About Sage Walker
I’ve done a lot of things. Some of them gave me degrees, so let’s get that out of the way. I’m a high school dropout because I went to college early. I have a B.S. in Zoology with a 70 hour minor in music and an M.D. from the University of Oklahoma.
I was born In Oklahoma. I lived in Cambridge and in Marshfield, Mass while I was interning and then worked Ob-Gyn for a while in the Cambridge Hospital. I practiced Emergency Medicine for seventeen years, in Oklahoma City and briefly in Bellingham, WA before I moved to Taos in 1974. My company set up the first 24 hour Emergency Physician coverage for Taos and Los Alamos and we covered the Santa Fe hospital. I saw my last paying patient in 1987 and went to Clarion West in 1988.
My significant other, Hank Messinger, and I moved to Albuquerque in 1992, so Hank could get another degree. We planned to be here a couple of years. We’re still here. New Mexico has a lot of science fiction writers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, and that’s a good thing.
I have more than 40 hours of flying lessons and I passed the written exam while I was in Bellingham. I didn’t take the flight exam because my flight instructor in OKC, Blackie Whittington, once said, “Don’t fly over water, and don’t fly over mountains.” Bellingham is water, and Taos is mountains. A small plane flight from Taos to Santa Fe, plus the drives to the airports in both places, took longer than driving along the Rio Grande, and anyway, I didn’t have the money to fly, not really. I did enough touch-and-goes that I think I could still get a small plane down, but it’s not something I’ve tested for a long, long time.
It happened that one of the docs from “The Hill” (Los Alamos) came by the Santa Fe ER and asked me if any of my guys would like to go to the Marshall Islands as the ship’s doc. There was a team out of Lawrence Livermore that would be studying radiation on the atolls, he said. I said I knew of at least one person who was interested. Me. Some of my “guys” took tours also. So I was briefly (six weeks) a ship’s doc on a U. S. Navy ship that had a chopper crew that had served in Viet Nam, a Merchant Marine cook, and a medic from Singapore.
Some kids think milk comes from stores. I spent my early years on a farm and I know milk comes from cows, because I remember going out to the barn and watching Daddy milk the cow. If my baby sister and I toddled out there, Daddy would squirt milk at the barn cats. We were terrified and delighted by that, because cats catching milk in mid-air is amazing to watch.
But books, I was absolutely convinced, came from stores. Authors were magical figures, full of wisdom and erudition. I never met one until I was in my thirties. I thought they were all rich and only gave interviews to magazines on rare occasions.
Books were and are a bedtime sedative that usually works. Sometimes I come across a “killer novel” that keeps me awake all night, and that is true joy even if I pay the price the next day. Books are escape, refuge, and comfort. Science fiction is a favorite, but like you, I’ll read almost anything, and my education and my job left me with gaps in reading about history, archaeology, all sorts of things. I’ve been trying to catch up.
Science fiction is a conversation, sometimes an argument, between people who are sometimes scientists, always dreamers, and sometimes, rarely but wonderfully, poets. Its practitioners show up at meetings called “cons,” and when they do, they are amazingly approachable and they work very hard. They talk about writing and how to do it, and when they are together in groups, their discussions range all over the universe. I like science fiction writers a lot.
Eventually, it occurred to me that books had to be written by actual people. I’ve tried to learn some things about how it’s done. Did I mention I have “perpetual student syndrome?”
I live in beauty, here in New Mexico, and I need landscape the way I suppose Londoners need fog. I do all sorts of needlework and sewing. I explore the world’s cuisines in my kitchen. I garden and these days I’m studying Norwegian, although I’ll always read it better than speak it. I stare at elk in the mountains, and I’ve seen a bear and a cougar in the wild. I love wilderness, solitude, and good company.
But right now there’s another book to write, and dinner to cook, so we’ll talk again soon, okay?
Acknowledgements for Man in the Tree
- Melinda M. Snodgrass, M.T. Reiten, Ian Tregillis, and Brett Shapiro offered invaluable comments on this novel, one rough draft section at a time.
- Eric Kelly did a superb beta read.
- Toby Messinger supervised IT.
- Geoff Landis and Steve Howe graciously permitted me to misuse some concepts they work with in real life.
- Daniel Abraham listened to my ideas way back at the beginning of this, while a very young Scarlet sat on my feet and watched Chicken Run.
Science fiction is recursive. It’s a discussion, often a heated one. Poul Anderson, Fritz Leiber, Gene Wolfe, Michael Bishop, Chip Delany, Greg Bear, Stan Robinson, and Neil Stephenson, among others, have done their best to teach me about generation ships, in person and in print. I am deeply grateful to each and every one of them.