We had some fierce thunderstorms today and now I know why. It was Harlan, making his presence known to the cosmos, kicking ass in Heaven.
He’s been my favorite writer since I first encountered him via his collection I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream. I was a teenager, angst-ridden and isolated, a nerdy island in a sea of the cool when I happened upon the book. I picked it up because I thought it was written by Theodore Sturgeon. (It was an understandable mistake, as Sturgeon’s name was emblazoned on the cover in HUGE LETTERS–he’d written the introduction–while Harlan’s was not.)
From that moment, I was hooked. His books were difficult to find at the time. Ferreting them out was laborious, but a labor of … I don’t want to say ‘love,’ as that sounds too fannish, but it’s certainly been a lifelong labor of appreciation.
It was my good fortune to meet Harlan several times. He made me laugh. He made me cry. He could be rude, abrupt, caustic, and in the next moment display kindness and empathy. He was eminently human.
And, God damn it, I’ll miss him.