To absent friends.

June 2, 2019 | By | 3 Replies More

Yours truly was in London the other day dropping the kids off to a cinema excursion in Leicester Square while I got some quality writing time in at Pret around the corner – a couple of quid for a coffee, seat and free wifi for three hours.

After I did the drop-off, I stumbled over the world premiere for Amazon Prime’s Good Omens being hosted at one of the cinemas on the square, Neil Gaiman and David Tennant in front of the theatre being interviewed for a live-stream. I snapped a few photos on the phone which I’ll post on my blog, but it seems that being on the wrong side of the makeshift security hedge only produces papped shots of Neil which look like, well, a hedge!

Neil did mention how much he misses Terry Pratchett and how they had set an empty reserved place in the cinema for him, which brought a tear to my eye.

It got me thinking of the SFF authors I’ve been lucky enough to know over the years who have passed away. Some too soon, like Terry Pratchett (67) and Iain Banks (59). Others who reached respectable innings like Jack Williamson (98) and Harry Harrison (87).

I wonder in a hundred years’ time if there will be readers who still read and love Terry, Harry, Iain, and Jack, or if they’ll be the equivalent of Irving Bacheller – the best-selling author of the 1900s with such mega-blockbusters of the time as ‘Ben Holden’. Who, you ask? Exactly.

All our novels, it seems, are written in disappearing ink.

Here’s a story Terry told me, the last every time I saw him, at a joint book signing we did together at Waterstones Piccadilly. I’d just asked him how he was doing.

A black stallion appeared galloping desperately down the road, carrying a rider apparently charged with an immensely vital mission to carry out. A farmer standing alongside the road, yelled, “Where are you off to?” and the rider called back, “I’m not sure … ask the horse!”

Category: Time-wasting

About the Author ()

I am an author of various fantasy, science fiction, crime and other genre books from Gollancz, Hachette and HarperCollins. Some day I hope to grow up and be an astronaut. Exploring Mars would be nice.

Comments (3)

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  1. DMcCunney says:

    “t got me thinking of the SFF authors I’ve been lucky enough to know over the years who have passed away. Some too soon, like Terry Pratchett (67) and Iain Banks (59). Others who reached respectable innings like Jack Williamson (98) and Harry Harrison (87).”

    At this point, I’ve been reading the SF genre for over 50 years. In the process, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet a number of the folks who write it. Some have become friends.

    I met Jack Williamson, and knew Harry Harrison. I knew an assortment of other folks from that era, like Fred Pohl and John Brunner. I was lucky enough to meet Sir Terry and found him a splendid person. (I never had a chance to meet Ian Banks, who I would have loved to discuss scotch whisky with over a dram or two.)

    You know you’re getting on when you open something like Locus and turn first to the obituaries to see if someone you met died recently and you hadn’t heard. It’s even more bemusing when short fiction appears on
    Project Gutenberg as lapsed into the public domain by folks you knew when they were alive.

    I’m reasonably confident people will still be reading Sir Terry’s work a century from now but lay no bets about anyone else’s output, (save possibly J K Rowling’s Harry Potter series.)

    One of the things I’ve found myself doing at SF cons is leading Absent Friends toasts with drams of good single malt, and I tell the universe it can stop giving me cause any time…
    ______
    Dennis

  2. Christopher Trail says:

    I love reading your reviews it reminds me of nights not to long ago when a dear friend and I used to Pile up and binge watch Netflix. Almost as if he were still here. It’s the only time my mind is capable of having peace these days. Love your reviews, as well as my friend. Godspeed good sir.life is a quiet place now days. It will never be the same I’m afraid.

  3. Stephen says:

    Cheers, Christopher – glad you’re enjoying the reviews. I’ll do El Camino, the Breaking Bad sequel, for this week’s piece, I reckon. A bit of Cri-Fi, rather than Sci-Fi, for a change!

    Stephen

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