Q&A with Howard V. Hendrix

Howard Hendrix is back in Analog with a followup to his 2017 Novella “The Girls with Kaleidoscope Eyes.” Find “The Narrowest Eye” in our current issue on sale now!


Analog Editor: What is the story behind this piece?

HH: I wrote “The Narrowest Eye” in Fall 2017. At the time there was, and continues to be, a lot of discussion—coming particularly out of Silicon Valley—about UBI (Universal Basic Income), as if it were some “new” thing. Because I am cursed with a long memory, however, I remembered reading, in the 1970s, “Riders of the Purple Wage,” a novella by Philip José Farmer that originally appeared in Harlan Ellison’s New Wave anthology Dangerous Visions (1967). I thought it somehow appropriate to be writing this story to remind people that science fiction had already gone there, exactly fifty years earlier.


AE: How did the title for “The Narrowest Eye” come to you?

HH: The title echoes a discussion about the “narrowness of the needle’s eye,” near the end of Walter M. Miller Jr.’s novel A Canticle For Leibowitz, which itself alludes to Mark 10:25, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”


AE: Is this piece part of a greater universe of stories?

HH: Yes, it follows the future chronicled in The Girls with Kaleidoscope Eyes, which appeared in 2017 in Analog, a magazine I first subscribed to in 1977 and which has been publishing my shorter fiction since the mid-Oughts.


AE: Who or what are your greatest influences and inspirations?

HH: I read everything I could find of Arthur C. Clarke’s work during my science fiction Golden Age (13), then omnivorously in science fiction more generally. Because I eventually went on to get a PhD in English literature, I’ve also been steeped in the literary canon as well. When I began to write professionally I returned home to science fiction. For this story I was particularly influenced by Ursula Le Guin’s novel The Dispossessed, Neil Young’s song “After the Gold Rush,” and Mari Ruti’s book of Lacanian theory, The Singularity of Being.


AE: How did you break into writing?

HH: I began selling stories and winning contests in the mid-1980s, after beginning to scribble SFnal stories when I was fifteen years old. Eventually, after graduate school, jobs, and life, my novels started selling in the latter 1990s.


AE: What other projects are you currently working on?

HH: Fairwood Press is working with me on a collection of shorter fiction—The Girls With Kaleidoscope Eyes and Other Analog Stories for a Digital Age. The collection covers ten years of my shorter work published in Analog. I have two novels in the hopper—epic space opera Home from the Swarming Stars (still in need of a grand rewrite) and my most immediate project, the novel Eternity in No Time, which I’m in the midst of.


AE: What are you reading right now?

HH: Burning Planet, a history of fire on Earth, by Andrew C. Scott


AE: Do you have any advice for up-and-coming writers?

HH: Remember that once you get your foot in the door you will find yourself standing on a treadmill. Take the time to do the work seriously. Don’t fear the future, but don’t sugarcoat or technopimp it, either. The world you save may be your own.


AE: Many of our Analog authors are interested in science. Do you have any scientific background, and does it impact your fiction?

HH: My bachelor’s degree was in biology. I was a phlebotomist and bacteriology tech in a hospital for time, as well as manager of a fish hatchery. I went on to take my master’s and doctorate in English literature. A good background for a science fiction writer, but that wasn’t the plan at the time. It just happened. As Kierkegaard said, Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.


AE: How can our readers follow you and your writing?

HH: Below is a link to my TEDx talk. I’m also doing a gig with Kim Stanley Robinson at “SF in SF” if readers are interested in meeting me “live.”

I’ve also got two projects from McFarland on which I’m co-editor: Bridges To Science Fiction (2018) and The Dismal Science: Economics in Science Fiction (2019).




Howard V. Hendrix is an award-winning writer of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.  Hendrix’s first four published novels appeared from Ace Books: Lightpaths, Standing Wave, Better Angels, and Empty Cities of the Full Moon. His fifth novel, The Labyrinth Key, appeared from Ballantine Del Rey, as did his sixth novel, Spears of God.  His most recent longer work, the novella Girls With Kaleidoscope Eyes, appeared in Analog Science Fiction and Fact in 2017.

He is the author of several novelette chapbooks and over fifty short stories, the latter collected in six short story collections between 1990 and 2014.  His latest short story collection, The Girls with Kaleidoscope Eyes and Other Analog Stories for a Digital Age, will appear from Fairwood press in 2019.  He has also published numerous poems (including the SFPA Dwarf Stars 2010 winner “Bumbershoot”), political essays, book reviews, and works of literary criticism.  His book-length nonfiction includes The Ecstasy of Catastrophe and Reliable Rain (with Stuart Straw), as well as serving as co-editor on Visions of Mars (with George Slusser and Eric Rabkin), Bridges to Science Fiction (with Gary Westfahl, Gregory Benford, and Joseph D. Miller, and the forthcoming Science Fiction and the Dismal Science (with Gary Westfahl, Gregory Benford, and Jonathan Alexander).

A past Western Regional Director and Vice President of the Science fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), he is a recurring guest editorial writer for Analog Science Fiction and Fact, and a recurring contributor to BOOM: A Journal of California.  Hendrix also teaches writing and literature at California State University Fresno.


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