yoknapatawpha County as the world of a number of novels, Bradley conceived a dim red star, Darkover, as the realm of the Darkover novels. She established a chronology that includes an Age of Chaos and the Age of the Hundred Kingdoms. Another group of space inhabitants, the Terrans, plays an important role in the novels. After many conflicts, the Darkoverans and the Terrans begin to exchange knowledge. The usual plot of a Darkover novel follows the relationships between a tradition-bound society on Darkover and a technologically obsessed Terran Empire. A Terran boy is generally a misfit who, after many risks and trials, finds his place on Darkover. The Darkoverans accept outsiders only on their own terms, so the price is high, but the reward is great....
(The entire section is 830 words.)