Black Gate is reporting that Neal Barrett, Jr. has passed away. Barrett was born on November 3, 1929 and died Sunday, January 12, 2014 at the age of 84.
Neal had a unique voice and was one of the most under appreciated writers in the field. While I never knew him well, I had the privilege of meeting him at a number of Texas conventions, such as Armadillocon and AggieCon. I can still remember his GoH speech from Armadillocon 14 (1992). Neal’s sense of humor was on full display.
While not prolific, Neal Barrett never stopped writing. He was always willing to share a kind word and a signature whenever I asked for one. Subterranean Press recently published the massive retrospective Other Seasons. It’s still available and contains Barrett’s most acclaimed short fiction. I’ll be spending some time in that volume tonight to honor his memory. I also want to track down the rest of his Aldair series. I’ve got the first and last volumes, but I haven’t read them because they’re signed. I’m going to look for the complete set online.
Another series that I thought was great was the Finn the Lizard Master series, consisting of The Prophecy Machine and The Treachery of Kings. Great fantasy that’s not really like anything else.
It’s unfortunate that we’ve lost another unique voice in the field. Jack Vance passed last year. It seems everything on the shelves these days looks pretty much like everything else. I’m grateful to small presses such as Subterranean and Haffner, which have kept these authors in print. Hopefully Barrett will be discovered by new readers through their efforts.
I know first hand that Neal was loved and respected in the Texas sff community. Several of his friends spoke of him often and always fondly. He will be missed. Scott, Willie, Chuck, Bill, James, Joe, I’m sorry for your loss.