Brian Thomsen is dead, and I am deeply sorry.

I am sorry for the loss Brian’s family is feeling, and the loss to all of his colleagues in the field, and the pain I feel. I’ve lost one of the closest friends I ever laughed with.

Yet I’m also sorry on behalf of people who never knew him, because now they never will get the chance to know him.

And I’m sorry on behalf of all readers, everywhere, whose reading lives might not be as rich in future as they would have been if Brian was still on the job.

Brian liked to call me “Great Man,” but HE was the Great Man. Widely read, tirelessly delving into everything he could learn about society, about the arts, about books neglected or forgotten that should be resurrected again, about books that hadn’t been written but should be written.

He’d call me, late of evenings, and we’d talk for hours, scheming how best to get a new fantasy take on Jack the Ripper or a baseball murder mystery written by someone and published by someone else, and how best to get it before an audience who’d enjoy it. He was the wise and gleeful veteran imp of publishing, I was the “view from here in a Canadian library” sounding board. Brian would cackle with glee when something “that would work” struck him, and I learned to love that cackle, because as a greedy reader it meant that a great book that would probably never otherwise have existed was going to appear in the fullness of time, and I could sit back and enjoy a darned good read, confident that there would be more to come.

Now that gleeful voice will never come through the phone again, and scores of writers might never get the chances Brian gave them, and the world is emptier.

And having not the power to bring him back to enrich us all for the decades longer he should have had, I will do something small but fitting, in honor of one of the greatest men I ever met.

I will raise a book to Brian Thomsen.

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