Michael Shea was born in Los Angeles—in Culver City, across the street from the huge north wall of MGM Studio's main lot. There, the billboard-size movie ads greeted his infant eyes, and taught him awe and a love of grand narratives. An inveterate hitch hiker before, during, and after his college years, he encountered, in a flophouse up in Juneau, Alaska, a book of pure Fantasy entitled The Eyes of The Overworld. A year or so later, at a different flophouse in the Fillmore District (a ghetto in those days) of San Francisco, he encountered AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS.
His aesthetic goose was cooked, though he didn't come to know it till a couple years later, when he began writing Sword and Sorcery, and Mythos. He's won two WFA's, was a finalist for a third, was twice a finalist for Hugos, and twice for Nebulas. His work has been translated into French, German, Russian, Italian, Japanese, Swedish, Hungarian, Finnish, Greek and Urdu. (No—not Urdu—that's just a little joke.)
by Linda Shea
In 1979, I met Michael in San Francisco's Mission District, at the Multiplex Co. He'd come to visit a friend from UC Berkeley days, another holographer, like myself. That night the two of them read Chaucer to me in Middle English,"When in Apri-le." If I hadn't already been smitten by him, I think that would have clinched it. What he loved the most was the written word. He'd read Gibbons over and over, Tacitus, Caesar's recounts of his campaigns, Updike, Dickens, Carter.....so many more. And when discovering R.M. James or Ramsey Campbell, he'd immerse himself in their work completely, making occasional utterances of, "This guy is good." Two days before Michael died, he taught a class of 27 students, something he loved. He would say, "I like my students and they like me." And, on that last day, he spent six hours at the keyboard . He died an hour later. Almost every day of the 35 years we were together, he wrote. Aspiring writers would ask about writing and he would usually say something like, "Just start it and above all finish it. Once you have it laid out, it's there." And as an aside to me, laughing at himself, "And then you can write it three more times to get it right." He was not afraid of hard work. The window on the world he gave me is now shuttered. As hard as I try, I cannot hear his deep gravelly voice. But, I have him speaking, as clearly as he could, in his writing.