(1936-2010) US nurse and author who began publishing sf with a poem, "Atomic Reaction" for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in May 1963 as by Ron Webb, and whose first story, "The Girl with the 100 Proof Eyes" (July 1964 F&SF), also as by Ron Webb, appeared a year later in the same journal. She began to produce fiction regularly only from the end of the 1970s, after about a decade in nursing, experience which figured in the nongenre RN (1981) and in her new tale, "Hitch on the Bull Run" (June 1979 Asimov's). The latter is the first of the humorous Terra Tarkington stories whose heroine, a member of the Interstellar Nurses Corps (see Medicine), engages in medical and other escapades throughout the Galaxy: the rhyming titles conclude with "Bitch on the Bull Run" (June 1981 Asimov's) and the six episodes are assembled as The Adventures of Terra Tarkington (fixup 1985).
Webb was perhaps better known for the Earth Song sequence – Earthchild (fixup 1982), Earth Song (1983) and Ram Song (1984) – in which the introduction of an Immortality process generates social upheaval, at first because the process must be initiated before the end of puberty, but in the long run because those who become immortal lose any capacity to create works of Art. The protagonist of the sequence, a musician involuntarily subjected to the process, helps create, over a 100-century period, a world whose inhabitants can choose between the ability to make art and the chance to live forever.
Her subsequent novels – Pestis 18 (1987) and The Half Life (1989) – are medical Technothrillers, the first dealing with a deadly virus, the second with a government experiment in personality manipulation that goes wrong (see Identity). After a further story – "The Door" (in Final Shadows, anth 1991, ed Charles L Grant) – she then became inactive as a publishing author. [JC/DRL]
born Tampa, Florida: 29 February 1936
died Blairsville, Georgia: 29 April 2010