Monday, July 13, 2009

Charlie Brown

Charles Brown, founder of the SF fan, and later professional, magazine Locus has died, at the age of 72.

When I seriously started writing, thirty-odd years ago, I immediately subscribed to Locus, which was the "semi-prozine" that followed the F&SF field. Reviews, interviews, pictures, stats -- back in the pre-home computer days, Locus was the only way to know at a remove what some of the writers I admired actually looked like.

What books were selling when they were coming out, which markets were open or closed, Locus ran them, and it was an invaluable resource to a young writer, not to mention a great source of gossip.

Charlie won a boatload of Hugo awards, and eventually, the "semi" became "pro" as the magazine went to slick covers and color photos.

Until a major fill-the-dumpster housecleaning a couple years back, I had all those back-issues boxed in my garage. I finally realized they were occupying space for naught but nostalgia, so I tossed 'em out.

Early on, my books got reviewed in Locus -- favorably, even -- and I appeared there in pictures now and again. That mostly stopped, for a couple of reasons: First, Charlie didn't think any kind of tie-in was legitimate writing, so those seldom got more than a passing line in the publications-received section. This rubbed off on reviewers, several of whom I considered snobs. (It took Alan Dean Foster fifty novels before he got a review, and then it was an undeserved pan.)

Second, my sometime-collaborator got more or less blackballed, and by association, so did I. Without telling tales out of school, this involved an ex-girlfriend and their unhappy break-up, and Charlie's sympathies not lying with my friend ...

I wrote one commentary for Locus for which I was actually paid, an opinion piece a decade or so ago. I was surprised Charlie bought it, since I took him to task for his snobby attitude regarding tie-ins. Give him a point for that. While I let my subscription lapse five or six years back, I didn't bear Charlie any ill will, and he was undeniably an influence on the field of speculative fiction for a long time.

Adios, Charlie.

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