William Sanders: A Severely Incomplete Bibliography
JOURNEY TO FUSANG
(Comic alternative history, marketed as fantasy) - Warner Questar, 1988, mass
market paperback. This one got very good reviews but was virtually strangled at
birth by Warner Questar's notorious sales and distribution system; hardly anyone
could find a copy for sale. Still made the LOCUS list (and cover) and got me a
nomination for the Campbell. Long out of print, though copies still turn up,
sometimes at grotesquely inflated prices - somebody I know paid Amazon $18 for a
yellowing old original! Reissued in a really bad-looking POD edition by a small
press I would as soon not think about, and now out of print again.
POCKETS OF RESISTANCE
(SF, marketed as action/adventure) - Popular Library, 1990, mm/pb. Published
under the name Will Sundown, at the publisher's inscrutable demand. This
was actually the first novel I ever wrote; the first draft was written clear
back in 1972, and over the years it collected a regular Himalaya of rejections.
The Campbell nomination finally gave me enough short-lived status to get PL to
take POR. By then I had to do a complete rewrite, of course, but a lot of the
original 1972 text still worked surprisingly well - such as having the U.S. in a
war with Iraq near the turn of the century. Out of print and I doubt if you
could find a copy, though you never know.
THE HELLBOUND TRAIN
(SF, marketed as action/adventure) - Popular Library, 1990, mm/pb. Also
published under "Will Sundown." PL wanted a sequel to POR and who was I
to turn them down? I wrote this one in under two weeks and I still think it
reads well. Out of print, but copies turn up in the damnedest places; I ran
across a fading copy in the see-we-have-regular-books-too front rack of a porn
shop in Tulsa. I left it there; it seemed so appropriate.
THE WILD BLUE AND THE GRAY
(Alternative history) - Warner Questar, 1991, mm/pb. Yes; I was fool enough
to let Warner Questar have another one, even though by then I knew better. But
in those days I didn't realize how easy it is to break an option clause. Sure
enough, they killed it; this time they didn't even put my name in the one tiny
ad they ran . . . . Reissued for several years by Wildside Press, but now out of print.
(Mystery, marketed as action/adventure; are we beginning to see a pattern?) -
Berkley, 1991, mm/pb. By this time it was obvious my SF career was in deep shit;
thanks to Warner Questar, my sales record was so bad I probably couldn't have
paid anybody to publish a book with my name on it. So I decided to switch to
mysteries, and produced a novel which I called WARBIRD BLUES, and eventually
sold it to Berkley - who proceeded to market it as military a&a (which it
was not) with an irredeemably doofus title and an even doofuser cover.
Even so, it sold more copies than any other novel of mine to date. Out of print
and probably unobtainable.
(Adventure, marketed as action/adventure) - Berkley Jove, 1992, mm/pb.
Berkley called me up and asked if I'd like to do a series for them. The phrase
"the next Travis McGee" was used. I came up with an ex-CIA gunman living on an
island off the Texas coast; they loved it. Unfortunately they shifted targets
between delivery and publication; the series which had been written for the
Travis McGee readership got marketed toward the Rambo crowd. In any case the
whole market for hard-assed male-hero fiction had pretty much died by that time.
What the hell, it was easy money . . . . Out of print and probably unobtainable;
I wish I could find a couple of copies, in fact.
(HARDBALL 2) - Berkley Jove, 1992, mm/pb. Second of the HARDBALL books, and
the least successful, which is saying something. Timing is everything - HB2 was
about the white-supremacist-militia scene, which at that time was still very
little known to the general public. Oh well.
(HARDBALL 3)- Berkley Jove, 1992, mm/pb. The last and best of the HARDBALL
novels, and the only one worth trying to find - it actually was a pretty damn
good book of its kind, if you like Ripping Yarns. By the time it came out,
though, it was obvious that the series was dead in the water, and Berkley let
the final title sink quietly and without a fuss.
THE NEXT VICTIM
(Mystery)- St. Martin's Press,1993, hardback. First in a series, or rather
trilogy as it turned out, about a freelance writer named Taggart Roper who lives
in a trailer with his dog and moonlights as a petty criminal (not a
"detective," as all the reviewers said) to supplement his less than enormous
literary income. Excellent reviews, modest but adequate sales, no support
whatever from the publisher. Finalist for the Oklahoma Book Award. Out of print
but probably obtainable with patience; frequently turns up in libraries.
A DEATH ON 66
(Mystery) - St. Martin's, 1994, hb. Second and, I think, best of the Taggart
Roper mysteries; the last chapter contains some of the best writing I've ever
done. You'd think something could have been done with the Route 66 tie-in, but
St. Martin's once again couldn't be bothered to push the book. Great reviews
(even got a rave from Virginia Kirkus, a virtually unheard-of event) and another
Oklahoma Book Award nomination, but disappointing sales, perhaps in part because
of the hideously cheap-looking dust jacket. Out of print, probably findable. Try
your library - the library sales were pretty good, thanks to the reviews.
(Mystery) - St. Martin's, 1995, hb. My title was BLOOD COUNTRY but St.
Martin's decided this sounded too "masculine" and might repel the women who,
current Gramercy Park wisdom insisted, now represented most of the mystery
market. So it was changed to BLOOD AUTUMN, which it was felt would cause the
ladies to wet their Hanes Her Ways with eagerness to purchase this volume. Then
they gave it a cover that made it look like a Western. Go figure. This was the
last of the Roper mysteries, even though St. Martin's was willing to go on with
the series; what they weren't willing to do was pay some decent money and get
serious about promotion, so I said the hell with it and with them though not
necessarily in that order. Out of print, but probably findable.
THE BALLAD OF BILLY BADASS AND THE ROSE OF TURKESTAN
(Fantasy) - Yandro House, 1999, hb & tpb. This one collected 37 turndowns
from the fine publishers of America. (Possibly more; some of these were by an
agent who was less than fanatical about record-keeping.) Roger Zelazny even
showed it personally to a well-known editor, who wanted to buy it but was nixed
by his boss. Reasons given ranged from "This is horror and horror doesn't sell"
to "This is modern fantasy and modern fantasy doesn't sell" to the ever-popular
"This is by William Sanders and books by William Sanders don't sell" to - my
favorite - "We don't publish books with non-white heroes. They don't sell."
Finally I got tired of it all and published the damn book myself. And took a
lot of flak for it from various of my Honored Colleagues - in the literary
world, getting published is like getting laid: paying for it, or doing it
yourself, is regarded as contemptible - but nevertheless it enjoyed a modest
success for several years and indeed became something of a cult item.
Then in 2001 John Betancourt of Wildside Press (a “real” publisher, if not a
major one) picked it up and put it out in a new and better-looking edition, and it stayed in print for several years before being dropped in the spring of '08. Probably a few copies floating around, but I don't know how you'd go about finding one.
THE BERNADETTE OPERATION
(Thriller) - Xlibris. 2001, tpb. Basically an entertainment rather than a
serious novel; a potboiler, though in the event it failed to boil any pots. Back
in the nineties I had this agent who told me, "Write a suspense thriller. I can
sell that and I can get you some good money for it." I did. He couldn't. I stuck
it away and forgot about it. In the winter of Y2K, in the course of cleaning up
some files, I found the manuscript. Xlibris had a short-lived program by which
they would publish your book at no charge, so I figured why not?
I took it out of print, though, in the fall of ‘01; the events of September
11 had left me without enthusiasm for making light entertainment out of the
subject of Middle East terrorism. I have no plans to republish it. Sorry.
(SF) - Time Warner/iPublish, 2001, tpb. Yes, that's the entire title, dot
included at no extra charge.
This was the first new novel I'd written in several years, and the first new
SF novel in over a decade. Actually it's the first pure SF novel I've ever
written, since I consider alternate history a separate genre on a par with SF,
fantasy, and horror. A serious novel, anyway, and I think one of my best.
Almost immediately I got an offer from Paul Witcover at iPublish, a new
digital branch of Time Warner. Contrary to general impression, iPublish did do a
few real books by professional writers, though most of the publicity was focused
on their e-book program for beginners. As you probably heard, iPublish was shut
down at the end of 2001, but the existing titles remained in print for some
As soon as the term of the contract expired, I retrieved the rights from Time
Warner and for some years the book was out of print. Time Warner continued to
sell the ebook edition, even though they had no legal right to do so, and
ignored repeated written demands that they stop it; but that's another story.
Anyway, in 2007 J. was at last reissued by Norilana Books, in both
hardback and trade paperback, with an elegant new cover and a number of
corrections and revisions; and it can be yours at an absurdly low price. Check
here for the details.
(Mystery) - I wrote Smoke back in '94, with the idea of developing a
two-way career: writing mystery novels while working in the short form in
fantasy and SF. This one was supposed to be the pilot for a series. The only
problem was nobody wanted to publish it. The standard answer was, "It's very
good but we already have a Native American mystery series." (Invariably by a
white author. Hi-yo, Hillerman, awayyy...) A couple of editors did want to buy
it but got turned down by their bosses.
I admit I didn't push it very hard; I wasn't all that sure I wanted to get
back into the mystery scene. After a dozen submissions or so I gave up and put
the manuscript away. Later I decided to throw it away, but a nice lady named
Janet Johnson rescued it without telling me. When I found out she still had it I
felt rather guilty, so I used a free POD service to put out a limited and
short-lived paperback edition. Later it was reissued by Wildside in both hardback and trade paperback, and enjoyed modest sales before being dumped. Oh well.
ARE WE HAVING FUN YET?
- Wildside Press, 2002, tpb. A little compendium of stories based more or
less on American Indian themes, including a couple never published before. Now out of print.
IS IT NOW YET?
- Wildside Press, 2005, hb and tpb. Another collection of tales, these on no
particular ethnic or other theme. Now out of print.
EAST OF THE SUN AND WEST OF FORT SMITH
Norilana Books, 2008, hb and tpb. Near-complete collection of my short fiction, missing only a few trivial items from early days. See here for details.
CONQUEST: HERNANDO DE SOTO AND THE INDIANS, 1539-1542
- Wildside Press, 2003, hardback and trade paperback. A straight nonfiction
history of the first major European invasion of the North American mainland. I
started working on this book back in the early eighties; I traveled all over the
southeastern quarter of the US, by motorcycle and small boat and on foot, trying
to work out the probable routes, and I did so much research that at one point I
was having bad dreams in Spanish. (And also caught a near-fatal fever just a few
miles from where a similar bug killed Hernando de Soto.)
But nobody would publish it; nobody would even take a serious look at it,
mostly because I didn't have any academic credentials. (Dee Brown had warned me
I was going to run into that.) I don't even know how many rejections it
Then, after I'd altogether given up, John Betancourt at Wildside offered to
publish it; and did so, for a few years, before dumping it in the spring of '08. I'd like to get it back into print but at present I have no prospects.
POCKETS OF RESISTANCE and THE HELLBOUND TRAIN
- published in Russian by Mir i Cemlya, St. Petersburg, 1995 (more or less
hardback - if you've seen any cheap Russian hardbacks you know what I mean) as a
single volume, a bit like the old Ace doubles. Very uneven translation. I don't
know how it fared on the Russian market but I never saw a single ruble.
- published in Polish by Varia Ltd., Warsaw, 1993, but I've never seen a copy
and know nothing more about it.
- published in German by Scherz Verlag, Zurich, and in Portuguese by Jose
Olympio, Rio de Janeiro, both 1996. Gorgeous cover on the Brazilian edition,
best-looking cover I've ever had in fact. Portuguese translation outstanding,
German inexcusably bad. Both translators were unaware of the American meaning of
the noun "pussy" so you have this gangster type saying, "Well, I like
cats as much as anybody - "
THE BICYCLE RACING BOOK, Domus, 1979
GUIDE TO INFLATABLE CANOES AND KAYAKS, World, 1979 (Don't laugh, it
sold like a son of a bitch and stayed in print for years.)
BACKCOUNTRY BIKEPACKING, Rodale, 1982
KAYAK TOURING, Stackpole, 1984
Short Fiction (Selected):
"Elvis Bearpaw's Luck" in WHEEL OF FORTUNE (ed. Roger Zelazny,
Avon '95). This was not only the first short story I ever had published (not
counting some long-ago silly stuff in the martial-arts mags, and a few satirical
squibs here and there) but the first one I ever even tried to write. I mean, I'd
always just assumed I'd be no good at it; I'm not sure why . . . but Roger
called me up and asked if I'd do a story for a new anthology he was editing, and
I needed the money, so I gave it a shot. Later it appeared in YEAR'S BEST SF
This, and the following story, were how I got back into SF and fantasy. Thank
you, Roger . . . .
"Going After Old Man Alabama" in TALES FROM THE GREAT TURTLE
(ed. Richard Gilliam, St. Martin's '94). Written immediately after EBL,
but published a year sooner, owing to the vagaries of the publishing business.
When Roger called to tell me he liked EBL, he also told me about a new
anthology of Native American fantasy; so I knocked GAOMA together in a
few hours and sent it off, and sure enough Richard took it. The anthology was a
disappointment (contrary to the impression I had been given, the overwhelming
majority of the authors were white - and most of the stories were pretty poor
stuff, some even offensive) but the story drew considerable praise, and also
wound up in YEAR'S BEST SF (#12.)
So I had not only sold the first two short stories I'd tried to write; they
both made YEAR'S BEST and generally went over well. At this point I
decided I would definitely have to do this sort of thing more often.
I didn't sell another God-damned story for almost two years.
"Happy Hour" in Tomorrow, Nov. 96. This one collected quite a
stack of bounces before Ajay Budrys finally bought it for the old and
much-missed print version of Tomorrow. Nobody seems to have read it, even then.
I still think it was a good story.
"The Undiscovered" in Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, March
97. This is the one everybody made such a fuss about. It made the short list for
the Hugo, Nebula, Sturgeon, and Sidewise awards, the last of which it actually
won. (To all those who voted for it for any of these: thank you, I love you all.
To those who voted otherwise: may the Bird of Paradise fly up your gazookus.)
It also made YEAR'S BEST SF (#15) and the end-of-century antho THE BEST OF THE BEST, as well as Harry Turtledove's BEST ALTERNATE HISTORY OF THE 20TH CENTURY. All in all it's probably gotten more attention than anything else I ever wrote - which is a pity, because I've done better.
"Words and Music" in ASFM, July 97. WAM got badly
overshadowed by TU, perhaps because they came out so close together. Mike
Resnick argues that WAM is the better story, and I think I agree.
"Billy Mitchell's Overt Act" in ALTERNATE GENERALS (ed. Harry
Turtledove, Baen '98). This was the most fun I ever had writing a short story. I
recommend this little antho, which contains some remarkably good stuff, not at
all the war-loving macho crap you might expect from the title - or the
publisher, or the Godawful stupid cover.
"Ninekiller and the Neterw" in LORD OF THE FANTASTIC (ed.
Martin Greenberg, Avon '98). This is the Roger Zelazny memorial anthology, long
delayed and finally out. The original title was FRIENDS OF ROGER and I
considered it a tremendous honor to be included in such a group; I still do,
even though Avon changed the title. Several people said it should be called
FOREVER AMBER; I suggested ROGER, OVER AND OUT.
"Dirty Little Cowards" in ASFM, July 99. Originally sold to
Ajay Budrys for the e-zine TOMORROW but he never did use it and finally went out
of the business of publishing other people's fiction, so I resold it to ASFM.
"Jennifer, Just Before Midnight" in Fantasy & Science
Fiction, August 99. I wrote this one sitting in a bar. The waitress was most
impressed. Not impressed enough to get me anywhere, though. Finalist for the
Sturgeon Award, also a nominee for something called the Homer Award (something
to do with Compuserve, I understand).
"Creatures" ("Stwory") in Nowa Fantastyka, October 99. First
thing I've ever written that saw its initial publication in another language. I
wrote the story originally at the invitation of a certain noted U.S. editor, for
an anthology she was assembling; she didn't like it (said it reminded her too
much of Robert Silverberg's style, which I was not aware was considered a
shortcoming) and I got it back; and if said Noted Editor ever gets another story
from me she had better be wearing thick woolen panties because Hell will have
frozen over. Nobody else in the U.S. wanted it either, but Arkadiusz
Nakoniecznik of Nowa Fantastyka picked it up and translated it into
Polish and it seems to have been well received.
Subsequently published in English in THE AGE OF WONDERS (ed. Jeffry
Dwight, SFFNet 2000), thereby proving that small-press editors sometimes have
better taste than the big kahunas. What else is new?
"Smoke" in CRIME THROUGH TIME III (ed. Sharan Newman, Berkley
'99). This one isn't SF or fantasy, but a historical mystery story, set in a
Cherokee town in the 1790s.
"Looking For Rhonda Honda" in THE CHICK IS IN THE MAIL (ed.
Esther Friesner, Baen '00). This was one of the times when I can't believe I get
paid to have this much fun.
"Custer Under the Baobab" ( in DRAKAS! (ed. S.M. Stirling, Baen
'00). The only shared-world story I've ever done. Not an easy world to share;
not an easy story to write.
”When This World Is All On Fire” (in Asimov’s Science Fiction
Magazine, October 2001). Originally written for an anthology of SF by
Southern writers; the deal fell through, over a stupid misunderstanding about
the pay schedule, so I sent it to Dozois. I thought it turned out quite well.
But then I just about always do.
"Duce" (in Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, August 2002).
Nothing much I want to say about this one except it's the only time I ever got
the idea for a story from something Adolf Hitler said.
"Empire" (in ALTERNATE GENERALS 2 (ed. Harry Turtledove, Baen
2002). The ultimate alternate-generals story; I managed to get in Napoleon, the
Duke of Wellington, Andrew Jackson, Aaron Burr, Sam Houston, Davy Crockett, and
the Marquis de Sade. Among others. Perhaps a certain satirical quality? Perhaps.
Winner of the Sidewise Award for Alternate History. Hot damn.
"Tenbears and the Bruja" (in ARE WE HAVING FUN YET?,
Wildside 2002). Ellen Datlow invited me to contribute a story to an anthology of
erotic fantasy that she was editing. I stayed up all night writing this one and
then as dawn was breaking the computer ate the last five pages. I knew if I went
to sleep I'd lose it so I drank a dangerous quantity of black coffee and managed
to reconstruct the lost text from memory. Then I sent it off to Ellen Datlow,
who rejected it. It was far too dirty for the usual SF markets and I didn't even
try to find another publisher. Then I did Are We Having Fun Yet? One of
the many benefits of doing your own collection is that you can clean out your
back files and publish the stuff the God-damned editors wouldn't buy.
"The Scuttling; or, Down By The Sea With Marvin And Pamela" (in ARE
WE HAVING FUN YET?, Wildside 2003; also in WITPUNK, ed. by Marty Halpern and
Claude Lalumiere, Four Walls Eight Windows 2003). This is another one nobody
wanted; it wound up covered with little round marks from being touched with
eleven-foot poles. Some of the editors who rejected it obviously didn't
understand it. Some of them I think may have understood it too well. Whatever.
Anyway I dug it out for inclusion in Are We Having Fun Yet? But then
just as AWHFY? was almost due to come out, Marty Halpern and Claude Lalumiere
picked it up for their Witpunk antho, so it hit the world twice in a
short time. The critics loved it. (Except for Greg Feeley, who said it wasn't up
to my best standard. Greg Feeley can go and sodomize himself.) I would like to
believe that this caused great despondency and near-suicidal self-loathing among
all the editors who rejected it, but I admit this does not seem terribly
"Dry Bones" (in Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, May 2003).
This just may be the best story I've ever written. Nominated for the Nebula
Award. Also published in Sci-Fi Magazin (Romania) in translation.
"Sitka" (in Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, April 2004). The
editor said I was a history maven. I am not sure what "maven" means. Probably a
fancy word for "asshole."
"Angel Kills" (in Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, February
2005). I got the original idea for this one back in the middle nineties, but it
never would quite come together and let me write it. Then in '04 it was there,
needing only to be set down. Some things had happened in the world, and had
given it something to be about.
"Acts" (in I, ALIEN, ed. Mike Resnick, DAW 2005). Resnick
wanted a story from the viewpoint of an alien. I almost turned him down; I've
never done aliens or any of that space stuff. But then I remembered a silly idea
I'd had years and years ago, and never managed to do anything with; and so this
little travesty was the result.
"Amba" (in Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, December 2005). I
said I'd retired; I didn't say I'd quit. This one insisted on being written.
"Going To See The Beast" (in Helix, Summer 2006). Written especially for
the magazine's first issue. I thought I'd get some hate mail for this one but
nothing. Very discouraging.
"The Contractors" (in Helix,
Winter 2007). I'd been thinking for years that I ought to do a story set in
London, and I finally did it.
my out-of-print books may be findable via book-search sites. Click on BIBLIOFIND to visit one such site that has
at times listed some of my titles.