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Mary Doria Russell

Mary Doria Russell

Science fiction author | 2-time Pulitzer nominee | Class of 1972

This is not one of the stories that earned Mary Doria Russell the Arthur C. Clarke Prize for 1998’s best science-fiction novel, a pair of Pulitzer nominations or the tag of “one of the most versatile writers in contemporary American literature,” according to her publisher, Penguin Random House.

But when the member of the UI’s Class of ’72 thinks about her days in C-U, it’s the first tale she always tells:

“This could have been a scary story instead of a funny one.

"In 1971, there was a campus swimming pool in a dark brick building that seemed to have been built in the 1920s. After a swim, I was alone and naked in the creepy old shower room, rinsing the chlorine off my skinny, little 103-pound self when I sensed that I was not alone.

“I turned around and saw three little boys, maybe 9 years old, staring at me. ‘Well, kids,’ I said, ‘I hope this hasn’t been a disappointment to you.’

“The answer was a wide-eyed, ‘No, ma’am. It wasn’t.’ To which I replied, ‘OK, then. Get lost.’ And off they went.

“So, nothing bad happened, but I never used the pool again.”