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RIP, Dave

The news of David G. Hartwell's sudden and tragic death has been all over the net for the past few days. Most of you reading this probably know already. He fell while carrying a bookcase section down a flight of steps, hit his head, and died of a massive brain bleed.

For those of us who knew him, the news was as shocking as it was sad. Just a few months ago, David was dancing at the Hugo Losers Party at Sasquan, and seemingly having a great time. He was 74, it is true, but he was still strong and sharp and vital, and should have had a lot more years. Dozens of moving tributes to David's life and career have already been posted. There's not much that has not been said, but I feel compelled to add my own few words.

I have known David for a long, long time. I first met him at a con... a worldcon, or perhaps a Lunacon, it is hard to recall. I was a young writer, and he was a young editor... at New American Library (Signet) in those early days. Later he moved to Berkley, and still later to Pocket Books, where he founded the prestigious Timescape line.

In the early days, the NAL and Berkley days, David and his first wife Pat were also resident proctors at Bard Hall, a graduate dormitory at Columbia University. There were always a few empty rooms at the dorm, so when impoverished young SF writers came to NYC, David and Pat would put them up. One Christmas season I was the impoverished young writer in question, and I stayed in a dorm at Bard Hall for a week. The best part of that stay were the nights I sat up talking with David. I was greener than summer grass in those days, still years away from my first novel; I got a graduate course in publishing that week, and learned more about the history of science fiction on his couch than from all the books I'd read. (Heard some choice gossip too).

Some years after that came Tor, where he has been a mainstay for oh, these many decades. Tor's long long track record as the preeminent publisher of science fiction and fantasy in the United States is based in no small part to the work of David G. Hartwell. Oh, and he did a lot more than that too. With Robert Weinberg and Kirby McCauley, he founded the World Fantasy Convention and has continued to supervise and help run it ever since. He administered the convention's award, the Howards, for decades. He helped to start THE NEW YORK REVIEW OF SCIENCE FICTION, one of the premiere critical journals in our field.

Professionally, our paths crossed a number of times. At one point David was editor of a short-lived SF magazine called COSMOS, where he bought my story "Bitterblooms" (still one of my favorites) and made it the cover story. At Berkley, he was a bidder when my first novel DYING OF THE LIGHT was put up for auction. He didn't win -- Pocket Books and another publisher both outbid him -- but as fate would have it, he became my editor anyway a few year later when he moved to Pocket to found Timescape. He was the editor on my second novel, WINDHAVEN, my collaboration with Lisa Tuttle. And thanks to that, he had an option on my next book, which turned out to be FEVRE DREAM. But when I turned that one in, David did something very ballsy and unselfish... he passed it along to another editor at another imprint at Pocket, Anne Patty of Poseidon Press, because he knew that she could pay me more and get out more copies (Poseidon was a bestseller imprint) than he could. FEVRE DREAM turned out to be my biggest success to date, in no small part thanks to David's gesture. Shifting it over was not necessarily the best thing for Timescape, or for David himself, but it was the best move for me and my career. Not everyone would have done what he did. It was a remarkable kindness.

I never worked with David again after that, but we remained friendly through all the years that followed, though the only time we ever really saw each other was at cons. David was a great editor... but he was also a fan. He never missed a worldcon that I can recall, nor a World Fantasy once those got rolling, and he could be found at many a Philcon, Boskone, Lunacon, and Readercon as well. Some editors go to cons for strictly professional reasons; they do panels, take their writers out to dinner, and then repair to their rooms. Not David. He was as much a fan as a pro, and you'd find him at the SFWA suite, the Tor party, the Baen party, the bid parties, the bar, the Hugo Losers party... wherever there was good fellowship and good cheer and good talk to be found. David G. Hartwell was a trufan.

And when two a.m. came rolling around, he would sing.



Good night, David. You'll be missed.

Comments

( 27 comments )
Walter White
Jan. 23rd, 2016 02:01 am (UTC)
Sad thing
And again, the life is just a pale dot blue. Rest in peace, david.
John Nelson
Jan. 23rd, 2016 02:01 am (UTC)
I'm so sorry the loss for you and his family and fans. It's one of those moments of "what if"...had there been some one helping him to move that case (bla bla bla. But as a note to the world: this is why I'm always offering to carry heavy stuff. I'm not macho, I'm just cautious and paranoid and stronger than most people I know) We're such fragile creatures
brianbrecker
Jan. 23rd, 2016 02:18 am (UTC)
I'm so sorry. :( The silver lining is that at least he brought so many people happiness through his personality and his projects.
Matthew Dubeau
Jan. 23rd, 2016 02:30 am (UTC)
So sorry for your loss.
kalimac
Jan. 23rd, 2016 03:17 am (UTC)
I'd forgotten about COSMOS. I followed that magazine closely, because it was a Hartwell project, enjoyed the stories - yours and Michael Bishop's in particular - and still have my complete collection, all four issues of it.
livejournal
Jan. 23rd, 2016 03:31 am (UTC)
Hello! Your entry got to top-25 of the most popular entries in LiveJournal!
Learn more about LiveJournal Ratings in FAQ.
raeh_lj
Jan. 25th, 2016 09:38 pm (UTC)
"Most popular"
Dear LJ,

Can we ditch the popularity contest? George's post is "popular". Facebook tells me, when I type "Kathr", that "Kathryn Cramer is popular among my friends".

Yes, because this is a tragic event and people need to huddle together to share their pain and process the sheer fact of this enormous, sudden loss.

George, thank you, a moving post. Hope to see you next time I'm down your way, which is likely to be in late February.

-- Rachel Holmen
grrm
Jan. 25th, 2016 11:54 pm (UTC)
Re: "Most popular"
That's a robo-message, I believe. Come up whenever I blog.
writing_mombie
Jan. 23rd, 2016 05:00 am (UTC)
This January has been a very sad one. Many people that had been sharing their emotions and ceativity with us, passed away...

I am very sorry for your loss!
This song always goes right into my heart. Maybe it helps you too. <3

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQ3wpjdYMqk
(Deleted comment)
xraytheenforcer
Jan. 23rd, 2016 08:12 am (UTC)
I'm so very sorry for your loss, George. I met David a couple of times at conventions -- and got into a brief but nifty discussion with him over his horror anthology Dark Descent at Readercon (I think it was Readercon) a couple of years ago. He will be sorely missed. :(
hippoiathanatoi
Jan. 23rd, 2016 01:46 pm (UTC)
I think I met David only once, during the Glasgow Worldcon parties. As I recall, we briefly talked some of the stories that had been nominated that year, and then I recommended he try the Irn-Bru that one of the parties had on offer, and that was that. I'm sure I saw him on some panels, then and later, but mostly my impression of him comes from that brief fannish moment of two strangers just chatting about science fiction.

Condolences to his friends and family. He was a great figure in the genre, and will be missed.
noybusiness
Jan. 23rd, 2016 02:00 pm (UTC)
Terrible news. I met him briefly at the World Fantasy Convention, and I received several books signed by him from Tor last month. My thoughts are with his friends and loved ones.
Rachel Leahanna Amburgey
Jan. 23rd, 2016 05:41 pm (UTC)
valar morghulis
So sorry for your loss, George.
womzilla
Jan. 23rd, 2016 09:50 pm (UTC)
Thank you, George
One of the things about reading this flood of remembrances of David is how consistent he is in everyone's memory. There was a public David, and an among-friends David, but they were very much the same fabric even if worn slightly differently.



Edited at 2016-01-24 07:39 pm (UTC)
womzilla
Jan. 24th, 2016 07:43 pm (UTC)
Re: Thank you, George
Also, would you be interested in contributing--this, or something else--to the Hartwell memorial volume that NYRSF is assembling? If so, drop me an e-mail at kjm@panix.com. Thanks!
Nicholas Birns
Jan. 23rd, 2016 11:35 pm (UTC)
David G. Hartwell
I am deeply saddened by this. I first saw David G. Hartwell speak at the 1989 Modern Language Association conference. It is not easy to talk about contemporary science fiction to academics, even the hip academics who would show up to hear him. He spoke with aplomb and charm but also with a sense of authenticity. He was the real deal, and his passionate enthusiasm for authors and worlds he loved was infectious. It was at his recommendation I first read Nancy Kress, John Kessel, and Kim Stanley Robinson. What a terrible loss.
segue
Jan. 24th, 2016 05:35 am (UTC)

That's horrible. I'm sure I've read at least one thing he's edited. So many good people have passed recently. The world is bluer and darker now.

David Priest
Jan. 25th, 2016 04:46 am (UTC)
A wonderful colleague and friend.

I admire your support of other writers and artists, especially when you envite them to the JCC, screen their work and interview them on your stage.

Echoes of your friend Dave's support and influence. Honoring each other by your actions over the years and benefiting your communities.
Chris WhitleyFan
Jan. 25th, 2016 07:03 pm (UTC)
Thanks George. This is a beautiful sentiment about my Dad and I appreciate it so much. With Love and respect from the Hartwell Family, Sincerely, Geoff Hartwell
grrm
Jan. 26th, 2016 06:36 am (UTC)
You are very welcome, Geoff. I appreciate your note.

Please give my condolences to the rest of the Hartwell clan. (I still remember babysitting your sister during that week at Bard Hall. She was a toddler at the time).
johncwright
Jan. 25th, 2016 07:32 pm (UTC)
He will be Missed
Mr. Hartwell launched and sustained my career with the same unselfishness and goodheartedness you here describe. Under very trying circumstances, for example, his work allowed me to write NULL-A CONTINUUM, which, like your 'Bitterblooms' is to you, is a favorite of mine.

It grieves me that you and I should be at odds over unimportant political matters when science fiction as a genre, and the people in our lives, and much else besides are things we both have in common and outweigh any differences.

The shadow of our mutual loss of a friend sharply reminds me of what is important in life, and mutual ire is not one of those things.

You wrote not long ago of a desire for peace in the science fiction community; I second that sentiment and voice it also. Let there be peace between us.

John C. Wright
grrm
Jan. 26th, 2016 06:34 am (UTC)
Re: He will be Missed
I agree, death has a way of putting life's other trials and triumphs in perspective.

My own political and social views are very much at odds with yours, Mr. Wright, and our views on literary matters, especially as regards science fiction and fantasy, are far apart as well. But I have always believed that science fiction has room for all, and I am pretty sure that David Hartwell believed that as well.

If we want to heal the wounds our community suffered last year, all of us need to stop arguing about the things that divide us, and talk instead about the things that unite us... as writers, as fans, as human beings. Our grief in David's passing is one of those things. Everyone who ever knew him or worked with him will miss him, I do not doubt.

So thank you for your note, and your heartfelt and compassionate words about David.
mhpr262
Jan. 25th, 2016 08:26 pm (UTC)
Sad news. I have just read it here first. But I'll take a death like that, at 74, over a long, drawn out, painful death by cancer any day.
grrm
Jan. 25th, 2016 08:43 pm (UTC)
Well, yes... but myself, I'd just as soon chose "not dying."

I'm a science fiction guy. I dream of starflight, time travel, immortality, and eternal youth.

(Though I know in my heart that winter is coming).
melrose57
Jan. 25th, 2016 08:38 pm (UTC)
What heartfelt and beautiful words for a friend.
klwilliams
Jan. 26th, 2016 07:38 pm (UTC)
Since the figure that's given for World Fantasy Awards is being changed, maybe it should be based on David. The shirt and tie could be changed each year to reflect the Hartwell taste.
( 27 comments )

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