Sep 22 2008 11:41am

In Memoriam: Brian M. Thomsen

Brian M. Thomsen, author, Tor consulting editor, and all-around good guy, passed away in his Brooklyn home yesterday from an apparent and sudden heart attack. He was in his late forties or early fifties. Brian is survived by his wife Donna.

Brian had more publishing knowledge in his pinkie than most of us could acquire in a life time. He dropped out of pursuing a PhD program in English in favor of his beloved career and was one of the founding editors of Warner/Popular Library’s Questar Science Fiction & Fantasy line and also later ran the fantasy line at TSR. He was also the editor of C.J.Cherryh’s Hugo Award winning novel Cyteen. He has been a Hugo nominee, and has served as a World Fantasy Award judge.

Brian was the author of more than sixty short stories and articles. He also wrote two fantasy novels, as well as such nonfiction works as Ireland’s Most Wanted, The Awful Truths, and Man of Two Worlds. Brian’s latest work included Oval Office Occult: A Book of White House Weirdness, a collection of true stories about U.S. presidents and their encounters with occult phenomena, as well as Pasta Fazool for the Wiseguy’s Soul, a hilarious homage to both the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and every wiseguy film to ever grace the screen (both published by Andrews & McMeel).

Brian was incredibly intelligent, good-humored, and passionate about his craft. You could not have asked for a sweeter, more generous, or more thoughtful person to work with. He was much more than just a co-worker—for many of us, he was a dear friend. I apologize for the brevity of this post, we’re all in quite a bit of shock right now. We’ll add more details as we receive them.


Brian’s wake will be held at:

Ralph Aievoli Funeral Home

1275 65th St,
Brooklyn, NY 11219

(corner of 13th and 65th)

Wed, 24 Sep,  2:00-4:30PM;  7:00-9:30PM

Thurs, 25 Sep,  2:00-4:30PM;  7:00-9:30PM


The funeral will be held on Friday tentatively scheduled at 10:15AM at:

Our Lady of Angels Church
7320 4th Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11209

(718) 836-7200

For direction:

EDIT 09.26.08 10:44AM EDT:

The family has asked that donations in Brian’s name be made to Regis High School in Manhattan. Brian was a graduate, and his extensive library will be donated there.

Regis High School
55 East 84th Street
New York, NY 10028


The actual page for donations is here.

Melissa Ann Singer
1. masinger
Learned of this this morning, on coming to work. I think I'm still processing.

Brian was truly one of the nicest people I have ever met. I've never heard him say a mean or nasty word about anyone (except politicians), and he was always willing--eager--to help a writer or a fellow editor in any way possible.

He had a special kind of gallantry.

His visits to Tor were always a pleasure.

What a tremendous hole he leaves in the world.
Theresa DeLucci
2. theresa_delucci
This is devastating.

He was a gentle, intelligent man passionate about his craft, politics, movies. I'll miss his distinctive laugh so much.
David G. Hartwell
3. David G. Hartwell
Kathryn and I are both saddened by the news. Brian was a good editor and a hard-working man, given to kind and generous gestures, helpful to younger professionals, and to his peers. He had good taste. Julius Schwartz was perhaps his most important mentor. Brian in general had fun being an editor and a professional, and there are not enough like him, ever, in this business.
Liz Gorinsky
4. TooMuchExposition
I don't believe in fate or karma, but I can't help feeling like the universe has had it in for Tor this past week. But this is just too, too much. Argh.
Melissa Ann Singer
5. masinger
@4: Indeed, we all want it to STOP RIGHT NOW.
David G. Hartwell
6. Nina A
My condolences.
Jim Fallone
7. jfallone
Brian was an editor and publisher in the true old school sense of the words. He loved publishing most at it's pulpy core. Brian was the Falstaff of genre books. One of my fondest memories of Brian was discussing the merits of Ted Mark's erotic spy novels with Julie Schwartz and expensive scotch on the patio of the Scientology Celebrity Center at a Writers of the Future awards.

I was privileged to have be able to have called myself a peer working with him as he plotted TSR's New York Times hardcover bestseller program and recently working with him in his capacity as an author on his last books. I am most thankful however to have been able to have called him friend.

Publishing will miss him.
David G. Hartwell
8. Gregory Benford
Damn. He was a fine man, a fellow in our trade. I liked him.
Eric Braddock
9. EricBraddock
Wow, Brian sure sounds like he made his mark, I truly am sorry for anyone who was close with him and is dealing with his passing. Losing someone who sounds to be such a great and ambitious person as him is a tragedy indeed. My thoughts go out to you all, may he be remembered by everyone he touched.
John Klima
10. john_klima
wow, I was just thinking of Brian the other day. I hadn't seen him in years. In fact, the last time I saw him, we had gone to a Green Bay Packers pre-season game in Philadelphia.

Even though Brian wasn't born there, I always thought of him as another WI editor. Genuinely enthusiastic about his books and his work. He always had a smile on his face.

David G. Hartwell
11. Anne Moroz
Wow, I'm so sorry to hear about this. When Brian was at Questar, he published my first (sad to say only, at least so far) novel in 1986. He was great to work with, and I know publishing will miss him. My condolences to his family.
David G. Hartwell
12. Walter H. Hunt
Brian was my editor at Tor for all four of my books. His efforts always improved them. He helped give me my break in publishing, and I am always grateful for it.

He will be missed.
David G. Hartwell
13. Ethan Ellenberg
Brian Thomsen-- A tribute by Ethan Ellenberg

I’d known Brian through the years but we only became more deeply acquainted when he began working together when he began to edit my client Mel Odom.
It was a delightful experience. Brian was passionate about books, he had tremendous editorial skill and acumen, he was a smart, sensible businessman. His depth of experience and the depth of his reading was tremendous. He was a true maestro and if I can flatter myself a little I felt when we discussing books and trends and deals that we were two maestros together, surveying the orchestra, comparing notes and everything that went into making a great book and good business.
We laughed about a lot of things, we were candid with each other. He liked to spring small surprises on me. I can still hear his voice echoing in my head from countless little bits of conversation we had through the years.
I will sorely miss him, he was a master. I can think of no higher compliment.

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