Very sad news about science fiction titan David G Hartwell

David Hartwell, a senior editor at Tor Books, cofounder of the New York Review of Science Fiction, legendary collector, raconteur, critic, anthologist, and fixture in so many fo science fiction's scenes and fandom, is in the hospital with a "massive brain bleed" and is not expected to live.

I've known Hartwell since I was an ambitious teenager hoping to break into science fiction, first meeting him on the forums at Genie's Science Fiction Roundtable. In the many years since, I've sung "Teen Angel" with him in con-suites, admired his many awful ties, sold him original fiction, been anthologized in his many year's bests and other collections, gone out for quiet, intense dinners about the state of the field and the world, played with his kids, and generally enjoyed his company in a hundred small and large ways.

Hartwell edited classics like the magisterial Heinlein biography, but he also was instrumental in bringing Canadian science fiction to the US stage, through collections like Northern Suns and Northern Stars, and launching the novel careers of the likes of Karl Schroeder and Peter Watts.

He had Views about science fiction, ideas about what should be happening in the field, and he used his considerable talent, reputation and dedication to foster writers and works and make them well know. Patrick Nielsen Hayden called him science fiction's "most consequential editor since John W. Campbell." It's no understatement.

But he wasn't just a titan of the field, he was also a ubiquitous, friendly, supportive human presence. He went to more conventions than should be possible, and was gregarious and inclusive in his dealings with fans and writers, habituating the public spaces rather than shutting himself away in the green room. It wasn't unusual to see Hartwell in deep conversation with a couple Hugo winners, some Big Name Fans, a couple teenagers, and a writer who'd just sold her first short story -- he was someone who could convene a dialog across all the artificial strata and boundaries of the field.

My deepest condolences go to Kathryn Cramer and their children, as well as Jeffrey. David will be sorely missed.

From Patrick Nielsen Hayden's post:

Over the years at Tor we had occasions to want to drop-kick him out a 14th floor window—and occasions to be gobsmacked by his utter brilliance. He was a true believer in the intellectual and emotional power of fantasy and science fiction. He was our field’s most consequential editor since John W. Campbell.

He is gone. It’s like a mountain range is gone, or nitrogen, or a verb tense. We can’t believe it. David. Goodbye.

From Michael Swanwick:

The list of things he's done -- just those I know about -- would go on forever. Here's an extremely abbreviated version: He was a book reviewer for Creem, edited The Little Magazine, co-founded The New York Review of Science Fiction and the NYRSF Readings series (both of which will continue after him), chaired the board of directors of the World Fantasy Convention and administered the Philip K. Dick Award. Mostly, he edited. He edited the Year's Best SF series, and a number of magisterial anthologies -- "bug-crushers" is the technical term -- on Hard SF, Sword & Sorcery, Twentieth Century and early Twenty-FIrst Century SF, Horror, and so on. He found and nurtured a many great writers. He edited Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun series. He was a book dealer, huckster, and collector. At various times, he filled pretty much every ecological niche in the publishing world.

He loved science fiction and he worked all his adult life in and for it.

Jo Walton's poem in tribute to Hartwell:

Like nitrogen, supporting every breath
Always been there, it seems you always will
So vital, so involved, that is until
A moment brings inevitable death.

I know death finds us all, but you? But why?
You, in the midst of life, one moment there
Then dying flesh, and then an empty chair,
I can’t believe it doesn’t shake the sky.

Your life is over, not complete, feels wrong
To say “he was” and never “he will be”
When you were there like axioms so long.

What’s left is all you did and made, and we
So shaken at the gap where you belong
Counting your loss against eternity.

Here's Terry Bisson: "He was more than an editor, he was our Rabbi. Our creator. He helped make SF the literary field it is today. He sustained it. For fun, for principle, for love. He loved us and we loved him. We should give thanks as we grieve, for the gift was as heavy as the loss, the terrible loss."

(Image: David Hartwell and Skylark, Boskone, 2006)