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Cosmic Horror Goes Virtual

August 5, 2020 at 10:05 am
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There’s a wonderful writer’s workshop held every year in New Hampshire — the Odyssey Writers’ Workshop, headed up by Jeanne Cavelos, for aspiring authors of science fiction, fantasy, and horror.   I taught one summer at Odyssey a decade or two back, and more recently, I sponsor an annual scholarship there, the MISKATONIC SCHOLARSHIP, for a promising new writer of Lovecraftian cosmic horror (for more details on Odyssey and the Miskatonic Scholarship, look back through my older posts here, until you hit one titled COSMIC HORROR COMES TO NEW HAMPSHIRE).

This year the winner of the Miskatonic Scholarship was SCOTT GRAY.  Congratulations, Scott.

Unfortunately, thanks to Covid-19, Scott was not able to get together in New Hampshire to terrify his classmates with his tales.  No one was able to get together.  The pandemic forced a cancellation of this year’s gathering… but that did not stop Jeanne.  Odyssey 2020 was still held — on line.  As a virtual gathering.

Jeanne was kind enough to share these photos of her class of 2020.

Jeanne writes, “We had an absolutely wonderful Odyssey this year, despite having to hold it online.  For 6 weeks, students in their own homes attended over 4 1/2 hours of class each day; worked long hours writing, critiquing, and doing writing exercises; participated in various discussion salons, check-in hours, guided writing hours, and writing games; had private meetings with me and our guest lecturers; and through it all, supported each other. For many of them, the time zone made this even more difficult, but they lived on “Odyssey Time” for six weeks, whether in the US, Ireland, or India. I think this class actually produced more words than any previous Odyssey class. Their engagement, passion, and discipline was truly amazing, as was their thoughtfulness toward each other. ”

She also reports, “Scott Gray, the Miskatonic recipient, was a linchpin, always looking out for students who might be struggling or who might need some extra outreach.”

Given the difficult times we are living through, it is great to hear that Odyssey was able to overcome and prevail.   Looks like they had a great class as well.   I hope to be seeing their bylines on many a book and story in the future.



Current Mood: pleased pleased

Rest in Peace, Susan

August 4, 2020 at 1:11 pm
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These are sad sad times, and it seems as if every day they get a little sadder.

I was shocked and horrified to hear of the sudden death of Susan Ellison out in Sherman Oaks.   She died in the house she had shared with Harlan for so many years, sometimes known as Ellison Wonderland or the Lost Aztec Temple of Mars.  At this writing, no one seems quite certain of the cause of death.

No one saw this coming, not even her closest friends… and certainly not me.   Susan was only 60.   Which I suppose is old in the eyes of some of those reading this, but still seems young to me.   I would have guessed that she was even younger, but perhaps that is only because she was so much younger than Harlan.   The last time I saw her was back when I flew out to LA for the premiere of the TOLKIEN movie, at which she was one of my invited guests.   But I was on stage for that one and she was in the audience, and after the panel was done they hustled me right out of there, so we only had time for a brief hello and a hug.  I wish it had been longer.   The last time I saw Susan for any significant length of time was at Harlan’s memorial at the Writers Guild Theatre.  That was a heartbreaking occasion… made less heartbreaking by Susan’s own courage and strength, and her insistence that we make the evening a celebration of Harlan’s life and work, not a dirge for his passing.

No one who was there that day — and there were a lot of us,  for Harlan was greatly loved — could ever have dreamt that Susan herself would follow Harlan so soon.

There will be obituaries and tributes all over the internet, I am sure, so I am not going to try to write a summary of Susan’s life here.   Others knew her much much better than I did and are better equipped for that task.   All I can say, from my own perspective, is that she was a sweet, gentle woman, unfailingly kind to everyone… and especially to Harlan.   As fierce and combative as HE seemed at times, he needed kindness too.  All of us do.   And Susan seemed to make him happy.   She was his fifth wife, and their marriage lasted longer than all of his first four marriages put together.   She was feisty and funny, too.   I remember a few times, when dining at their place, that Harlan would be going on about something, getting angrier and more worked up, and Susan would put in a quiet word, and suddenly Harlan would be laughing.

She was a profoundly decent person, and our field, our country, and our world are all the poorer for her passing.

Current Mood: sad sad