Monday, August 21, 2017

The time I stepped on Brian Aldiss

Word has come that the great British science fiction author Brian Aldiss has passed away at the age of 92.

After such a long and distinguished career, I'm sure many people have their own stories about their encounters with Aldiss. Mine is a little strange.

I had just started writing and submitting science fiction short fiction when, in the spring of 2004, I received my first pro acceptance, from Gardner Dozois at Asimov's

That made me think that I needed to start attending genre-related events - at that point I had been to a grand total of two conventions - and that summer the wife and I drove up to Lawrence, Kansas, to attend the Campbell Conference.

That year was the last where the members of the Science Fiction Hall of Fame were inducted at the conference (the event has since moved to the sf museum in Seattle). The living inductees were Brian Aldiss and Harry Harrison.

We arrived in Lawrence just in time for the dinner, and as I rushed into the student center - worried that we were running late - I saw a pair of old timers in tuxes heading for the door from the opposite direction.

As I ran up, I realized they were Aldiss and Harrison. In a clumsy attempt to be a gentleman, I grabbed the door to hold it open for Aldiss, who was first. But as I walked around him, I stepped on the back of his shoe and gave him a "flat tire". (My wife tried to make me feel better later by pointing out that Aldiss was wearing house shoes).

I don't think Aldiss was terribly happy, and I was so embarrassed I ducked both of them for the rest of the weekend.

That was my one encounter in person with Aldiss.

Ironically, the next year, when my debut story was published in the September 2005 issue of Asimov's, "A Rocket for the Republic",  the same issue included a story by Aldiss, "Pipeline"..

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