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March 20, 2011

Remembering Mike Glicksohn
Posted by Patrick at 10:49 AM * 17 comments

The news of Mike Glicksohn’s death at 64 leaves me reflective and a little shaken. In 1975-76, when I was a teenager in Toronto science-fiction fandom hanging around with a bunch of other young fans, Mike was the reigning local BNF, the guy with world-famous SF-author friends and a Hugo award and parties he didn’t invite us to. He was cordial on the occasions when we would cross paths, and occasionally we would even wind up in the same carload of fans headed for some Midwestern convention, but by and large he had his set of older and more accomplished friends and he kept to them. He published a beautifully-produced personal fanzine, Xenium, but none of us rated receiving it. Perhaps predictably, we resented him more than a little bit.

Looking back, of course, it’s striking how few years separated our lives and fannish careers. Mike got into fandom in the late sixties and he and his first wife Susan Wood published their Hugo-winning fanzine Energumen from 1970 to 1973. I got into fandom in 1975 and at the time Mike seemed like an absolute fannish institution, someone who’d been around forever. Of course, part of that is the time-distortion inherent in being 16.

Later Teresa and I got to know Mike a little better. Oddly, one of the things leading to this was that in early 1980 or so, we started getting to know Susan Wood, who had separated from Mike after the Energumen years and relocated across Canada, winding up in Vancouver just a year or two before we moved to Seattle. Susan was a remarkable individual, compelling in the way that very smart people can be when they’re stuck in overdrive and visibly beginning to burn out. In November of that year, we were very distressed (and, horribly, not surprised) to hear that Susan had abruptly died. But before her death she and Mike, who had remained on friendly terms following their split, had planned a final issue of Energumen. Mike pressed forward with the project, and wound up including a piece by me. A very silly one, slighty rewritten and expanded from its original first-draft appearance in a forgettable FAPAzine, but it meant quite a bit to me to unexpectedly wind up part of that distinguished fanzine’s history.

In 1983-84, Teresa and I spent eight months in Toronto between our years in Seattle and our move to New York City. Mike and his second wife Susan (yes, he married two Susans) were gracious to us on several occasions; I particularly remember a hilarious dinner with them at their house near High Park. And in the years since we were always friendly on the rare occasions when we would cross paths. (Sometimes literally. Some days after the 1987 Worldcon in Brighton, I was peering at the menu outside a pub on London’s Villiers Street, when I suddenly heard Mike’s voice about half a block away saying, “See, I told you Embankment was the right place to get out, because you immediately see all the classic sights of London, like Big Ben, and the Thames, and Patrick Nielsen Hayden.”) After we won TAFF in 1985, Mike was a good source of advice and lore about British fandom as we prepared for our trip, and a helpful speaker-to-all-factions as we spent the next couple of years working to bind up TAFF’s wounds while, as is the tradition, adminstering the next two elections.

In 2005 I wound up seated next to Mike on a hallway floor outside a late-night room party at Confusion, having a longish conversation with him about some of the things touched on here—the time-distortion of youth, how people who seem vastly older when you’re 16 seem like they’re close to the same age as you when you’re 46, and the whole fannish dynamic of insurgent generations later settling into tolerant amusement at the newer insurgencies. (See British fandom, passim). I don’t recall when I heard that he was fighting cancer, but this past November Teresa and I were editor guests at SFConTario, a new SF convention in Toronto. Mike and Susan showed up on Friday night and hung out with us a little at opening ceremonies. We assumed we’d see more of him later in the weekend, but (as our fellow SFConTario GoH Geri Sullivan details) evidently his health issues didn’t permit it. This served as a strong hint that he wasn’t doing well.

I’m sorry that my suspicions were correct. He was a good guy. I’m sorry that my initial relationship to him was really with a version of him that I made up in my head. I’m glad we both lived long enough to actually relate as human beings.

Comments on Remembering Mike Glicksohn:
#1 ::: Avedon ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2011, 11:26 AM:

Thanks for this, Patrick; that was thoughtful and lovely.

There were times when I argued with Mike about things, but he was always a decent guy, and fair, and I liked him even then. After all these years and all the little and larger encounters, I guess I have to say I loved the guy. I'm really sorry he won't be dropping by the pub for a drink with again.

#3 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2011, 12:32 PM:

One of the odd connections among the three of us is that Mike wrote a LoC when P&T published my article "Raiders of the Lost Basement." His comment? "Fanfiction, I presume." I think we all had a good laugh over that one!

Farewell, Mike, and good travelings.

#4 ::: Neil in Chicago ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2011, 12:54 PM:

News of our loss has been the most intense net memestorm I've personally experienced. Googling "Mike Glicksohn"/past week is approaching 500 hits.

We've all known each other for so long now that I've run out of things to add.

#5 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2011, 01:00 PM:

Coming so late and so distantly to fandom, I haven't yet lost anyone whom I've known for years the way that people knew Mike Glicksohn. I can't say I know what it's like.

But I sympathize deeply. My condolences to everyone who misses him.

#6 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2011, 08:08 PM:

I concur entirely with what Abi said.

#7 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2011, 08:47 PM:

Patrick: I think I feel your pain. I met Mike, a few times, when I was more active in congoing. I've had a few friends, of the sort of not-quite distant you describe, who were what they were, in part because I'd known them since I was in my youth (I met Bruce Pelz when I was... 11? I was bored, he handed me the first half of the SF Book Club edition of "The Chronicles of Amber"... I got to finish it because my gov't teacher, the next year, Mr. Bowley, lent me his copies. Bowley also, which I just recalled, gave me a copy of Starship Troopers. That was a gift, not a loan, but I digress).

It's odd to be, whether I believe it, or no, an adult, and in some ways an "old man" in some contexts.

I read about his death early this morning, as I couldn't sleep, and it was strangely moving. I remember him, not as a person I knew of, but as one I'd met, and liked, and not been in the realm of being able to get to know.


#8 ::: Geri Sullivan ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2011, 09:29 PM:

Abi & Fragano at #5 & 6: I'm reminded of the fannish reaction to Terry Carr's death in 1987. Terry was at Corflu #3 the year before, but if I met him at all, it was only a quick hello. I knew he was dear to fandom, including oh, so many of my friends. My own grief at his passing was for their loss and fandom's loss rather than my own.

In the decades since, I've mourned all too often the deaths of fannish jiants not only or even primarily for the loss to fandom, but because they were members of my own, self-identified family, my son, my Pop-Pop, and others just as dear. Much as I would never wish such grief on any of us, I want very much for both of you to be part of the fannish landscape for decades and decades to come. With the love, sometimes comes the loss. May we always do them honor by remembering the joy.

#9 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2011, 09:45 PM:

Well spoken, Geri.

#10 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2011, 10:26 PM:

What Geri said. If we want to love deeply and passionately, have friends we'll defend and adore, etc. we will face loss. it's the human condition.

I know for me it would be impossible. I'd rather be dead because to not care is just impossible.

#11 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2011, 10:27 PM:

Geri, #8: My own grief at his passing was for their loss and fandom's loss rather than my own.

That describes my reaction here. I recognize Mike's name, but AFAIK I never met him.

#12 ::: Alex von Thorn ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2011, 02:34 AM:

I'm glad some of us were able to see Mike briefly at SFContario. Thanks for sharing your memories here.

#13 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2011, 10:59 PM:

I did not know him, though I certainly recognize his name. As usual in such cases, I clearly missed out.

My condolences to all who did know him, and are now mourning his passing.

#14 ::: Stefan Jones suspects jackass ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2011, 04:34 PM:

#14: WTF???

Either a very in joke or tastelessness.

#15 ::: Cadbury Moose confirms jackass at #14 ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2011, 04:36 PM:

We've seen that troll(?) before on ML.

#16 ::: Debra ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2011, 10:12 PM:

Keeping the family, especially Susan, in my thoughts and prayers; so sorry for your loss.
Debra (a friend of Lorna and Cliff)

#17 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2011, 08:00 PM:

Chris Garcia has a memorial issue of his e-fanzine up with many tributes to Mike G.

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