Boing Boing 

Sending Terry Pratchett home with HTTP headers

In Terry Pratchett's novel Going Postal, an allegory about the creation of an Internet-like telegraph system called "the clacks," workers who die in the line of duty have their names "sent home," by being transmitted up and down the line in the system's signalling layer ("A man is not dead while his name is still spoken").

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RIP, Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett, a treasure of a writer, a gem of a human being, and a credit to our species, has died, far too soon, at the age of 66.

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RIP, Eugie Foster

The Nebula Award-winning writer/editor had been raising money for cancer treatment; she died today.

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RIP, Daniel Keyes, author of "Flowers for Algernon"

Daniel Keyes, the MD who wrote the classic science fiction novel Flowers for Algernon, has died at 86, of complications from pneumonia. I met Keyes when he received the Science Fiction Writers of America's Author Emertius honor in 2000, and he struck me as a sensitive and thoughtful person. He told the story of how he'd conceived of Algernon while riding the subway to his medical residence, and how pleased he'd been with its reception (it's also one of the small handful of science fiction novels whose film adaptation is in the same league as the book -- the 1968 film "Charly" won its lead an Academy Award).

Algernon is a truly fantastic contribution to literature -- a book that has stayed with me for decades and influenced the way I think about intelligence, science, medicine, and self-determination. Though Keyes never wrote another science fiction work that attained its success, that book alone earned him a richly deserved place in history. (via /.)

Jazz pianist and composer Horace Silver, 1928-2014

The great jazz pianist and composer Horace Silver died today "of natural causes" at his home in New Rochelle, New York.

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RIP, Jay Lake


The first time I had a proper conversation with Jay Lake, it was after the 2006 Los Angeles World Science Fiction convention; I was invited to a dinner with a bunch of other Campbell Award winners from years gone by. It was the year John Scalzi won the award, and I want to say it was me, him, Jay and Elizabeth Bear, though these dinners do blend together and I may be missing a name.

The last time I had a proper conversation with Jay Lake, it was last July, at the San Diego Comic Con, where Jay was in a wheelchair, and when I asked him how he was, he said he was dying, and that he wasn't going to last more than about six months. He was frank about this, and seemed to have made some peace with it. His daughter, the other people around him, we all knew he was dying. He didn't let us get maudlin. But every conversation I had with him meant something, because I had gotten to know Jay by then, and to know what a fantastic person and what a fantastic writer he was. I made a conscious effort to fix every interaction in my mind. I hugged him goodbye when I left. He was still a bear of a man, but unmistakably frail.

Jay died today.

He'd had cancer for years, and had been brave about it, and had fought. He even beat it for a while. Not long ago, though, it became clear that he was going to lose. Every time I saw Jay thereafter, he was the model of a person who was looking death in its snake-eyed gaze and not allowing the fear to paralyze him.

But I think he was afraid, and his loss -- like the loss of every single person who is taken by cancer -- represents a loss to us all. Not just because he was a prolific, imaginative and talented writer. Not just because he was a devoted father and a very good friend. Not even because he was a good man. He was every one of those things.

But we lost something today when Jay died, because every person who dies of a mindless, terrible, awful disease like cancer costs our species something.

Good-bye Jay. You are missed already.

From the official announcement:

If you want to make a contribution in Jay’s name, please make it to:
Clayton Memorial Medical Fund
c/o OSFCI
P.O. Box 5703
Portland, Oregon 97228

See also:

* John Scalzi

* Tor.com

RIP, H.R. Giger, 1940-2014

The famous Swiss surrealist leaves behind some of the twentieth century's most impressive and startling artwork. Here are our favorite biomechanical wonders.Read the rest

RIP Al Feldstein - EC Comics and MAD editor

Squa tront! Spa Fon! The great Al Feldstein, passed away today.

Feldstein began working at EC comics, publishers of Weird Science, Weird Fantasy, Tales from the Crypt, The Vault of Horror, and The Haunt of Fear in 1948. Soon he became editor of most of EC's titles. He typically wrote and illustrated a story in each title and drew many of the covers, a mind-bogglingly prolific output. Eventually he stopped doing the art for stories and stuck with editing, writing, and cover illustrations. According to Wikipedia, from "late 1950 through 1953, he edited and wrote stories for seven EC titles." I've always loved his signature, which features elongated horizontals on the F and the T, and an extended vertical on the N.

After MAD creator Harvey Kurtzman got in a fight with publisher William Gaines over ownership of the comic and left EC in 1956, Gaines put Feldstein in charge of the humor magazine, where he remained as editor until 1985.

Here's an excellent biography of Feldstein, which came out last year.

Gabriel García Márquez, Nobel laureate novelist, 1927-2014

Novelist Gabriel García Márquez, whose One Hundred Years of Solitude "established him as a giant of 20th-century literature," died today at his home in Mexico City. He was 87.

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RIP, Sue Townsend

Sue Townsend has died. Ms Townsend wrote (among other things) the marvellous Adrian Mole books that have been a touchstone for me since I was 14 years old (I'm the same age as Adrian Mole, and grew up with him through Townsend's fictionalised diaries). Townsend has been legally blind due to complications from diabetes for some time, and had been writing her books by dictation. The BBC says that she died at home "after a short illness." I am so sad about this. She was one of the great comic writers, with all that implies: wisdom, wit, compassion and ruthless honesty. She was 68.

Interview with Lucius Shepard


Science fiction radio-host and podcaster Rick Kleffel writes, "Lucius Shepard was one of my guiding lights for reading; he worked in all the spaces I loved best. Here's a link to my one conversation with him [MP3], back in 2005. He'll be missed very much; and remembered every time we read his work." (Thanks, Rick!)

Lucius died last week. It was far too soon, and he is very much missed.

RIP, Lucius Shepard, gone too soon

Lucius Shepard, one of science fiction's great writers, has died. He was 66 70. I had met Lucius on several occasions and found him to be just as you'd hope from his novels: smart and witty (but lots of writers are smart and witty), and kind, and weird in the most delightful ways. I watched a chess-boxing match with Lucius and I have never seen someone more delighted. Shepard was involved in many good causes, and we had brainstormed many ideas for helping friends of his who were eking out a living in Central America as skin-divers and facing grave physical peril. It had been a few years since I'd seen him in the flesh, and I knew his health was often poor, but this was sudden and terrible news out of the blue.

Tor.com's obit does a good job of getting at the facts of his career:

Shepard began publishing short stories in 1983 and his first novel, Green Eyes, appeared in 1984. In 1985 he won the John Campbell Award for Best New Writer; over the course of his career he won the Nebula for his novella “R&R,” the Hugo for his novella “Barnacle Bill the Spacer,” and the Shirley Jackson Award for his novella “Vacancy” in 2008.

But to stop there is to miss how Shepard's fans and friends reveled in his work -- its originality, its dazzling language, its hardbitten and hard-won verisimilitude. He was a writer who changed the readers who found him, and I miss him already.

Update: A fitting eulogy from Michael Swanwick.

Lucius Shepard, 1947-2014

Tony Benn, secret mounter of illegal Parliamentary plaques


When Tony Benn was a Member of Parliament, he would go around with homemade plaques celebrating heroes of democracy, such as suffragette* Emily Wilding Davison, and illegally screw them to the walls. He copped to this during a sitting of Parliament in 2001, saying, "I have put up several plaques—quite illegally, without permission; I screwed them up myself. One was in the broom cupboard to commemorate Emily Wilding Davison, and another celebrated the people who fought for democracy and those who run the House. If one walks around this place, one sees statues of people, not one of whom believed in democracy, votes for women or anything else. We have to be sure that we are a workshop and not a museum."

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RIP, John Henson, son of Jim Henson

John Henson, son of Muppets creator Jim Henson, has died at 48 from a heart-attack. Henson, who had no history of heart problems, was a board member of the Jim Henson Company, and sometimes played Sweetums in Muppet movies and shows.

Pete Seeger, aged 2, with family (1921)


Here's a photo of Pete Seeger, aged 2, with his family in 1921. It comes from a National Photo Co. Collection glass negative. Seeger, who was persecuted by the House Unamerican Activities Committee died yesterday. He was 94.

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RIP, Pete Seeger

Folk singer and icon of hope Pete Seeger has died at 94. I saw Seeger perform three times, and will never forget those performance. Rest in peace.

RIP, Roy Trumbull: happy mutant, TV/radio engineering legend, podcaster

I'm sad to report that Roy Trumbull, a maker, podcaster, and happy mutant, died of cancer last week. He was 74, and died peacefully in his home. I was an avid listener of Story Spieler, Roy's podcast, where he read aloud all manner of odd and fascinating public domain materials (he was a Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame inductee, and a legendary engineer). I was deeply honored when Roy agreed to read a story for the audio edition of my short story collection With A Little Help (Roy also recorded great readings of my stories Craphound, The Super-Man and the Bugout and To Market, To Market).

Roy often suggested great Boing Boing stories (like this one, about some lost Yippee! movement footage) and was a warm and thought-provoking correspondent. I was lucky enough to meet him a few times in San Francisco, and he was just as funny and warm in person.

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Auctioning off a Datamancer keyboard to benefit his family


Thomas sez, "I don't just want to give condolences to my friend's family. I want to do as much actual good as I can. I am auctioning off this signed and dated Datamancer keyboard. Sadly, there will not be more like this ever again. If you have ever thought that you just have to have one, this is your chance. Help keep his legacy alive. Every penny is going to his family. I have contacted them directly to ensure this is done with good grace and honor toward his name."

Datamancer Barrister Brass Steampunk Keyboard

See also: RIP, Richard "Datamancer" Nagy

Tank Riot podcast on Lou Reed

Viktor from the Tank Riot podcast writes, "We were annoyed with the rubbish 3 minute obits we saw about Lou in mainstream media. He was a hero of ours and we took the time to discuss him properly. We think that fellow Happy Mutants would like this perspective. He was a truly brilliant guy and an influence on all of alternative culture."

Obit for a prolific newspaper site commenter

David sends us "An obituary for a prolific commenter on the Brisbanetimes.com.au news website. This nonagenarian only took to the internet in the last year or so and was prolific in the comments on the site. A touching tribute to a respected member of a community."

The person who commented under "Bob Menzies" was "a lifelong Queensland public servant" who been a member of the Liberal Party since 1950, and who wore a black suit to work every day of his working life.

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RIP, Ann "AC" Crispin

Ann Crispin -- science fiction writer, crusader against scams, Star Trek novelist, and nice person -- has died. She wrote of her own impending death, "I want to thank you all for your good wishes and prayers. I fear my condition is deteriorating. I am doing the best I can to be positive but I probably don’t have an awful lot of time left. I want you all to know that I am receiving excellent care and am surrounded by family and friends." Ann taught a writing workshop at a Toronto science fiction convention I attended as a teenager, and gave me good advice that I took to heart. I never forgot it. Good bye, Ann.

RIP, Ronald Coase

Ronald Coase, Economics Nobel Laureate and author of the 1937 classic Nature of the Firm, has died at 102. Coase's arguments about the problems of transaction costs and the opportunities that arise from lowering them are at the heart of the Internet's impact and have never been more relevant.

RIP, science fiction grand master Frederik Pohl

Frederik Pohl, one of our oldest living science fiction masters, died on September 2. I was privileged to know Fred for more than twenty years, and looked up to him as a writer and colleague (I was honored to contribute the story "Chicken Little" to Gateways, an anthology in Fred's honor, which also included work by Neil Gaiman, Gene Wolfe, Vernor Vinge, Harry Harrison, Joe Haldeman, and many others).

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RIP, Doug Englebart

He was one of the most influential, important and visionary computer scientists of all time. He died peacefully at home, in his sleep. Goodbye, Dr Englebart. Thank you for all you did.

Ken Macleod on Iain Banks

CBC radio's excellent magazine show As It Happens conducted a short, lovely interview with Scottish sf writer Ken Macleod about Iain Banks, who had been his friend since high school. It's a beautiful piece of audio, and a heartfelt one. My condolences, Ken.

Detailed obit of Iain Banks

Iain Banks died yesterday. The Guardian's John Mullan does justice to the long and important career of one of the best writers in two fields:

In 2010 he gave an interview to BBC Radio Scotland in which he spoke with painful frankness about the breakdown of his relationship with his first wife. But then the media interview seemed his natural forum: it is difficult to think of a more frequently interviewed British novelist.

While his science fiction spanned inter-stellar spaces, his literary fiction kept its highly specific sense of place. The place that gives the title to his 2012 novel Stonemouth is fictional, but, like other fictional places in earlier Banks novels, it is a highly specific Scottish town. Like The Crow Road and The Steep Approach to Garbadale –it is the story of a man coming back to his family home, and it is difficult not to think that this is Banks's story of himself.

Iain Banks dies aged 59

RIP, Jack Vance

Stefan Jones sez, "SF&F titan Jack Vance has died at age 96. He had a mighty good run, continuing to write for many years after losing most of his eyesight. I think I'm going to reread The Eyes of the Overworld this week, in tribute."

Sad news, indeed.

JACK VANCE, IN MEMORIAM: 1916 - 2013

Divinyls singer Chrissy Amphlett dies of breast cancer, MS

The charismatic lead singer of Australian new wave band The Divinyls, Chrissy Amphlett, has died in her New York home of cancer and multiple sclerosis. She was 53. Above, "I Touch Myself," the autoerotic anthem of '80s teen females that became the Divinyls' greatest hit.

Last month, on her Facebook page, she wrote about the experience of being a breast cancer patient since 2010:

"Unfortunately the last 18 months have been a real challenge for me having breast cancer and MS and all the new places that will take you. You become sadly a patient in a world of waiting rooms, waiting sometimes hours for a result or an appointment. You spend a lot time in cold machines... hospital beds, on your knees praying for miracles, operating rooms, tests after tests, looking at healthy people skip down the street like you once did and you took it all for granted and now wish you could do that. I have not stopped singing throughout all this in my dreams and to be once again performing and doing what I love to do."

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Great dad dies (also, he was a scientist)

Handsome Dad of the Year (a former brunette) took out the garbage without fail, did the family shopping, and is remembered fondly by his step-daughters/first-cousins-once-removed. Also, outside the home, he discovered something called "relativity". Jennie Dusheck has a great follow up to a story that Xeni posted about earlier today.

Worlds longest cat dies

"Stewie the Cat, the longest domestic cat in the world at more than 4 feet long from nose to tail, has died." [AP]