Fri
Sep 6 2013 11:30am

A.C. Crispin, 1950-2013

A.C. Crispin passed away obituaryFollowing a heartfelt announcement to her fans, beloved SFF author Ann Carol Crispin passed away today, succumbing to a long battle with cancer. Sensing she was nearing the end, Crispin posted on her Facebook page on September 3rd, saying “I’ve been hesitant to make this post, but it’s time…” A former vice-president of SFWA and a cofounder of the watchdog group Writer Beware, Crispin was admired for her prowess in the business of writing as well as the art of storytelling. She was 63.

On a personal note, I’m probably not alone in saying that Ann Crispin opened up a very young version of me to the possibility of a multi-faceted character. And she did it with appropriated icons from pop culture. When I was 9, I would definitely claim my favorite book was Yesterday’s Son by A.C. Crispin. In terms of a book with chapters, there is a very real possibility that this Star Trek tie-in novel was my first favorite novel. As a 9-year-old, it’s unlikely I understood the implications of Spock having a bastard child with Zarabeth in the prehistoric past of the planet Sarpedion. My misconceptions about sex then were as vast as the time vortex generated by the Guardian of Forever. What was important though, was simply that Spock had a son, and that was sooo cool.

And though, I didn’t recognize it at the time, A.C. Crispin made Spock a more interesting by giving him this very grown-up problem to deal with. We not only understood Spock’s past better, but also it expanded the pathos of what the character was capable of going through. But Crispin did this with other beloved Star Trek characters, too. Her novel Sarek gives us the emotional story of a perhaps even more interesting member of that same family: Spock’s father. Why would an author want to write about these cold, supposedly emotionless aliens in her novels? Well, it’s because Crispin recognized the all that dysfunctional family drama resonates with people who have real families, too. Vulcans are the ulimate analog in understanding why we don't understand our parents.

Creating heartfelt expansions of character biographies isn’t something Crispin just did with Star Trek, though. Her trilogy of Star Wars novels shows us exactly what Han Solo was up to prior to the events of Star Wars: A New Hope. While the Brian Daley books published in the 70’s and 80’s have a swashbuckling charm, Crispin’s Han Solo books render him possibly at his most sensitive and conflicted. This ability to pull out tender human drama from big, over-the-top characters, continued well into the more contemporary shores of Crispin’s career.

Based on her successes as a genre author, Crispin was commissioned to create a back-story for none other than Captain Jack Sparrow of Pirates of the Caribbean. The novel—The Price of Freedom—was released in 2011 in conjunction with On Stranger Tides. Think you can’t take a novel about young Captain Jack Sparrow seriously? Think again.

Naturally, A.C. Crispin created science fiction characters and worlds that were completely original, too. Her Starbridge books essentially pick up on where Robert Heinlein’s SF juvenilia became outdated. Building on SF traditions and employing her own unique brand of humor, Crispin makes aliens into real people as easy as some people can bake whole batches of cookies. Her writing has always made me feel like her process must be like that. She had a bunch of ingredients in her brain and she just cooked them up when she wants to.

But she knew kids like me enjoy a great tasty snack when it has something familiar in it. So, she gave us the gift of tie-in novels with real emotional stakes. Yesterday’s Son, and its sequel, Time for Yesterday, aren’t cynical pieces of writing done to capitalize on how much people love Star Trek. They are thoughtful, moving pieces of science fiction, which made my young life a little less confusing. Of course Spock had a son, and of course he was a much more emotional, almost barbaric young guy. Could I imagine it any other way?

A.C. Crispin will be missed for her vigilant devotion to sticking up for writers, her wonderful candor, her thoughtful and exciting writing, and most of all, for giving the fans of various fictional worlds sweet and unforgettable gifts.

Thanks, Ann Crispin. You’ll be missed.

42 comments
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
1. Lisamarie
Sad. I loved the Han Solo books when I read them in high school. I've been hoping that they get covered in the EU re-read series that has been on Tor.com.
jeremiah gaster
2. jer
Aw, that sucks.... I always enjoyed her novels....
Mary Robinette Kowal
3. MaryRobinette
I am so deeply saddened about Ann's passing. She was an amazing person and SF authors have lost one of our best advocats.
Mandy P.
4. Mandy P.
I read the young Han Solo trilogy in the sixth grade and absolutely devoured it. I then later had the honor of meeting and learning from Ann. She was a fantastic teacher and an asset and inspiration to all aspiring writers.

She will be greatly missed.
Chris Lough
5. TorChris
We're actually reading through A.C. Crispin's Han Solo books on the site starting next week. Very sad to hear about this. :(
Mandy P.
6. Shariq
Oh man! I loved her Han Solo Trilogy! She was a fantastic writer. :(

RIP
Jenny Thrash
7. Sihaya
Nice eulogy. I loved her books, and I don't think anyone can underestimate the importance of her work for Writer Beware.
Russ Gray
8. nimdok
I never read her Star Wars books, but I absolutely loved her Star Trek books. I was unaware she had written other stuff -- haven't read Trek novels in decades. But they were good enough to deserve a reread...
Mandy P.
10. Cybersnark
I wasn't aware of the Jack Sparrow book; I'll need to track that down.

R.I.P.
Mandy P.
11. Cheyenne Shepard
Wow, I'd just chatted with Ann not that long ago..Loved her Star Trek Voyager books. I knew of the work she did with Writer Beware.. This is a HUGE loss, not only to the scifi community but to scifi writers and readers too. Clear skies on your travel to where the spirits take you my friend.
Bob Milne
12. beautyinruins
Sad news indeed. When she posted earlier this week about her downturn, I had no idea the end was so close. I was a huge fan of her media tie-ins, particularly her novelization of the original V miniseries, but I never read any of her original fiction. It's time to rectify that.
Mandy P.
13. shellywb
This is shocking and sad news. My heart goes out to all her loved ones.
Mandy P.
14. dwwrites
I read so many of her books when I was growing up. I will reread them, and share them with my children. She will be missed!
Marcus W
15. toryx
My wife and I were just talking about her Facebook announcement yesterday. I guess that should have prepared me but this is still a shock. Cancer is really taking too many of my favorite people.
Constance Sublette
16. Zorra
My heart goes out to Michael, her husband, and to all the very many people who loved her and shall miss her so much.

Love, C.
John C. Bunnell
17. JohnCBunnell
Starbridge and its sequels are among my all-time favorite space-opera series; I'd compare them to Andre Norton's work more closely than to Heinlein's, but they are definitely among the best modern successors to classic SF tradition in that regard. And I too need to track down that Jack Sparrow book now.

Hers is a body of work worth remembering and re-reading; may we also remember the person as fondly as we do the books.
Mandy P.
18. TStew
She called me a sharp chick and never treated me unkindly, never stared at me like I am a circus freak, but rather like I, too, could be quite magical. A beautiful bit of the world's magic is missing now.
Angela Korra'ti
19. annathepiper
I adored her Han Solo novels. I _played_ Han on Star Wars MUSH for a few years, and I found those critical reference material above and beyond just being a joy to read. I even emailed her about them at one point and I recall having a lovely conversation with her.

Many condolences to her loved ones and fans. :(
ken shufeldt
20. ken_shufeldt
The world has lost a wonderful human being, and a great writer.
Rest in Peace, you will be missed.
Mandy P.
21. Inkjade
This is a lovely tribute. Yesterday's Son was one my first favorite books as well, and I learned so much about writing complex, layered characters from Ann's writing. And later, when I was just beginning to explore the wide and wonderful world of publishing, I rediscovered her in a new capacity: her wonderful and wise advice for new authors, and her tireless work at WriterBeware.

She will be missed for so many reasons.
Mandy P.
22. Patrick Maher
I knew Ann for going on 20 years now. For someone who had so much success as a writer, she always seemed to be amazed that she'd done so well, as if it could end any time. Whenever she faced a looming deadline I'd offer to finish the job for her, for $10 a word. She always took the time to decline my offer and never failed to say that one day she'd take me up on the offer.
One time, years ago, another writer was giving her a hard time about writer beware. So I wrote a little song about him and sent it to her. She wrote back and said she'd laughed sp hard that her drink squirted out her nose. That was the best review I ever recieved. After that, every time she saw me she'd start singing the song.
She fought the good fight and helped a lot of people. She will not be forgotten. Goodbye Ann
Danny Sichel
23. Danny Sichel
God dammit.

Just the name "Starbridge" evokes the memory of the particular chest of drawers on top of which I stored those novels, in my old bedroom. (Memory works in strange ways.)

Goodbye, Ann. Thanks for the stories.
Mandy P.
24. RobinM
I loved her Star Trek and V books. I still have them at Mom's and will probably give them a re-read when I go home for Christmas. I guess I'll have to give the Jack Sparrow book a try. My condolences to her family and friends . R.I.P. Ann C. Crispin
Mandy P.
25. parker pascua
i don't make friends readily. ann made me her friend the first time we 'met' online ... and then carried it over into our offline lives. i'm going to miss this generous, gentle woman.
Gary Henderson
26. KaaSerpent
The very first writers workshop I attended was Ann's at Dragon*Con in 2008. She encouraged us to keep writing, keep growing, and cautioned us about all the predatory jerks out there who want nothing more than to steal money from writers. She will definitely be missed.
Mandy P.
27. Mari Sloan
"Who's eating supper with you?"
"A friend from the Lounge. Her name is Ann. Ann Crispin, I think."
"OMG, do you know who that is?"
"She's a friend. From the Lounge. She's coming to Atlanta for some kind of convention and I thought she and her son might like a home cooked meal."
Needless to say I was not up on my Sci Fi in the year 2000 and I enjoyed Ann's books later, after I found her to be one of the most real people around. I picked her son and her up at the hotel and they rode in my antique Prelude without complaint. Ann even opted for a second ride the next day, out to enjoy swimming and climbing Stone Mt. She talked about protecting authors from the people out there who would prey on them and didn't even blink when I backed into a small pine tree on the way out of the Stone Mountain parking lot. I LOVED her! Instantly!
Later on that year I began to write and when I published my first novel I did, indeed, get tangled up with one of those horrible publishers and she and Victoria came to my rescue, among a few other authors, "shutting out the lights" for the publisher and helping me to get my rights back so that I could re-publish something I am proud of. Although I am not a close friend, I will always remember her with love and respect. ALWAYS. I will remember her like she was in the year 2000, beautiful and SO alive!
Mandy P.
28. Tim Keltner
Having known Ann doesn't make letting go of her any easier.
I met her at a Trek convention in Oklahoma..I can't say when..hey, I'm getting old, and the memories blur. I sat in the front row of her panel and literally soaked in everything she said. Most of the time she spoke directly to me even if I wasn't the one asking the question. I was too nervous to go up to her afterwards but she followed me out to the hall and asked me if I wanted to get coffee. It only took a few minutes for me to realize she was in my Karass. We talked for three hours and I fell in love with her forever. There was always something about Ann that was a little too good for this world. We didn't deserve her....but I'm glad I knew her and I will never, ever forget her. Goodnight sweet, sweet lady. This little blue ball will not see your like again...
Mandy P.
29. Scott Hancock
Mentor, teacher, leader. And not the least by far, - Protector. Someone for us to aspire to being as good as, and someone who believed we could do it. We will miss you Ann, and in so doing we will be ever vigilant in trying to do our very best, so that we may truly live up to that level of excellence you saw in us which made you proud of us.
Mandy P.
30. Laura A. Ellison
I met Ann Crispin in 1991 at a convention in Grand Rapids, MI. She taught a writing workshop and read a short story of hers that I think was published in an anthology called The Ultimate Werewolf. She was very nice and down to earth. I remember reading the tie-ins she wrote based the TV series V when I was twelve or thirteen. She was a strong influence on so many sci-fi writers and readers, not to mention the way she helped to protect other writers over at Writers Beware. She'll be missed, good thing all of those books are still around, her legacy. RIP, Ann Crispin.
Mandy P.
31. Wendy M
Ann has been a favorite author of mine ever since I read her "V' novelization, as well as the other books she co-wrote in that series. I am also a huge Star Wars fan and have the Han Solo trilogy she wrote as well. I was fortunate to have met Ann just last month in Hunt Valley, Maryland at Shore Leave 35 where she autographed my copies of two of the "V" books she wrote.

Meeting her was one of those moments for me that I will always treasure. She will sorely be missed by all of her fans. My prayers are with her husband and everyone who loved her.
Bethany Pratt
32. LiC
I wrote her a fan letter a couple years ago, prompted by the lack of any release details for the next books in her Exiles of Boq'urain trilogy (I also waxed on about how Sarek made me cry and her SW Han Solo trilogy's the tops in the SW EU). She sweetly responded and explained the gist of the publishing deal that made Boq'urain become an "orphan" trilogy, and particularly that at the time it was being sold around that type of fantasy wasn't "popular". And then a couple years later GoT comes out and it's huge again. Just ranting - I thought Boq'urain was excellent and golly, I wish I knew where Ann was going with it.

I'm never going to forget her - in part thanks to my epic gmail account that will keep that email forever, but also because of the books on my shelf. Thanks, Ann.
Mandy P.
33. ShannaG
When I was 13 or 14, I sent Ms. Crispin a fan letter. This was around the time of Yesterday's Son and the V novels. Imagine my surprise and delight to get the mail one day and discover that she had personally written back to me. No form letters, no mimeographed signatures. It was an incredibly big deal to my teenaged self, and over the years I've wondered if she knew just how meaningful that letter was.
Mandy P.
34. Carol Denise Mitchell
We had talked a lot via email. I argued her down and turns out everything she told me was right; I was wrong. But, I shall never forget her bravery, her truths. I was deeply saddened when I looked at Yahoo to find AC Crispin was trending for this, her untimely death. You're an angel for us beleagured writers in the sky. You're loved and missed already AC Crispin.
Mandy P.
35. Nathan Jendrick
Ann was a lovely person and fabulous beyond her immense writing talents. I had the pleasure of knowing her for over 10 years and she was never anything less than a joy to talk to. When I first met her in the old 'Author's Lounge' she took time out of her day to call me on the phone to discuss a novel I had written that she was willing to read and give advice on. It was incredible. What other author of her success level did that for an, at the time, never-published nobody? I'll never forget that. Then, over the years, she was always available to discuss the world of publishing, her latest book--particularly good conversations during her writing of Pirates--or even food, the weather, or her health.

I owe Ann more than she probably ever realized and will miss her very much.
Melissa Petterson
36. LadyGayle
This is terribly sad. 63 is far too young.

I, too, loved Yesterday's Son as a little geek and later reread my copy of Sarek so many times it fell apart. She was a lovely writer and I will cherish the memories of reading her work.
Mandy P.
37. Cj Vermote
I am so sorry to hear about Ann's passing. My sincere prays for healing for her family and to all of us...her fans.
Mandy P.
38. AlysonRR
I absolutely adored her Starbridge novels and held out hope for more - alas. What a tremendous writer! And after reading so much praise for her other novels, I will be looking for them in memoriam.

I offer my sincere condolences to Ann's family and friends, adding my condolences to those of her many fans.
Beccy Higman
39. Jazzlet
So young.

I am sure I first encountered her writing on a Norton Witchworld collaboration, I can't check, that series is all still boxed from a move. I know I enjoyed that and it led me to seek out more of her work, and thanks to all of you today I know there is yet more that I haven't come across, so Thank You to Ann for writing the books and to you lot for bringing more of them to my attention.
Mandy P.
40. Pamela C Reese
I was deeply saddened by Ann's final post...even more touched by her leaving us. As her 'moderator' for her online workshops for a few very precious and special years, I was blessed to call her friend. As a writer, her contributions to Writer Beware on behalf of all writers, were an inspiration and a gift. A legacy that lives on ... even beyond her passage. We will miss you, Ann.
Mandy P.
41. Cecelia
I am deeply saddened to hear of Ann Crispin's passing. She is one of my favorite writers, and her skill captured my heart and imagination when I was a lonely teenager in the 80's. Her novelization of the "V" miniseries helped me to cope with the alienation I felt in high school, and I periodically return to that book now and then. Her writing is timeless and inspired me to approach characters in the science fiction realm with less trepidation.

The human race has lost a wonderful soul. I hope wherever she is that she sends us positive, healing vibes. We need them.

Cecelia Kelly
Mandy P.
42. SueQ
Loved her books. I will miss her.

Subscribe to this thread

Receive notification by email when a new comment is added. You must be a registered user to subscribe to threads.
Post a comment