All right. . . those of you that know me know that I've been working at Locus
for the past several years, as 1/2 personal assistant to Charles N. Brown
, 1/2 Assistant Editor for Locus. That was actually how I was hired -- to work part-time for Charles, part-time for Locus. This distinction rapidly became meaningless in the day to day rush that characterizes any organization that works to deadline. It was impossible to keep track of the shifting needs in those terms. . . like everyone in the office, I just responded to what needed to happen, when it was needed, as fast as I possibly could.
Picture Charles. . . a man who, at 72, still hadn't really retired. An opera-lover, a gourmand (who, by the way, taught me to cook), a bat-out-of-hell backseat driver, an inexhaustible fund of bad Jewish jokes. He was born in 1937 (talk about first fandom!) and although he retained some of the ideas of those times, he was in many ways so young. . . a young, flexible mind, still learning, still seeking, still absorbing as much knowledge as he could. So much respect for that!
He claimed to have retired, and half the time if you came to him with a question about the magazine, he'd say "that sort of thing is up to you now. . ." but I learned quickly not to blink ("don't blink. . . don't ever blink"), because the very next minute he'd come back to you with an opinion about every detail of everything you were working on, had ever worked on, and would ever work on. . . I've never met anyone more knowledgeable about the science fiction and fantasy field, more opinionated, more expansive. . . I first met him while I was struggling with my Mom's health troubles, and I was able to apply some of the lessons learned in that struggle toward his own problems. When Mom died, I think he know how afloat I felt with both parents gone, and he made a real effort to make me a part of his world. I know he really loved being able to share his knowledge (and his terrible, terrible puns and jokes) with a new
employee. I became so fond of him, and am so privileged to have known him. I really loved the cantankerous old guy. He was family.
Charles died yesterday, on the way back from Readercon, his favorite convention (which he enjoyed tremendously, according to my fellow employee, who went with him and was there with him at the time of his death, for which I am so grateful). He fell asleep on the plane, and simply never woke up again. Really, there could not have been a better death for him. I think those of us that knew him were concerned, as we watched him age, that he would suffer. But he always said he'd die of a heart attack in his sleep. . . and for his sake I'm glad that's how it happened. Still, I think we all expected he'd be with us a little longer. . . RIP Charles, I wish you the best in whatever form that wish can possibly reach you now.