Algis Budrys was one of the greats. He did not write many novels, compared to some, but the quality of his work was second to none. MICHAELMAS and ROGUE MOON and WHO were his masterpieces, and all three deserve a place among the classics of our genre, but HARD LANDING and THE FALLING TORCH and even THE AMSIRS AND THE IRON THORN are worth a read as well. He was also, for many decades, the field's leading critic and reviewer. Like many other young turks of my generation, I remember waiting for AJ's review -- it was the one that counted.
Later in life, he became a mainstay of the Writers of the Future contest, but he was always a teacher. He was one of the charter members of the Windy City Writers Workshop that I founded during my years in Chicago, always willing to share his time, energy, and insights with the younger neopros who made up most of the group. He taught at Clarion as well, and of course he was one of the Milford Mafia, way back when Damon Knight first started the workshop.
Author, teacher, critic, scholar, he was all that, and a genial host and good guy as well. There was no one better to lift a glass with at a con. And he knew where all the bodies were buried too. Some of the stories he told... but no, I better not.
First Arthur C. Clarke, and now AJ Budrys. This is turning into a real bad year for science fiction.