I’ve never done any eulogizing here. Always seemed like there were other, better places for it. Words said by other, better people. The news that came down last night, though, announcing the death of sci-fi/fantasy author Aaron Allston hit me pretty hard.
So, there’s a reason that I don’t write eulogies: I’ve never properly learned how. I tried to write one for Elmore Leonard for work last year and it came out horribly. Instead, I think I’ll just tell a story about the kind of person Aaron Allston was…
There were a couple of little cons that I used to frequent when I lived back in North Carolina. Sometimes I would go as a simple attendee, others as a volunteer. On a couple of occasions I was lucky enough to go as a speaker. Aaron was a fairly regular sight around those parts, and very well liked. He was an incredibly kind man--wickedly funny and quick, and always ready to offer a bit of advice or guidance to new writers and old hands.
My fondest memory of the man is one of my last. It was one of Aaron’s first convention appearances following his 2009 heart attack and the subsequent surgery, and I was manning a group table when he came up between panels (one of the great things about having Aaron at cons was that he would often just wander the floor and browse around like a regular attendee) and asked if he could sit in one of our free chairs. We’d run into one another often enough that he seemed to recognize me and, once he got settled, I introduced myself, told him how much I enjoyed his work and listening to him talk about writing in his panels, and then said how glad that I was that he was still with us. By way of thanks, he smiled and made the kind of groan-inducing pun that he was famous for.
We got to talking after that; going back and forth about craft and process and Star Wars (he remains one of my long-standing favorite contributors to the Star Wars Expanded Universe) and all of the other topics that you run through when you get a pair of big writing nerds together. Eventually, Aaron had another panel that he needed to be at. A volunteer came to bundle him off to the ballroom, and that was it. We ran into one another a couple of times after that, before I moved to this wretched land that has never heard of a fan convention, and we never had much of a chance to talk again but he always remembered my name and he always had a grin and a kind word for me. That’s just the kind of person that he was. One of the very best.
In a perfect world, I’d be able to have that conversation with him again following another round of surgeries. I wish that I could, and I’m sure that there are plenty of other folks who wish the same. My thoughts are with Aaron and his loved ones today.
This post was edited on the morning of 03/01/2014 for purposes of clarity and intent.