Sheffield served as Chief Scientist of Earth Satellite Corporation, a company that processed remote sensing satellite data. The association gave rise to many technical papers and two popular non-fiction books, Earthwatch and Man on Earth, both collections of false-colour and enhanced images of Earth from space.
Charles Sheffield attended St John's College, Cambridge, where he graduated with a Double First in Mathematics and Physics. During his studies he met and later married his first wife, Sarah Sanderson, whose death in 1977 became the catalyst for his writing career. They had a son, Charles Christopher ("Kit"), and a daughter, Ann Elizabeth. The family soon after moved to the United States, where Sheffield began working in the field of practical physics, a career that would lead him to a consultancy with NASA and the role of chief scientist at the Earth Satellite Corporation in Washington.
In response to the traumatic grief from the death of his wife Sarah to cancer (in 1977), Sheffield began a second career as a prominent science fiction author, winning both the prestigious Nebula and Hugo awards and serving as President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (1984–1986). He maintained two successful careers, consulting for various scientific corporations while earning fame for his "Hard SF". Sheffield was known[by whom?] to note that "the world was really too interesting to let alone". During this period he lived in Washington, DC, and met and married Linda Zall, a fellow scientist, and had two daughters, Elizabeth Rose and Victoria Jane.
At the time of his death, he was married to writer Nancy Kress, and lived with his children in Silver Spring, MD.
Sight of Proteus, (Ace Sep. 1978) / revised: (NEL Jan. 1989); book version of the following linked stories:
"Sight of Proteus," (nv) Amazing May 1978
"Legacy," (nv) Galaxy June 1977
"The Grooves of Change," (na) *; reprinted in Amazing Feb. 1979
Proteus Unbound, (n) Analog Aug. 1988 (+3) / (NEL Jan. 1989) / (Ballantine Del Rey March 1989)
Volumes 1, 2 & 3 were reprinted in omnibus version The Heritage Universe, (SFBC Oct. 1992); Volumes 1 & 2 were reprinted in revised omnibus version Convergent Series, (Baen Oct. 1998); Volumes 3 & 4 were reprinted in revised omnibus version Transvergence, (Baen Nov. 1999)
Publisher's blurb: "Presenting the space adventures of Arthur Morton McAndrew, space-time expert and scientist extraordinaire, and his long-suffering companion, spaceship skipper Jeanie Roker. Jeanie first met McAndrew on a routine run to Titan and quickly learned he was a genius of the calibre of Newton or Einstein. When McAndrew invented a space drive that let frail humans survive hundreds of gravities of acceleration, he disappeared while testing it, and Jeanie had to find him, using a trail of cryptic messages he had left behind... That was the beginning of a beautiful friendship, in spite of the grey hairs that Jeanie began accumulating as a result of McAndrew's impractical nature and his talent for getting himself into trouble..."
The Compleat McAndrew, (Baen April 2000); a collection of linked stories:
"Moment of Inertia," (nv) Analog Oct. 1980; Read online
"All the Colors of the Vacuum," (nv) Analog 2 February 1981
"Manna Hunt," (nv) Analog Sep. 1982
"The Hidden Matter of McAndrew," (nv) Analog June 1992
"The Invariants of Nature," (nv) Analog April 1993
"Rogueworld," (na) F&SF May 1983
"With McAndrew, Out of Focus," (ss) Science Fiction Age March 1999
"McAndrew and the Fifth Commandment," (nv) Analog Sep. 1999
Appendix: Science & Science Fiction, (ar)
The Compleat McAndrew was preceded by two earlier versions: The McAndrew Chronicles, (Tor June 1983) and One Man’s Universe, (Tor Dec. 1993); also, Sheffield later wrote an additional McAndrew story:
"McAndrew and THE LAW," (nv) Cosmic Tales: Adventures in Sol System, ed. T. K. F. Weisskopf, Baen June 2004; Read online
Waldo Burmeister & Henry Carver, Space Attorneys
"In the late 1970s when I was just starting to write fiction, my young children (young back then, grown-ups now) ordered me to produce stories about every funny or disgusting thing in the world. They made the list for me. It had on it items of comic low appeal to them—sewage, visits to the dentist, mushrooms, fat aunts, opera singers, flatulence (I think they used a different word), comic Germans and Italians, fad diets, pigs, morticians, and head lice. Not an easy assignment, but I did my best. Over the years I have published ten politically incorrect stories tackling one or more of the listed topics... Together they form what I think of as my "sewage" series. They feature my two favourite lawyers, Henry Carver and Waldo Burmeister, and they are depressingly easy to write." --Sheffield, from the afterword to "Fifteen-Love on the Dead Man's Chest" in Georgia on My Mind and Other Places, (Tor 1995).
Space Suits, (Fox Acre Press Aug. 2001); a collection of linked stories:
"Marconi, Mattin, Maxwell," (ss) Galaxy May 1977; Read online
"Dinsdale Dissents," (ss) Galaxy July 1977
"The Deimos Plague," (ss) Stellar No. 4, ed. Judy-Lynn del Rey, Ballantine 1978; Read online
"Perfectly Safe, Nothing to Worry About," (ss) Galaxy Aug. 1977
"The Decline of Hyperion," (ss) Analog mid-Dec. 1992
"The Dalmatian of Faust," (ss) Galaxy Sep. 1978
"A Certain Place in History," (ss) Galaxy Oct. 1977
"Parasites Lost," (nv) Proteus: Voices for the 80s, ed. Richard S. McEnroe, Ace May 1981
"Fifteen-Love on the Dead Man’s Chest," (ss) Amazing May 1993
"With the Knight Male," (nv) The Chick is in the Mail, ed. Esther Friesner, Baen Oct. 2000; Read online
"Space Opera," (ss) Analog mid-Dec. 1988
Erasmus Darwin (Grandfather of Charles Darwin)
Publisher's blurb: "18th Century Europe: It is an age when superstition is beginning to give way to the force of human reason, and no man so fully embodies the spirit of the times as Dr. Erasmus Darwin. Thinker, healer, and explorer of the bizarre and the seemingly supernatural, no mystery can stand for long against Darwin's enlightened analysis. And there are far more mysteries than history knows. . . . For Erasmus Darwin's world is filled with oddities that most cannot believe: from unknown beings lurking just outside the boundaries of civilisation, to anomalies that even the greatest natural philosophers will be hard-pressed to explain, to mysterious deaths that give rise to fears of malevolent sorcery."
The Amazing Dr. Darwin, (Baen June 2002); a collection of linked stories: