I really only had one idol in fandom, and that was Harry Stubbs, aka "Hal Clement." I don't know what to say, but a personal farewell to one of the best guests a convention could ever hope for.
Hal was a right gentleman. He never acted like he was any better than anyone else. I have said since the day I met him in 1987 that I wanted to be an author just like him. Maybe he never made the best seller list, maybe modern people haven't heard of his works much, but he was truly a great person. I am honored and humbled to have been on panels with him. Like many fen, I had spent long nights talking with him in hotel lobbies about his past as a pilot, past conventions, and just general ideas he picked up from various experiences. He was a great panelist who really shared an enthusiasm for people in his audience. He also donated a lot of blood, some several gallons worth, and when I donate blood, I think about that. I think I have a picture of him and me somewhere, and if I find it, I'll post it.
I recall one random story of his, back from his days as a pilot in WW2. He said it was really foggy, and planes were having trouble finding the tower to land. Finally, one frustrated pilot said over the radio, "Where the fuck is the runway??" The British tower commander grabbed the microphone and demanded to know the name, rank, and superior officer of the person who made that crude remark. "I may be lost, sir, but I am not stupid," was the only reply.
I will miss you, Hal. A lot. I only hope I honor you as both and author and a polite guest.
Jason's not coming for New Year's
Almost every year, maybe every year, my old school bud Jason Aufdenberg (now Dr. Aufdenberg) comes over for New Year's. But a few months ago, he left his position at Harvard, and is now working as a Michelson Postdoctoral Fellow for The Center for High Angular Resolution Astronomy in Arizona. He's coming back to the DC area in December, but he won't be here for New Year's. Crudbuckets! At least his excuse is a good one. He's also volunteering some time to help a 6th grade teacher, and facing sixth graders. Well, one of his previous jobs was to teach astronomy to college freshmen, so maybe that's not so different :).
This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000267.html