Ed Bryant in 2016 Photo by Gage Skidmore

I got really sad news on Friday–Edward Bryant, my dear friend and fellow SF writer, had died. I say “sad” rather than “terrible” because he had been ill for a very long time, struggling with the complications of the diabetes he’d had since he was 18 and which was now affecting his heart and eyes and shutting down his kidneys (he was supposed to start dialysis in the next couple of months.) So in some ways his death was probably a blessing to him.

But certainly not to us. My family and I have known him for over forty years. He had dinner with us countless times (and especially one memorably snowed-in Thanksgiving at my grandmother’s house), taught my daughter Cordelia to hang spoons from her nose, and loved talking to my husband about science, especially on the trip to the total eclipse we took to Montana in 1979. (I feel so bad he won’t be here for this summer’s eclipse. It’ll be right in his hometown, Wheatland, Wyoming.)

He was one of my best friends, and I’d rather have talked to him than anybody. He was smart, witty, and full of fascinating stories about horror movies and urban legends and weird news articles. At our last dinner a mere two weeks ago at Cosine, an SF convention in Colorado Springs, he had all sorts of wry and insightful comments about Saturday Night Live, the movie Hidden Figures, and Donald Trump.

But he was not just a friend. He was also a mentor to me before that term even became popular. He taught me how to write, how to critique, how to find my way around the complex maze of the science fiction world without getting in trouble. He encouraged me to go to conventions, introduced me to everyone he knew (and he knew everybody from Jack Williamson to Harlan Ellison to George R.R. Martin) and got me onto panels. He even got me my first Hugo nomination by relentlessly talking me up to everybody.

He was completely without ego, even though he was a two-time Nebula-award-winning short story writer. (He should have won far more, including for “Shark,” “The Hibakusha Gallery,” and his brilliant “Particle Theory,” which, ironically, was about a man facing the prospect of his own death.)

He wasn’t just a terrific writer. He was also a terrific teacher. He founded the Southern Colorado and Northern Colorado Writers’ Workshops and ran Milford, the by-invitation weeklong writers’ workshop established by Damon Knight and Kate Wilhelm, bringing together an astonishing array of writers over the years:
George R.R. Martin
James Patrick Kelly
Carol Emshwiller
Cynthia Felice
David Gerrold
Eve McKenna
Kevin O’Donnell
Simon Hawke
Melanie Tem
Steve Rasnik Tem
John Stith
David Dvorkin
Pamela Zoline
John Kessel
Ronnie Seagren
John Peyton Cooke
Marie Desjardin
John Dunning
Catherine Montrose Cooke
David Skal
Pete Alterman
Karl Hansen
Mark Barsotti
Michael Toman
Bill Wu
Wil McCarthy
and countless others. He brought us together, made us into friends, fostered fascinating conversations, and created a community which became a major influence on the science-fiction field.

And in his spare time (ha!) he taught Clarion West and many other writers’ conferences, emceed the World Fantasy Convention, the World Science Fiction Convention in Denver–on roller skates, no less–the Nebulas (with me as co-host) and, on one occasion, a hilarious version of the Dating Game.

He was central to the field, and his influence and importance can’t be overestimated. I’m only one of many authors who owe their career to him.

But it’s Ed the friend I will really miss–the one who gave me Guardians of the Galaxy wrapping paper (I collect wrapping paper) and Edward Gorey’s THE WILLOWDALE HANDCAR for Christmas, introduced me to Peter Straub’s work, found me copes of Charles Williams’ books, who drove with me and Charles N. Brown to Jack Williamson’s Lectureship for years, and who was the kindest, nicest, best friend anyone could have. Oh, Ed, I’ll miss you so!

And yet I’m still not sorry he’s gone. To quote Swinburne:

From too much love of living,
From hope and fear set free,
We thank with brief thanksgiving
Whatever gods may be
That no life lives forever;
That dead men rise up never;
That even the weariest river
Winds somewhere safe to sea.

Oh, Ed, may you find rest and peace and a heaven full of horror movies and SF conventions. And may we meet there and be friends all over again!

NOTE: I will be writing a longer memorial to Ed for Locus and will provide a link to it when it’s published.

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