Mike Resnick, Tunnels, Ferryman

On January 9th of this year, my friend and sci-fi superstar Mike Resnick died from an aggressive form of lymphoma. Mike was a colossus in the field, a mentor to countless many, and a man of continual generosity. His contributions to the genre cannot be overstated: a prolific machine, he was a five-time Hugo winner (with a jaw-dropping 37 nominations), a Nebula winner, and a nationally and internationally acclaimed author of classics including Kirinyaga, Seven Views of Oldvai, Hunting the Snark, and so much more. He was also equally comfortable with drama and (albeit acerbic) comedy.

Mike Resnick, explorer of worlds…

Hanging about with Mike was like being in the presence of a living Time Machine; in 2013 in a Los Angeles suite, I stayed up half the night talking with him, enrapt as he related his experiences with the luminaries he had known—Asimov and Clarke and Silverberg. You could feed him a name and be whisked off on a journey into the hallowed past (I fondly recall our mutual admiration for C. L. Moore). His knowledge was stunning, his enthusiasm inexhaustible, and his energy unrelenting.

Mike nurtured and mentored generations of new sci-fi writers, but he also nurtured friendships. I first met him when my story “War Hero” won 2nd Place in the Writers of the Future contest (he’d been a judge that year). Our love for science-fiction became the basis for a friendship that continued through his founding and stewardship of Galaxy’s Edge magazine and beyond. A couple years ago, I was in a bookstore and came across an old paperback he’d written; I texted him a photo of the book, and he wrote back instantly, eager to talk about what it was like writing the book and for my review (his book was wonderful of course). Only later did it occur to me how remarkable that exchange had been: I’d just had a casual conversation with MIKE RESNICK!! It was tribute to what Mike was like: kind, thoughtful, witty, and approachable. Like a childhood buddy who is as eager to talk about robots and rocketships as I was.

Mike helped my own career immensely: in addition to selling numerous stories to him, sharing TOCs with him, and bouncing ideas off him, I was honored to share Ten Thousand Thunders with him (his blurb appears on both the paperback and hardcover). Whenever I had a question or concern—or if I just wanted to talk about sci-fi itself (asking Mike for his opinion of Hollywood sci-fi resulted in comedy gold)—he perpetually made himself available. I wasn’t the only one: Mike encouraged, supported, co-wrote and co-edited a legion of new writers who fondly referred to him as their Writer Dad. There aren’t many people in this field–and almost no one in the newest crop–who have offered such generosity and humanism.

Mike was a true great. This world is a colder, lonelier place without him.

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Earlier this month, my friend and very talented author Wulf Moon nominated my story “Tunnels” (the one I wrote as a result of my involuntary airport sleepover) for the Critters Annual Readers Poll 2019. Specifically, the story was nominated for the “Positive Futures” category.

And it won.

My astonishment is only compounded by the irony, as I am not at all feeling positive about the future and even less so about the present. The rational future I hoped for has degenerated into hyper-partisan tribalism, emotional lynch mobs, and a complete collapse of our political system. Fiction, however, can occasionally chart the way to better tomorrows.

For those interested, a free podcast of my story (read by yours truly) is available on Third Flatiron’s site.

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In my year-end summary for 2019, I didn’t cite a favorite film of the year because I didn’t have any (I thought The Irishman was a tedious paint-by-numbers for Scorsese, and I detested Once Upon a Time in Hollywood as empty and self-indulgent tripe.)

Thing is, I hadn’t seen 1917.

Its limited release last year meant that it wasn’t until a couple weeks ago that I had a chance to see this take on the Great War by Sam Mendes. The result?

1917 is one of the most extraordinary films I have ever seen. Mendes has crafted a masterpiece of hellish nightmare interspersed with unexpectedly jaw-dropping beauty; unrelenting tension mixed with triumph and tragedy; a vision of the apocalypse tinged with desperate hope. I am blown away by this film. It is easily the best example of visual storytelling I’ve ever witnessed, augmented by a pitch-perfect musical score and top-flight acting. The continuous shot technique is not gimmicky, but completely immersive. We’re early in the year but I can’t believe any other movie this year will be able to compete with this haunting, nail-biting work of cinema at its very best. Highly, highly recommended.

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I sold my story “The Dog and the Ferryman to Fantasy & Science Fiction, which makes three stories scheduled to appear this year in their pages. This is something a tad different from my usual style: a tale that combines Greek mythology, science-fiction, and fantasy into a heartfelt cocktail.

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