I feel like I am not completely understanding something you've already said, or not fully incorporating it into the last piece of the puzzle. It sounds like what you are suggesting is to copy all the code from author.php into a custom template. That's pretty much what I've already done, except I specified the author by "cheating." I had Rundy create the Page himself while logged in, so he is the author by default. But not all my contributors are as comfortable using WordPress. As a custom template, it would not be called in response to a query, so how would I assign the author? It seems like I would use a modification of the code up above in "the purely 1.5 way," but I'm not quite sure what to modify. And if I did it that way, I would have to make a custom template for each author, changing one line (one number, actually, the user_id) in each. Is that what you are saying?
Is there a way to "get" the author template in the same way you "get" the sidebar template? In other words, if I create a custom template, can I put something like '<?php get_author(2)?>` (where the author's id is 2) and it will use the author template for author 2 instead of page.php (or index.php)? I'd still have to make a custom template for each author, though. Or would I? I can't think how I would assign it dynamically.