Mon
Sep 22 2008 3:01pm

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.

6 comments
KristinS
1. KristinS
Almost every afternoon Brian would answer my phone calls from Tor with a hearty, "Yes, lovely lady?"

I think if anyone else called me a "lovely lady" I would have punched them in the teeth. And yet, when Brian said it, it always made me smile.

He will be missed.
Eric Raab
2. e.Raab
Indeed. Brian would visit the office and I'd hear him sneak up behind me: "Hello, Great Man," and I would smile. I knew that the next 20-30 minutes would be full of a playful exchange of new and old reads, publishing horror stories, or great ideas he'd be brimming with. I just recently shared a flight with him to Indianapolis for GenCon and it was one of the best flights I ever had. We batted back and forth on our favorite books and movies, our potential bestselling ideas for our writers, and the great things we could do with our profession. Brian did many great things, and he leaves a trail of great books in his path. Sleep well, good brother. You were indeed the great man.
KristinS
3. Fiorella
Just heard the news....So sad. Such a loss. Brian was such a sweet man with a great sense of humor! Extremely intelligent and an excellent conversationalist, Brian would get so animated if he was excited over something he was working on or if he was describing a book he just finished. My thoughts are with his friends, family and coworkers.
KristinS
4. Robin Lisle
During my time working at Tor, I remember Brian once presented a book he was working on as "it's like but with more fluids." The vivid choice of words and the sly giggle made me really want to get my hands on a copy of the book. This is one of my favorite stories from my days in book publishing and I've recounted it many times. I am deeply saddened to hear this news.
KristinS
5. Stephenie Miller
Brian and his family have been a part of my families lives since Brian was 11 years old. He and his sister baby sat for my children. Even as a child, Brian was wise beyond his years and blessed with that sense of humor that could make any curmudgen smile.Twenty-five years ago when a serious illness threatened to derail my Masters Thesis it was Brian to the rescue. He reviewed and edited my tome and did so without hesitation.

Although our lives have gone off in different directions through the years Brian always managed to be there at the important times.

The loss of this kind, gentle soul truly breaks my heart.
KristinS
6. Daryl Mallett
I am saddened to hear of this. Brian was a great guy and always helpful. He introduced me to Kim Mohan (the first editor to ever buy me a drink) and many of the TSR authors and always had time to talk shop. Along with losing Bob Asprin, Arthur C. Clarke, Tom Disch and A. J. Budrys this year, this latest bad news leaves a big hole in the industry and in my heart. This getting old thing sucks!

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