Novels

THE PRICE OF SILENCE   2005

Brindle, Oregon, is a dying town not far from Bend. Despite the diminishing population, Ruth Ann Colonna, publisher of the local newspaper, the Brindle Times, wants to preserve local history. She is preparing a special edition for the town’s centennial but needs help with the new computer system that she has installed. Todd Fielding, a young woman with the necessary skills, accepts a job at the paper despite the potential for boredom. She quickly learns that this will not be a problem. A young girl disappears, but no one seems concerned. As she helps Ruth Ann sort through archival materials, Todd discovers that five other girls have disappeared over the past 20 years. The town has dark secrets that have caused great suffering. Uncovering the history puts Todd in great danger. Combining oppressive isolation and creepy characters, genre veteran Wilhelm creates a genuinely eerie atmosphere that pulls readers in and keeps them turning the pages. –Booklist

 

SKELETONS   2002

When college student Lee Donne agrees to housesit for her grandfather in his hundred-year-old Oregon farmhouse, she has no idea why it’s protected with such an up-to-date security system. She discovers the reason after an attempt to scare her out of the house backfires: buried in an abandoned root cellar is the proof of a hideous crime that occurred long before she was born, one whose revelation could destroy the political ambitions of a very powerful man and put Lee, her best friend, and even her grandfather in jeopardy. Wilhelm elevates a ho-hum plot into a suspenseful narrative that sheds light on a dark chapter in history and illuminates its effect on three generations of an American family. This is an unusual coming-of-age story about a young woman who finds her destiny in a place she never expected to discover it, written with Wilhelm’s usual skill and verve. –Amazon.com

 

THE DEEPEST WATER 2000

Set in and around her own Eugene, Ore., prolific Wilhelm’s latest tale (after The Good Children) of psychological suspense reinforces the solid reputation she’s earned for her 40-odd books published since 1963. Abby Connors is mourning the death of her father, bestselling novelist Jud Vickers, at the age of 48. Jud was a womanizing former ne’er-do-well who had recently found success, only to be murdered at his remote lakefront cabin. The local police baffled, Abby soon finds herself doing her own sleuthing, much to the dismay of her husband, Brice, a financial planner who was always jealous of Jud’s primary place in Abby’s heart. As Abby investigates further, she discovers secrets in Jud’s past as well as an unfinished novel. Aware that Jud always based characters and events on people he actually knew, Abby begins to wonder: does the identity of the murderer and the motive lie within those unpublished pages? The star of the book, strangely, is the cabin itself, a perversely menacing version of a Thomas Kincade painting and a deliciously eerie setting for the mystery and murder, beckoning the reader to step inside. Then, too, Abby is a plucky heroine whose steely patience serves her well even amid grief and bewilderment. Meanwhile, the ever-present specter of the murderer, casting doubt on the behavior of everyone Abby has contact with, keeps the edginess quotient high. –Publishers Weekly

 

THE GOOD CHILDREN   1998

Seamless storytelling and believable characters caught in a bizarre, inescapable situation make this latest psychological thriller from three-time Nebula Award winner Wilhelm (Malice Prepense) taut and satisfying. “When you’ve got family, you don’t need anything else,” Lee McNair tells her children. After an industrial accident kills her husband, the distraught McNair makes the four children promise they’ll never let strangers touch her when she dies. The children find themselves called on to honor that promise when McNair is killed in a freakish backyard accident. Afraid of disobeying their mother and equally afraid that they’ll be sent away to foster homes, the children bury her in the backyard and are forced to lie to neighbors and pretend that she is still alive. Their attempts to keep up the ruse are eerily successful except that the youngest of the children begins to lose his sanity. Eventually, the McNairs call the authorities to report their mother’s sudden disappearance. The youngest child’s troubles deepen and a new piece of information about their mother’s accident threatens to break up their carefully unified front. A young society lawyer, charged with looking in on the “abandoned” McNair children, creates another kind of complication when he falls in love with the engaging teenage narrator (and third McNair), Liz. Wilhelm’s spare, unsentimental style contributes nicely to the mood of this well-told gothic tale. –Publishers Weekly

 

JUSTICE FOR SOME   1993

Heading for a family gathering at her father’s home/water garden business in rural California, widowed Sarah Drexler anticipates a respite from her work as an Oregon state judge. Instead she finds her deductive skills challenged and the lives of those dearest to her threatened. Joining the tense family dinner is Fran Donatio, a woman whose presence Sarah’s father Ralph does not explain. The next morning, after Ralph’s body is pulled from a lily pond, police Lt. Arthur Fernandez arrives with questions on another matter: Fran, a PI, was shot not long after leaving the dinner, and it looks like the murderer ransacked her office and apartment. Sarah becomes decidedly snappish when the police suggest that her adult children, Winnie and Virgil, and Ralph’s brother and nephew all had ample opportunity to search Fran’s digs. When the judge turns sleuth, she learns that her loved ones harbor past and present secrets of which she had no inkling. That Sarah’s investigation is first-rate is no surprise—the prolific Wilhelm (Death Qualified; Seven Kinds of Death) is also accomplished. This tale, however, offers a bonus in Fernandez who, running his own, equally intelligent investigation in the background, provides a welcome change from the expected solitary-sleuth plot structure. –Publishers Weekly

 

AND THE ANGELS SING   1992

Wilhelm (Death Qualified: A Mystery of Chaos) presents 12 lucid, haunting stories that combine science fiction with psychological suspense. Her characters often travel great distances–on highways and through time–to destinations which force them to confront essential truths about themselves and their relationships. In the powerful “The Great Doors of Silence,” Cass Mercer drives to Phoenix for a family reunion, where her three-year-old nephew’s bruises cause her to recall the abuse she and her siblings endured from their father. The theme of the journey recurs with an SF twist in “The Chosen,” in which an expedition into the future reveals an eerily silent, forested world uncontaminated by humans; the bittersweet “Forever Yours, Anna” takes readers unexpectedly into the future after a graphologist falls in love with the letters of a woman he has never met. In the fantastic and oddly touching title story, a journalist nurses an otherworldly being back to health after finding it during a fierce storm. The only previously unpublished story here, “The Day of the Sharks,” looks at a faltering marriage and the nightmarish situation behind a seemingly idyllic Florida vacation. A memorable collection. –Publishers Weekly

 

NAMING THE FLOWERS   1992

A strong story from Wilhelm about a strange child and a man with a desire to be more than just a success. I’ve never read Wilhelm’s novels, but I rarely dislike her short stories, and this one is one of the best. Poignant and rewarding.

 

 

 

 

 

CAMBIO BAY   1990

Wilhelm (Children of the Wind) once again builds a world of wonder from the prosaic as she assembles several strangers at Luisa’s Guest House in the California coastal town of Cambio Bay. Among those sheltered by proprietor Luisa Ravel are young and poor Iris Lathan, on the run with her deaf and dumb five-year-old daughter Bonnie, and drug kingpin Stuart Wellington, who is convinced the child can destroy him. Guests who become caught up in an attempt to save the Lathans include tough real estate agent Carolyn Engleman, lawyer Boise Wilkes, who is fleeing family tragedy, and professor Harold Ritchie, studying the Indian legends of the area. As Iris and Bonnie are pursued by a professional killer, the guests find that Miss Luisa’s magical and strange house, built on a site of ancient power, holds the fulfillment of their dreams. Coping with their private devils, they also contribute to the downfall of evil and the salvation of the Lathans. Wilhelm adds new lustre to her oeuvre with this splendid and eerie tale deeply infused with Pacific Indian lore. –Publishers Weekly

 

CHILDREN OF THE WIND   1989

This collection of five novellas was a pleasant surprise; their strengths are not the fantastic elements, which are used very sparingly—and in one or two stories can be arguably said not to exist at all—but in Wilheim’s assured grasp of characterization, the delineation of the benefits and aggravations of very close relationships, and her vivid eye for “everyday” landscape details which seems to present them in a new alien light, especially the Kansas prairies of the Nebula award winning piece, “The Girl Who Fell Into the Sky.” The other four pieces are: “Children of the Wind,” a chilling tale about two very smart and mischievous 6 year-old twins; “The Gorgon Field,” a minor but still fairly intriguing take on geographic spiritual centers; “A Brother to Dragons, A Companion of Owls,” a powerful tale (and my favorite) of survival and choice in a postapocalyptic city when the last senior citizens meet a band of wild children; and “The Blue Ladies,” a backward homage (I think) to Wilde’s “Picture of Dorian Gray” featuring a Picasso-like crazed artist. –Amazon.com reader review

 

CRAZY TIME   1988

After an errant laser beam intersects with an aspiring cartoonist, dispersing his molecules throughout the known universe (but not killing him), the sole witness to the incident, psychologist Lauren Steele, becomes the target of a mad military officer’s paranoid fantasies. At the heart of Wilhelm’s (Huysman’s Pets) clever sf intrigue is a love story between two people trying to hold themselves together in the face of a reality turned to chaos. –Library Journal

 

 

 

 

HUYSMAN’S PETS   1985

Stanley Huysman was a Nobel laureate whose visionary theories of his later years, bridging biology and physics, came to be labeled crackpot ideas. The true genius of these experiments becomes clear only when Huysman’s widow calls on Drew Lancaster to write the scientist’s biography. As Drew deciphers the man’s notes, to crack the code of government-funded projects and the secrecy of Huysman’s unscrupulous assistant, Claude Dohemy, it is revealed that the great man actually achieved what he set out to do. By genetic manipulation, he induced telepathy in his subjects. But Dohemy is now holding those children prisoner, and it is only their extraordinary powers that free them. This lively thriller is made especially appealing by its instantly engaging characters and its deftly dovetailed plot.

 

 

WELCOME, CHAOS   1983

What would happen to the precarious balance of power if scientists could extend life for centuries? If one power bloc had biological protection against radiation and the other did not? Whose thumb would press the button first?

When Lyle Taney took leave from her teaching job to live high in the mountains, researching the ways of eagles, she was just planning to write her next book. Lasater was an unscrupulous, skilled operative who thought he could maneuver her as he pleased. He believed women were incapable of making ethical or moral decisions—and he was wrong. When the obscure government agent from an anonymous department tried to force Lyle to spy on her mysterious neighbors, she resisted. But the first step had been taken, involving her in a life-and-death struggle.

 

 

OH, SUSANNAH   1982

A heroine who loses her name, her past, her husband. A hero with a sense of responsibility, particularly where a fair lady is involved. Some helpful villains. Some plausible villains. Some hilarious villains. And the most remarkable cat in fiction, named Stat Cat.

“Wilhelm’s outrageously funny, twenty-first book is a gem, a rare combination of laugh-alound humor and fresh observation of modern society… Brilliant twist ending. This is a winner.” –Library Journal

 

 

 

LISTEN, LISTEN   1981

Includes four provocative novellas: “The Winter Beach” turns what might be a spy story into suspense of a far different order; “Julian” begins when its youthful hero trains his telescope on nearby earth rather than the stars and sees a woman who rules the rest of his life; “With Thimbles, with Forks, and Hope” seems to be the dramatic story of a holiday fishing trip, but once on the ocean we are gripped by a different reality; and “Moongate,” set in the mountains of the Northwest, takes its two men and one woman through many dimensions of time and space.

This book also contains the essay “The Uncertain Edge of Reality,” presented by Kate at Noreascon II, which casts new light on her many books and short stories. “This is my subject matter when I write,” she says. “I am asking, What actually do we mean by reality, and are we stuck with the one we have? This is what I mean by reality fiction… We are more than simple animals using sophisticated tools in our search for food, security, and mates. We are something new on earth… We can change reality.”

 

A SENSE OF SHADOW   1981

John Daniel Culbertson has lived like a king, ruling over his thousands of productive acres in an Oregon valley and dominating his several wives and his four children. Now he is dying, and his four grown children are summoned home to hear about the strange and ominous method he worked out for choosing his heir. The despotic old man has bent his doctor and his lawyer to his will, and his plans involve a research psychologist who has some original theories about brain waves.

Despite the anguished resistance of the youngest son, Lucas, and his wife, Ginny, Culbertson wields his absolute power over his children for one last time. Or will he be able to extend his power beyond life?

 

 

THE WINTER BEACH   1981

A woman who teaches college level history gives up her career to write a book about eagles. But soon she finds that she was manipulated into making the decision by a shadowy man who claims to be a government agent. She is drawn deeper and deeper into a situation that she can hardly understand, and that leads her to places beyond her imagination. Nebula Award Nominee

 

 

 

 

 

JUNIPER TIME   1979                Winner of the Prix Apollo Award

Juniper Time is a first-rate science-fiction novel. Kate Wilhelm has done her usual excellent job of weaving an intricate plot and sympathetically portraying believable and complex characters in settings that are described with force and clarity. This 1979 novel is set in the not-too-distant future, when a devastating drought in the American West, and much of the rest of the world, has caused economic and social collapse. The story alternates between the viewpoints of Cluny, a scientist dedicated to the construction and operation of a space station, and Jean, who was Cluny’s childhood friend but has now gone her separate way and become a linguist, naturalist and photographer. Wilhelm’s most powerful and engrossing writing, it seems to me, is in her descriptions of the natural world and of the vastly different ways that people relate to it. Jean’s experiences on the Oregon coast are beautifully described, as is her life on the high desert of Oregon with the Wasco Indians. (Wilhelm and her husband, Damon Knight, live in Eugene, Oregon.) Jean gradually comes to understand the way of life of the Wasco people, and her spiritual growth is described very effectively. Cluny and Jean are reunited when they become part of a project intended to discover if contact with an alien civilization has occurred. Their decision may determine whether a nuclear war between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. can be avoided. The climax of the novel is unexpected but believable. I recommend this book very highly. –amazon.com reader review

 

FAULT LINES   1977

This was one of the most remarkable books I’ve ever read. An elderly woman is trapped in the rubble of an earthquake and reflects on her life. When it was released it was classified as sci-fi because Wilhelm was a prolific sci-fi writer, but there is nothing sci-fi about it. Beautifully introspective. –Powell’s bookstore reader review

 

 

 

 

 

THE CLEWISTON TEST 1976

Anne Clewiston Symons, a gifted young researcher, has isolated a blood serum that temporarily, but completely supresses pain—without unconsciousness or any of the other side effects of conventional anesthetics. The large pharmaceutical company that emplys her and her and Clark Symons, her husband and co-worker, has just been granted federal permission to proceed with tests on human subjects, when horrifying evidence appears that some of the test chimpanzees have become mysteriously psychotic. Anne at this time is nearly immobilized at home by serious, painful injuries incurred in an automobile accident.

This is the situation at the start of an engrossing novel that puts the story of a disintegrating “perfect” marriage into the context of such contemporary issues as corporate power and politics, the techniques and ethics of laboratory research, and the questionable reliability of scientific observation.

Wilhelm amply displays her ability to create subtly delineated and memorable character faced with moral choices involving both their work and the most intimate reaches of their private lives.

 

WHERE LATE THE SWEET BIRDS SANG   1976

Winner of the Hugo, Jupiter, and Locus Awards for Best Novel

A spellbinding and wonderfully original family saga of the future. It is the story of the Sumners of Virginia, who have ruled over a lush valley along the Shenandoah for generations. But the Sumners’ land, their money, their influence do not make them immune to the war and pestilence that destroy the rest of the earth. Through the foresight of the elder Sumners, they create a scientific research center that provides them with a means of survival. But as the Sumner men become sterile, the women barren, young David Sumner, his cousin Celia and the other Sumners become victimized by an army of look-alike, think-alike clones who are able to perpetuate the Sumner bodies—but not their humanity. What hope there is for a real, human future must lie with with the outcasts of the new society. With its dramatic sweep and its very human feelings, this is rich and engrossing storytelling at its best.

 

THE INFINITY BOX   1975

Kate Wilhelm’s science fiction is impressive in every sense, and the feeling and texture of her writing leave a lasting impression. This long-overdue collection includes nine stories, and they are all stunning.

Highlights are: “The Infinity Box, a long and chilling story of a man who becomes obsessed with his sudden, shocking ability to penetrate and control the mind of a vulnerable, frightened woman; “The Time Piece,” a witty and frustrating tale of a man whose retirement present—a watch—enables him to relive moments of hi past but leaves him helpless to change any of it, or what follows; and “Man of Letters,” about a hack writer with fading skills whose soap-opera plots seem to be coming true. Other stories are “the Fusion Bomb,” “The Red Canary,” “April Fools Day Forever,” “Where Have You Been, Billy Boy, Billy Boy?,” “The Village,” and “The Funeral.”

 

CITY OF CAIN   1974

The American President and his closest advisors are working on a top-secret plan to build a vast underground complex—in readiness for a nuclear war—which will not only house the nation’s retaliatory weapons but will also provide the deepest of shelters for the country’s ‘elite’, while the rest of the population will be left to perish.

Senator Roos, one of the small group who are in the know, has a younger brother, who becomes aware of the plan through strange tricks his mind plays on him as a result of a serious head wound he received in Vietnam. The men behind the scheme learn of his growing interest in their plot and he becomes a security risk.

His struggle to break the news, and their determination to control his mind or to destroy him, are the opposing elements in this very tense psychological thriller. This is masterful storytelling and builds to a shattering climax.

 

MARGARET AND I   1971

This is a provocative psychological thriller by one of the most startlingly original writers of our time.

Its wildly different characters include: Margaret Oliver, beautiful, confused, a sexually frustrated woman trapped in a disastrous marriage; Paul Tyson, a brilliant physicist, whose revolutionary explorations into the action of time suddenly end with his—suicide? accident? murder?; Josie Oliver, Tyson’s lover, who dissapears mysteriously to England, leaving her remote sea cottage vacant. And “I,” Margaret’s subconscious, a living, thinking personality with a will and ego of its own. What inexplicable force binds these four together?

Graceful, taut, even eloquent, Margaret and I is a novel of excitement and sensuality that is sure to absorb—and intrigue—its readers.

 

THE YEAR OF THE CLOUD   (with Ted Thomas)   1970

A tidal wave of 250 feet had swept over Hawaii leaving death and destruction in its wake. An earthquake had sheared away part of Peru. Battering rains were causing rampaging floods everywhere. And where Nature wasn’t devastating the landscape and killing thousands, there was mass starvation. And it was common knowledge that the fate of mankind was hanging in the balance.

The world had passed through a massive and inexplicable cloud formation and the result had been this rampage of Nature. What was more frightening was the condition of the water. It had suddenly become a gellike substance, unfit for consumption and contaminating all forms of life.

World governments who had been warring now found themselves pooling all their scientific resources to discover a means by which the water could be thinned so Nature’s balance could be restored and mankind saved from extinction.

Even if they arrive at a solution, one thing is prominently evident—Man’s way of life will be dramatically altered. It could be a strange rebirth or it could be unbelievable chaos.

 

LET THE FIRE FALL   1969

What happened when an alien spaceship landed in an Ohio cornfield happened, not because of aliens, but because of men. Within a few days, the visitors had mysteriously died, leaving behind their gigantic ship, the unanswered question of where they came from, and one newborn, human-looking infant boy.

This is a powerful, hellfire-and-brimstone novel about the eccentricities of mankind—eccentricities which also make it amusing, touching, and perhaps controversial.

 

 

THE KILLER THING   1967

When Trace, a Captain in the World Group Army, arrives on the scene, the killer robot has already succeeded in piloting a force-field and laser equipped fleet ship, destroying an entire city and threatening several small planets. Trace and his crew chase the robot to a desert planet, where a sinister and unexpected showdown occurs. Suddenly Trace finds himself the sole survivor, pitted against and inhospitable planet and a computerized death machine on the rampage. Weakened by the elements and the lack of food and water, Trace has just one advantage over the robot—imagination. But is this enough to win his inexorable battle with the Killer Thing?

 

 

 

 

THE NEVERMORE AFFAIR   1966

It looked like a major disaster. When people read about the plane crash off the North Carolina coast, they were shocked—this was the flight carrying a group of America’s scientific elite. It looked like an irreplaceable—and mysterious—loss.

Mysterious it was. There had been no crash. The group was still alive—but not safe: they were prisoners in a remote Rocky Mountain valley. They were participants in a scheme that could only have been called “diabolical,” for it was a project that promised nothing less than total immortality for the world—a project called Nevermore.

 

 

 

THE CLONE (with Ted Thomas)   1965

 

The clone pulsed up beyond the sink drain, and it was then that Maude Wendall saw it. She frowned with annoyance at the sink stoppage, and prodded at it with her pot scraper. It resisted. She tried to push the mass back down the drain, but it would not go. Clicking her tongue in exasperation, she dropped the pot scraper and prodded the mass with her finger.

Through the permeable cell wall of the clone’s tissue flowed the enzyme-laden ichor. On contact with human tissue, the enzymes immediately broke down its proteinaceous structure and utilized the amino acids and other residues to construct new clone tissue. There was no pain in the finger. It was several seconds before the woman realized that her finger had disappeared, had been replaced by the clone’s tissue. She screamed then, and lunged back from the sink . . .

 

 

THE MILE-LONG SPACESHIP   1963

Excerpt: “Then, he suddenly remembered the spaceship. For an instant he sent his mental gaze deep into space all around him, but the ship was nowhere to be seen. He surmised it must still be millions of light-years from Earth. As he visualized it again he slowly became aware that once more he was aboard her and the stars he was seeing were on the giant wall screen…

“He watched with interest as one planet after another turned a pale violet and became nearly invisible. He had grown accustomed to the crew of the ship, so paid little heed to them. Their voices were low, monotonous to his ear, never rising or speeding up or sounding indecisive. Completely expressionless, their words defied any attempt to interpret them…

 

 

MORE BITTER THAN DEATH   1962

Seven sombre-faced people stood at Janey Halstead’s open grave. She had once been the center of their island world, and that night sixteen years before, she had been the center of their hate. She had been unfaithful to her husband, ruthless with her son, a blackmailer to her brother and ridiculed the others in humiliating, unforgettable ways.

An eighth—and innocent—person also stood at the grave and it was she, who by a quirk of fate, was doomed to face the murderer as he roamed the island seeking cruel revenge.

 

9 Responses to Novels

  1. Donna S. says:

    My favorites so far of your books are The Good Children and Skeletons. I’ve read others though. Mostly your more recent ones. Are any of the older books going to be reissued? They can be hard to find in used bookstores. I have found a few in the library at least.

    • admin says:

      Kate says:
      As soon as we can do it, all of my work will be available, some of it as ebooks, much of it as paper and ink books. There are quite a few of them available now at infinityboxpress.com . Others will be there as soon as we can manage. Thanks for you interest

    • admin says:

      Kate says: In time I hope to have all of my work available, as I mentioned above. For now, you can check out what’s listed in infinityboxpress.com. I have a great long list, and it’s going to take more time than I like to get them all up. We’re working on it.

  2. Nancy Spaeth says:

    I ordered your book ‘Skeleton’ on line a few weeks ago. I started reading it a couple days ago, and finished it a day later. Fantastic book!

  3. Dear Kate,

    I read a number of your books in college in the 70s and afterwards, and all the stories that appeared in Fantasy in Science Fiction for years. Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang and Fault Lines have both stuck with me longer than almost any other books I’ve read. The last title I picked up was Death Qualified, but after that I seem to have lost track of your work. Looks like I have some catching up to do!

    I’m an author now myself, and well, I just wanted to say thank you.

    Maggie Secarfa

    • You’d think I could type my own name! Alas, I may be a writer but I’m still a lousy typist.

      Maggie Secara

    • admin says:

      Kate says

      Hello, Maggie,
      The seventies! Such a long time ago. I’m very happy that you remembered a couple of my novels from that period; thank you. As you might have noticed from my long bibliography, I never stopped writing. Am still writing, with a new novel under way now. I hope your writing career spans many decades with as much joy as mine has given me. Best wishes for your successes.

      Kate

  4. Pingback: Janey wilhelm | Actifi

  5. Chuck Albrecht says:

    Are any of the early novels available as e-books or as reissued paper?
    My copy of Welcome, Chaos is falling apart, and Juniper Time is lost.
    It would be nice to have the short story collections available as well.
    While I’m at it, Mr. Knight’s novel (co-authored with James Blish, I think) would be welcome.

    Off the subject, 2 of Laurie R. King’s novels are set in the Pacific Northwest as are S.M Stirling’s Change novels.

    Chuck Albrecht

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