Mike Resnick, RIP
Posted on January 9, 2020 Posted by John Scalzi 22 Comments
Laura Resnick has posted that her father Mike Resnick has died, which means that it’s a very sad day for his friends and fans in the science fiction community. Give the length of his remarkable career, and the honors that were given to him (including five Hugo Awards as well as a Nebula and a Locus Award, and being the Guest of Honor at Chicon 7, the 2012 Worldcon), this is indeed a considerable percentage of that large and fractious community.
The picture above, of me stroking Mike’s leg, is from that Worldcon; I was the toastmaster of the Worldcon and the opening ceremonies of that convention were in the form of a talk show, for which I was the host. Mike came out for his interview segment and told a story about being on the same stage for an earlier Worldcon:
Mike (pointing up): I remember those lights from 1991. I was toastmaster of the masquerade, and I had notes and I couldn’t read them. I had a guy in the front row who was going to give me hand signals on whether to go faster or slower based on what was happening backstage, and I couldn’t see him with those lights. And I was standing with my back to a curtain, and somebody reached out from under the curtain and began stroking my leg. I decided that meant either he was in love with me, or I should go faster. And then he went like that (makes a hand sign that looks like clutching a leg), and I assumed that meant go slower. We did that for an hour and a half. (Points up again) And they haven’t changed those bulbs!
Me (getting up from behind the desk, going over to Mike, stroking his leg): Go on.
You can see that particular moment (and the rest of his interview) in this video of the opening ceremony, taken by Lisa Hayes; our conversation starts at the 20:20 mark in the video.
Mike was a very fine writer and a gregarious person, but what I think you will see most in the tributes that will be coming out about in the next few days is the fact he was a teacher and mentor to a great number of writers in the science fiction community, sharing advice about writing and the writing life over decades. There are working writers today who unironically think of themselves as “Mike’s children,” which is a testament to his influence. And of course Mike’s actual daughter Laura is a very fine writer as well. This is an excellent legacy to have, and Mike should be proud of it.
My own relationship with Mike had its ups and downs, the most notable down involving a blow-up about the SFWA magazine while I was president, where a column he wrote with Barry Malzberg incited controversy. I took responsibility for its publication as the publisher; I had been asleep at the wheel and let something get through that I’m sure if I had noted to Mike (or more accurately noted it to the editor at the time, who would then note it to Mike), he as a consummate professional would have found another way to make his point. I did appreciate that aspect of his, and I think he appreciated that I appreciated it. In these later years we saw each other at occasional conventions and chatted along agreeably on Facebook about life and business. Stay in a community long enough and there’s always water under the bridge.
Laura noted that Mike passed due to lymphoma that had come on unusually aggressively, and his doctors decided last month there was not much else to be done and recommended hospice. He passed quietly in his sleep. The family has a GoFundMe up to help Carol Resnick, Mike’s widow, manage the medical costs they’ve accrued over the course of his treatment. If you were a fan or friend of Mike’s over the years, I hope you’ll consider contributing.
My condolences to Carol, and to Laura, and to all those who were friends to Mike or considered him a teacher and mentor. A very grand presence is gone. And while the lights Mike was pointing to on that Chicago stage might still be there, they’ll never have the honor of illuminating him again. Their loss, and ours.
Credit where due: While it’s posted via my YouTube account, the actual videography of that recording was by Lisa Hayes.
I’ll make the edit, Kevin, and thanks.
A sad day indeed. He was a giant.
Many years ago, I purchased books and ephemera from him on eBay. We began an e-mail correspondence and he sent files of his reminisces of various conventions and whatnot. He then invited me to attend my 1st Boskone in Boston. We met at the reception and he seemed genuinely delighted to meet me. I attended a couple of panels he was on, and he also invited me to attend one of the publisher’s parties. I’m sure I was out of my depth, but in many ways it was a memorable experience as he rather took me under his wing. I will always be grateful to him for introducing me to the conventioneer’s world, and for being such a generous, open and friendly guy.
John, may I have for permission to link to this to help spread the word, especially about the GoFundMe?
You don’t need my permission for linking to a piece here, and you especially don’t need my permission to link to the GoFundMe. So, yes, go ahead.
I’m so sad. He was so entertaining, charming, and kind to us whenever we saw him. He was a highlight of Windycon and Capricon for us, since the first time we saw him on a panel, and we were like, “Who IS that guy?” because his stories about cons were so interesting and funny. Couldn’t believe we’d never read his stuff, so we remedied that a bit in the last 10 years or so, and I loved much of his writing as well as his incredible personality. <3
Sad to hear that — didn’t know him but his work was great.
Thanks for mentioning the SFWA blowup, which I’d missed the first time ’round. Glad to read about it.
I’m sorry to hear this. I always enjoyed his presence at cons, and reading his work. He will be missed.
Very sorry to hear this. My wife passed from leukemia, which is another sort of blood cancer.
Awful news…He was a great guy and a talented writer. I was privileged to work with him as his editor for a handful of books. He will be missed.
Every time I tried to think of some other author’s name, I always came back to Mike and people would say “Well he’d make a damn fine GOH!”. Never met him that I remember. I think we crossed paths. RIP.
Thanks, John. Much appreciated tribute. My mom loves the photo. :)
Very sorry to hear about this. Mike will be missed.
Another giant gone; what a loss for all of us. Mike was one of those great guys who was willing to have a conversation with anyone, and I’ll always have a fond space in my heart for him. I know mom was pleased that he was a GoH at Chicon 7 and valued the time she spent with him.
One of my least favorite parts of being SFWA president, is getting the email “[x] has died.” I cursed aloud when I saw Mike’s name.
His collaboration with Jack McDevitt – “The Cassandra Project” – is a masterpiece of surprise.
He will be greatly missed.
I never met Mike but read a fair bit of his stuff. I will miss him.
And I know Laura posts here occasionally, so I hope it’s not amiss if I offer her my condolences as well.
A great one has passed away. Unfortunately, in Germany, were I live, he’s nearly unknown. Only a handful of his novels and stories have been translated.
That sounds like both a career and a life to be proud of. I’m glad his stories are still with us.
I was at Chicon 7 and had gotten a 2-hour slot to sell my books. Mike Resnick was doing the same thing right next to me during this time. He had a lot more visitors and was A Big Deal, which I was most definitely not. However, Mike was very gracious and professional. He will be missed.
Library in Charlotte is putting up display of his books. Did not know they had squirreled away s large collection at the main library…I go to a regional branch.