Barnett & Scott
July 24, 2006

One of my most favourite Sci-Fi writers ever is Melissa Scott. She's got some amazing books, Night Sky Mine, Trouble and Her Friends, The Jazz, Dreaming Metal. She writes both SF and cyber books ... and I say cyber without the punk, because not everything in that sub-genre is truly punk. Trouble and Her Friends leans toward cyberpunk, while Night Sky Mine and The Jazz are less punk and more "just" computer driven. (All the while having excellent plots and delightful characterization ... I can't read a book if there's not some well-drawn characters in it.)

My partner, A, had introduced me to Melissa Scott in 1999 or early 2000. I think I started with Trouble or maybe it was Dreaming Metal. But, I was well and truly hooked. You see, I grew up reading every Robert Heinlein book I could get my hands on and while I'd read all of his stuff and little bits and spurts and forays into other SF, I'd kind of wandered off into more historical fantasy books like Kurtz's Deryni series (and yet I'd missed the Barnett/Scott books somehow). SF had gotten too far away from story and characterization for me. So reading Gibson and Sterling and Stephenson was getting me back to SF ... and discovering Melissa Scott really sealed it.

In fact, I was chatting with some online friends, the Banshees, and was telling them (in 2001) that my cancer had returned and that I was to have a bone marrow transplant. Everyone was asking what books I liked to read, trying to get a care package together so that I would have something to do during my minimum stay of 21 days for the transplant. Dawn was ecstatic when I listed Melissa Scott first (or nearly so ... honestly, I don't really remember the list of authors and books now). Turns out Dawn knew Melissa, contacted her friend and next thing I knew, I had some autographed books from one of my favourite authors. I was over the moon! Ooops, so to speak, I mean.

I got through the transplant in just 17 days instead, and the books were a big help ... even though my attention span during those 17 days was about that of a hyperactive gnat on crack.

So, when we were in Texas last week, we went to Half Price Books, my Mecca. They don't have Half Price Books quite this far north, and I'd been looking forward to showing that chain off to A while we were down in Texas. Naturally, we came home with a slew of Scott books that we'd not been able to find locally.

Today, A was surfing the web looking to see what new books Scott had written recently. She discovered this first:

Melissa Scott is a science fiction author from Little Rock, Arkansas. She studied history at Harvard College and Brandeis University, and earned her PhD. in comparative history. She lived with her partner, author Lisa A. Barnett, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire until the latter's death on May 2, 2006.

From Wikipedia

I was shocked.

I've never been one to much pay attention to "celebrity's" lives, but this still completely shocked me.

� Death   Fantasy writer Lisa A. Barnett, born 1958, died this morning [May 2, 2006] at her home in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, from brain tumor. She and her partner Melissa Scott published three fantasy novels together, The Armor of Light (1988), Point of Hopes (1995), and Point of Dreams (2001), the last of which won a Lambda Literary Award in 2002.

From Locus Online

Turns out, Melissa Scott hasn't written prodigiously lately because her partner has been battling breast cancer for the past three years. And despite one hell of a battle, the cancer metastasized and moved into the brain.

They were together for 27 years.

I go in for my five year checkup in August ... five years since the bone marrow transplant ... and I hope for yet another clean bill of health. I guess I'm officially in remission or officially "cured" if I'm clean this August.

I think of Lance Armstrong, who grew up just a town or two over from me in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, who kicked a really serious cancer right back in the same spot that it tried to kick him. Me and Lance went to the same hospital for our major treatment ... and within just a couple of years of each other, I think. I can remember my mom telling me when she read about this upstart boy in Plano riding his bike around and winning contests, asking me why I didn't do something "special" like that. I just continued writing my short stories and beginnings of novels and didn't comment.

I think of Melissa Etheridge kicking the cancer back.

And I really mourn that sometimes no matter how hard you kick back ... no matter how hard you struggle and fight and do everything you're supposed to do ... sometimes it just doesn't matter. Sometimes the dice or the cards or the random number generator just doesn't roll your way.

I have never met Melissa Scott nor her partner, Lisa Barnett, and I have the feeling I'm the poorer for it. But it's amazing how deeply I can mourn someone I've never met.

I've added a link to Melissa's blog in the sidebar of the main page ... I'll get around to adding it on all the pages later on. It's well worth the read ... and it's not all depressing, either. In fact, if you enjoy the way I wrote some of the travel posts, I think you'll really dig Melissa's blog as well. I laughed completely outloud several times. She's got an amazing sense of comedic timing.

The last thing I expected this evening was a sucker punch like this. But I imagine it's only a pale reflection of the sucker punch felt by those who actually knew and loved Lisa.

What an odd and random world we live in.

Posted by Red Monkey at July 24, 2006 4:15 PM | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble |


seawave said:

Having been the recipient of news such as this entirely too many times in the last year, I can understand the depth at which it can hit you. And for you, of course, such news carries with it even more personal meaning given your own cancer battle. It really does bring the old cliche about living each day to its fullest into a new kind of perspective for those of us who truly understand how delicate the balance is between life and death. I can't help but think of the honor we give to the lives of those who have passed on in doing so. Thank you for the reminder, and for honoring the life of someone you never met but felt a connection with nonetheless.

I am holding in my heart the belief in, and hope for, your 5-year remission. (((((ender)))))

July 24, 2006 6:47 PM


Chris said:

I know it's not the same thing, but Phil Hartman's death hit me hard. He was someone I enjoyed as an actor and entertainer, and how he died was was just so unfitting of him. Cut down in his prime, plus the kids, it was just so sad.

July 26, 2006 6:54 PM


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July 28, 2006 4:43 PM
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