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Present arrived

Samuel R. Delany by Mia WolffIn March 1979 I came to Seattle for my first science fiction convention, Norwescon 3. I was a freshman in college, still absorbing the world at a furious rate, and it was a momentous weekend. Amongst other things, I met Denys for the first time, and we quickly became close friends, talking about all our favorite things as new friends do. Denys was a huge fan of Samuel R. Delany, and he urged me to give Delany another try when I told him that I'd read Babel-17 a few months earlier and hadn't cared for it. So not long after the convention (according to the book log that I started in March 1979) I read The Einstein Intersection, and I was hooked. Delany quickly became my favorite writer.

A few years later, at the Norwescon in 1983, I was hanging out with Sharee in the hallway when either ron_drummond spotted me carrying a copy of Delany's latest novel, Neveryóna, or I spotted Ron carrying his copy, I don't remember which, and the three of us fell into an intense conversation about all things Delany. It seems entirely fitting that my bond with Ron was forged over our mutual love of Delany's writing. Coming right up on 30 years later, our friendship has contained many Delany-related events, projects, parties, and adventures. Thanks almost entirely to Ron, who befriended Chip (as Delany likes to be called), I've had the opportunity over the years to enjoy Chip's company several times, perhaps most memorably in a bar not far from his apartment in Manhattan, where the three of us spent an hour eating oysters and gabbing and laughing about I don't remember what all. It was the moment that was so memorable, meeting Chip in his native environment in a spur of the moment arrangement. I highly recommend eating oysters with your favorite writer if you ever get the chance, even if you, like me, don't care much for oysters!

It was thanks to Ron again that in 2012 Chip's friend Ric Best invited me and Denys to join a host of others in writing some kind of tribute to Samuel R. Delany on the occasion of his 70th birthday. Ric's plan was to compile all the contributions into a little book and give it to Chip and all the contributors as a birthday present. Yesterday my copy of the book arrived. That's the cover image above -- a portrait of Chip painted by Mia Wolff. The book is called All Good Thoughts: A Celebration of Samuel R. Delany's 70th Birthday. There are something like thirty contributions, some of them from well-known folks like Alan Moore, Edmund White, Neil Gaiman, Ellen Datlow, Junot Diaz, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Vonda McIntyre. To find one's own name nestled in amongst the likes of those is, as Denys remarked yesterday, a bit heady. To have the chance to participate in such a beautiful tribute to someone whose writing and thinking I admire so much is just this side of incredible. It's enough to make you look back at how this all came to pass, I tell you!

It's a wonderful life, eh? Thy life's a miracle, in fact. So thanks to Denys for the smart tip, to Chip for a lifetime of beautiful reading, to Ric for a beautiful present, and to Ron for a beautiful friendship. I'm a happy boy.

1997 Ron Chip and Me
Ron, Chip, and yours truly at a Clarion West party in 1997

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
supergee
Jan. 5th, 2013 07:38 pm (UTC)
Sounds like a most interesting book. I am currently discussing Guy Davenport over at Chip's Facebook.
randy_byers
Jan. 5th, 2013 08:08 pm (UTC)
Davenport is one of those writers I keep meaning to check out because of Chip's recommendation, but I've never gotten around to it.
holyoutlaw
Jan. 6th, 2013 12:36 am (UTC)
What a neat story! Between you, Denys, and Vonda, Wallingford and Fremont have the highest concentration of that book IN THE WORLD.

But you probably knew that already.
randy_byers
Jan. 6th, 2013 01:50 am (UTC)
Ha! No, I hadn't even considered that, but it's probably true. If Wallingford and Fremont are swallowed by an earthquake, the world will lose 10% of the supply of this book!

Edited at 2013-01-06 01:58 am (UTC)
gerisullivan
Jan. 6th, 2013 05:35 am (UTC)
This is the part about aging that I really, really like -- the part where the tapestry of connections, memories, and friendships is woven long, thick and rich...and how it leads to new creations beyond the imagination of our younger selves.
randy_byers
Jan. 6th, 2013 06:33 am (UTC)
Bless you, Geri! That's exactly the part I like about aging too.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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