Sad news: Seattle sci-fi author Vonda N. McIntyre passed away yesterday, less than two months after she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
An award-winning author of novels and non-fiction and film and TV show adaptations and short fiction, McIntyre also leaves behind another tremendous legacy: she helped bring the Clarion West sci-fi writers' workshop to Seattle in 1971, which means generations of young writers owe their careers to McIntyre.
One of my favorite McIntyre stories revolves around a convention panel where McIntyre grew weary of fans griping about bad sci-fi TV shows. McIntyre recounted in 2009:
I listen for a few titles, and then I say, “Wait a minute. I can’t believe this. Haven’t you people been watching the *Starfarers* miniseries?”
And then I told them the plot.
By the end of the panel, I had everybody eating out of my hand, believing *Starfarers* had existed but had been so misscheduled and unadvertised that every single audience member had missed it. I claimed I had heard of some bootleg tapes floating around but as far as I knew recordings of the show could not be purchased.
A local filmmaker, sitting in the front row, jumped up at the end of the hour and said “I’m going to find those tapes!” and rushed out of the room.
McIntyre then went on to write four Starfarers books, based on her prank at the panel.
That eagerness to create something positive out of boring old fan negativity, that ability to craft a mythology from nothing and have a roomful of fans eager to believe it, is a big part of McIntyre's charm. She willed a community into existence here, and Seattle is the worse for her passing. There will be a public service for McIntyre sometime in the next month; we'll let you know when we know more.