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.