George Scithers died yesterday. George was a man of many accomplishments. His Hugo Award-winning fanzine Amra introduced the term "sword and sorcery" (reprinted from an obscure fanzine with almost no circulation) to the world. He edited three major magazines -- Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, Amazing, and Weird Tales. His Owlswick Press published literary jokes like the Necronomicon (in untranslated form; the Arabic-looking text gets larger and more rushed as it moves toward its abrupt end) and To Serve Man, a anthropophagic cookbook (which he wrote himself under a pseudonym). It also published some beautiful and even essential books by writers like Avram Davidson and Lord Dunsany. He chaired a Worldcon. He won a World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award. Robert Heinlein's Glory Road was written in response to a postcard George sent him, saying in essence, "Okay, the hero has slain the dragon, won the princess, and saved the kingdom -- NOW what?"
George marched to the beat of a different drummer. He had the bearing of a career military man (which he was for a time), the fashion sense of an engineer (he almost always wore plaid jackets), and the passion of a trufan. He liked adventure fiction a lot, but equally admired the work of Gene Wolfe. He had enormous energy and boundless enthusiasm. He had no tolerance for fools, but to everyone else he was extraordinarily generous. He encouraged young fans who wanted to get into publishing and were willing to work hard by giving them jobs as slush pile readers and then moving them up as fast and as far as their talents would take him. As an editor, he promoted writers he thought talented with tremendous vigor.
I don't think there will ever be a true accounting of everything George Scithers did. For decades, he was everywhere and did everything and claimed very little credit for it. You never knew where he was going to pop up. I remember vividly opening the paper one morning and seeing a cartoon with the byline, "A tip of the Hatlo hat to George Scithers."
And now he's gone.
Rest in peace, George. God knows, you've earned it.