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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. Cory 3

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." Cory 4

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. Cory 2

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. Cory 2