R.I.P. Charles N. Brown, 1937-2009

Photo by Ellen Datlow

We’ve just had word that Locus magazine founder Charles N. Brown has passed away.

I’m in shock.

I’ve known Charlie my entire professional career, and have counted him a good friend. For many years, we had weekly phone calls—”what’s the gossip?” he’d open. I’d counter with “you tell me.” And then we’d exchange news and scandal of the SF and publishing world. Charlie knew everything—I don’t think I was ever telling him anything new, but just confirming. He told me a lot, though. Much of it off the record. My career benefited greatly from Charlie’s friendship.

Conventions always featured a meal with Locus, or if in the Bay Area, a visit to Charlie’s house for dinner or a party. No one could escape a tour of his wonderful house, and no one wanted to escape the tour of the library.

Charlie liked science fiction; the books, the fans, the business, the writers. He also read historical fiction, and military fiction. He liked talking about publishing, the ins and outs of the business. He liked it when people liked Locus—I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve sat down with him to go over the new issue of Locus, the stories, the design, the ads, the reviews. He loved it when people noticed the changes he’d made.

In recent years, Charlie’s health was failing, along with his eyesight and hearing. But he was careful to set up a foundation so that Locus would go on, better than ever, without him. We had a lot of talks about that in the last couple years. He had a lot of confidence in the new editorial team.

I wish he’d taken better care of himself. I wish he’d gotten the knee replacements we talked about so often. But I’m glad he ended his life coming home from a convention about books, instead of in some lingering and sordid way. I know he had a good time at Readercon.

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