I don’t normally do two blog entries on the same day, but I had to say goodby to Anne McCaffery, author of so many quality books, including the Dragonriders series, The Ship Who series, and so much more. This event is hardly a surprise, as she was 85 and had been missing things like Dragoncon this year for health reasons. But every time we loose an author of this caliber we are all the worse for it, for there will be no more tales to stir the blood and stimulate the imagination from them. The post that summed up who she was and what she meant best so far is from Jenna Busch, another geek like me but wearing a body of a different gender. OK, she might also be a bit more eloquent than I am, which probably explains why her posting moved me the way it did. Thank you, Anne, for all the wonderful dreams and adventures; see you on the other side.
The sad part is, most folks don’t know who he was. Michael S. Hart invented electronic books (now called eBooks) in 1971, when he typed the text of the free printed copy of the U.S. Declaration of Independence he had been handed into a plain ASCII text file and sent it over the net to his friends. In 1971 almost no-one knew there was a net, still decades away from evolving into the web, but even back then Mike realized it was a powerful tool for education and literacy, and he kept typing in and disseminating royalty free literature. He later went on to found the Gutenberg Project and became an advocate for both literacy and for the preservation of public domain rights and resources, all for the greater good of the human race. In case it wasn’t obvious by my statements, this is one of my heroes, and one of the giants who helped build today’s modern world of the future. He will be missed.
For those who missed seeing this tribute video when it aired during the season 6 Doctor Who premiere this past Saturday. This loving tribute to Lis is the official BBC presentation.
Sadly the reports have come in today that Elisabeth Sladen, the actress who played Sarah Jane Smith, has died at the age of 63. She was without a doubt the longest running companion, working with Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker in the 1970s and 1980s, then returning several years ago to partner up with David Tennant, and finally getting her own series, the Sarah Jane Adventures. There is one more season of that in the can ready to be broadcast, so there are still new adventures waiting. The most moving tribute I have seen so far came from Russell T. Davies, although another really nice one came from Airlock Alpha. It is fitting that the BBC announcement was a part of the Doctor Who News segment of the site, and includes Steven Moffat’s reaction. And BBC Worldwide put together this YouTube collection of some of Sarah Jane’s finest moments.
Martin Gardner, born in 1914, died on May 22nd. He wrote science fiction puzzle stories for Asimov’s from just about the first issue, as well as a study of and a sequel to L. Frank Baum’s Oz series (two completely different books). I was alerted to his passing by a posting in Locus Magazine online, but for 35 years he wrote my favorite column in Scientific American, Mathematical Puzzles, so if you really want to know the full range of this brilliant mathematician and author, see their tribute to Martin Gardner.
Frank Frazetta died yesterday at the age of 82. One of the most amazing artists I know, he pretty much defined barbarian fantasy art. If you don’t recognize the name, go to his home page and check his galleries, where you will discover you have known his art all your life. It is sad to think he is no longer with us, and there will be no new works from his hand.