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"Overhead, without any fuss, the stars were going out."
--Arthur C. Clarke, "The Nine Billion Names of God"

It was with immense sadness that FI learned of the passing of fellow Eugene resident Damon Knight from this plane of reality.

While none of us actually knew him personally (or even met him, to be truthful), the news affected us more deeply than seemed reasonable. Why should the death of one elderly writer/editor leave us with such a strong sense of loss?

After much thought (and more than a few beers) we came to a realization. Speculative Fiction was, for many, the saving grace of our adolescence. SF gave us a way out of mundane troubles--our bodies, our minds, our culture all roiled in turmoil and darkness. But we did not climb aboard our perfect-bound starships and venture out alone: we followed the light of many brilliant imaginative writers, the guide stars that led us to strange and marvelous places. Each of them left pinpricks of light burning in the night. And now, thirty years after the heyday of New Wave Speculative Fiction, one by one our trusted stars are going out.

And what we've realized is this: we owe them plenty, and we miss the ones that are gone, and we more fully appreciate the ones who remain. Perhaps most important of all, we look hopefully to those who even now inspire us with bright young stars of their own.

In Memorium

This list is not even remotely all-inclusive. These are just a few of the writers who are no longer with us, who most affected us with their luminous art.

Douglas Adams
Poul Anderson
Isaak Asimov
Alfred Bester
James Blish
Robert Bloch
Marion Zimmer Bradley
John Brunner
David R. Bunch
L. Sprague de Camp
Phillip K. Dick
Gordon R. Dickson
Jack C. Haldeman II
Robert Heinlein
Sir Fred Hoyle
Damon Knight
R. A. Lafferty
Keith Laumer
Clifford D. Simak
Theodore Sturgeon
A. E. van Vogt
John Wyndom
Roger Zelazny

A toast in particular to Damon Knight (1922-2002): perhaps THE most potent influence on Science Fiction across six decades. As long as a single tattered sf paperback remains in view of a wondering mind, his influence lives on.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America maintain a pretty comprehensive archive of recently deceased SF luminaries at The Obituary Archive. Although notably absent are those writers who for whatever reason were not members of SFFA.

An even more comprehensive listing can be found at Spacelight: The Library of Science Fiction & Fantasy Vital Statistics and Personal Data. Although it is hosted on a Tripod account so expect about twenty nasty popups, and somewhere on the order of three hundred privacy-invasive cookies.

~The Staff at Fiction Inferno



Previous Debris

Concerning the events of September 11, 2001

A Little Flotsom

The Stars Are Going Out



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Books Received

The Distance Travelled
by Brett Savory

Spirit of Independence
Keith Rommel
Barclay Books

The Way of the Wolf
E. E. Knight

For the Sake of Peace:
The Seven Paths to Global Harmony
Daisaku Ikeda
Middleway Press


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