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Goodbye, Gargy

May 29, 2018

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Gardner Dozois died on Sunday.

I cannot tell you how hard it was for me to write those words.   I probably should have posted something Sunday night, or yesterday for sure, but I just couldn’t.  It almost felt as if writing it would make it real, and there’s a part of me, a BIG part of me, that still does not want to believe it is real.   It can’t be real.   I just spoke to Gardner a few days earlier.   He was in the hospital after a fall that had left him “bruised but not broken” (his words), but he was still Gardner, Gargy, the Great Gargoo, funny, lively, full of plans.   We talked about getting together for a visit when I came east in July, either at Thrillerfest in NYC or down in Philadelphia where he expected to be in rehab.  We talked about his latest anthology, and I tried to convince him to come to San Jose for worldcon, and we joked.  This came on so quick…

I need to write a proper appreciation of Gardner, and I will, I will… but not just now.   The wound is still too raw.  I keep wanting to pick up the phone and call him and hear his voice again.

Gardner and I go back a long way.   He was my second oldest friend in the field (I’ve known Howard Waldrop longer, though I actually MET Gardner earlier, since Howard and I knew each other only by mail for the first decade or so).   Gardner is the reason I am here.   He was the assistant editor at GALAXY in 1970 who fished my story “The Hero” out of the slush pile and recommended it as a buy to editor Ejler Jakobsson (who always took his recommendations).  That was my first professional sale.  And in the spring of 1971, when I walked into Disclave, the first SF con I ever attended, Gardner was the first person I met.   He was working the registration desk.

Lots of people are posting and publishing appreciations of Gardner now, telling you that he was a great writer, and a great editor.  All true.   But right now it is not the editor or the writer I am mourning, it is my friend.  He was the warmest, kindest, gentlest soul you’ll ever met, larger than life, bawdy, funny… so funny.   When I remember Gardner, I remember laughter.   If you were walking through the halls at any con and you heard a group of people laughing, odds are Gargy was in the middle of it, with a jellybean or a cheese doodle up his nose, telling his old Army stories.   I heard those stories a hundred times, and they always made me laugh just as much as the first time.    “Do not piss on the third rail, or YOU WILL DIE.”

It breaks my heart to know that I will never laugh with him again.

And you know what else breaks my heart?   NIGHTFLYERS came out today, in two editions, one from Tor (with extra stories) and one from Bantam (with illustrations).   The book is dedicated to Gardner.   “Manatees!”   I was going to send him copies as a surprise… and now I can’t.

Ah, damn… this is too hard.

A couple of years ago at Capclave, Gardner and I and Howard Waldrop did a panel that was really just the three of us telling stories.   It’s on YouTube now:

Have a look.  Have a laugh.  Stick a jellybean up your nose.

That was Gardner.

God, I loved that man.








Current Mood: sad sad


  • My condolences, George. I am really sorry. A great hug from your fans that care about you, not just being a writer, but a person with feelings and friends.

  • Matt says:

    Valar Morghulis. Sorry you lost your pal George.

  • Guilherme says:

    Words can’t describe the sympathy we are all sending your way. We all love you and love the work Gardner did. The world is a less fantastic and exotic place without his hands working their magic in it. Best wishes and deepest sympathies.

  • The Dragon Demands says:



    I really appreciated his work editing the prequel novellas.

  • Korinna Stricke says:

    Sorry for your loss. He does sound like a great friend.

  • My deep condolences, I know a few people very much like the way you describe him, that just bring a warm joy with them. So sorry for your loss, I hope your sadness is soon accompanied by warm memories of happiness with him.

  • SerArnys says:

    I am very sorry for your loss.

    I can‘t imagine how hard it is for you to loose a lifelong friend just like this.

    My condolences.

    Tides against the current.

  • Arthur Gomes says:

    My most sincere condolences for the loss. Gardner was very talented, and I can only imagine how it feels for you now.

    I will celebrate Gardner’s life as I hope he would like us to, I will finally read his novel The Strangers.

  • Earl Cook says:

    Condolences for the loss of your dear friend. The world is far less interesting a place without him.

  • Felipe Bini says:

    My condolences, George. Hope you can always keep the fond memories of your friendship.

  • Aaron says:

    Words can not express how sorry I am for your loss.

  • GypsyDRB says:

    Really sorry for your loss, George. I’m sitting here staring at my copy of Rogues and Dangerous Women that you all worked on. It’s through you that I came to know about him. I can’t imagine losing a friend I’ve had for close to 50 years, and I’m just sorry you are experiencing it this.

  • Ray Low says:

    So sorry for your loss George.

  • Peter Mounteer says:

    It’s so clear from your entry above that Gardner was someone really special, not just in the field, but to you as well. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  • JaniceG says:

    Joe just posted this – thought you’d want to see it

  • Binary Worrier says:

    I’m so sorry for the loss of your friend

  • MrDemiurge says:

    My condolences, George.

  • Peter Davies says:

    That was a tribute straight from the heart, George. Anyone reading it could tell that you loved him deeply, sincerely, and that he meant the world to you. You must be in so much pain, to lose someone like that so suddenly, and I am truly sorry.

    I never met him, but I heard him talk a number of times, and he was ALWAYS hilariously funny, and had the whole room rocking with laughter. What a huge personality he must have had, and I can only imagine how deeply you would love someone like that if you knew them as a friend, and what a very big gap they would leave in the world when they are no longer there.

    Rest in peace, Gardner, and sending you my sincere sympathy, George. XX

  • Dan DeVita says:

    So sorry for your loss, George. Gardner was an incredible force in the field, and responsible for so much good. He will be horribly missed, but most of all by those like you who knew him best.

    Wishing you the best in this hard time.

  • Jean Neige says:

    My condolences, George. So sorry for your loss.

  • Piet Nel says:

    I never met Gardner and there was no realistic prospect that I ever would, living as I do in South Africa.

    Even so, believe it or not, he loomed large in my life. Every year, I looked forward to his announcement of the new Year’s Best; every year I dug deep to import the St. Martin’s edition of the book. His wonderful sense of humor and willingness to share his invaluable critiques of the books and stories of the past, regaled scores of us on Facebook, and especially on the old Asimov’s forum. I was honored when he occasionally exchanged private messages.

    But never mind all that. He was a wonderful, wonderful writer; a writer of lyrical genius, a better writer than an editor, and that’s saying — wow, that’s saying plenty. I enjoyed the youtube video you linked so very much. I can only imagine how you and Howard must be hurting, not to mention all his many other friends.

    Philadelphia is a slightly smaller city today.

  • Brandon Westmoreland says:


    I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of such a good friend. Your books have gotten me through major depressive moments in my life. I wish I could give back to you what you have given to me. Be strong. Live your life. Be happy. That’s what he would have wanted.


  • John says:

    Sorry for your loss!

  • Dennis says:

    My condolences of course George.
    The link you posted is indeed really funny, i had a great laugh listening to you guys and especially Gardners stories when he was in the army, thanks for sharing.

  • Jen says:

    So sorry for your loss George. May his memory be a blessing. Treasure your memories. They are like gifts that keep on giving.

  • Robert Noll says:

    His anthologies were fantastic, but my favorite memory of him was a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” he did about six months ago. As a goof, I commented that George R.R. Martin said Gardner had a similar lifestyle as the late Hugh Hefner and asked if that was true. I thought this is going to go two ways: maniacal laughter or I get blocked. He reaction suggested the former, and I am glad I could make him smile.

    R.I.P., my literary guide. As Stephen King said, “And may we meet again, in the clearing, at the end of the path.”

  • Jeffrey Hawboldt says:

    Sadly, I only knew of him because some of your Westeros-related novellas appearing in some of his anthologies (Dangerous Women through to The Book of swords) but I always knew you guys were great friends.

    so sorry for your loss. A man mourns.

  • Targaryen Loyalist says:

    My deepest condolences to you, his family and friends, and the science fiction community. He will be greatly missed. I’m so sorry.

  • Thupple says:

    Oh, George. I’m so sorry.

    I was just watching a live stream today where folks who went to a recent Con were jubilantly unpacking their experience. You could feel their afterglow of meeting new heart friends, of laughter, and shared love of your work in particular. I thought of your incredible legacy, not just of the stories we treasure, but of all the friendships between people who would never have even met if not for you. Fandom is incalculably better and stronger because of your generosity and your example.

    Then I checked your blog and saw this terrible news. Gardner Dozois, of all people. My heart hurts for you.

    Know that the spirit of your friendship is evergreen – it lives on through the young people now following in you and Gardner’s footsteps, forging lasting bonds based on literature, laughter, and their own war stories.

    Talk about bittersweet.

  • Dennis Feltz says:

    Sorry for your loss.–D. Feltz, the Cedar Falls counselor.

  • Fernsndo says:

    Very sorry for your lost George. The only consolation are the memories that are left after they’re gone.

  • Dee says:

    I am so sorry for your loss, George. I can tell just from your words here that your wounds are deep, and I am very deeply heartbroken for you. He sounds like a great friend, and I’m sure he would have said the same of you. I will be thinking of you! Take care of yourself. Xoxo

  • Very sorry for your loss, Mr. Martin. I don’t know much about him, but from your description and mentions of him over the years, it sounds as if the world is at quite a loss without him. It also sounds like he had quite an impact on your life, and so, part of him will live on in you.

  • Marlon Soriano says:

    I’ve never read anything from Mr. Dozois, nor did I ever met him, however he seems like a very talented writer and an amazing person from your description.

    I am very sorry for your loss, I hope you can find resignation and may your friend always live in the hearts of those that knew him.

  • Brian Lewandowski says:

    I’m sorry for your loss George. When I lost my father, I was reading A Song of Ice and Fire and you have no idea how much that helped me cope with the grief. He watched Game of Thrones up to Season 4 and my last conversations I had with him was his theorizing of what would happen to most of the characters. That’s my bit. Keep Truckin.

  • T says:

    I am sorry for your loss. I can’t begin to imagen what you are going through. Warm hugs.

  • William Lawhorn says:

    That panel was the best tribute I could think of for Gardner. It was a true honor to be in the audience that night and to have played a small part in making it happen at Capclave. That night, the three of you let the world be a part of your friendship.

    I was looking forward to seeing Gardner at World Fantasy this November, it won’t be as good without him.

  • J. E. Phillips says:

    I am truly saddened by this news. I am especially sad to know you lost a beloved friend. I read his works years ago. He was one of my first favorite SF authors. I wish you peace and strength to help your through you time of sadness and beyond…

  • Gretchen says:

    My husband died 10 yrs ago from cancer, he was 37.
    I can remember people offering their condolences, saying “sorry for your loss”, and although they meant well…sometimes that hurts. It’s this constant reminder of the shattering of normal. It sucks.
    So I’ll just wish you peace in this moment. :'(
    Take care.

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