Geographic Connection to Pennsylvania: Harrisburg, Dauphin County
Harrisburg native Barry Longyear won the prestigious Nebula and Hugo Awards for his science fiction novella Enemy Mine.
Born in Harrisburg in 1942, Barry Longyear is a well-known science fiction writer. His career has jumped from art school, to the United States Army, to publishing, to writing—finally settling after selling his first short story, “The Tryouts,” to Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. He writes both science fiction and nonfiction, and has won many awards including The Hugo Award and The Nebula Award.
Barry Longyear was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on May 12, 1942. He describes his childhood home as being “filled to the limit with brilliance, literacy, music, wit, passion, and sickness.” In 1967, Longyear married Regina Bedsun.
Longyear attended a variety of schools before and after his high school graduation from Staunton Military Academy in Staunton, Virginia in 1960. Upon graduation, Longyear enrolled at a commercial art school in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He remained at art school briefly, and following a period of roaming, Longyear joined the United States Army. He served with the 30th Artillery Brigade as a HAWK missile and launcher technician. He also served with the 6th Missile Battalion in Key West, Florida. He was officially discharged from the service in 1965. Longyear then enrolled in classes at Wayne State University for a brief period, and after a year decided to withdraw from school. While at Wayne State, Longyear met Regina Bedsun and the two eloped and began a wondrous period of wandering which led the newlyweds to places like Detroit, Harrisburg, and Philadelphia. They eventually settled in Farmington, Maine. Longyear admits to having tried different professions and occupations throughout the years. From 1967 to 1968, Longyear was the production manager at the Madison Corporation in Detroit, Michigan. After leaving Detroit, Longyear was an editor, publisher, and ghostwriter for Sol III Publications in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He eventually left the publishing industry in the late 1970s. Longyear decided that, while he enjoyed being a printer, he no longer cared for his customers. He sold his printing company and picked a new profession as a full-time writer. He relied on what he calls his “kamikaze school of career selection.” As he began his newly chosen career, Longyear realized he neglected some very important steps in his making his literary debut. He never thought about what he was going to write about or how he was going to write. After learning the fundamentals of the writers’ market, he made his first sale of a short story, “The Tryouts,” to Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine.
Thereafter, Longyear quickly sold many stories to Amazing, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, and Omni. He also had non-fiction articles published in Writer’s Digest. Critics and readers praised Longyear across the globe as having significant flair for science fiction. During his first year of publication Longyear sold three books. The first novel, Manifest Destiny, contained four of Longyear’s earlier works that are considered to be among his best work. One of the stories called “Enemy Mine,” was turned into a motion picture and eventually expanded into a novel in collaboration with David Gerrold. Longyear’s next book, Circus World, contained a continuation of the Momus stories begun in “The Tryouts.” He continued to publish other collections of stories, but was later sidetracked because of an addiction to alcohol and prescription drugs. In December of 1981, Longyear checked into St. Mary’s Rehabilitation Center in Minneapolis for treatment. His sobering stay at the clinic would provide a basis for his novel Saint Mary Blue, a non-science fiction novel in which he chronicled his recovery experience. In 1987, Longyear published Sea of Glass, for which critics praised his writing style and his ability to grab the reader’s attention. Longyear continued to hold the attention of his audience for many years following his highly praised debut. Longyear said his “reason for writing these days is the ride.” He has also been focusing his efforts on the realm of human spirituality, studying the deep and personal effects of religion on the individual. He also teaches workshops and seminars for individuals interested in writing science fiction. In 1998, Longyear said he graduated from the International Correspondence School as a private investigator, which he hopes will jumpstart his creative juices and career into writing mystery stories.
Many of the awards Longyear accumulated were given to him in his early days as a writer. In 1980 he was awarded the John W. Campbell Award for best new writer by the World Science Fiction Foundation. In that same year he was also given the Hugo Award at the World Science Fiction Convention for the best novella published that year, “Enemy Mine.” He was also given a Nebula Award by the Science Fiction Writers of America in 1980 for “Enemy Mine.” The next year, the University of Maine at Farmington awarded Longyear a Distinguished Achievement Award.
Longyear currently resides in New Sharon, Maine with his wife Jean and a “used dog.”
Elephant Song. New York: Berkley Publishing, 1981.
The Tomorrow Testament. New York: Berkley Publishing, 1982.
Enemy Mine. New York: Charter, 1985.
Sea of Glass. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1987.
Naked Came the Robot. New York: Popular Library, 1988.
The God Box. New York: Signet, 1989.
Infinity Hold. New York: Popular Library, 1989.
The Homecoming. New York: Walker, 1989.
The Change. New York: Pocket Books, 1994.
Slag Like Me. New York: Pocket Books, 1994.
The Enemy Papers. New York: White Wolf, 1998.
Collections of Stories
Manifest Destiny. New York: Berkley Publishing, 1980.
Circus World. New York: Berkley Publishing, 1980.
City of Baraboo. New York: Berkley Publishing, 1980.
It Came from Schenectady. New York: Bluejay, 1984.
“Barry Brookes Longyear.” The Gale Literary Database: Contemporary Authors Online. 2001. 10 July 2001. <>http://www.galenet.com>.