"The Berserkers have been with me for about forty years, and we're not done yet." -- Fred Saberhagen
Fred Thomas Saberhagen (May 18, 1930–June 29, 2007) was an American science fiction and fantasy author most famous for his Berserker series series of science fiction short stories and S.F. novels.
Saberhagen also wrote a series of vampire novels in which the vampires (including the famous Dracula) are the protagonists, and a series of post-apocalyptic mytho-magical novels beginning with his popular Empire of the East and continuing through a long series of Swords and Lost Swords novels. Saberhagen died of cancer, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
"Actually ideas are everywhere. It's the paperwork, that is, sitting down and thinking them into a coherent story, trying to find just the right words, that can and usually does get to be labor.""And what we know, or think we know, about the universe of space and time is changing very quickly.""At this stage, my chief professional goal is simply to keep on writing and making a living at it.""I don't know why a computer game can't be an art form just as a puppet show or an opera is. I'm still interested in computer games as something I would like to work on someday.""I doubt I'll ever do another book collaboration; I've been spoiled. Roger and I both happened to move to New Mexico at about the same time, when we each had a family of young kids to raise. Socializing seemed to lead naturally to working together.""I finally decided one day, reading science fiction magazines of the time, I could do at least as well as some of these people are doing. So I finally made a serious effort.""I guess if one set of my books was selling like Stephen King's, and the other wasn't selling at all, editors would want me to do the ones that sold like Stephen King's. But they seem to be willing to let me pick what I want to do next.""I had immediate success in the sense that I sold something right off the bat. I thought it was going to be a piece of cake and it really wasn't. I have drawers full of - or I did have - drawers full of rejection slips.""I have some good stories yet to tell.""I started writing seriously about 1960, at the fairly advanced age of 30.""I suspect that writer's block afflicts mainly people who have some stable and ample source of income outside of writing. So far it hasn't been a problem.""I wouldn't like to just do one story or one type of stories all the time.""I wrote speculative fiction because I loved to read it, and thought I could do better than some of the people who were getting published.""If people ask me for the ingredients of success, I say one is talent, two is stubbornness or determination, and third is sheer luck. You have to have two out of the three. Any two will probably do.""More immediately, I'm currently working on another Dracula in which there will be connections with ancient Egypt. That's about as far as I want to go in commenting on current work.""My gut feeling is that paper and ink are going to be with us for a long time yet, and in substantial quantities, though certainly books are now going to be available in other forms.""Mysteries I read for fun, so I will probably never write one, for fear of spoiling the fun.""Only towards the end of this process are any of the chapters in fully readable condition, a state of affairs that used to alarm my wife. But Joan's got used to it.""Probably all the books I've ever written have been efforts to define the boundaries of humanity.""Research is of considerable importance in certain fields, such as science and history.""The advice would be the same for any kind of fiction. Keep writing, and keep sending things out, not to friends and relatives, but to people who have the power to buy. A lot of additional, useful tips could be added, but this is fundamental.""The comments I most appreciate come from ordinary readers who've happened on one of my books at some time of stress in their lives, and who actually credit the book with helping them through a bad time. It's happened a few times in forty years.""The same tools that make any writer good, plus a cheerful willingness to suspend belief.""The Swords were still interesting but by then a cast of characters had started to appear and go on from book to book, and other things about the world began to feel constricting. And there were other things I wanted to do, so I closed the series up and stopped it.""There are interactions with characters within the game which I think are pretty neatly done considering the limitations that you have to work with. I mean, a computer can't really generate a character that talks back and forth with you successfully.""There's a big overlap with the people you meet at the fantasy and science fiction cons."
Saberhagen was born in and grew up in the area of Chicago, Illinois. Saberhagen served as an enlisted man in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War while he was in his early twenties. Back in civilian life, Saberhagen worked as an electronics technician for the Motorola Corporation from 1958 to 1962, when he was around 30 years old.
It was while he was working for Motorola that Saberhagen started writing fiction seriously at the age of about 30. His first sale was to Galaxy Magazine, which published his short story "Volume PAA-PYX" in 1961. "Fortress Ship", his first "Berserker" short shory, was published in 1963. Then, in 1964, Saberhagen saw the publication of his first novel, The Golden People.
From 1967 to 1973, he worked as an editor for the Encyclopedia Britannica, writing its article on science fiction. He then quit and took up writing full time. In 1975, he moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico.
He married fellow writer Joan Spicci in 1968. They had two sons and a daughter. On June 29, 2007, Saberhagen died of prostate cancer in Albuquerque.
Saberhagen's Dracula novels are based on the premise that vampires are morally equal to normal humans: they have the power to do good or evil, it is their choice. The first in the series, The Dracula Tape, is the story of Bram Stoker's Dracula told from Dracula's point of view. (Saberhagen depicts Dracula as the historical figure Vlad ?epe?, who as woiwode of Wallachia was known as Drakulya, who in Saberhagen's stories became a vampire by simply refusing to die, "by a transcendent act of will" as the character describes it in the book.) As the continuation of the series makes obvious, in this version, Dracula survives the best efforts of Harker, Van Helsing and company, who are portrayed largely as bungling fools, Van Helsing in particular as a fraud and heretic, and Dracula while alive as a violent and mean-tempered but nonetheless Orthodox Christian who fought the encroach of the Ottoman Turkish Empire into Europe. ("There is not an ounce of soil here which has not been enriched by the blood of patriots.") In later novels, Dracula interacts with other literary characters including Sherlock Holmes and Merlin. This series was often listed in Ace promotional materials as "The New Dracula". His success with this series was such that he was hired to write the novelization of the movie, Bram Stoker's Dracula.
1. The Dracula Tape (1975)
2. The Holmes-Dracula File (1978) (allegedly not Saberhagen's choice of title, as it gives away what was intended to be a surprise plot point)
3. An Old Friend of the Family (1979)
4. Thorn (1980)
5. Dominion (1982)
"From the Tree of Time" (1982) (short story)
6. A Matter of Taste (1990)
7. A Question of Time (1992)
8. Seance for a Vampire (1994)
9. A Sharpness on the Neck (1996)
Vlad Tapes (2000) (omnibus of 2 previous books)
"Box Number Fifty" (2001) (short story)
10. A Coldness in the Blood (2002)
Empire of the East series
The Broken Lands (1968)
The Black Mountains (1971)
Changeling Earth (1973) also as Ardneh's World
Ardneh's Sword (May 2006)
Volumes 1-3 were also published in a heavily-revised omnibus form as Empire of the East in 1979, 1990, and 2005.
Books of Swords
The First Book of Swords (1983)
The Second Book of Swords (1983)
The Third Book of Swords (1984)
Books of Lost Swords
Woundhealer's Story (1986)
Sightblinder's Story (1987)
Stonecutter's Story (1988)
Farslayer's Story (1989)
Coinspinner's Story (1989)
Mindsword's Story (1990)
Wayfinder's Story (1992)
Shieldbreaker's Story (1994) (actually subtitled The Last Book of Swords)
Short story anthologies
An Armory of Swords (1995) (original anthology edited by Saberhagen)
Blind Man's Blade by Fred Saberhagen
Woundhealer by Walter Jon Williams
Fealty by Gene Bostwick
Dragon Debt by Robert E. Vardeman
The Sword of Aren-Nath by Thomas Saberhagen
Glad Yule by Pati Nagle
Luck of the Draw by Michael A. Stackpole
Stealth and the Lady by Sage Walker
The Berserker stories tell about an ongoing war between humanity and the Berserkers. Saberhagen's Berserkers are self-replicating war machines programmed with one main objective: Destroy all life. After destroying both their creators and the opposing side in a long-ago galactic war, the self-replicating Berserkers have continued to wipe out all forms of life that they encounter in the Milky Way, which leads to the cooperation and coordination of most of the sentient races in major attempts to defeat them. Humankind, although relatively new to the galactic scene, is a major player because of its aggressive nature. The series spans a large range of both time and space, and so has less plot continuity than Saberhagen's other series.
1. Berserker (1967) (short fiction collection)
2. Brother Assassin (1969) a.k.a. Brother Berserker;( available online) as a Baen Free Sample from the Berserker Man omnibus