Howard Waldrop Collection

Identity elements

Reference code

TxAM-CRS C000271

Name and location of repository

Level of description



Howard Waldrop Collection


  • 1965-1994; Undated (Creation)


26 boxes

Name of creator


Biographical history

Howard Waldrop was born in Houston, Mississippi on September 15, 1946, and moved to the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas in 1950. He attended the University of Texas at Arlington, spent two years in the Army, and lived briefly in Grand Prairie and Bryan before moving to Austin in 1974 where he was been a member of the well-known Turkey City Writers Workshop along with Bruce Sterling, Leigh Kennedy, Chad Oliver, Lewis Shiner, and others.

Waldrop spent most of his life in Texas, especially in the Austin area. A prolific and singular writer, he was once described by George R. R. Martin as "the most startling, original, and entertaining short story writer in science fiction today."

He sold his first story to Analog, entitled "Lunchbox", in 1972, and was subsequently widely published in places as diverse as Omni, Playboy, Universe, Crawdaddy, New Dimensions, Shayol, Orbit, and Zoo World. His first novel, The Texas Israeli War: 1999, written in collaboration with fellow Texan Jake Saunders, was published in 1974. In 1984 his solo novel, Them Bones, was published as part of the new Ace Specials line. But it was as a short story writer that Waldrop made his reputation. Many of his unique and bizarre stories have been published in different collections, including Howard Who? (1986), All About Strange Monsters of the Recent Past (1987), Custer's Last Jump and Other Collaborations (2003), and H'ard Starts: The Early Waldrop (2023). A particularly notable collection of his stories, Night of the Cooters (the title story was a 1988 Hugo nominee, and was adapted into an animated short in 2022), was published in 1990.

His 1980 story "The Ugly Chickens" won both the Nebula and World Fantasy Awards in 1981, and Waldrop has also been frequently nominated over the years for many other awards, including the Hugo, the Nebula, the Locus, the Balrog, and the Sidewise Awards. In the course of his long career, Waldrop wrote over two hundred stories, with his most recent one (not including those appearing only in a collection) being "Til the Cows Come Home To Roost", in the Spring 2018 issue of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet He received the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 2021.

Waldrop died from a stroke in Austin, on January 14, 2024, at the age of 77.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

This collection contains manuscripts, printed material, correspondence, legal documents, financial documents, idea books, photographic material, and books created and/or maintained by Howard Waldrop which give a glimpse of his personal life as well as document his professional life as one of the prolific and best-known science fiction writers from Texas.

The first category consists of Howard Waldrop's works both published and unpublished arranged alphabetically by title. Some manuscript files in this category may contain correspondence, notes, research material, contracts, royalty statements, proofs, etc. Thus, information about a specific story can be found in the collection by title.

The second category consists of materials related to Waldrop personally and/or professionally. This category is arranged alphabetically by general topical heading. His idea for some of his stories can be found in his Idea Books file from 1968 to 1988. Information about him personally or professionally can be found in the newspaper clippings, correspondence, and his work diaries files. His movements for any given year from the 1970s to 1994 could be reconstructed from his science fiction convention, conferences, programs, etc. file. But the most important file in this category is his story logs file 1970-1989. The file shows: when and where a story was written, how long it is; who bought it or did not; when and where it was published (or supposed to be published); and any subsequent reprints or foreign editions, royalties, etc.

The last category of the collection is works by or materials related to other science fiction writers. It includes manuscripts of other writers' works that happened to be in his possession or other writers' manuscripts in which he is a collaborator. Some biographical sketches of other writers can be found in the Con Bios-writers file. Information about Waldrop written by other writers can also be found in this category of the collection.

System of arrangement

This collection was rehoused in 2022 and kept its original arrangement as it was processed by the Archivist in the mid-2000s when it was organized into three categories of materials. First is Howard Waldrop's published and unpublished works. The second category consists of materials related to Waldrop either personally or professionally. Lastly, some materials in the collection are works or materials related to other science fiction writers.

There are no clear physical or intellectual boundaries between these three categories (see the first folder in box 1 for Waldrop's own notes to provenance and included authors). The general box contents are as listed:

Box 1 - Provenance note, and stories by Buddy Saunders, Tom Reamy, and other writers
Box 2 - Notebooks, and manuscripts
Box 3 - Manuscripts, and notes
Box 4 - Untitled stories, ideas, and Work Diaries
Box 5 - Work Diaries, and Idea Books (stories and reviews)
Box 6 - Idea Books (notes and ideas)
Box 7 - Idea Books (notes and ideas), manuscripts, correspondence, and drafts
Box 8 - Manuscripts, correspondence, and drafts
Box 9 - Manuscripts, correspondence, drafts, con bio-writers
Box 10 - Manuscripts, correspondence, drafts, and notes
Box 11 - Manuscripts, correspondence, and drafts
Box 12 - Manuscripts, correspondence, reference materials, and short story collection
Box 13 - Manuscripts, correspondence, and book reviews
Box 14 - Manuscripts, and correspondence
Box 15 - Manuscripts, correspondence, and drafts
Box 16 - Manuscripts, correspondence, and notes
Box 17 - Manuscripts, correspondence, and notes
Box 18 - Manuscripts, correspondence, reviews, and galleys
Box 19 - Final and rough drafts
Box 20 - Manuscripts, correspondence, reviews, galleys, notes, and screenplays
Box 21 - Manuscripts, correspondence, galleys, notes, and drafts
Box 22 - Drafts and copy-edited drafts
Box 23 - Manuscripts, galleys, and page proofs
Box 24 - Manuscripts, typescripts, and page proofs
Box 25 - Drafts, research materials, correspondence, and newspaper clippings
Box 26 - Science Fiction conference and convention materials, and story logs (copies)

Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

Physical access

These materials are stored offsite and require additional time for retrieval.

Technical access

Conditions governing reproduction

Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Languages of the material

  • English

Scripts of the material

Language and script notes

Finding aids

Acquisition and appraisal elements

Custodial history

Immediate source of acquisition


Related materials elements

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related archival materials

Related descriptions

Notes element

General note

Wild Cards is the general title given to the shared superhuman universe of novels created and primarily edited by George R.R. Martin. The first book, Wild Cards, was released in 1987, set mostly in the early days of the wild card epidemic, and continues to run (as of this writing) through 29 subsequent books (the latest being 2022's Full House), having been brought up to the present day. The series is governed by the Wild Cards Trust, a collective of authors that share the universe not only through their own stories but with their own created recurring characters that can be used by other authors. Besides Martin, authors include or have included, among others: Melinda M. Snodgrass, Howard Waldrop, Lewis Shiner, Stephen Leigh, Walter Jon Williams, Walton Simons, John J. Miller, Mary Anne Mohanraj, Victor Milan, Carrie Vaughn, William Wu, and Caroline Spector.

Wild Cards begins in 1946, when a humanoid alien species called the Takisians releases an experimental virus upon Earth, as a test. (The entire Wild Cards series is an exploration of the subsequent wide-reaching social, political, and historical effects of this virus on humanity.) The "wild card" virus (called so by humans because its effects are unpredictable and never affect two people in the same way) rapidly disseminates across the entire planet.

People who contract the virus suffer one of three possible fates. The vast majority of victims die in horrible ways (called "drawing the Black Queen). Of those that survive, most become "jokers", developing serious, often crippling and often dramatic deformities - in many parts of the world, including the United States, jokers suffer discrimination, prejudice, and marginalization. A tiny percentage of virus victims (c. 1%) become "aces", developing powers that often rise to the level of superhuman. In the traditional comic book manner, some aces become superheroes, and others become villains.

Although stories in the series occur in various parts of the world, the primary setting, especially in the earlier books, is New York City, including its joker ghetto 'Jokertown'. The series is notable not only for its colorful fights between aces and aces (and aces and jokers), but its less dramatic but emotionally fraught explorations of how the presence of superheroes, supervillains, and a dramatically different underclass would affect the development of the "real world".

Specialized notes

Alternative identifier(s)

Description control element

Rules or conventions

Sources used

Access points

Place access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Accession area

Related people and organizations

Related genres

Related places