This has not been a good week for science fiction fandom.*
On Saturday, we lost Marilee Layman, mjlaymanover on LJ. She was a brilliant woman who I first met in the early 1990s when I haunted the Usenet group rec.arts.sf.fandom, or RASFF to those of us who loved it. She was a retired engineer. She was a gifted beader, some of whose handiwork, including a tiny propeller jewelry pin made specifically for RASFF members, I still have. She had a lovely voice. She loved cats. Her personality shone on Usenet, and when I was lucky enough to meet her in person at Minicon, I saw that personality in three-D. She was full of practical kindnesses and shrewd observations of the world. She was also brave and stubborn, and she battled multiple health problems and crises throughout the time I knew her. She ultimately succumbed to one of them. Only a few days before she died, I "chatted" with her over on her LJ journal, talking about a health problem that, in retrospect, probably presaged her passing. I will miss her.
And yesterday we lost Jan Howard Finder. He was known to many people in traditional science fiction fandom as "Wombat." He was also known for his charm, his infectious grin, his love of life, his unbelievable energy and his addiction to travel and to meeting people, making friends and pitching in; to conventions, to auctions, to masquerades, to so much more. I met him at my first Boskone, back in *thinks* 1978. He helped rescue me from a stupid situation into which I'd gotten myself and became, for a brief time, the kind of close friend I needed. He, too, was a practical, level-headed person whose overwhelming kindness made it possible for him to gently tell someone that they needed to shape up, without hurting any feelings. I will always be grateful to him for what he gave me all those years ago even though, the world being what it is, and I being who I am, I let the friendship drift. Most recently we exchanged a line or two every couple of years, by holiday card or, most recently, on Facebook. Over on Facebook, the tributes are pouring in, as they should, with memories of his inveterate travels, especially his Antipodean ones, of his adventures, of his entire life. I wish I had not lost touch with him; I will miss him.
Earlier, I said it had been a bad week for fandom. I misspoke. The world is a poorer place for losing Marilee and Jan.
* By science fiction fandom, I mean that sub-set of a sub-set of literary science fiction readers, the tiny society of SF and fantasy lovers that first bloomed in the late twenties and early thirties of the last century, that became a tiny world of triumphs and tragedies, relationships, magazines, cultural references and in-jokes, burgeoning creativity, love and friendship, and that welcomed the misfits like me. Although I gafiated for various reasons in the first decade of this century, and although I am now very happy in my even tinier subset of online media-and-fanfic-focused fandom, I will never leave that tribe. Marilee and Jan were part of that family.
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