IN RETROSPECT, Chris's diverse experiences and education seem to have been tailored for a life in science fiction. A childhood spent moving from town to town and living in Korea for a year taught him to love and seek new places and people, and being the alien helped him to understand the notion of the "other." His earliest idol was spaceflight pioneer Robert H. Goddard, which led him to (mostly failed) rocketry experiments. Autodidactic education in paleontology, geology, and anthropology led to formal college coursework in astronomy, so that he could teach directed studies during high school. His first years at the University of Minnesota focused on astrophysics, until Chris recognized that his real passion was observational astronomy; this led him to work for the Physics and Astronomy Department at the University of Wisconsin in Eau Claire, where he served as planetarian in the Phillips Planetarium, as well as Assistant Director at Hobbs Observatory in Fall Creek. Also in his undergraduate years, a desire to understand people better drove him to study psychology, particularly child development and abnormal psychology.
But his first love has always been expressing joy and wonder and hopes and fears in the form of fiction and poetry, so in his fourth (of six) year of college, he abandoned the goal of becoming an astrophysicist or therapist and embraced his true calling - writing - and earned a BA in English-Writing. After graduation, he served as the primary substitute teacher for a K-12 school in a tiny northeastern Montana town, where he wrote several stories, a book of poetry, and a novel. As much as he loved the dark skies, endless prairie, and badlands of this rough territory, he moved on to pursue studies in science fiction literature and writing under SF Grand Master James Gunn at the University of Kansas. This was a pivotal experience, and several of the stories and papers he wrote for Gunn, as well as his thesis, saw publication. He became involved in Jim's original science fiction center in 1992, returning after grad school to continue studying with and apprenticing with Gunn in teaching his unique, month-long, literature-and-fiction-writing summer SF program. Meanwhile, Chris worked for a number of gaming and high-tech companies in the Seattle area, finally landing as a technical writer, editor, and documentation project manager for Microsoft. After seven years away, he returned to KU to teach writing and SF, and succeeded Gunn as the final director of his center (McKitterick's summer 2017 Spec-Fic Workshop marked his 25th anniversary of serving Jim Gunn's original center).
In 2021, after KU-English declared an intention to take control of Gunn's original SF center and make it more inwardly focused on departmental and KU academics, Chris announced his resignation and launched the new Ad Astra Center for Science Fiction & the Speculative Imagination at KU to carry on and grow our shared educational-outreach legacy. It begins operation in 2022, marking Chris' 30th annniversary of serving SF at KU [omg]. Here's the press release.
Chris's award-winning short work has appeared in Analog, Artemis, Captain Proton, E-Scape, Extrapolation, Foundation, Global Warming Aftermaths, James Gunn's Ad Astra, Locus, Mission Tomorrow, Mythic Circle, NOTA, Ruins: Extraterrestrial, Sentinels: In Honor of Arthur C. Clarke, Synergy: New Science Fiction, Tomorrow Speculative Fiction, various TSR publications, Visual Journeys: A Tribute to Space Art, Westward Weird, a bowling poem anthology, and elsewhere. His newest newest short fiction, "Ashes of Exploding Suns, Monuments to Dust," was on the Tangent 2018 Recommended Reading List and won the Analytical Laboratories Readers Award for best novelette of 2018 - his first major writing award.
His debut novel, Transcendence, is widely available, now in second edition. He recently finished a far-future novel, Empire Ship, and the first book in The Galactic Adventures of Jack and Stella, and has several other projects on the burner, including his memoir, Stories from a Perilous Youth - keep an eye on the Novels page for updates!
He recently launched a Patreon, so follow to see all kinds of works in progress, new things, and general blog fun. Thanks to generous patrons, almost everything there is free for everyone to read!
Other writing projects have included a weekly astronomy newsletter, science articles, and software-related documentation and advertising materials. When he lived in Seattle, he served as editor, writer, and documentation manager for the Microsoft Windows Resource Kits, which technically makes him a best-selling author. He doesn't like to think too much about that. On the other hand, his contributions to those projects helped win a bunch of STC awards in technical communication, which he thinks is kinda cool.
Chris has been director (with invaluable help from Kij Johnson and a bunch of volunteers) of two SF centers at KU, including the first science-fiction research center in the world! We offer a ton of stuff, including a diversity of courses and programs to get science fiction into the hands of young people. If you're interested in helping keep our genre vital through the influx of new readers, and you want to help youngsters enjoy the thrill and sense of wonder you remember, get involved! He also helped launch an educator-focused outreach and resource program. Other science fiction duties include organizing and serving as nominations director for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for best short SF story of the year from 1993-2016, and as nominations director and juror for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best SF novel of the year (Chair since 2018). In 2016, he was asked to organize and head up the academic-programming track of the World Science Fiction Convention in Kansas City.
Chris was honored to be guest editor (and webmaster) of the special May/June 2010 World Literature Today "International Science Fiction" issue, with much internet-exclusive content available online. Check it out! He is a regular speaker on SF and writing, and was stoked to be give the keynote talks at the 2012 UCO Liberal Arts Symposium (keynote on science fiction as the mythologies for a changing age), the 2014 Southwest Philosophical Society Conference (keynote remarks about SF and philosophy), and the 2015 University of Iowa Medical Science Training Program retreat (keynote on "Positive Feedback Loops: Science Fiction and Science").
As a young'un, Chris started the Ortonville space program - whose most successful launch only reached about 30 feet - as part of the Ortonville Science Society (the OSS, natch), and edited the monthly journal. He has also built nearly 100 telescopes. Currently, he teaches science fiction and creative writing, as well as technical writing and editing at the University of Kansas.
He lives in Lawrence, Kansas, with his partner, a cat (Miette Kitty), a tree frog, a snake, several fancy bugs, some mice, a baby squirrel, and dozens of outdoor pets. He's shared his home with many other pets including cats: Tatsuko (aka "Neko no tatsuko shikibu," who had her own LJ) and a three-legged terror (Sanju, a.k.a. Peep); a silver mouse (Sophia); a hamster (Hammie-Boy, who followed Chloe, who also had her own LJ); Fetish-Kitty; a German Shepherd dog (a.k.a. "Sid, Dog of Peace"); a collie-dog Hope, who was rescued from the Lawrence Humane Society (here's another shot of Hope with a little monster he fostered for a while); Helen kitty (aka "The Great Helen of Peerless Whose Face Could Launch a Thousand Combines"); Spot the Mouse and other lovely mice (no photos, sorry!); and Kosmo the aquatic frog. Somehow he never lived with a monkey (unless you count Sylvie the rescue squirrel who spends nearly as much time outside as in).
Go here if you want to see more pet photos on his LiveJournal photo-gallery pages, or here to see his Facebook photos page, and here to see links to even more photos. And of course he posts tons more on his Tumblr, Instagram, and Patreon blogs.
Want to see his ridiculously long (work made me do it) C.V.? Here it is (pdf).
Chris lives in Lawrence, where he teaches science fiction and writing at the University of Kansas (see his classes here), dwells amid thousands of books, restores old vehicles, watches the sky, and enjoys life with the best kitty and fiancée in the history of ever. Current hobbies include astronomy, blogging, gaming with friends, building a land-speed-record 50cc scooter and other ridiculous vehicles, and many other things he'd like to be doing but doesn't have time to do. But ain't that always the case. His greatest claim to fame so far is a quote that got started in a medical journal's discussion forum: "Anecdotal evidence is legitimate if it appears in sufficient quantity."
Come say hello at one of Chris' online hangouts:
Facebook (pretty active)
Tumblr (main online hangout)