It has been a long sad couple of days since hearing that Charles Brown had died on the way home from Readercon. Part of that sadness and grief is selfishness: Charles was a character worth knowing and for family reasons we could not go to Readercon this year so we missed our last chance to see him.
Kelly says she fell in love with Charles when she discovered he had put out a Georgette Heyer fanzine. It was probably that that persuaded her to accept Charles’s offer of 2 Hugo Awards for one of her Nebulas. Charles had more Hugos than we’d ever seen in one place but he didn’t have any Nebulas. Suffice to say at some point a box arrived at our house and now we have 2 Locus Hugos and somewhere in the Locus HQ is one of Kelly’s Nebulas.
Charles wasn’t the easiest person to get to know but one of his best qualities was his continued openness what was happening in his sphere of interest. On first meeting, and second and third, he was a odd, gruff, cold, and a bit terrifying. This was a guy who read books by our favorite writers before their editors read them. But he was interested in what we were doing with LCRW and Small Beer and that meant at some point we gained a seat at some of those endless convention tables: eating with Charles and co. was always at the very least fascinating. That continued openness meant that Charles and Locus never stagnated. He wasn’t skipping from new thing to new thing, but he was open to reading and writing about the YA explosion, urban fantasy, and other aspects of his beloved field that achieved new prominence.
A couple of years ago Kelly and I spent the night on the Murphy bed in (beside?) the Locus library. Although before sleeping we spent a long time cranking the shelves back and forward and being awed at the collection, pristine, of course, and the dedications within the books. Going to the Locus house was like going to a tiny museum and being led around it by Charles was always great fun.
In talking to Amelia at Locus she said that his death was a shock but not a surprise which captures it completely for me. He looked terrible over the past couple of years but then, he’d looked terrible over the last couple of years, so we figured he would keep on going for a while yet. Charles tried to be a curmudgeon but his joy in life kept overcoming his curmudgeonliness. It was great fun to eat and drink and talk with Charles whether it was at a fancy restaurant or at a “Locus suite” at a convention.
I love the picture of him that Locus posted and have ganked it for this. He will be missed and we will raise a toast to Charles and what he accomplished whenever we meet friends who miss him too.