Wednesday, January 20, 2016

David G. Hartwell (1941-?)

This morning I woke up to terrible news about David Hartwell, the editor who's been involved in pretty much all facets of science fiction publishing for much of the previous half-century. He suffered severe brain-bleeding and a fall down the stairs yesterday (I'm unsure of what order) and has been reported to be near death or passed on multiple times already. He is not expected to recover.

Hartwell was known for--apart from the many excellent authors he published--garish ties and spectacularly questionable fashion choices he wore at the many conventions he attended. My selection of colorful vests worn at such events is influenced at least in part by Hartwell. I've attended numerous conventions he was a guest at, but unfortunately I don't seem to have many photos of him. This shot with Peter Beagle from the World Fantasy Convention in 2006, which were happier times for all concerned.

I'll leave it to others to lay out his career and contributions. I didn't know him that well, or ever work with him professionally, but he was always friendly to me. My one good David Hartwell story also took place at that 2006 World Fantasy Con. I'd produced a big batch of homebrew beer for Mark Finn to celebrate the release of his Robert E. Howard biography, Blood & Thunder. I'd also recently started dabbling in mead, and brought several bottles of that along as well. I had some hot jalapeno metheglin with me, I believe, along with several bottles of "Holiday Spice Metheglin," which had ginger and cinnamon and nutmeg and who knows what else in it. Let me be clear that whilst I am a competent enough homebrewer where beer and ale are concerned, my mead making skills are far inferior--especially back then, when I had no clue what I was doing. So, late one evening I find myself in one of the room parties (or perhaps the con suite) giving out samples of my mead, and Hartwell walks in. During the ensuing conversation, he takes a cup of my holiday spice, says something vaguely nice about it, and sits down to continue whatever conversation was ongoing. At some point, he asks for a refill. Knowing full well who he is, and my very low position in the genre publishing food chain, I apologize for the poor quality of my mead and offer to get him something else.

He looks at me, laughs and says, "I drank more than my share of terrible mead in the SCA. Believe me, this is much better stuff." I swelled up a little with this. I can't ever say I sold him any of my work, but I can say I served him mead that wasn't nearly as bad as stuff he'd willingly consumed in the past, and that's something nobody can take away.

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1 comment:

  1. I met him at that WFC, and Peter earlier that year. He was just lovely. I am so glad you were able to share your mead with him. Patrice is planning an exuberant tie-wearing to honor him at Con DFW this year. If you're going to be there, bring your fabulous vest.