Steve Miller, an award-winning science fiction writer best known for the near-boundless universes and complex characters he created with his wife, died Tuesday at his home in Waterville.

Miller’s death was announced in a social media post by his wife, Sharon Lee, who did not specify a cause of death, but wrote that Miller was found “on the floor, unconscious, and not breathing” after he had told her he was heading out for a walk. He was 73.

While Miller is known in the science fiction community for the hundreds of stories he and Lee wrote together, he is best remembered for having co-authored the Liaden Universe, a series that now includes 25 books described as “space operas,” with stories emphasizing the interpersonal connections between characters, human or otherwise, within vast literary universes.

“He was a bubbling mix of well-digested information with a large dash of chaos,” Lee wrote Wednesday in an email. “That said, when he was writing, he bore down in a way that I seldom do.

“I’m in it for the characters and the cultures. Steve was in it for the worldbuilding, the characters, and … what novelists call ‘truth,’ which actually doesn’t often have anything to do with real-world truth, but is the feeling that a book, a scene, a character has produced something irrefutable.”

Miller and Lee moved from Baltimore, where they are from, to Skowhegan in 1988, the same year their first co-authored novel and the Liaden Universe’s first book, “Agent of Change,” was published. They had been married since 1980 and writing together since they began seeing each other in 1976.


Lee recalled in October that they would often leave “paper in the typewriter for whoever was home to work on the book.” She said Wednesday that writing was “central to our relationship from the start.”

Science fiction writers Steve Miller and Sharon Lee at their home in Winslow in April 2003. Morning Sentinel file

“He was very much the elder writer when we met, with numerous newspaper credits, as well as published stories,” Lee said. “He drew me out about my characters, and was very excited about them and about some of the adventures I had imagined for them.”

Miller and Lee served as creative foils for one another, she said, with innate understandings of how they thought about the world around them and the worlds they were creating.

“One weekend, I greeted him with a single piece of paper with a line typed on it: ‘The man who was not Terrance O’Grady had come quietly,’ which is the opening line of ‘Agent of Change,'” Lee said. “He read it and looked and me. I said, ‘I think I have a novel here.’ And he said, ‘I think you have a series.’

“We sat down that night and plotted seven novels. That’s the kind of enthusiasm Steve brought to almost everything he did.”

Science fiction writers Sharon Lee and Steve Miller with some of their novels in 2008. Morning Sentinel file

They have since sold millions of books, according to Baen Books publisher Toni Weisskopf, which is in large part because of the couple’s ability to write in-depth stories in nearly any genre.


“Their stories were literally universe-spanning,” Weisskopf said Wednesday. “No two books were alike, which is part of the fun of the Liaden series. You might get an ‘Ocean’s 11 ‘-type tale in one book. You might get a comedy of manners in another. You might get a pure romance in a third. You might get military science fiction.

“They had fun just exploring the universe, and they took their readers with them.”

In addition to writing, Miller was also enamored with computers, teaching courses on computer science as an undergraduate at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County before eventually working with several companies throughout Maine as an information technology specialist before the internet had truly taken hold, including a part-time position as both a children’s librarian and an IT specialist at the Oakland Public Library.

Steve Miller in November 1990, when he was an assistant librarian at the Oakland Public Library. Miller, a noted science fiction writer, died Tuesday. He was 73. Morning Sentinel file

Chess was also one of Miller’s chief interests throughout most of his life. He had been a member of various clubs going back to high school, but was most recently the president of the Waterville Chess Club and a chief organizer of the state’s annual chess championships, according to an obituary published by the sci-fi blog File 770 and shared by Lee.

Miller’s death was mourned on social media by readers, authors and science fiction enthusiasts across the globe. Fantasy author E.C. Ambrose called his death “a terrible loss to our community,” while Bangor’s Briar Patch Books said Miller was “a kind, thoughtful and encouraging man.”

Weisskopf said that during the more than 30 years that Miller and Lee published work as a couple, they had amassed a following of thousands of readers whom she described as “absolutely dedicated” to their work.


“They have a very dedicated fanbase that they interacted with and nurtured,” Weisskopf said. “They were early adopters of online technologies, and that helped their fanbase grow. They lived the science fiction life.”

Science fiction writers Steve Miller and Sharon Lee sit Aug. 9, 2023, in the dining room at their Waterville home. The two wrote many novels together. Miller died Tuesday at home. He was 73. Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald file

Through all of the universes Miller helped create, all of the characters he helped write and all of the books he helped sell, Lee said a few things remained true about him: He was always competitive, compassionate and inquisitive.

“He liked to help people, he was intensely curious about almost everything and he was a news junky,” Lee said. “He acknowledged being competitive, but downplayed the kindness (and) helping people aspect as anything exceptional.

“He felt, and our work together says this over and over again, that we’re all better when we help each other.”

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