Science fiction and fantasy writer Greg Bear died on November 19, 2022. I was (and am) an outlier, having lived overseas for thirty-five years and only recently, in the past several years, having become acquainted with other writers in the area. I didn’t know Greg as well as most of the other members of the Clarion West and Seattle area science fiction community, but I knew him well enough to consider his loss devastating.
I met and talked with Greg several times at parties, conventions, and so on, and on one of these occasions he invited me to a Clarion West party at his home. When I arrived I felt awed and somewhat intimidated, but Greg radiated friendliness and hospitality and immediately helped me feel at ease. That was an unforgettable day.
I met Greg again at the memorial for science fiction writer Vonda McIntyre. We were talking outside after the event and he asked me how it was going. When Greg asked something like this, it was not a mere formality; he sincerely wanted to know. I told him that I’d had a few victories, some story acceptances, but I was discouraged by the quantity of rejections after trying so hard for so long. Greg assured me that it was all part of being a writer, and that he still received rejections sometimes himself. Reassuring, coming from a master like him. In fact, Vonda had told me something similar the last time I’d seen her. Rejections are part of the game.
I could always count on Greg to be kind, attentive, and encouraging. And now he’s gone, at least from here for now. I attended the Clarion West workshop in Seattle in 1973. After that, as I said, I was gone for a long time. When I returned, I suppose I was drawn to and became close to writers of similar age to mine. One by one, they are departing to worlds unknown. First Vonda, then Bruce Taylor, and now Greg. It’s the way of things, of course, but my heart hurts a little more and feels a little emptier each time. Rest in peace, Greg.