Today has been all about Charles. He died yesterday and yet, because he lived so far away and because I only saw him once a year (though I’m gladder than I can say that I saw him twice last year) it seems impossible to believe that he is gone. He has been an enormous presence in my life for more than fifteen years: friend, mentor, colleague, and so much more. I have spent so long talking about Charles that my voice is almost gone. There’s so much I want to say, so much that should be said, but I can’t seem to find the words right now. So, let me say this about my friend. He was the most honest and trust worthy person I have met. He was fierce and loyal and kind and generous. The things that he loved, he loved totally: art, music, food, science fiction, people. His life was an inspiration and his death is a challenge.
Do I have stories about Charles? I don’t know. We mugged and took silly photos in a Boston art gallery. We finished the last of Heinlein’s scotch together. We ‘bigged’ up on airplane so we could scare taking the middle seat on the plane. And he wanted to teach. Teach me how to cook turkey, how to drink scotch, how to read a book, how to … everything. He loved life and a lot of it loved him back.
When I’ve had the chance to think I will try to say something about him and SF. He loved it, and deeply. More importantly, he believed in it and its intrinsic importance. He also did everything he could to influence it, to make it what he thought it should be. He published Locus to influence the field. He ran the Locus Awards to influence (by example) the Hugos. He edited more novels than anyone will ever know, either before they ever got to a publisher or once they had been accepted. And in some of those places he loved best – the restaurant dinners, the bars, the deep and secret places – he talked about science fiction, he influenced decision makers with the force of his vision about the field, and sometimes he changed what they did (and sometimes he didn’t). Whatever else may be true, Charles entered the field in the 1950s and left it yesterday, a changed place better for him having been a part of it.