Category Archives: obituary

RIP Judy Crider

Bill Crider is reporting that his wife Judy passed away earlier today from cancer.  Judy usually accompanied Bill to conventions, and I don’t recall ever seeing him at one where she wasn’t with him.  She was a quiet and gracious lady who was well loved by all who knew her.  I didn’t know her well, but I always enjoyed being in any group of which she was a member.  When she spoke, her comments were always insightful.  Judy had been battling cancer for a number of years, and I always admired the courage she and Bill displayed when I saw them.  She will be missed very much.

My condolences to Bill and his family; they will be in my prayers.

RIP, Miguel Martins

Al and Miguel

Al Harron (left) and Miguel Martins atop Caddo Peak, Howard Days 2011

I’ve begun to hear from people in Robert E. Howard fandom that Miguel Martins has passed away.  I don’t have any details at this time.

I only met Miguel once, at Howard Days in 2011.  I liked him immediately.  Miguel was one of the first people to follow this blog.  When I met him, he complemented me on it.  That meant a lot to me, as I had been blogging for less than a year, and at one point a few months prior I had considered shutting it down.

This was the year that the Conan movie was released.  Miguel asked for my thoughts after a presentation on the movie Saturday afternoon at Howard Days.  I was somewhat caught offguard and babbled something.  It couldn’t have been too incoherent because Miguel took a drag on his cigarette and gave a reply that showed he had listened and seriously considered what I’d said.  That also meant a lot to me because I wasn’t as involved in Howard fandom then as I am now.  Someone who was much more involved wanted to know what I thought, and listened carefully.

Saturday evening at Howard Days is the barbeque and hike up Caddo Peak for those willing to brave the heat, the snakes, the prickly pear, and the steep climb.  I climbed the peak with Al Harron and Miguel.  We had a great time, managed to avoid any snakes and the copious thorns on the prickly pears that covered the top of the peak.  They asked me to take a picture of them, which I did.  It’s the one at the top of this post.  It was one of the best years as far as company on the hike, and company in general, was concerned.

I didn’t hear from Miguel after that, and he drifted away from Howard fandom over the next few years.  Since he was from France, I wasn’t surprised that I never saw him at Howard Days again, although I always hoped he’d be back.  Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen.

Rest in peace, my friend.

Jeff Shanks has posted a tribute here.  Al Harron’s is here.  Barbara Barrett’s is here.  I’ll post other links as I become aware of them.

RIP, Lucius Shephard (1947-2014)

lucius shepardLucius Shephard passed away at the age of 66 on March 18, 2014.  Shephard began writing in the early 1980s.  Many of his early works near future science fiction set in a Central American war that resembled Viet Nam, something that was a real possibility at the time.  I remember reading some of his early stories in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.  In recent years his movie reviews have graced the pages of that magazine.

Shephard wrote at all lengths, but in my opinion his strengths were at the novella length.  Over the course of his career he won the Nebula for “R&R”, the Hugo for “Barnacle Bill the Spacer”, and the Shirley Jackson Award for “Vacancy”.   I always found his style to be densely written, but his stories were worth the work they required.

The Best of Lucius ShepardShephard attended at least one Armadillocon in Austin in the early 00’s.  I had the privilege of meeting him.  He was very open and approachable, always willing to chat with fans.  I was disappointed that he didn’t attend some of the later Armadillocons.

The Best of Lucius Shephard is available in ebook format and contains many of his best known works.

RIP, Michael Shea

Michael-Shea-smallLocus Online is reporting that Michael Shea has died.  Shea was the World Fantasy Award winning author of Nifft the Lean and the novella “The Growlimb”.

I’ve not read Shea’s work.  I picked up some at Worldcon last fall, but most of my acquisitions from that trip are still unread.  I’ve heard nothing but good things about Shea’s fiction and have been looking forward to reading some.

John O’Neill has posted a tribute at Black Gate.

RIP Neal Barrett, Jr.

Neal-Barrett-JrBlack 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.Other_Seasons_by_Neal_Barrett_Jr_200_296

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.

RIP, Richard Matheson 1926-2013

This is still breaking news, and I don’t have a lot of details.  Renowned fantasy and horror author Richard Matheson has passed away at age 87.  According to Matheson’s daughter Ali, from a statement on John Shirley’s Facebook page:  “My beloved father passed away yesterday at home surrounded by the people and things he loved…he was funny, brilliant, loving, generous, kind, creative, and the most wonderful father ever…I miss you and love you forever Pop and I know you are now happy and healthy in a beautiful place full of love and joy you always knew was there…”

Matheson had been ill for some time.  His most famous work was the novel I am Legend.   He also wrote The Shrinking Man, screenplays for many of the best horror films of the 1960s, and a number of Twilight Zone episodes, including the classic “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”, starring William Shatner.  I’m working on a deadline tonight and will post a longer tribute in the next day or so.  I’ll just say for now that Matheson was one of the major fantasy authors to come out of what became known as the California School in the 1950s, which included such authors as Ray Bradbury, Charles Beaumont, William F. Nolan, and George Clayton Johnson.  I devoured his stories when I was a teenager.

RIP, Ray Harryhausen (1920-2013)

The Golden Voyage of Sinbad

The world got a little darker today with the announcement of the passing of Ray Harryhausen.  A pioneer of stop-motion special effects, Harryhausen’s influence on the film industry cannot be overstated.  Much of the special effects we enjoy today can be traced back to his work.  While the technology is completely different from when he started in the industry, the high standards he achieved set the bar for those who followed after  him.  Highlights of his work include The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (1953), Jason and the Argonauts (1963), The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1974), and Clash of the Titans (1981).  His movies can still bring out the kid in me (which is admittedly not hard to do).

Rest in peace, sir.

RIP, Andrew J. Offutt

Locus is reporting that Andrew J. Offutt passed away earlier today.  No cause of death was listed.  He wrote a number of erotic novels, many of them science fiction, as well as fantasy.  Included in his fantasy works are pastiches of the Robert E. Howard characters Conan and Cormac Mac Art.

As Charles Rutledge points out in his tribute, his greatest contribution to the field was as an editor rather than an author.  He was the editor of the 5 volume Swords Against Darkness series of original sword and sorcery anthologies.  I’ve got all but volume 3 (with duplicates of 2 and 5).   I was considering doing a series of posts looking at each one when I track down volume 3.  That plan hasn’t changed with Mr. Offutt’s passing.  I’ve also got one or two of his novels around here somewhere I intend to read at some point.

Even though he hasn’t been active in sword and sorcery circles for a number of years (at least not that I know of), we’ve lost one of the major players from the sword and sorcery boom from the 70s.

RIP, Steven Utley

Lawrence Person is reporting that science fiction author Steven Utley has died.  Utley announced on December 27, 2012 that he had been diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer.  On January 12, he slipped into a coma and died that night.

Along with George W. Proctor, Utley was coeditor of Lone Star Universe, an anthology consisting of Texas writers, many of whom went on to become major figures in the field.  Utley wrote mainly at short lengths.  For the past decade much of his output centered on his Silurian Tales, regarding time travel to, what else, the Silurian Era.  I met Utlely only once, at an Armadillcon a few years ago.  I found him to be a soft-spoken, quiet man.  We only spoke for a few minutes, and I wish I had visited with him more. 

The only current US edition of his work is The Beasts of Love, and I’m not even sure that is in print anymore.  That none of his other work is in print in this country is a disgrace.  If you can find any of his work in anthologies, or if you are fortunate to get your hands on a copy of one of his collections, I encourage you to read it.  I especially recommend “The Country Doctor”, most recently reprinted in Where or When from PS Publishing.  Unfortunately, that volume is out of print.