About the Author
His fiction is marked by diversity, ranging from conventional realism to vanguard experimentation, from high orbit to Moscow, Idaho, and from textured observation of suburban life to philosophical meditation on Ludwig Wittgenstein.
His first novel, Live from Earth (Ballantine/Available Press, 1991), which Booklist called "often absurd, sometimes disturbing, and wholly engrossing," is a magical realist tale in the tradition of Gabriel Garc'a Mrquez about a young woman's love affair with her dead husband. His second, Tonguing the Zeitgeist (Permeable, 1994), finalist for the 1995 Philip K. Dick Award for best science fiction novel, is a social satire in the tradition of Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange about the commercialization of the arts. His short story collection, Scherzi, I Believe (Wordcraft, 1994) is, as literary critic Thomas E. Kennedy writes, "a collection to water a parched place with laughter, delight, and that rarest of commodities as we approach the third millennium: intelligence."
His latest novels are Burnt (Wordcraft, 1996) and Time Famine (Permeable, 1996). Burnt, which Publishers Weekly calls "a funny cautionary tale" marked by "true wit," is a comic murder mystery involving a professor who kills one of his students because of his bad prose style. Time Famine, which Asimov's calls "relentless, savage, [and] hysterically funny," and which Science Fiction Chronicle cited as one of the best novels of 1996, is a literary science fiction involving smart space probes in the twenty-first century, government radiation experiments in the Northwest in the twentieth, and the ill-fated Donner Party in the nineteenth.
His most recent publication is Rebel Yell: A Short Guide to Writing Fiction (Cambrian Press), which covers everything from the current climate in publishing to jump-starting your creative muse, writing stories and novels, deciphering contracts, and getting the word out about your work after the fact. It also features over forty interviews with writers, editors, and publishers.
In addition to being a prolific fiction writer (his work has appeared in over fifty journals and anthologies), Olsen has published a chapbook of poems, nearly sixty critical essays, and more than a hundred reviews. He has also written four books about postmodern fiction, including the first study of the father of cyberpunk, William Gibson, and has edited two collections of essays on the future of American fiction. His interests include the future of the book in an increasingly market-driven publishing industry, the impact of the Internet on fiction, and (with his artist wife, Andi Olsen) the nexus where art and fiction kiss.