Sunday, 27 May 2018

RIP Gardner Dozois

Today the sad news has broken that Gardner Dozois, one of the greatest science fiction editors, has passed away at the age of 70 from a systemic infection.

Gardner Dozois was born in 1947 in Salem, Massachusetts. He served in the US Army in the 1960s before switching to writing science fiction. His first story, The Empty Man, was published in Frederick Pohl's collection If in 1966. He wrote widely in the short form, publishing short fiction as recently as this year ("Neanderthals" and "Unstoppable", both in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction). He won the Nebula Award for Best Short Story twice, for "The Peacemaker" in 1983 and "Morning Child" the following year.

His work at greater length was rare but notable, consisting of the single novel Strangers (1978) and the collaboration Nightmare Blue (1975, with George Effinger). His most recent novel-length project was a long-bubbling collaboration with George R.R. Martin and Daniel Abraham, which resulted in first the novella Shadow Twin (2004) and the novel-length version, Hunter's Run (2007).

However, Dozois' most significant contribution to the field will be his formidable work as an editor of short fiction and his relentless hunt for new, fresh talent. He worked for the magazine Asimov's Science Fiction in the 1970s, serving as editor from 1986 to 2004. He also founded the anthology The Year's Best Science Fiction, which was published annually from 1984 to 2017, totalling thirty-four standard volumes and two "best of the best" editions. According to critic John Clute, Dozois' primary strength as an editor was being able to "select (and to edit) work that is both exciting to read and adult on reflection."

Dozois was a firm friend and frequent collaborator of George R.R. Martin. In 1971 he was the first reader who fished Martin's first published story, "The Hero," out of the slush pile at Galaxy and recommended it for publication, leading Martin to dub Dozois as the editor who discovered him. They met at the Disclave Convention in Washington D.C. the same year. As well as their long-gestating work on Shadow Twin/Hunter's Run, they co-edited eight short story collections together: Songs of the Dying Earth (2009), Warriors (2010), Songs of Love and Death (2010), Down These Strange Streets (2011), Old Mars (2013), Dangerous Women (2013), Rogues (2014) and Old Venus (2015). Dozois also contributed the intro and blurb to Martin's Dreamsongs: A RRetrospective (2003).

Dozois' most recent editorial work was on The Book of Silverberg (2016), Mash-Up (2017) and The Book of Swords (2017). A follow-up, The Book of Magic, is scheduled for publication this October, and The Book of Legends in 2019, whilst The Year's Best Science Fiction: Thirty-Fifth Annual Collection will be published in July this year.

Gardner Dozois won the Hugo Award for Best Editor no less than fifteen times and was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2011. A giant of the genre, with many modern authors owing him for their first big break, he will be missed.


Matthew Hughes said...

There is another anthology in the pipe: The Book of Legends, due out in 2019.

I greatly regret that I never met Gardner in the flesh. He was very good to me and my appearances in his anthologies have won me many readers. I will miss him, as will the entire SFF community.

Unknown said...

This is so heartbreaking!

Jeff Hawboldt said...

Quite sad indeed. I only knew of him because of the anthologies that martin's Seven Kingdoms stories appeared in (starting with Dangerous Women)

Mark Andrew Edwards said...

I met Gardner at World Fantasy and Norwescon a couple of times. He gave me some good advice on editing and the business side of writing.

RIP. He was a damn fine editor.