mabfan (Michael A. Burstein) (mabfan) wrote,
mabfan (Michael A. Burstein)

My Memory of Jack Williamson (1908-2006)

As many of us did, I learned over the weekend of the Friday death of Jack Williamson. For those of you unfamiliar with the name, Jack was a science fiction writer and the second one to be named a Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (preceded only by Robert A. Heinlein). Jack had a remarkable life; he was born in Arizona before it was a state and in 1915 traveled with his family via a covered wagon. His first story, "The Metal Man," was published in Amazing Stories in 1928, and over the course of his long life he wrote many more stories and novels.

Needless to say, Jack was honored many times by the science fiction and fantasy community at large. One particular incident stands in my mind, which I would like to share, because of my own involvement. I would like to say that I had a larger role in the events I'm about to describe, but in all honesty, I was just a conduit. But because of it, I got to meet Jack Williamson, for which I will always be grateful.

In 1998, shortly after I was elected Secretary of SFWA and Vice-President of NESFA, I was approached by Tony Lewis. Tony is a writer and has been very active in fandom all his life. He has served as an officer of NESFA many times and also as a Worldcon chair.

Anyway, Tony approached me with the flat-out statement that 1998 was the 70th anniversary of Jack Williamson's first published story, and that SFWA had to do something to honor Jack at Worldcon that year (Bucconeer, held in Baltimore). In my capacity as SFWA Secretary, I passed along that request to Brenda Clough, who was running the SFWA Suite at Bucconeer. She in turn mentioned this anniversary to Dell Magazines, the publishers of Analog and Asimov's, who were sponsoring the SFWA Suite on certain nights of the convention.

And so it was, that one afternoon at Worldcon, a party was held in honor of Jack Williamson's seventy years in science fiction. Nomi and I were there, and got to see a room full of people applaud Jack for everything he had done. Dell Magazines had provided refreshments plus a beautiful cake, and Brenda Clough and her staff had set up the room admirably. Jack was always modest about his accomplishments, but I could tell how delighted he was by the party.

I still can't believe that was eight years ago. Rest in peace, Jack. You will not be forgotten.

Copyright © Michael A. Burstein
Tags: conventions, history, personal, science-fiction

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