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Publisher: Bluejack

May, 2009 : Obituary:

Ken Rand (1946-2009)

Editor's Note: Ken Rand was a much-appreciated contributor to IROSF. His interviews for us can be found here. Patrick's remembrance includes material from his blog and also the foreword to a collection of Ken's interviews from Fairwood Press.

The SF world—the world—has lost one of the finest people I've ever had the pleasure of knowing.

It was with a sad, sad heart that I had to announce that writer Ken Rand passed away on the 21st of April, at about 5 pm, after a long battle with a rare, incurable abdominal cancer. A number of years ago, 2 weeks before the last Norwescon Ken attended, he told me the news of his terminal illness and said it might be two weeks and he'd miss Norwescon, or it might be 2 years. Typical Ken Rand fashion, it was, I think, more than 4 years.

I announced at Talebones Live! at this year's Norwescon that Ken was pulling the plug on all the things that were keeping him alive, due to his decreasing quality of life. He had all his family around him and it was time. He figured he would be gone a few days later. Again: it was a week and a half.

That man loved life!

It's not surprising: Ken was full of life and gave so much of his life to others. Instead of a moment of silence at TB Live, I told everyone he deserved a standing ovation. The applause went on for over a minute, I think.

Ken's son, Mike called me to let me know. I'm Ken's literary executor, so there are things to be done as time goes on. Mike is in the process of creating a new webpage for his dad. His old webpage is still up.

When I decided to publish Ken Rand's book Human Visions, which collects all of his Talebones interviews, Ken asked me to write a foreword. I was honored, to say the least. At the time, in 2006, I already knew about his illness. It was my way of honoring the man and the writer well in advance, knowing what was ahead.

Ken was the most professional columnist we ever had in our magazine. Always touching base. Always honing his craft, always suggesting new possibilities. Always on time with deadlines (and usually early). Always friendly, always smiling, always "accentuating the positive." In truth, this is the way Ken has approached everything he has ever done.

This is the way Ken lived his life.

We were lucky to get him as an interviewer in 1996. We were quite sad when he decided to stop doing interviews in 2006. Our 33rd issue came out that summer, the first time in thirty issues that Talebones had been without a Ken Rand interview, and it just wasn't the same. It wasn't the same not being able to email him about the details of that issue's interview, or to sound him out about possible writers he might want to tackle for future issues.

Ken, appropriately, was like a truly great book. He left his readers and his friends wanting more. We can look back over his life and marvel; in our highest tribute to him, we can emulate his life. But still there is the deep sadness that a wonderful story has come to an end.

Still: we knew this end was coming and now the book is closed.

Copyright © 2009, Patrick Swenson. All Rights Reserved.


May 7, 05:33 by IROSF
Comment below!
May 7, 15:17 by Jim Van Pelt
Ken will be a part of all my writing for the rest of my life. His lessons altered how I think about the written word. I'll miss him, but he won't be gone.
May 7, 15:43 by Amy Sterling Casil
Patrick - what a great article. I wish I would have been able to be there to give Ken the standing ovation as well. This is exactly the man that he was and I'll think of him often as I look at my "Ken Rand shelf."

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