Thursday, January 9, 2020

In Memoriam, Mike Resnick

Mike Resnick died early this morning at the age of 77. He was an extremely successful SF writer, with 5 Hugos and  a Nebula to his name. He was also a significant figure as an editor, with a great many themed anthologies in the '90s and oughts, giving encouragement to any number of new writers. He was the executive editor of Jim Baen's Universe, a very impressive early online SF 'zine. And for the past few years he edited Galaxy's Edge, a very attractive magazine with a noticeable focus on new writers, humorous stories, and classic reprints. Resnick was always willing to "pay it forward".

I met Resnick a number of times, at a few Worldcons and several Windycons. We shared a few panels, and I had the opportunity to sit and chat with him at length on a couple of occasions. He was a nearly peerless storyteller -- not all writers are storytellers in the flesh, but Resnick was. A raconteur, as they say, and it was great fun just to listen to him talk.

I didn't get a chance to review much of his major, award-winning, work. But in his honor, here are a few things I wrote about some of his later stories.

Locus, July 2003

Speaking of heartstring-tugging, Mike Resnick engages in some of the same in "Robots Don't Cry" from the July Asimov's. A pair of interplanetary salvagers come across an ancient robot on an abandoned planet. The robot, they learn, was a guardian for a doomed, diseased, woman. The interplay between the sarcastic narrative of the tough salvager and the sentimental core of the story keeps it just this side of maudlin – at any rate it worked on me.

Locus, March 2004

The February Asimov's opens with a fine, affecting, short story by Mike Resnick, "Travels With My Cats". Ethan Owens finds a travel book of that title by one Miss Priscilla Wallace at the age of 11, and against all odds becomes fascinated with its tales of exotic lands. But his life becomes mundane and lonely, and at 40 he remains unmarried, a copy editor for a small-town newspaper. Then his rediscovery of the book kindles an interest in the author – dead since 1926. But somehow she appears on his porch one evening, and the two, as well as her cats, strike up a relationship – with a somewhat unexpected ending.

Review of Adventure Vol. 1 (Locus, October 2006)

The funniest story here is probably “Island of Annoyed Souls” by Mike Resnick, one of his Lucifer Jones tales. He’s been writing these for a long time, sending the Right Reverend Jones from continent to continent over the course of three collections to date. Now he’s in South America, and he comes to an island in the Amazon, where, we soon learn, lives a version of Wells’ Dr. Moreau, along with a bunch of very annoyed criminals who have been turned into animals.

Locus, January 2008

And Mike Resnick’s “Alastair Baffle’s Emporium of Wonders” (Asimov's, January) is a thoughtful story about one of those mysterious shops, this on a magic supply store at which a couple of boys meet, leading to a lifelong partnership. And now they are aging, and try to find the store one last time. Inevitably, when they find it, they find that there is real magic on offer. But is such magic really worth the price?

Review of Fast Forward 2 (Locus, November 2008)

Mike Resnick and Pat Cadigan contribute “Not Quite Alone in the Dream Quarter”, a crime story of sorts about interactions with aliens who are fascinated by human emotions of all sorts, including those involved in murder.

Locus, January 2014

In Old Mars, some authors embrace the pulpish past wholeheartedly – most notably Mike Resnick, with “In the Tombs of the Martian Kings”, featuring a Earthman named Scorpio and his doglike blue Venusian sidekick Merlin as they guide a Martian scholar to the supposed site of the tomb of alien kings who ruled Mars long ago … This might be said to set a template: it's fun implausible stuff, with a nice closing twist.

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