Marion Zimmer Bradley

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Name: Marion Zimmer Bradley
Also Known As: MZB, Marion Astra Zimmer, Marion Eleanor Zimmer, Marrion of DragonsHead, 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, Elfrida of Greenwalls, Lady Elfrida, 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):
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.

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
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.

Bradley died September 25, 1999. Her Darkover franchise has been continued by Deborah J. Ross and Elisabeth Waters.

Bradley is a highly controversial figure in fandom. She is known not only for writing feminist SF that fans loved, but also for being the source of a myth about the supposed dangers of authors allowing fanfic of their works.

Bradley was involved in the cover-up of her husband Walter Breen's sexual abuse of children. Years after she died, it was revealed that she had also allegedly sexually abused her own children.

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.[note 1]

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." [2] [note 2]

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. [3]

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. [4]

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 stopped 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 [note 3] ; 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. [5]


In her pro-writing, Bradley wrote, or collaborated, on at least seven series, 25 additional standalone novels, and countless short stories. [6] [7] She was also a contributor and creator of several apazines, as well as many science fiction zines. See bibliography.

Bradley's first contribution to a fanzine was an article "in a happily defunct hektographed format." [8]

Her first fanzine was likely Astra's Tower (first issue was December 1947): "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..." [9]

In 1987, Bradley told a fan she was writing "a book about the Trojan War from the women's point of view." [10]

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. [11] 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."[12] 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" - 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. [13]

Member of Various Apazines

  • APA Lambda (science fiction; lesbian, gay and gay-friendly members of science fiction fandom. Bradley was the OE in the early 1980s.)
  • IPSO (International Publishers' Speculative Organization)
  • FAPA (Fantasy Amateur Press Association)
  • others?

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.[14][15]

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. [16]

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

From 1973:

Marion Zimmer Bradley has been a science fiction and fantasy fan since the early forties, and has been writing professionally In the field since 1953. Most of her own writing falls Into the category of "interplanetary adventure" and she is probably best known... as the author of the "Darkover" series; her Sword of Aldones was a runner-up for the "Hugo" award]] in 1963. Although she has long ceased to take much part in active fandom, or to write for fanzines in general, she Is still active In the Tolkien Society. [17]

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. [18]

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." [19]

  • The Jewel of Arwen, a fictional story set in Tolkien’s world, was published in I Palantir (1961), then as a standalone chapbook (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. "
  • Men, Halflings, and Hero Worship (published in FAPA around 1964), and then as a standalone chapbook in 1973
  • The Parting of Arwen, a fictional story set in Tolkien’s world, also expanded on Arwen’s backstory, was published in I Palantir (1964), and then as a standalone chapbook (1974).
  • A Meeting in the Hyades was written in 1954 or 1955, first published as a chapbook in 1961, in Andúril (1962), in Astra's Tower (Special Leaflet 1962), and then again in Starstone #1 (1978). This story describes Tolkien’s hero Aragorn meeting Bradley’s own hero Regis Hastur.
  • Songs from Rivendell, a 1969 songbook of Tolkien songs. It was printed in 1976 in The Middle-Earth Songbook (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."). "Songs from Rivendell" was made into a recording at some point before 1991 by Moira Breen (Bradley's daughter) [note 4], and was then authorized in 1996 by the Tolkien Estate.
  • "Lament for Boromir" was a song by Bradley. It was sung as early as 1978 at a con [note 5] , 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." [note 7]
  • In A Companion in Zeor #2, MZB writes a letter of comment that her book "Genuine Old Master" was "written for a fanzine when I was 18 or so! And the fanzine rejected it!"
  • 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.
  • Bradley was one of the few female members of Fantasy Amateur Press Association.
  • She was a founder of, and coined the name for, The Society for Creative Anachronism. She wrote and published the first newsletters, see Pennoncel.
  • 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" [20] ; Bradley writes about this novel, its seminal place in her childhood and as a later inspiration, in many issues of Darkover Newsletter [21].
  • Other examples of these inspirations were her responses to Ursula Le Guin's book "The Left Hand of Darkness". As Jacqueline Lichtenberg remembers -- "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 LeGuins The 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." [22] 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." [23]
  • 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

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. [25]

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,[note 8][note 9] 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... [26]

Her Activity of as That of Tour Guide

In 1986, Bradley was listed as a tour guide for a trip for fans to "magical Britain." From a 1986 flyer for Octocon: "We have just learned that a fantastic tour of Britain has been planned for September 1986. Visits to many sacred/magical places included, and one of the tour hosts is Marion Zimmer Bradley, whose book "The Mists of Avalon" is set in Britain of ancient times. Called "Magical Britain -- A Journey Through the Myths of Time." Information can be obtained by writing: Jamie George, Gothic Image/Tours of Ancient Britain..." [27]

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:

[Deborah J. Laymon, 1979]: Where else but in Darkover could you find an author who not only encourages you to write fan fiction in her universe, but accepts it as canon and publishes it professionally? The Keeper's Price. (DAW books, 1979) by Marion Zimmer Bradley and the Friends of Darkover does just that. It's a collection of short stories that covers nearly every aspect of Darkover's history. And it shows that if they can become professionally publishable, then so can we there's no point any more in saying 'oh, I'm ordinary, I could never become a writer' because these stories once had ordinary people for authors. [28]

[Vera Nazarian, 2002]: 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. [29] [note 10]

[Deborah J. Ross, 2012]: 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.[note 11]

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. [30] 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):

I also got one of those lovely letters from MZB. She didn't tell me not to write again, just that my submission to S&S was "objectionable". How objectionable was it? Strong female swordswoman saves helpless young man from the fate worse than. Or tries to; she's too late. Yep, her female characters get brutalized in ways Caligula never thought of, but one mention of male rape and she didn't even finish the story. This from a woman who pimped little boys to her husband. No[,] seriously. It's not you. It's SO not you. Write your stories; each one is a victory."[31]

A fan in 1996 wrote: "I tossed most of my copies of her stuff years ago when she pissed me off in a rejection letter- I know it was childish and self destructive, but there you have it." [32]. A fan in 1999 wrote: "I'm lead [sic] to believe that harsh rejections from MZB should be worn as a badge of honour by writers." [33] 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 and Lichtenberg's own Bradley-influenced take on advice to amateur authors in Kraith#Lichtenberg on Concrit: "The Negative Value of Positive Input".

Bradley as a Voice for Differences

Sexuality and Desire: Bradley's Words

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:


[Marion Zimmer Bradley]: 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. [34]


[Marion Zimmer Bradley]: 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). [35]


[Marion Zimmer Bradley]: 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,! [36]

Feminism: Bradley's Words

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 as "clinging to their intellectual credentials from academia." [37] Joanna Russ wrote a responsefic to Darkover Landfall called We Who Are About To... after a long discussion in the feminist zine, The Witch and the Chameleon. [note 12] See the letterwar between Joanna Russ and Marion Zimmer Bradley.


For those who are interested in details of a writer's personal life, she is 42 years old, blonde, unconventional, twice married with three children, and likes to make medieval costumes and to wear them. She was a feminist long before anyone ever heard of Women's Lib (her opinion of the radical wing of the movement is unprintable) and firmly insists that she is either Marion or Mrs. Bradley; anyone attempting to call her Ms. will be cut dead. ("I have too much respect for the English language to mutilate it that way.") Finally, those who have dined at her table say she is a superb cook. [38]


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. [39]


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. [40]


When the book was finished, Wollheim called it The Shattered Chain. I didn't understand why; the title didn't seem to mean much to me. He explained that it was because of the women in the book, who were casting off their chains, physical and mental, real and imaginary ... it's a very good title, and probably a better title than mine, because after I had finished writing the book--which originally, I had hoped to make a straightforward adventure story like Spell Sword--I discovered that it wasn't really about Free Amazons at all; it was about freedom in general. My thesis in the book was that most people think they are free and weight themselves with invisible chains; while Rohana, who refuses to remain with the Amazons, accepts her unwanted family responsibilities, and says at the end of the book that she has had "everything but freedom", and has won a kind of freedom by accepting that she is not free, that nobody alive is ever completely free.

And just as in Heritage of Hastur, the only attack ever made on the book was from the people I believed would like it best. While some conservative male readers attacked it as "the obligatory radical feminist novel that every woman now feels compelled to write," these were greatly in a minority. Most women liked the book, liked the mix of free women and women struggling to be free; and the Amazons have certainly affected the amateur writers. Some friends of mine, under the name of the Friends of Darkover, publish several fanzines, including one devoted to amateur Darkover fiction; and from the beginning, we have received more stories about Free Amazons than on all other subjects combined. I know at least four women who have legally had their names changed to the Amazon form on their checkbooks and driver's licenses; the first was a young friend of my family who now calls herself Jaida n'ha Sandra.

But the radical feminists, one and all, attacked me, saying that by allowing Jaelle, the heroine, to fall in love with a man in the last chapter of the book, I sold out the feminist premise--that I gave the impression that Jaelle's Amazon vows were just an adolescent stage, which vanished when she found a man she could love. I had, of course, no such theory--I only meant that any choice was likely to prove difficult, and that Jaelle's belief in her own freedom was just as fallacious as Magda's belief in her ability to defend herself, or her independence.

But the feminists raged. A whole issue of a feminist fanzine [41]was devoted to "trashing" the Amazons as being phony feminists. I can only assume that these women had identified so deeply with the Amazons in the story that they felt I had no right to disappoint their daydreams of a feminist paradise ... though how they ever managed to think of Darkover as a feminist paradise, even for Free Amazons (or, more accurately, Renunciates), I cannot imagine.

But by the time The Shattered Chain was being reviewed I didn't really care all that much (though once again I allowed myself to be lured into debating the issue in the feminist press, as I had injudiciously done with Darkover Landfall). I had other fish to fry. [42]


Bradley's Letter from MZB in Darkover Newsletter #40 discussed sex and science fiction: how its role has changed over the years, how she viewed certain writers' and their books which deal with sex. When Bradley was sent a copy of Sheri Tepper's 'The Gate to Women's Country,' Bradley took a dim view of it due to the title:

...I almost didn't read it; I thought, 'Oh, my God, another piece of wimmintrash and was on the edge of throwing it out of the house. I read the first chapter and -- well, I was hooked.


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..." [43]

Other Fans' Words


A fan addressed Bradley in a letter to Darkover Newsletter:

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. [44]


Comments from a long-time illustrator of Darkover zines:

Marion Zimmer Bradley, despite her serious flaws as a person and a writer, played a very important part in the evolution of fantasy and science fiction in America and the English-speaking world. In the 1960s and 1970s, when other writers were writing mostly for entertainment in the genre fields, Bradley introduced serious social comment into the tales of humans and magic and swordplay set on her world of the red sun, Darkover. She was especially aware of social and class roles, sexism, and the prejudice and oppression suffered by gay people and gender-non-conforming women. Many gay fans felt that finally their story was being told in the context of the fantasy fiction that they loved. Nowadays it is common to see these fundamental issues being themed in fantasy and science fiction but even now there is resistance among conservative fans (who caused a major disruption in the community last year) to the inclusion of writers and stories about people of different races, sexual orientation, gender identification, and class. The conservatives would rather have their fiction only as swashbuckling entertainment rather than something with a social conscience. That battle is ongoing. [45]

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. [46]

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. [47]

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. [48]

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.[49]

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.[50]

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. [51]

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 foreword 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. [52]

In 1981, a fan wrote about Bradley, and other's attitudes toward writing fiction in other peoples' universes:

... as for what impels a fan to write material in another author's universe. Jacqueline and Marion Zimmer Bradley and even a lot of Trek fan writers have been asked this question and the answer came down to this. The writers are more the discoverers of the universes. The universes are not the personal property of the authors and when a fan has waited months upon months, and in the case of Trek, years, without any fresh material in that universe, they become desperate. In fact they become so desperate to visit more with Hugh and Klyd, orRegis Hastur or Spock that they have to make up more stories. I myself also carry a few universes in my head, but I think that I would be a lot poorer person if I could not make room for the universes of others. [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:

A note from Bradley to Karen MacLeod, regarding a song based on Sime~Gen, date unknown, likely 1978

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. [note 13]

Elisabeth Waters commented: "Marion always said that "filk singing should be done in private by consenting adults." [57]


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 toLisa Waters and Ann Sharp, they'll listen without breaking out in hives! [58]

Bradley's Attitudes Regarding Maps

Bradley was very much against fans making maps based on her books. In 1992, she said: "I hate maps." [59]

Walter Breen wrote in 1976: "No maps of Darkover have been authorized by Marion Zimmer Bradley. While she does not wish to dispute the validity of maps produced by scholars and friends of Darkover, she feels that no true map of the planet can be made until the Darkover series is completed. Therefore any maps which appear must by their nature be conjectural and partial." [60]

See much, much more at Mapping Darkover.

Bradley's Attitudes Regarding Games Based on Her Canon

1979 Comments on Games

Bradley had given "official permission" for some sort of game based on Darkover in 1979. In Darkover Newsletter #18/19, a fan, Peter Oloka, wrote this letter:

PETER OLOTKA + FUTURE PASTIMES + RICHARD'S LANE + CENTERVILLE, MASS. 02632. A game design group that I am a member of recently purchased the rights to do a game (or series of games) based on the Darkover novels. The game(s) will be published by EON PRODUCTS, which has published only one game to date -- COSMIC ENCOUNTER. Eon Products is a small group of fans engaged in game publishing. We would more than welcome any suggestions that you readers might like to pass along. Our goal is to get as much into the game as possible that folks will have more fun -- without doing the players in with burdensome rules. Incidentally we have just finished a game based on Frank Herbert's DUNE to be published by Avalon Hill in 1979. Thanks. [61]

1986 Comments on Games

In 1986, two fans wrote to Darkover Newsletter in regards to their fan-created role-playing games. Bradley is polite and somewhat helpful to one of them, and very much not to the other. Bradley had this response to the second fan's very benign persona letter:

I do not like or approve of fantasy role-playing games, but if people must play them, they should make up their own characters and not muddle with mine.

I do honestly believe thoughts have a very real effect on the world we live in, and a character of mine was quite spoilt for me—slimed, if you wish—by having her thought-form muddled over by strangers. (I once broke up with a fan friend who said he had sexual fantasies with my photograph, when I was younger and prettier. I think he had Intended a compliment, but I was disgusted to the point of nausea.)

I finally managed to persuade myself that the idiots who used my character in the fantasy role-playing game were only playing with their idea of the character, not mine, and wrote a couple of other stories about her; but I still think if people don't have enough imagination to invent their own characters, they should play tiddlywinks or chess instead of borrowing someone else's work. I don't mind others writing about my characters -- people who can write, and people who read, are my kind of people and can have anything I have. About people who play fantasy role-playing games, I'm not so sure. Why aren't they home reading a good book? Or writing one? [62]

Also in 1986, a fan takes Bradley to task regarding her harsh, and contradictory, replies to fans asking about Darkover RPGs:

I am distressed at your handling of some of your fan letters in Darkover Newsletter #31, particularly those related to the use (or abuse) of your characters in rolegaming. I fully agree with your right to control how your world of Darkover and its characters are used....I'm a little puzzled that you have licensed your work to gam companies, given your feelings. I must, however, take strong exception to your statement that rolegamers should be 'home reading a good book, or writing one.' This characterization of rolegaming as an inferior substitute of the literary art is comparable to telling a musician that she should stop fiddling around with that violin and write a novel. Rolegaming is simply a different art than writing. At its best, it's a form of improvisation theater that allows you to take on the role of a character.


I'm also puzzled as to why Olexa merits a stern rebuke (and no help) for asking gaming-related questions about Darkover, despite his evident attempt at Darkovan courtesy, while J. McDermott gets answers to her questions? In general, I'm disappointed at your treatment of your young admirers (having just reached my 35th birthday, I feel I'm now a middle-aged admirer!). Your work has created for many people, particularly the young, a place where their imagination is affirmed and the development of their individuality is encouraged by example. When they write you with their questions, they are seeking further affirmation from someone they admire and respect. I think it would be better for you to temper your rebukes with encouragement. Not everyone has the discipline and gift to be a writer, but everyone can develop and enjoy their imagination. Would you condemn the non-writer to a life of tiddlywinks, chess, or (Zandru forfend!) television? [63]

Bradley responded:

If these rolegamers are so bursting over with talent, why in heck can't they invent their own backgrounds, instead of leeching (vampirizing) on literature? I don't give a hang what nonreaders do -- they can all, as Magda said, be engaging in perverted intercourse with banshees or despoiling virgin goats... but I don't want them doing it with my characters. Let 'em make up their own. I licensed my books for a roleplaying game before I had ever seen one, by my agent's advice. Nobody's perfect. MZB [64]

Misty Lackey commented on the whole affair and defended Bradley:

As a sort of peripheral member of Marion's household and a RPG playerand a filker having read DNL 31, I kind of feel it incumbent on me to say something to those who might have gotten some hurt feelings: That's this: Marion is a lovely, gentle lady who would never hurt a fly, but what you all did was hit one of her 'allergies," and try to think of it that way. Don't write her impassioned letters justifying RPG's, and don't corner her at cons to try and convince her that RPG's will Save the Universe. 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.


As a final thought—those of us who are privileged to know Marion love her dearly and react poorly to seeing her hurt. I'd like to believe no one reading this would ever do so deliberately—but if I ever find out differently, I'm coming after the perpetrator. Personally. With a large axe. And since I work for an airline—enough said! [65]

1989 Comments on Games

Ann Sharp tells a fan who was interested in playing a role-playing game through the mail: "... role-playing games, MZB is allergic to them if they involve Darkovan characters. Can they be played through the mails?." [66]

Bradley's Letter to the Darkover Newsletter Which Ends Her Own Involvement with Fan Fiction

"Holes in My Yard," was an open letter by MZB that was in Darkover Newsletter #58, published in Septemer 1992:

I've finished 'Rediscovery' and 'Return to Darkover'... My next project was going to be 'Contraband,' the novel about Dyan Ardais I mentioned in the introduction to Elisabeth Water's story 'A Proper Escort' in 'Renunciates of Darkover.' Unfortunately, my decades of encouraging young writers and allowing fans to 'play in my yard' just caught up to me. Somebody had written a fan novel covering the same time period ["Masks" in Moon Phases #12], and I had read it. It used my characters, sometimes in ways I wouldn't have, but it also contained a few ideas I liked, so I offered the author a reasonable sum of money (about one sixth of what she would have received as the advance of a first novel) and an acknowledgment in the dedication for incorporating those ideas (not her writing) into my book. I offered this even though ideas cannot be copyrighted, because I have never believed in taking advantage of my fans. She wrote back saying that, while she could live with the monetary compensation I'd offered, what she wanted was a shared byline. It might be that she thought I was asking to collaborate with her, although I cannot imagine what in my letter could have possibly given her that impression... This was essentially the same deal I made with Jacqueline Lichtenberg on 'Thendara House.' but unfortunately this person still did not seem willing to accept the deal. I talked to... my editor at DAW, who says the only person she would agree to have me share a byline on a Darkover novel with is Mercedes Lackey, who has collaborated with me on my last two Darkover novels, and is the writer to whom I am leaving the series when I am no longer able to write it. [My editor] also says that, under the circumstances, DAW cannot publish 'Contraband.' She was kind enough to refrain from pointing out that I had been an idiot to read fan fiction set in my world without a legal release form. I have, however, agreed to refrain from such behavior in the future. From now on, the only Darkover material I will read is anthology submissions accompanied by the proper release form. If you publish a Darkover fanzine, run an APA etc., do NOT send me copies. They will be returned unread by my office staff. (Instead, send any courtesy copies you would have previously sent to me directly to [address for the Mugar Library in Boston]. This is the depository for the 'Marion Zimmer Bradley Collection, and your work will contribute to making the collection more complete.) I'm sorry that things have come to this. I never wanted to have to keep a 'professional distance' from my fans, and for more than twenty years I didn't need to. But I guess even the longest streak of good luck runs out eventually, and sometimes one bad apple does spoil the whole barrel. I regret having to give up a novel that I had already started work on, and I apologize to all of you who wanted to read it. --Signed, Marion Zimmer Bradley.

There is a note included after this letter:

The fate of the Darkover fanzines, and of stories Marion Zimmer Bradley does not buy for the anthologies, is still being researched by Mrs. Bradley's lawyer. The person who started this problem has received a cease-and-desist order from Mrs. Bradley's lawyer. If she continues to distribute her Darkover material or writes any further Darkover material, there will be serious legal consequences, both for her and any fanzine or APA editors who may publish her material. We will keep readers abreast of further developments. -- Signed, Ann Sharp (editor of the newsletter).

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

Optioned For TV Series, Films

There is some discussion in June 1988 about filming Darkover and The Mists of Avalon. A fan asked: "A while back there was a mention of the possibility of a Darkover film. Anything further on that? Seeing such films as "Excalibur" and "Merlin and the Sword" which had such potential with directors and cast and fell flat on their faces with screenplay, I kept saying, "Why couldn't they have used Mists of Avalon?" Any hope of a film there?" Ann Sharp replied:

Morgaine's story, the basis of Mists, takes place over a long period of time, which would be tricky to cut and difficult to screen as is. The inadvertent incest of Morgaine and Arthur would have to be dealt with -- this is still a movie taboo, I believe. Also, Mists has LOTS of background, which is deftly explained in the book but might be difficult to convey on film. Can't you picture the Hollywood version of Avalon, with ninety-six bosomy blonds in white Greek gowns playing the priestesses? Intoning the mysterious theme music for any scene of worship? The opening, every dramatic scene, and the close would probably end with the chargers engulfed in fog -- pardon me -- mist. Would it even be possible to do an Arthurian movie with Arther as a minor character? We'd like to see it happen, but many a good book has been made into a trivial movie. [Bradley adds: "There is an option on Mists to make it into a four-to-six episode televisions series. I haven't seen the screenplay for the first episode (written by Rita Mae Brown), but friends tell me it's good."] [67]

Bradley's Mists of Avalon books were turned into a cable TV mini-series in 2001.

On February 13 2012, Ilene Kahn Power and Elizabeth Stanley, two television producers announced they had optioned the rights to turn the Darkover series into a television series. Significant funding still remains to be secured and as of 2012, the project was still in the early planning stages.

Her Connection to Walter Breen

See also: Walter Breen.

Walter Breen, Bradley's husband from 1964 to 1990 (they separated in 1979) [note 14] was heavily involved in her fandom where he edited and wrote for a number of Darkover fanzines. After Breen and Bradley separated in 1979, Breen continued to live down the street from Bradley and Elisabeth Waters. [note 15]. Bradley remained his primary employer until their divorce in May 1990. [68]

Breen was a serial child molester. This fact was known to many but not all fans in the early 1960s. His actions and behavior with young children at SF conventions, in the numismatic (coin collecting) community and in esoteric/magick circles, were criminal. He was an early member of NAMBLA (the North American Man-Boy Love Association) and in 1954 was convicted and put on probation.[69][70] Numerous prominent SF fans and writers dismissed allegations against Breen as hearsay or regarded sexual activity with children as unimportant[71], such that he got away with it until almost the end of his life -- supported and facilitated by Bradley. Convicted again and sentenced to ten years in 1991, he died in prison in 1994.[72][73] See also "Breendoggle", described at Breendoggle at Fancyclopedia and documented in detail at the Breendoggle Wiki.

Allegations: MZB Sexually and Physically Abused Her Children

In June 2014, Marion herself was accused of sexual abuse by her daughter Moira. This was corroborated by Marion's son Mark.

Further Reading

The links below are arranged in approximate chronological order (thus, the initial post appeared slightly prior to the first appearance of Moira's statements, and the interview with Mark Greyland appeared after those statements had been widely circulated). Content includes statements by Moira and Mark, reactions from the science fiction community (both from fans and from professional writers), discussions of MZB's impact on fandom and on female writers, and commentary on the evolution (or lack thereof) of cultural consciousness regarding issues of sexual abuse within and beyond the fannish and SFnal communities.

The compilation is not necessarily either complete or exhaustive, and all opinions expressed in the linked material are those of the individual authors or individuals quoted.







  • Perverts Of Geekdom by Buzz Dixon (February 11, 2018)
  • Alec Nevala-Lee, The Bad Pennies, 2018-12-03 to 12-05-2018. Delves into the sociological and anthropological aspects of Walter Breen's background in science fiction and numismatics, and his connection with eugenicist William Herbert Sheldon as well as with Bradley.


Unknown Date

Her Health, and Death

Bradley suffered from poor health, and was in a variety of accidents from at least 1978 to 1999. Some of these were discussed in the magazine Locus, Usenet, and even more commonly, by Bradley herself as well as her partner, Elisabeth Waters, in many issues of the Darkover Newsletter. [note 16] [note 17] [note 18] [note 19] [note 20] [note 21] [note 22] [note 23] [note 24][note 25] [note 26] [note 27] [note 28] [note 29] [note 30] [note 31] [note 32] [note 33] [note 34] [note 35] [note 36] [note 37][note 38] [note 39]

Bradley passed away September 25, 1999. Marion Zimmer Bradley's Funeral. [note 40]

Excerpts from a memorial by Bradley's sister-in-law, Diana L. Paxson:

Marion Zimmer Bradley died on September 25, 1999. During the week after her passing, my in-box filled to overflowing with messages from people who mourned her. They came from women and men, science fiction fans and pagans, Anachronists and people from all of the many other communities who appreciated her many novels; but above all, they came from readers who loved The Mists of Avalon.

In Marion, I lost not only a favorite author, but a sister and a friend. I had known her for over thirty years, and when I married her adopted brother, writer Jon DeCles, I became part of her family. For many years my husband and I shared a house with her brother Paul Edwin Zimmer (also a fantasy writer) and his family, and her mother lived with us until she died.


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. [note 41] 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. She managed to complete the first draft of The Forest House, a story based on the opera Norma that she had wanted to tell for many years, but it showed the effects of her illness, and she asked me to help her revise it. We were both pleased with the result, even though there was not much we could do to make Gaius nicer–his character, after all, is based on the opera’s tenor role. [74]

A fan wrote this memorial:

She wrote herself that she did not consider herself a feminist. She wrote stories in a genre mostly reserved for male writers, before the feminists opened a way. And unlike Andre Norton, she used her own name, and refused to hide the fact that she was a woman.

Also, as can be seen clearly from her writings, she thought that women should take up the responsibilities together with the privileges. No woman should have rights just because she was a woman. She, like every man, should have to deserve those rights, on basis of merit.

September 21st 1999, she suffered a major heart attack, and September 25th 1999, she passed away, leaving a hole behind her in the ranks of the greatest fantasy/science fiction writers of today.

I think she is one of the most important writers of fantasy and science fiction, both because of her stories, and because of what she has done for other female writers. She had the strength to pave a way for them to walk.

She was one of my favourite authors. She will be missed, also by those who didn't know her personally. I never did. I never met her, never got to know her, but I will miss her.

Ann Sharp said this about her after her death: "Her instructions were carried out exactly. She wanted no stone, no physical shrine to her memory. Her new home is beyond the stars, in the holy promise of eternal life. This is the comfort of her friends, that though she may be said to die, yet her friendship and society are, in the best sense, ever present, because immortal. Her monument on this earth, her truest portrait, her ultimate legacy, is in her books. Look for her there; you will always find her." [75]

Also See


Links to Essays and Articles on MZB's Website

Meta/Further Reading

By Bradley

By Others

Notes & References


  1. ^ When a fan asked if Bradley read the Darkover story she'd sent her called "Holidays on Darkover, Part 1" and if she should send Part 2 and Part 3. Elisabeth Waters replied: "Yes, We did receive Part 1 of "Holidays on Darkover." I myself have not read it.... but I do know that, after Mrs. Bradley saw it, it was sent to the "Marion Zimmer Bradley Collection" at Boston University. By all means, send Parts 2 and 3; that way the library will have the whole thing." -- from Darkover Newsletter #54. This was the first time Bradley's official depository in Boston is mentioned, at least in the most public fan publication. This means that there has been some thought to preserving her official paper/manuscripts and such, a reflection perhaps of a winding down. It is also interesting in that this occurs just two months after the publication of Masks. This could mean that the conflict regarding "Masks" has already hit the fan, as it were, and that Bradley is now stepping back from supporting fan fiction.
  2. ^ No kidding on the "not exactly readily available part." The explanation of restrictions is long, and you may as well give up any plans of looking at things in this collection now. See Guest Researchers.
  3. ^ This is contradicted by this biography, information gleaned from the Literary Works site, as well as family history from Bradley's mother, brother and son: "She herself had a fine lyric soprano voice and for a time studied singing, but found she did not have the stamina (or the tolerance for late hours) to pursue an operatic career." -- About the Authors: Marion Zimmer Bradley, Archived version, date unknown
  4. ^ "On the good side of the news, my daughter Moira is earning her living with harp-and-folksong gigs. Some of you saw her at Mythcon, where she sang some exquisite music. Moira is doing very well now, and my best present this Christmas was a tape of the Rivendell Suite (a group of songs I wrote some years ago to words by Tolkien), recorded by my foster son Kristoph Klover, on which Moira sang Galadriel's song to her own harp arrangement. Most of the songs were arranged by Kristoph's wife Margaret Davis, who did truly beautiful arrangements. I have VERY talented children." -- Bradley writes this in "Darkover Newsletter" #55 (December 1991)
  5. ^ "We had two LASFS people with us, Lee and Barry Gold. After a prolonged giggle session, Barry brought his guitar, and sang for us some of your compositions for Tolkien's songs. "Lament for Boromir" was absolutely stunning." -- from Darkovans Invade Boskone!
  6. ^ "...her anatomical sketch of a tentacled arm appears in one of the S~G fanzines." -- Marion Zimmer Bradley's Influence on the Sime~Gen Universe
  7. ^ comment in Darkover Newsletter #7, September 1977 when she answers a fan who wrote: I recall the many letters to long gone editors from a youngster named Marion Zimmer, so in a sense I can claim to be an admirer of Mrs. Zimmer-Bradley for more than fifty years."
  8. ^ According to Jacqueline Lichtenberg, Zimmer-Bradley was one of the professional science fiction authors who was asked by Gene Roddenberry to write an episode, and she turned him down.
  9. ^ From another source: "Marion Zimmer Bradley, known for her Darkover series, also is reported to have written at least two scripts for the fourth season. One of these has been printed in a fanzine." -- The Fourth Season That Might Have Been, by Don Harden (1982)
  10. ^ Also see The Compass of Fourteen Dreams: An Interview with Vera Nazarian by Nick Gevers, July 2002 for another interview with this author in which she talks about Bradley: "I also found a Writer's Digest call for submissions for Sword and Sorceress II, a DAW anthology of heroic-women-fantasy, edited by Marion Zimmer Bradley--a writer whose work I was just in the middle of devouring at that time--sent in my misfortunate novella, but unlike the other editors Marion kindly took it apart in red pen and criticized the hell out of it, and told me to send her something else. Hope and luck fired me up, and in record time (two weeks) I produced "Wound on the Moon," a 9,000-word story (exotic and garish-coloured high fantasy influenced strongly by the work of Tanith Lee, another of my idols; incidentally, this story is about to be reprinted by Fictionwise) and submitted it, and Marion bought it a month following my high school graduation. [...] I sold Marion thirteen more stories--eight to Sword and Sorceress anthologies, four to Darkover anthologies, and one to Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine. I will always consider Marion Zimmer Bradley my beloved editor, mentor and friend, and owe her my start in the writing business, and an introduction to the industry itself."
  11. ^ An Apprenticeship With Marion by Deborah J. Ross, Archived version, dated January 12, 2012. Deborah would later be selected to co-write several of Marion's books after she became ill and continues to publish Darkover books after Marion's death in 1999.
  12. ^ For more on why MZB disliked a specific group of fans, see Darkover Landfall reviewed by Vonda N. McIntyre (1974).
  13. ^ "She met Marion Zimmer Bradley, who fostered her story writing career... and became a lifelong friend and benefactor. Many filk projects were rehearsed for, and recorded in, Marion's "carriage-house"." -- Pegasus: People
  14. ^ Walter Breen is not mentioned on Marion Zimmer Bradley's official biography at Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust, Archived version.
  15. ^ In October 1989, when Breen had a gas leak at his house, the first people he called were the near-by Bradley and Waters. -- described in Darkover Newsletter #47
  16. ^ One of the first public mentions of Bradley's poor health was in March 1978, when the editor of her newsletter said he didn't want to "give her another heart attack." -- Darkover Newsletter #11
  17. ^ In November or December 1978, Bradley's car caught on fire and she was taken to the hospital. She related to fans: "I collapsed and was given oxygen by the firemen and taken to a hospital for cardiac monitoring; whereupon they decided that my heart was only crying wolf." The car was a total loss, however. -- from Bradley's Letter from MZB in Darkover Newsletter #15/16
  18. ^ In March 1979, Bradley was taken to the hospital after being hit by a pickup truck. From Darkover Newsletter #17/18: "In March, crossing the street, I was struck, knocked down in the street, by a pickup truck. A trip to hospital showed only bumps and bruises; but the psychic shock was considerable."
  19. ^ In April 1979, Bradley was driving and rear-ended another car, causing her young passenger to hit the windshield with her head. From Darkover Newsletter #17/18: "On April 18th [1979], I was driving my niece Fiona to ballet, and a car in front of me stopped with unreasonable suddenness; we plowed into them, Fiona's head struck the windshield (she was not injured, thank God... but now she knows why I nag her about seat-belts. If I'd been driving faster she'd have been killed)."
  20. ^ Bradley sued the Sheraton Hotel in San Francisco claiming she'd had a heart attack while being stuck in an elevator sometime between July 4-8 1979 -- "Well, Marion Bradley has sued the Sheraton for emotional distress. She claims she had a heart attack in the elevator, and the experience was so devastating that she was late on a contract for the first time in her life, which harmed her professional reputation." So -I- got deposed, and the case eventually settled out of court. As it turned out, the lawsuit had not been Marion's idea, or Walter's, but that of their two companions, who dropped out of the suit as soon as it had been filed, and refused to be deposed. It looked to me as though, once they realized what serious trouble they could get into, they scurried for cover, and left MZB dangling in the wind. But Walter, who was incredibly gregarious, just found the experience of being deposed to be delightful -- here were people -asking him questions,- and writing down everything he said. He turned on the charm, and had a wonderful time." -- comments by Loren MacGregor at Religion and Politics (was Re: AKICIF: Regional descriptions), Archived version (January 22, 2000)
  21. ^ Sometime in late 1979, "Locus" reported that Bradley had a mild stroke. Bradley elaborated on this between March-June 1980: "[It was] a momentary paralysis which my doctor called an 'Ischemic attack. It wasn't precisely a stroke, but a momentary paralysis which my doctor called an "Ischemic attack"— a stroke that didn't quite happen. After a multitude of difficult, sophisticated and rather unpleasant tests, culminating in an arteriogram, nothing very much was found wrong with me and they decided I didn't need further surgery. It took me considerable time to recuperate, but I'm working again, and feeling, all things considered, pretty well... I am now two books behind because of all the working time I lost." -- Darkover Newsletter #21
  22. ^ There was worry conveyed by enough fans about Bradley's health and the future of the Darkover books that this was addressed in the fall of 1980: "For those of you who have inquired about the future of MZB and of the Darkover books: Marion has recovered well from her illness (and asks us to thank you all for the cards, letters and such) and is 1011 pages into MISTRESS OF MAGIC, the novel about the women of Malory's King Arthur, Morgan le Fay, the Lady of the Lake, and such." -- from Darkover Newsletter #22 (October 1980)
  23. ^ Bradley accidentally set herself on fire sometime before, but close to, August 1982: "THENDARA HOUSE is in work, but the writing was delayed by an accident to MZB during a candlelight service here In the Centre for Non-Traditional Religion, where her robe was set on fire and she suffered 2nd and 3rd degree burns to her left hand." -- from Darkover Newsletter #26
  24. ^ These were not the first times Bradley was set on fire. The first time occurred in the 1940s: "My teacher handled four grades and taught them all to read except two seriously handicapped kids who were 16 and 18 and had IQs somewhere in the low idiot range. These kids capped their school careers by setting me on fire one day — after which they were Sent Away." -- from her comments in Darkover Newsletter #50.
  25. ^ In spring 1983, Bradley discontinues the Darkover Newsletter, citing among other things, her poor health: "I do not think I would have the strength to close this chapter in my life, whatever the toll it is taking on my failing health, the increasing age of which the only symptom is a chronic lowering of energy." -- Darkover Newsletter #27
  26. ^ Diana L. Paxson wrote that after the publication of The Mists of Avalon in 1983, Bradley's health took a turn for the worse: "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." -- Marion Zimmer Bradley, Archived version
  27. ^ Bradley suffered a series of strokes in May 1987: "I had had not one but a couple of small strokes." -- see much more of her description at Issue 37 (June 1987).
  28. ^ Bradley accidentally set herself on fire sometime in 1987. From Elizabeth Waters Interview in 2008: "She participated in a lot of neo-Pagan rituals during those years, and one night she set her robe on fire when it brushed against a candle. (I was half-asleep in the back of the room, but I woke up fast enough when the girl representing the Maiden started screaming.) I took Marion into the house and started first aid, and then one of the guys drove us to the hospital."
  29. ^ Bradley was in the hospital in November 1988: "I missed this [year's Darkover Grand Council Meeting] (I was in the hospital)..." -- her comment from Darkover Newsletter #43 (December 1988)
  30. ^ "I hope to at future Darkover conventions; Thanksgiving in the hospital is cruel and unusual punishment." -- her comment from Darkover Newsletter #44
  31. ^ Bradley had a major stroke on October 30, 1989. Bradley herself describes the ordeal in detail in Darkover Newsletter #47 (December 1989). One excerpt: "I spent two weeks there with an IV in one arm, while I used the other to write part of THE FOREST HOUSE by hand in a notebook. Then I wound up in a rehabilitation hospital [in Philadelphia] for a couple of weeks, after which Jan Burke flew out and brought me back to a Bay Area hospital. I emerged a week ago, just in time for Christmas."
  32. ^ This stroke was downplayed to the general public. From a fan on Usenet: "Just for your information, it was announced on GEnie that Marion Zimmer Bradley suffered another minor stroke while lecturing at Bryn Mawr, PA. She's currently in the hospital there, but the primary problem seems to be she's bored of being in the hospital. It definitely doesn't look serious." -- Marion Zimmer Bradley, November 19, 1989
  33. ^ From a fan on Usenet: "I got a letter from one of the people taking care of Marion Zimmer Bradley that I thought I'd pass along. They asked me to thank everyone who sent along get-well cards and letters to Marion. She's home, doing better and making good progress on her stroke, although the doctors are limiting her to no more than two hours of work a day. She hopes to be back up to speed soon, and I've been told that while she won't be travelling out of the Bay Area for a while, she will be doing some signings locally once she gets approval..." -- Marion Zimmer Bradley, January 1, 1990
  34. ^ Bradley has heart attack sometime between December 1989 and June 1990. In Darkover Newsletter #49 (June 1990), she tells of another close call with death and her intensive care hospital stay due to a heart attack. She is now off oxygen.
  35. ^ In September 1990, Bradley wrote: "'The Forest House.' It's under contract to Viking and was sidetracked by 1) Earthquake 2) Stroke 3) Heart Attack, but it is now underway again." -- from Darkover Newsletter #50
  36. ^ "MZB was hospitalized three times this year (infected foot, heart attack, relapse of congestive heart failure), but she has staged a truly miraculous recovery." -- a comment by Elisabeth Waters in Darkover Newsletter #51 (December 1990)
  37. ^ In December 1991, Bradley wrote: " I finally got through a year without either a heart attack or a stroke." -- "Darkover Newsletter" #55 (December 1991)
  38. ^ When a fan wrote that he was disappointed in the novel 'Black Trillium." Bradley responded: "I had the stroke during 'Black Trillium.' Both Andre Norton and I made it clear that the book was fantasy and not science fiction and Julian May put all kinds of science fiction cliches in it. Both Andre and I were unhappy -- we were unable to protest effectively... my collaborators did what they thought best for it. I feel like a fake for signing a copy. -- from Darkover Newsletter #56 (March 1992)
  39. ^ Bradley wrote in 1994: "Survivors of the near death experience, like me -- cardiac arrest when my daughter was born -- also tell much the same story. I've been living on borrowed time since her birth; I'll be content to go whenever the Lord wants me." -- from "Darkover Newsletter" #64
  40. ^ A bit of history and some hopeful foreshadowing: the Darkover Newsletter #5 (June 1977) described her birthday celebration and speculated on Bradley's future, one which aimed for a 2002 Golden Jubilee. See Darkover Newsletter.
  41. ^ In May 1991, Bradley wrote about this unwanted attention: "This [question is] usually from the earnestly hypothyroid new age female who gazes at me soulfully and inquires "How much of your work is channelled?" I'm afraid that the first couple of times this came my way, I just stared and stammered. Later, at Lisa's suggestion, I developed the pat answer — "None. I'm not a medium, I'm a large." But I still react with becrogglement, just as I do when I get a letter calling me a great pagan priestess. Even if I were, that would have nothing to do with my books. [snipped] I haven't even mentioned the women who write to me and blithely announce that they: 1) are reincarnations of Morgan le Fay, (yes, really). 2) just know that I should get them cast as Morgaine in the movie version of MISTS. 3) think I can — or would — get them the job of writing the screenplay of MISTS. 4) chide me for letting a (gasp, shudder,) man make the movie version of MISTS when I should have given it to some card-carrying feminist. 5) just know they should write the music for the movie version of MISTS (frequently sending tapes to prove it). Sometimes I forward their letters and tapes to my agent, but that's about all I can do for any of these people. That's not even mentioning the people who think I am a traitor to womanhood for not adopting them as Free Amazons, the men who write me hate mail because I invented the Free Amazons in the first place, the men — pre-operative or post operative transexuals — who adopt me as a den mother or who are sure they should be admitted to the guild of Free Amazons — and so forth. Every crackpot letter you can imagine — I've probably gotten it at least two or three times. This article, believe me, just skims the surface. But I still open the mail with eagerness every day. Heaven knows why. -- from Darkover Newsletter #52
  42. ^ This chapter's title refers to Bradley's 1977 essay An Evolution of Consciousness: Twenty-Five Years of Writing About Women in Science Fiction


  1. ^ Some names are linked here.
  2. ^ Elisabeth Waters Interview
  3. ^ One example: Frequently Asked Questions, Archived version
  4. ^ Darkover Trademark, Archived version, accessed May 10, 2017
  5. ^ Author Interview: Marion Zimmer Bradley Trust
  6. ^ Marion Zimmer Bradley: A Bibliography, by Dawn Bovasso
  7. ^ Bibliography at the Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust
  8. ^ 1978, Darkovan Language Review
  9. ^ Fandom: Its Value to the Professional (1985)
  10. ^ from a con report by Jane Carnall and Frances Tucker, see Breathing Together At Brighton or, "I should have remembered that!" (September 1987)
  11. ^ Marion Zimmer Bradley and credit for collaborations, September 3, 2015
  12. ^ Zimmer, Paul Edwin. "Appreciation", in: Return to Avalon, edited by Jennifer Roberson. New York, NY: Daw Books, 1996. p. 303.
  13. ^ A memorial letter by Diana Paxson, written March 26, 2001, is here (scroll down to "Author Essay" in the "See More" link): Marion Zimmer Bradley, Archived version
  14. ^ MZB's wikipedia page
  15. ^ Obituary: Marion Zimmer Bradley The Independent (UK), September 30, 1999.
  16. ^ from Darkover Newsletter #8 (November 1977)
  17. ^ from the "About the Author" in Men, Halflings & Hero Worship
  18. ^ from Darkover Newsletter #50
  19. ^ Sumner Gary Hunnewell. Tolkien Fandom Review: From its Beginnings to 1964 (accessed 7 September 2012)
  20. ^ From Darkovan Language Review by her husband Walter Breen: "Where did I get the original Darkovan names? I started, of course, with the Robert W. Chambers fantasy, THE KING IN YELLOW, with snatches from an abominable and beautiful book, by that name, which maddened everyone who read It. As a very young teenager, I thought It might be fascinating to reconstruct, from the snatches and hints about the book, the original King In Yellow...I think I abandoned that project before I was fourteen! But I began writing scraps of fantasy. In the manner of that strange book, frankly Imitative and of course using the names Hastur, Cassllda, and others equally bizarre and unusual. I think I know now, by the way, where Chambers got the Idea for the savage beauty and horror of TEE KING IN YELLOW. Many, many years later, In my thirties, when I had studied the literature of the decadence of the Nineties, I came across a book called OSCAR WILDE AND THE YELLOW NINETIES. Frances Wlnwar, the author, held the theory that the color yellow was sym bolic of the curious decadence of that decade, when Vlctorlanlsm was rotting at the core and strange things festering at Its heart. " From a fan in 2013: "Marion Zimmer Bradley mined The King in Yellow for numerous names for her popular “Darkover” books. There is no actual connection, but the fact that she used many of these names for shadowy figures of the nearly forgotten pre-human history of the planet added a certain resonance. I can’t recall if I encountered these names first in the works of Lovecraft and his associates or in those of Bradley, but their recurrence between books added a creepy echo to the stories, as if they both drew upon a definite past history forgotten in all but names." -- Ripples in Yellow, Archived version by Jane Lindskold (October 30, 2013)
  21. ^ two examples: Marion Zimmer Bradley Discusses Influences of "The King in Yellow" and Accusations of Plagiarism from Darkover Newsletter #25 (1982) and Marion Zimmer Bradley#Becoming a Fan from Darkover Newsletter #50 (1990)
  22. ^ See Marion Zimmer Bradley's Influence on the Sime~Gen Universe by Jacqueline Lichtenberg
  23. ^ from 1978 in Darkovans Invade Boskone!
  24. ^ from Star Trek Prospers #18 (1976), which credits an issue of A Piece of the Action
  25. ^ This novel became "Drums of Darkness."
  26. ^ from the foreward of The Keeper's Price, published in 1980
  27. ^ Darkover Newsletter #34 (September 1986) noted that Bradley may be making another trip to England with "Jamie George's group." There is also a letter from Bradley in that newsletter that has her reaction to seeing her book on sale in England, but it is unclear if this trip was the same trip as the advertised tour.
  28. ^ from Ee-Miniar #3
  29. ^ INTERVIEW: Vera Nazarian on Stars of Darkover June 19, 2014.
  30. ^ Vampires Saved my Soul... after Marion Zimmer Bradley tried to kill it, Archived version by Dianne Sylvan, posted October 15, 2008, accessed February 21, 2012
  31. ^ Arlenecharris's comment posted June 30, 2010 at 11:26 AM in Vampires Saved my Soul... after Marion Zimmer Bradley tried to kill it, Archived version by Dianne Sylvan, posted October 15, 2008, accessed February 21, 2012.
  32. ^ comment by Sharon on Virgule-L (Apr 12, 1996)
  33. ^ from a comment by Helen on Lysator (21 Feb 1999)
  34. ^ from The Witch and the Chameleon "Darkover Landfall" Letter by Marion Zimmer Bradley (September 1975)
  35. ^ from The Witch and the Chameleon "Darkover Landfall" Letter by Marion Zimmer Bradley (September 1975)
  36. ^ from Fandom: Its Value to the Professional (1985)
  37. ^ from Fandom: Its Value to the Professional
  38. ^ from "About the Author" in Men, Halflings & Hero Worship
  39. ^ from The Witch and the Chameleon "Darkover Landfall" Letter by Marion Zimmer Bradley (September 1975)
  40. ^ from Darkover Newsletter #7
  41. ^ Was this The Witch and the Chameleon?
  42. ^ from A Darkover Retrospective; archive link by Marion Zimmer Bradley (1980) -- "Some portions of "A Darkover Retrospective" were adapted from an article titled "My Life on Darkover" published in the amateur magazine Fantasiae, edited by Ian Miles Slater, c/o The Fantasy Association, Box 24560, Los Angeles, CA 90024. Copyright © 1974 by The Fantasy Association and used by permission of Ian Miles Slater"
  43. ^ from Darkover Newsletter #44
  44. ^ from Darkover Newsletter #55
  45. ^ Swashbucklin' Social Comment by pyracantha, a long-time illustrator for Darkover zines, December 6, 2015
  46. ^ from Letter from MZB in Darkover Newsletter #7 (September 1977)
  47. ^ from Darkover Newsletter #11
  48. ^ from Darkover Newsletter #11
  49. ^ from Darkover Newsletter #2, August 1976
  50. ^ from Darkover Newsletter #2, August 1976
  51. ^ from Darkover Newsletter #11
  52. ^ Bradley, "The Keeper's Price 7" New York, DAW books, 1980, page 14
  53. ^ from a letter of comment by Anne G in Ambrov Zeor #12
  54. ^ Frequently Asked Questions, Archived version
  55. ^ from Tribblets Collection by Linda Whitten, Archived version
  56. ^ from Darkover Newsletter #17/18
  57. ^ Music of Darkover, June 5, 2013
  58. ^ from Darkover Newsletter #32 (March 1986)
  59. ^ from Darkover Newsletter #58 (September 1992)
  60. ^ from The Darkover Concordance in 1979
  61. ^ This was printed in Bradley's newsletter without comment from Bradley.
  62. ^ from Darkover Newsletter #31, January 1986
  63. ^ from Darkover Newsletter #32
  64. ^ from Darkover Newsletter #32
  65. ^ from Darkover Newsletter #32
  66. ^ from Darkover Newsletter #46 (September 1989)
  67. ^ from Darkover Newsletter #41 (June 1988)
  68. ^ Walter H. Breen Wikipedia (the information about Bradley being Breen's principal employer has been at this page since at least 2009), accessed June 20, 2017
  69. ^ Walter Breen: Enigmatic Numismatist, 2008-07-19 by Santa Clarita Valley History.
  70. ^ Stephen Goldin, Marion Zimmer Bradley: In Her Own Words.
  71. ^ "1960s Fan History Outline, Chapter 8". Archived from the original on 2021-03-10. Retrieved 2014-04-09.
  72. ^ Rare Coins Expert Charged With Child Molestation and Wikipedia page on Walter Breen
  73. ^ Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker, Confronting Breen. CoinWorld, November 3, 2015.
  74. ^ A memorial letter by Diana Paxson, written March 26, 2001, is here (scroll down to "Author Essay" in the "See More" link): Marion Zimmer Bradley, Archived version
  75. ^ Marion Zimmer Bradley, comment by starcat, perhaps late 1999
  76. ^ "Some portions of "A Darkover Retrospective" were adapted from an article titled "My Life on Darkover" published in the amateur magazine Fantasiae, edited by Ian Miles Slater, c/o The Fantasy Association, Box 24560, Los Angeles, CA 90024. Copyright © 1974 by The Fantasy Association and used by permission of Ian Miles Slater"