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I write this a week after I discovered that Gardner Dozois passed away. For those of you who never met Gardner or even heard of him, he was the sf editor for most of his tenure at Asimov’s SF Magazine. He won the Hugo for his editing 15 times. He edited a year’s best sf volume that was the definitive volume for decades. He was a fine writer in his own right, publishing some of the best short stories I’ve ever read.
Gardner and I had a pretend rivalry in the mid-1990s, when I edited The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. In reality, during that time, he was my editor and I was his—we both bought stories from each other. I wanted more from him (he never wrote enough, in my opinion) and he wanted more from me, which I struggled to provide. I had an agreement with Ed Ferman, the publisher of F&SF, that F&SF would get my short fiction first (Ed edited me).
We also became friends. When I went to sf conventions, I spent time with the editors and the writers who were verbally strong enough to spar with us. We had amoeba tables of our writers, the editors, and a few publishers. Mostly we joked and kidded and occasionally, we talked about serious sfnal stuff.
But that group, which included Gardner, his wife the writer Susan Casper, Walter Jon Williams, Pat Cadigan, Ellen Datlow, Connie Willis, and so many others, was the center of my con-going experience.
When I wasn’t hanging with them, I spent time with the comic book crowd, including Len Wein and his wife photographer Christine Valada. And then there were my West Coast friends, who had come up at the same time I had, like Mary Rosenblum. There was the group that had grown around Pulphouse Publishing, which included Dave Bischoff, Bill Trojan, and Ed Bryant.
With the exception of MileHiCon in 2016, I haven’t been to a lot of conventions in the past few years because of my health. (See the previous Notes from the Buffer Zone.) A number of other writers had stopped going to conventions regularly for the same reason. Several, like Pat Cadigan, had moved out of the U.S. and had health issues, so I saw them rarely.
Then the deaths started.
This last four or five years have just been brutal. For us, it started with the death of book dealer Bill Trojan, whose estate we handled. And it was quiet for a while after that. Lately though, it’s been almost weekly.