Jeanne Robinson

Many folks who read science fiction already know that Jeanne Robinson, noted dancer and choreographer, wife of Spider Robinson and a Hugo and Nebula-winning author (with Spider, for the novella Stardance), passed away earlier this week. This is a sad moment for all of us who knew her in some way, because there are few nicer and more genuinely kind human beings than Jeanne. I had the good fortune to meet her and Spider a few years ago at a book fair in Oakland, and have seen them both other times and places since. Beyond their ample qualities as individuals, I always noted how happy they were together — theirs was a partnership to admire, celebrate and to emulate.

My heart goes out to Spider and to all of Jeanne’s family and friends, but I know that their grief is tempered by the joy that Jeanne had for life, in her life. For my part, I’m glad to have been able to spend a little time with her here, and will remember her.

29 Comments on “Jeanne Robinson”

  1. I only knew her through her collaboration with Spider, and the influence that I suspect their relationship had on his work. The world is a little smaller for her passing, but much larger for her having lived.

    “Shared pain is lessened; shared joy, increased—thus do we refute entropy.”

  2. When a male author writes strong female characters, I always suspect that they have strong females in their lives. She’s proof.

  3. Stardance, the novella, is one of the reasons I always come back to science fiction, after sojourns through fantasy and suspense thrillers. It is, to my mind, one of those pieces of literature that, like Flowers for Algernon, would be impossible outside its genre, and that affirms much that is good, if not great, about the human condition.

  4. I had not heard the news of her passing before now. Thank you for this touching tribute.

  5. Her husband’s writing made me choke up. She sounded like a fine, well-loved person who died much earlier than she should have, but with kindness all around her.

  6. While I have lost most of my zest for Spider’s later novels, hear has been a ranking member of my re-read list for over thirty years. I first read “Antinomy” years ago, and it hooked me. My heart goes out to him and his family in their time of sorrow.

  7. I caught a glimpse of that partnership you mention at a con a few years back in which Spider and Jeanne were Guests of Honor (I think is was Astronomicon in 2005?). It was filk session, and Spider and Jeanne were doing a set of Beatles songs. During “Two of Us,” I noticed the look on Spider’s face as they sang the song to each other. A man in his mid-fifties, married for something like 30 years, and he still looked like a lovesick teenager having his first real crush. And Jeanne returned the look with equal measure. I remember thinking at the time “Here is a couple who are still, after all these years, hopelessly and completely in love with each other.”

    I could be misremembering, but I think Spider also sang “I’ve Just Seen a Face,” and had that same look.

    Rest peacefully, Jeanne.

  8. What a loss from the world. Spider’s account of her passing was beautiful.

  9. The loss of a good soul diminishes us all, in a way. I’m sorry that I didn’t get to meet her in this life.

  10. It’s a damned shame. My best wishes to Spider – hell, huge Zen hugs and many Blessings to ya, man. We always lose the good ones too soon.

  11. Hurling some empty glasses to smash into the back of the fireplace after the toast.

    “she’s not gone, she’s just not here”

  12. To 7. meansley @ thanks for the link, it was wonderful to feel the depths in spiders words…

    I go side by side with his greave for its mine…

    We have all to go – would like to have it with my friends around when its time and shared… whatever.

    Thought of my first glimps of Spider in “For time travellers striktly cash” and liked the concept of really caring in a lokal waterhole.

    Take good care where ever you are Jeanne – hope you dance through the stars…

  13. We are, all of us, born and dying in every second we live. Change and uncertainty are eternal, and there is no “self” that was the same when we were born as carries on when our cells die, even when all our cells die. But the essence of our influence moves outside of our bodies and mingles with all of humanity. The essence is not in our brain, and not in anything unchanging, just like the essence of a poem is not in the letters, words or paper. A poem is new in a way every time it is read.

    Jeanne knew this better than I did. Her work on the Stardancers books brought that readers to us in a way that religious texts can’t always manage.

  14. i thought mr. robinson’s tribute to her on his web site was wonderful. from everything i’ve read, she was a fascinating woman. i hope he is surrounded by friends and family. and i hope she is at peace.

  15. A sorrow, indeed. I read this a couple days back, linked off reddit, and my heart was heavy. But Spider, as ever, knows that both joy and sorrow must be in the world. His writing, with and without her, has saved many lives. His words of her passing are wonderful and wrenching. I have no words.

  16. I had the good fortune of meeting Jeanne and Spider about six years ago at a book signing in Vancouver, Canada. Warm, intimate setting, good people. She laughed and smiled with us, listening to Spider tell tales, outside pouring rain.

  17. As I posted on Baen’s Bar, Jeanne’s dream of performing her zero-gee choreography of Stardance on the space shuttle as part of the Citizen in Space program was deferred when the Challenger exploded and the program was canceled.

    But her dream deferred did not dry up like a raisin in the sun.

    I — along with John and a bunch of fortunate others — were in the room at the Heinlein Centennial Gala when Peter Diamandis offered Jeanne and her troupe free passage in his Zero-Gee Corp plane to perform a portion of her envisioned work.

    Like so many of us who promise ourselves that tomorrow we shall run faster, stretch our arms higher, Jeanne Robinson reached for her dream…

    Unlike us, for a brief moment, where so many of us fall short, Jeanne persevered against overwhelming odds and — like her creation, the Stardancer — attained her dream.


  18. I am saddened by this, just as I was saddened to hear of Diana Wynne Jones’ condition on the Tor site on Thursday.

    My thoughts go out to Spider and to all those who were close to Jeanne.

    We seem to be losing so many lately.

  19. Well, she sounds like a wonderful person who touched many lives in good ways. My condolences.

  20. Yes. I’m sad… but she had a wonderful life, and (IMHO) made the world a little bit better. Died too soon, of course, as Good People always do, but I think she enjoyed the life she had/made, and hope that more of us will emulate her genuine kindness and love.

  21. Wow, Spider has been one of my favorite authors for years, and he lives like a ferry ride away from me. I kind of want to go over to his island and hug him. I won’t, knowing how he values privacy, but I’ll send him a psychic hug and hope he gets it. We’ve established that he’s probably psychic, right?

  22. Jeanne was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. We met at a con where she and Spider were guests of honor (Concarolinas in.. umm.. 2006?). I was easy to see how much in love they were. One thing that struck me was that as they moved about the con, separately doing the ‘meet and greet’, every once in a while, they would both look up, always at the same time, to look at one another.

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