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Kit Reed 
by Gary K. Wolfe

Kit Reed, ICFA 37, 2016, photo courtesy of Bill Clemente

When Kit Reed first attended ICFA in 2009, together with her husband Joe, not everyone immediately knew who she was. David Hartwell, himself a legendary editor of science fiction and fantasy who served on IAFA’s board, quickly started pointing her out to fellow board members and other attendees. “Do you know who that is?” he asked one. “That’s the legendary Kit Reed.”

David, who tragically died last year, knew virtually everyone in the field, and wasn’t easily impressed. He was not in the habit of calling anyone “legendary.” So we paid attention to this most senior of senior editors, and over the next few years Kit and Joe became not only fixtures at the conference, but dear and close friends to many of us. One of the ways of measuring the respect authors commanded, at ICFA and elsewhere, was to attend their readings. In Kit’s case, a good portion of the audience always consisted of fellow writers, clearly anxious to see what a master was up to. How did she earn such respect and affection?

For one thing, her career was simply astonishing in its consistency and longevity. One way of putting that career in context is this: when Kit published her first story in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1958, David Hartwell was not yet seventeen years old. Many of the other writers who came to view her as a mentor had not been born yet. She sold stories to some of the groundbreaking editors in the field, including Michael Moorcock, Damon Knight, Avram Davidson, and Anthony Boucher, and sold other stories to publications as diverse as The Yale Review and the Village Voice. Her first science fiction novel, Armed Camps, appeared in 1969 and was among the field’s earliest critical responses to the Vietnam War. But by then she had already published three thrillers, including her first, Mother Isn’t Dead, She’s Only Sleeping. Already she had established a pattern of never quite being pigeonholed in one genre or another; in later years, she’d describe herself as “trans-genred.” As if to demonstrate, her next-to-last published novel, Where? was a classic science fiction mystery of an entire community whose residents mysteriously disappear one day, while her last, Mormama, was a Southern gothic thriller with clear supernatural elements. Her final story collection, The Story Until Now, appeared in 2013 from Wesleyan University Press and is as good a point of entry into the breadth and variety of her work as you could ask for.

Kit and Joe Reed, ICFA 32, 2011, photo courtesy of Andy Duncan

It’s no accident that Wesleyan should have published the collection, because both Kit and Joe were fixtures there long before ICFA. Their students went on not only to become not only successful writers, but to develop some of the most iconic works of recent popular culture, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Game of Thrones to A Series of Unfortunate Events. In 2009, those former students pitched in to pay for a labyrinth in their honor on the Wesleyan Campus. Joe himself, now retired, was a distinguished scholar of American literature and film, as well as a talented painter (one of his paintings is the dust jacket for The Story Until Now).

Nearly everyone who encountered Kit at ICFA–out by the pool bar, in luncheons or banquets, at her reading and panels–came away with stories to tell, often about her toughness, her acerbic and uncensored wit, her no-nonsense encouragement for other writers to “get back to work” or “deal with it” (which seemed, more often than not, to be exactly what they needed to hear at that point). Some of those memories and photos have been shared on Facebook by fellow writers and ICFA attendees.

Peter Straub, Kit Reed, Gary K. Wolfe, ICFA 36, 2015, photo courtesy of David G. Hartwell

I was honored to be asked to write the introduction for The Story Until Now, and in preparing it I came across an earlier essay of Kit’s, which seemed particularly appropriate regarding her approach to both literature and life. Here’s the last paragraph of that introduction, with that quotation:

Reed may take us into the minds of some decidedly unpleasant or demented characters, she may show us wars, catastrophes, dysfunctional families, werewolves, monsters, feral children, plagues, dystopias, cannibals, zombies, and weird small towns, but always with the cool yet sympathetic intelligence of an observer both outraged and wryly amused by the labyrinths we make for ourselves. Her fiction may, collectively, seem rather dark, but it may also be that by showing us the ways into these labyrinths, she’s giving us hints of the ways out as well. Reed has called this attitude “protective pessimism,” and it’s as good a phrase as any for describing the characteristic tone of her best fiction. “Dealing in worst-case scenarios doesn’t depress me,” wrote Reed in the introduction to her earlier story collection Dogs of Truth. “It makes me hopeful and resilient. Expect the worst and you’re always prepared. You scoped the exits when you came in, just in case something comes up. Something comes up and you know the quickest way out. Given a chronic imagination of disaster, I always have a Plan B.”

“This is the way lives—and stories—get built.”

Gay Haldeman, Dale Hanes, Kit Reed, Peter Straub, Joe Haldeman, and Gary K. Wolfe, ICFA 37, 2016, photo courtesy of David G. Hartwell

Brian W. Aldiss, O.B.E., ICFA 7, photo by Robert A. Collins

Brian Aldiss’s 1995 essay collection The Detached Retina carries a dedication to “my esteemed friends of the IAFA team,” and he goes on to name more than a dozen individuals, many of whom are still ICFA regulars or past officers. He often described ICFA as his American home, and he became the conference’s “permanent special guest” after being invited by conference founder Robert Collins to his first ICFA in 1982.  A distinguished literary essayist and historian (The Trillion Year Spree: The True History of Science Fiction), as well as one of England’s great novelists and short story writers, he received the Association’s first Distinguished Scholarship Award in 1986, and in 1999–on the conference’s 20th anniversary–was finally invited as Guest of Honor. On August 19, Aldiss died at his home in Oxford, shortly after celebrating his 92nd birthday.

Brian was clearly proud of his involvement with ICFA, and his 1993 novel Remembrance Day begins with an academic conference in Fort Lauderdale that looks suspiciously familiar to anyone who attended the conference during the Fort Lauderdale years (there are even a couple of thinly-disguised sketches of IAFA folks).  With his characteristically ironic sense of humor, he called his fictional academic organization “The American Stochastic Sociology Association”. He also took understandable pride in his ability to secure some of ICFA’s most distinguished guests.  As he wrote in his 1998 autobiography The Twinkling of an Eye, “I have been able to invite several Guests of Honour over the years–Roger Corman for one, who came with his wife and was a winning presence.  The modest Robert Holdstock also shone.  Tom Shippey, long overdue, made a triumphal appearance in 1996. But perhaps the greatest success was Doris Lessing.  Her sharp good humour pleased everyone.”  There can be little doubt that Brian’s enthusiastic support helped cement the international reputation of the conference, helping it immeasurably to live up to its name.  The very first issue of The Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts included an essay by Brian, who wanted to help the journal gain attention upon its launch.

Robert A. Collins, Judith Collins, Brian W. Aldiss, O.B.E., ICFA 17, photo by David G. Hartwell

But for those who attended the conference during the Aldiss years, his unflagging energy and good humor, thoughtful and provocative participation in the academic sessions and panels, frequently hilarious readings, and original plays sometimes almost seem to overshadow his literary eminence, and the many ways in which he connected the conference to the grand traditions of fantasy and science fiction.  As a young bookstore clerk in Oxford, he became friends with C.S. Lewis, who loaned a copy of Aldiss’s early novel Hothouse to his friend J.R.R. Tolkien, who wrote Aldiss a generous letter praising the work. He later became literary editor of the Oxford Mail, and eventually counted among his friends major literary figures from Kingsley Amis to Doris Lessing. He received an Order of the British Empire, a Grandmaster Award from the Science Fiction Writers of America, an honorary doctorate from Liverpool University, Hugo, Nebula, and BSFA Awards, and a special World Fantasy Award. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and an early inductee into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in Seattle. His novels include not only science fiction classics like Greybeard, Hothouse, Non-Stop, and the epic Helliconia trilogy, but also more experimental works such as Report on Probability A and Barefoot in the Head and non-fantastic literary novels such as his “Squire Quartet”– Life in the West, Forgotten Life, Remembrance Day, Somewhere East of Life.

He had two major engagements with Hollywood.  In 1990, the famously low-budget director Roger Corman chose an adaptation of Frankenstein Unbound for his first directorial effort after nearly twenty years (Brian showed some rather hilarious rushes from the unfinished film before the special effects had been added, with the costumed actors walking through an ordinary parking lot ). In 1982, Brian signed a contract with Stanley Kubrick–who had contacted him a few years earlier after reading Billion Year Spree, the first edition of Brian’s history of science fiction–and this led to a long and sometimes contentious series of discussions about adapting his story “Super Toys Last All Summer Long” into a film. Although Kubrick never completed the film before he died, the project was later revived by Steven Spielberg as A.I., though Brian was no longer involved.

Brian W. Aldiss, O.B.E. and Sharon Baker, ICFA 3, photo by Robert A. Collins

It was easy to forget all this in light of Brian’s irrepressible antics at ICFA–dancing on the banquet tables with a young French scholar, being wheeled into a reading wearing a toga, at one point finding a thoroughly illegal way to obtain one last bottle of wine long after the bar had closed, and providing an apparently endless supply of anecdotes and memories of his experiences in Oxford, in the “Forgotten Army” during the campaign in Burma (now Myanmar) during World War II, and in science fiction; one of his funniest stories involved an unlikely and out-of-control gathering of science fiction writers in Rio in the late 1960s. There were times when Brian seemed nearly out of control as well.   Surely one of the funniest performances at IAFA was his reading of a story called “Better Morphosis,” about a cockroach who wakes up one morning to find himself transformed into Franz Kafka; Brian even recruited a chorus of IAFA scholars to perform sound effects for the tale. But he was not always quite so frivolous. Some of his short plays, often performed only at ICFA, were serious business, such as his tribute to Philip K. Dick called, as I recall, “Kindred Blood in Kensington Gore”, as were most of his readings and contributions to panel discussions. One of the most enlightening debates I had ever heard about the Hiroshima bomb was between Brian–who was convinced he might have been part of the invasion of the Japanese mainland had the war continued–and the scholar H. Bruce Franklin, who had written a book arguing that the bomb partly represented America’s infatuation with superweapons.

Certainly, the many writers and scholars who first met Brian at ICFA understood his stature as a major figure in literature; many of us had been reading him since childhood. When Jane Yolen was guest of honor in 1990, Bill Senior and I had the chance to introduce her to Brian in the elevator at the Hilton; they shook hands, Brian got off at his floor, and Jane looked at us and said “I’m never washing this hand again.”  That was not uncharacteristic of responses toward Brian; writers in the science fiction and fantasy fields knew they were meeting a legend, even if not all the younger attendees had grown up reading his fiction as we had. It only took a night or two of drinks by the pool to convince us that this legend was also a boon companion, a terrific raconteur, and a loyal friend not only to ICFA itself, but to many of us who got to know him there.

Brian W. Aldiss, O.B.E. and Carol McMullen Pettit, ICFA 21, photo by Robert A. Collins

We are deeply saddened to hear of the death of our Special Guest Emeritus, Brian Aldiss. Brian was a longtime friend of the IAFA and a giant in the field. He authored over 80 books, edited 40 anthologies, and was the winner of numerous awards, including the Hugo and Nebula Awards, the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and the IAFA Distinguished Scholarship Award. Please join us in offering our condolences to his family.

Roger Schlobin and the IAFA: A Remembrance

C.W. Sullivan III

Roger Schlobin, ICFA 24, photo courtesy of FAU Library Special Collections, the Robert A. Collins Collection

In 1978, I attended and read a paper at the “International Symposium on Creatures of Legend” in Omaha, Nebraska. It was there that I saw, on a sheet of paper thumbtacked to a corkboard, the announcement of “The First International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts,” Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton. I went, and Roger Schlobin may well have been the first person I got to know there. Roger was already emerging as an important scholar, perceptive critic, and demanding editor in the field of fantasy literature. But as I think about Roger in these days since his passing, I am struck by how singularly important he was to ICFA and then IAFA (the conference came first and then the organization, oddly enough) and to many individuals in the group.

ICFA was fairly small in those days, and the regular returners were an even smaller group. Roger and I got to know each other initially through shared interests, especially medieval British literature (each of us had earned a PhD in that area) and fantasy literature. We also liked talking about cars, both of us “gear heads,” I suppose, and Roger’s progress with his Datsun 280Z (which he still had) or my adventures with my Mazda MX-6 (which I still have) were always important topics between us.

But Roger was also a social and intellectual force in the organization, introducing people with like interests to each other (Canadian scholar Nick Ruddick and myself, for example) and organizing groups to go out to dinner. Roger would get six or eight people together, and we would go somewhere he had picked (he had a good nose for restaurants) and sit around a big table and talk. Roger would preside, directing without dominating the conversation, and all of us would return to the hotel having had a great time. Throughout the years, even after his official duties were over, Roger would continue to be a social force.

Roger mentored or encouraged or pushed me into a more active role within the organization. I was on the original organizational committee for the IAFA and then moved up through the ranks to be a division head, vice president (with Don Palumbo as president), and president (with Nick Ruddick as vice president). I spent years on the Executive Board as a result of holding those offices and never forgave Roger for all the work I had to do. OK, I am kidding about that. Roger’s continuing interest in and concern for the health of the organization and the conference meant that he was always around—socializing, mentoring, encouraging, and influencing people he thought would be “good for the conference” and for the organization.

If Roger did not have the original idea for the Graduate Student Award, now the David G. Hartwell Emerging Scholar Award, he was its selection committee chairperson for a number of years and drew great pleasure from coming up to the podium at the banquet and announcing the graduate student winner. If he made more of a performance of the presentation of the award than some people liked, it was because he felt that the award was important and that its presentation was a serious event, honoring the future of scholarship, the future of the organization.

I do not know how many ideas for ICFA/IAFA came from Roger in discussions with Bob Collins, Tim Sullivan, and Donald Morse, but Roger’s one year as president may be the role for which he should be most remembered. In 1984-1985, the IAFA went independent from previously sponsoring organizations and moved the conference from Boca Raton, Florida, with some encouragement from Hap Henrikson, to Beaumont, Texas. As an independent academic organization and conference IAFA/ICFA was dependent for its success on membership dues and conference registrations, the latter being funds that would not be fully available until after the conference. Roger, as President, and the redoubtable Donald Morse, as Hotel Liaison, guaranteed to the conference hotel that they would be personally and financially responsible if not enough guests showed up to cover the expenses of the conference rooms, the conference meals, and the conference banquet. The discussions between Roger and Donald about how to hold a respectable conference as cheaply as possible are the stuff of legend. I kidded Roger and Donald over the years about risking “Their Lives, their Fortunes, and their Sacred Honors” (as we read in medieval narratives) for IAFA and ICFA, but that bit of humor was not far from the truth. If not for Roger and Donald, who more than stepped up at that crucial moment, we might not be approaching the 40th meeting of the ICFA in 2019.

Roger Schlobin and Donald Morse, ICFA 6, 1985, photo courtesy of FAU Library Special Collections, the Robert A. Collins Collection

Roger was absent from the last few years of the conference, and I am sorry for that. I have a feeling that he had begun to feel out of the loop, that he no longer mattered to the conference and the organization. If so, that was everyone’s fault and no one’s fault; an organization moves on, and running IAFA and putting on ICFA year after year is a full-time job for the Executive Board. Some years ago, when all the former presidents save Jules Zanger and Marshall Tymn could be or were going to be at the conference, I proposed that their oral histories be recorded. The proposal was rejected, and although there are some archives, we, as an organization, have lost much important information as we have since lost Bob Collins, Mike Levy, and Roger Schlobin.

I retired from East Carolina University in 2011 and had seen Roger only on occasional visits to Greenville since then. We had planned to have some kind of 75th birthday blowout in 2019 (he was two weeks younger than I, both of us June 1944 babies—and I never let him forget that), but, sadly, that celebration will not now happen. As John Donne wrote, “Any man’s death diminishes me,” and I think that Roger Schlobin’s death diminishes us all, especially the “us” that is the IAFA and the ICFA. Let us remember him.

The presentation of the first Collins award to Bob Collins by Roger Schlobin as IAFA President, ICFA 6, 1985, photo courtesy of FAU Library Special Collections, the Robert A. Collins Collection

We are saddened to hear of the death of the IAFA’s second President, Roger C. Schlobin. Roger had not attended the conference in several years, but he was instrumental in both founding the ICFA and preserving it through its early transitional stages. Our sympathy goes out to his family.

You can view his obituary and follow the link to leave online condolences here:

“What still is the look of things”: A Reflection on Michael M. Levy
By Judith Collins

Mike Levy, ICFA 8, 1987, photo courtesy of FAU Special Collections, the Robert A. Collins Collection

I first saw the name Michael M. Levy in June of 1985.  It appeared at the top of a type-written book review, possibly of The Glass Hammer by K.W. Jeter.  My summer job consisted of “punching in” the book reviews for Fantasy Review, a small, “semi-pro” fanzine with offices at Florida Atlantic University.  At the behest of a seriously OCD Editor, I would sit for hours with a stack of typed manuscripts at my side, staring at a green DOS screen connected to two eight-inch floppy drives that comprised the essence of a 1984 Xerox personal computer, and I would type.  Three issues worth of reviews that summer acquainted me with several recurring names – names I still remember.  Michael M. Levy from the University of Wisconsin at Stout, was the most prolific of them.  Since the OCD Editor was also my dad, I viewed all the people involved with the magazine as family friends, and at the time, the impression I had of Mike Levy was of an old friend, someone who was always there and would always help, someone my dad could count on.  My reason for believing this was little more than a feeling about a name on a page, but I wasn’t wrong.

About twenty years later, when Mike had long since established himself as a presence in the field of science fiction and fantasy scholarship, my dad referred to him once, in casual conversation, as “Good ol’ Mike,” and while this may sound a bit bland, my dad meant it as the most exalted of compliments.  The emphasis was on the “good,” but with the “ol’” sounding in the background as a significant modifier – not one that emphasized age (Mike was twenty years younger than my dad) but one that emphasized the length of time my dad had known Mike to be “good.”  In the ten or so years since then, I, too, have had many opportunities to witness Mike’s “good”-ness, and it was vast.

Mike’s faculty vita page on his University’s web site, lengthy as it is, is a serious understatement.  Since those early days in the 1980s when he was a newly minted Ph.D. writing book reviews for an obscure semi-pro fanzine in Florida, Mike has written and co-written numerous books, book chapters, and journal articles.  He has served as Co-Editor and then Managing Editor for Extrapolation.  He has served as both Treasurer and President of the Science Fiction Research Association.  He has also reviewed many, many more books, seemingly constantly, not only for academic presses, but also for Publishers Weekly, Science Fiction Studies, Extrapolation, Los Angeles Review of Literature, multiple children’s literature journals, The New York Review of Science Fiction, The Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, and many others, as well as written the introductions to at least four science fiction and fantasy book review anthologies.  And of course, Mike was both Vice President and President of our own International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts – which my dad founded, and on behalf of which, my dad had much reason for gratitude to Mike Levy.

Mike first attended the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts in 1987, when he chaired one session.  He does not appear on the program again until 2000.  From that moment, however, his presence at the conference and his indispensability to our association became constant.  By the time the 24th ICFA began in 2003, Mike had not only organized the conference program as Vice President but had been instrumental in establishing an entire Division focusing on children’s and young adult literature, one of his many passions.  By the time the 26th ICFA began in 2005, Mike was President of the organization.  What many may not realize, however, is how vital to that organization Mike’s Presidency was.

In the previous decade, the organization had struggled with change.  Then Mike came on the scene, and . . . well, he was Mike.  He advocated for all groups and all people.  He balanced respect for the conference as it had been with foresight about what it could and should become, and during his ultimately eight-year tenure on the IAFA Executive Board (two years as Vice President, three as President, and three more as Immediate Past President), the ICFA grew substantially.

The IAFA, however, is only one example of Mike’s ability to transform people and their endeavors.  Sherryl Vint, the IAFA’s current President and Mike’s colleague both in the SFRA and on Extrapolation, has called him “a social glue that held together our at-times difficult communities through his warmth and kindness and compassion for people, his curiosity about ideas and their authors, his quiet way of just making everything better.”  Farah Mendlesohn, Mike’s co-author and immediate successor as IAFA President, credits him with “great gravitas and wisdom” and says that she would often “turn to him for advice on career moves, on projects to take up, and for sorting through in my head what kind of person I did and did not want to be.”  His fellow editors at Extrapolation have said that Mike was “a great mediator, a man who seemed to have a good word for everybody . . . unfailingly generous in his time and advice.  To many of us he was a mentor, but in such a way that it always felt like friendship rather than being taught.”

The recurring theme in all these tributes is Mike’s ability to serve many people in many capacities all at once.  He understood that everyone he met was a whole person, with professional ambitions, individual interests, and personal histories, and he didn’t feel the need to separate these things.  Whether or not a person should take on a job or continue with it, how a person should write or edit an article for publication, or in what ways a person should direct his or her life – Mike understood how these questions overlap and intertwine, and he was not only undaunted by the magnitude of ever-widening circles of human connectivity; he was inspired by it.

David Hartwell, Mike Levy, Bill Senior, June Board meeting 2006, photo courtesy of David G. Hartwell

Mike loved thinking.  In even the most casual conversation, if he heard you say something that interested him, even something you considered inconsequential, he would follow it up.  He would tell you a story of his own which in some small way explained his perspective, and then he would ask for yours.  And you would give it, because even if your perspective was different from his, you knew he wanted to understand, not judge.  You knew that his comparisons did not emphasize the contrasts.  And you knew that whatever conclusions he might draw would likely incorporate rather than divide.

His approach to the people whose lives he touched was therefore always one of inclusion and connection.  He recognized people’s strengths simultaneously with their sometimes crippling neuroses and simply added all of it to his understanding of them as whole people.  He loved and respected people for everything he knew about them.  He saw the best in us when others might have seen only our worst, but he also took that insight one step further, understanding that someone’s best and worst qualities were often the same thing, stemming from the same source, woven intricately together in the same whole person.

To say that Mike Levy was caring and thoughtful is certainly true, but those words, “caring” and “thoughtful,” have become so ordinary that they struggle to describe the depth of Mike’s care and thought.  The same could be said of the phrase “Good ol’ Mike,” but then, Bob Collins, Editor of Fantasy Review and Founder of the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, also understood the worth of real care and real thought.

Between 1984, when Fantasy Review began printing book reviews, and 1987, when the magazine folded, reviews by Michael M. Levy appeared in 28 out of 36 issues, often two per issue, sometimes even three.  Just to acknowledge the obvious for a moment, that means Michael M. Levy not only read but also thought and wrote analytically about at least one fantasy or science fiction novel per month, and he continued doing so for the rest of his life.  I don’t for a minute believe those books he reviewed were the only ones he read, nor will I believe they were the only ones he thought about in depth.  Nor can I imagine that, at any point in Mike’s career as a scholar, he ever solidified an opinion or a thought pattern or a position – on anything or anyone.  Mike was a thinker.  Thought was his way of living.  And he cared too much about people – authors, scholars, characters in books, as well as friends and family – ever to allow his thoughts to dig in their heels and stay put.  For Mike, thinking meant ever-widening circles.  To think about something new meant that one had to allow new thoughts to join the old ones.  Every book review Mike sent to my dad in those early years showed Mike’s care and thought.  Everything my dad had seen Mike do since then showed the same care and thought.  Mike’s ability and desire to think and to care were what caused my dad to consider Mike “good.”  The fact that Mike’s ability and desire never faltered explained the “ol’.”  “Good ol’ Mike” was a constant, steady, strong, unfailing force of all that was “good.”

And yet Mike was also, perhaps most importantly, a quiet man, which of course enabled him to listen, think, and analyze clearly, but it also allowed the astonishing breadth of his achievements to . . . not go unrecognized, exactly, but perhaps . . . be taken for granted in communities where others of us are louder.  His quiet manner most often resulted in positive outcomes for ideas, organizations, and people in his world, but I suspect they also spoke – or perhaps whispered – of very little desire for attention.  His lengthy but nowhere near all-inclusive faculty vita page and his befriending of so many people from so many backgrounds and of so many levels of influence all signify a man whose satisfaction came from doing the “good” rather than giving himself credit for it.  It came from the people and the ideas Mike Levy learned about and shared rather than from the rewards academia would offer to Michael M. Levy for the results.

Where people in Mike’s many circles have needed something, where there has been emptiness, confusion, urgency, or even strife, Good Ol’ Mike has stepped in – quietly – and more than once, saved the day.

Sandra Lindow, Miriam Levy, Mike Levy, ICFA 36, 2015, photo by Bill Clemente


We are deeply saddened to learn of Michael Levy’s passing. Mike was a respected and loved scholar, colleague, mentor, past IAFA President, and above all, friend. Please join us in offering our deepest condolences to Mike’s family and friends during this difficult time.

David G. Hartwell and Gary K. WolfeDavid G. Hartwell, who would have turned 75 this summer, attended his first ICFA in Boca Raton in 1984—only the fifth conference—and immediately earned his place in conference folklore when he and Justin Leiber (Fritz’s son; they were both guests that year) conspired to bum-rush the then-president Marshall Tymn into the hotel pool one evening.  There were good reasons for this, from David’s point of view, but there were also good reasons for David to continue attending the conference almost yearly, except for ICFA’s brief exile to Texas.  And the more he attended, the more such stories gathered around him.  He really did sing “Teen Angel” to a riverboat full of tourists, including Doris Lessing, and he really was along on what became known as the “Heart of Darkness” water taxi cruise with Philip Jose Farmer and his wife and a few of the rest of us.  And, of course, he really did own all those clothes. As he once explained to me, “You need to have good taste to do bad taste well.”

In 1995, Bob Collins and I invited him to join the conference board and take over management of the book room, which had been something of a haphazard affair before then.  For many conference members, this was their first encounter with David, whose connections in New York publishing and particularly with Tor have for years provided ICFA with many of the free books that showed up at luncheons and banquets.  The book room itself grew into one of the main attractions of the conference.

David believed in ICFA; he wrote that it had become an “umbrella for the marginalized study of the fantastic, and that it was worth supporting.”  This, I think, helps explain the apparent paradox of the two Davids.

And that paradox is this:  for many ICFA attendees, including some well-known scholars, David was the colorfully-dressed, urbane, and very knowledgeable guy who ran the book room, who had done some of those darkly outrageous things in the early history of the conference, and who was Peter and Elizabeth’s dad.

But for most of the writers attending and at least a few of us academics–the list of names is too long to even begin here–ICFA had somehow snagged one of the great legendary editors in the history of science fiction as a regular attendee and as, of all things, the book room manager.  He did this for more than twenty years, and the influence he had in bringing more and more distinguished writers to the conference is inestimable.

Academics and literary historians tend to focus on writers, for obvious reasons: they’re easier to research.  In the science fiction field, an occasional editor like Hugo Gernsback or John W. Campbell, Jr. or Michael Moorcock might show up on the radar, but anthologists and novel editors are far less visible.  But those who know the real history of science fiction (and fantasy, and horror) know that David Hartwell is a name that belongs in that pantheon.  He not only edited writers as diverse as Gene Wolfe, Gregory Benford, Michael Bishop, Robert Sawyer, and L.E.Modesitt, but he won three Hugo and two World Fantasy Awards, and one of the latter was for The Dark Descent, an anthology which did as much to define modern horror fiction as any other single book.  His equally massive science fiction anthologies, sometimes co-edited with Kathryn Cramer, more recently with Patrick Nielsen Hayden, made coherent and pointed arguments for the kind of science fiction David believed in.  He edited nine years of Best Fantasy annuals and eighteen years of Best Science Fiction annuals.  He co-founded one of the important critical magazines in the field, The New York Review of Science Fiction. He wrote a still-useful popular introduction to science fiction, Age of Wonders.

He shaped the field as much as anyone else has in the last half-century.

And he was the guy in the book room.  A couple of years ago, David told me with some glee that one of the more prominent ICFA scholars, who had read a lot of theory but only recently begun researching the details of the literary history of science fiction, had come up to him and said, with some surprise, “It seems like you’re a pretty important guy.”  She was even more surprised to learn he had a doctorate in medieval literature.

He didn’t seem to mind much, being the guy in the book room, but we all should have asked him more questions than we did. I knew David for over thirty years, and didn’t always agree with his ideas about science fiction or fantasy, but I never failed to learn something new from him just about every time we talked. We’ve lost a lot of the history of SF, as well as a congenial guy with unaccountable passions for indescribable wardrobes and teen death songs. And we have lost a huge and largely unsung part of what has helped knit ICFA together over all these years.

–Gary K. Wolfe

The announcement of Jay’s passing came this morning from his family on his own blog, here.

There is an in memoriam post at, here, and Cheryl Morgan remembers Jay here. Find more information about the film Lakeside, which follows Jay through a year of therapy, here.

Jay’s great many friends have shared their memories for the past several days on Facebook and blogs. For someone to be so connected to a community, it is a deep loss when they leave it.

Past ICFA attendee, Dracula scholar, and Romanian historian Radu Florescu has died. More information is available here.