Thursday, September 12, 2013

In memoriam

I'll interrupt my ongoing recapitulation of WorldCon to note the passing - within a week of the end of the con - of three well-known s-f authors.

As the con was winding down - and some people, like me, were already on the way home - word came Monday that Fred Pohl had died at age 93. Pohl is one of those towering figures from the Golden Age, and I was honored to meet him in person in 2004 when my wife and I traveled to Lawrence, Kansas, to attend the Campbell Conference at the University of Kansas (that was the previous time I met James Gunn, before this WorldCon). I brought along a copy of the issue of the Galaxy magazine with the story he wrote with Cyril Kornbluth, "Gravy Planet", which was expanded into the famous novel "The Space Merchants". He scribbled off a signature.

I thought it was interesting that a few days earlier I met David Kyle at the convention; to the best of my knowledge, Kyle now is the last living member of The Futurians.

On Wednesday, Ann Crispin, who had been battling cancer for a number of years, posted on her blog that the struggle was over, and she died Friday. I met Ann and her husband, Michael Capobianco, together at the Nebula Awards in Washington, D.C. in 2012. She was pleasant and nice to me. She was not only known as a writer but also an advocate for the rights of authors, and was well-respected and liked by many people.

Last weekend the news came that Patricia Anthony had died a month earlier. She was an author who had her heyday in s-f in the 1990s. I have somewhere  a box of old magazines I once bought in a garage sale, and they included many copies of Aboriginal S-F, a magazine that folded about the time I started writing (early in the last decade). She had a story in just about every issue; I think she was the wife or girlfriend of the editor. She drifted away from writing genre fiction a number of years ago, which is why she wasn't in touch with the field and her death wasn't immediately noted. One of her last - and best - science fiction stories, "Eating Memories", originally published in 1998, was reprinted in Revolution S-F in May 2003, the issue before my first story "Silvern" was published. I remember reading it, and thinking it was pretty classy. I never met Anthony personally.

Deaths are always markers in the passage of time for the living, and these deaths - especially of people so significant to the genre such as Pohl and Crispin - are also a cause for reflection. The fact Pohl and Crispin died during the week following the convention makes it doubly so.

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