Jay wasn’t one of my closest friends in the SF field — a lot of people are feeling his loss today much more keenly than I am, and have lost a much larger part of their hearts. Jay and I were friendly enough to make a point of hanging out and getting a bite if we were in the same place, and talked on the phone occasionally, but I think the reason his entirely expected death has hit me harder than I would have anticipated this morning is because he’s been part of my life in science fiction since almost the very beginning.
He reviewed some of my very first publications, back in 2001. He went to a workshop with my wife when she was still just my girlfriend, and she came back with all sorts of stories about him. He was in the first issue of Flytrap (and a couple more, and last year after we had dinner with him and a bunch of other folks at the Nebulas I told him I hoped we’d see something from him for the Flytrap revival, but he was too sick to write soon after). He published me in his anthologies. We fought a three-way duel with pool noodles at Wiscon. He beat me soundly when we were both up for the Campbell Award. We stayed up late and talked in hallways at conventions. We wrote stories for each other. He was bigger than life, a man who loved to perform and did well in big groups, but I always valued the smaller moments — his visits to the Locus offices, and those smaller dinners where we could really talk about craft and inspiration and romance. He could always write circles around me — I used to think I was prolific, until I met Jay, who back in the day wrote a story a week, many of them marvelous. I reviewed his first novel. I watched him write a story live in a bookstore (and it was a good story, too). As recently as last year we were talking about collaborating on a project, and I’m incredibly sad that didn’t work out.
And this morning when I saw he’d died, all those memories cascaded through my brain in a rush, and I had to sit there crying for a few minutes.
But now, I’ve got a novel to finish, so I need to get to work. I knew Jay well enough to know he’d approve.
Here’s an MP3 of Jay reading story “The Lizard of Ooze,” from Flytrap #4. It was good to hear his voice.