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09 July 2008 @ 09:23 am
Thomas M. Disch  
I was upset to learn yesterday that Thomas Disch, an author I very much admire, took his life on the fourth. Even if you're not a science fiction (or poetry) fan, you may know of one of his works: a children's book called The Brave Little Toaster, which was made into a Disney film.

Disch was part of science fiction's New Wave back in the 60s. Along with folks like Michael Moorcock, Philip K. Dick, Roger Zelazny, and Philip Jose Farmer, he tried to close the gap between tradional sci-fi and mainstream fiction and inject it with the spirit of radicalism that was rampant at the time.

My first exposure to him was The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of, a collection of his essays about science fiction, which played a big part in getting me back into the genre after studiously avoiding it for much of my twenties. After that I read his amazing novel On Wings of Song, which is one of my favorites to this day (and one which is probably overdue for a re-read). Camp Concentration and The Genocides followed.

Like Edgar Allan Poe, I think Disch would have preferred that people remember him for his poetry more than his prose, but I can't grant him that mercy. I just liked his sardonic, challenging, political, ironic, and cynical fiction far too much.

Disch lost his longtime companion Charles Naylor a couple years ago. For much of that time, I've been reading his blog (tomsdisch), a curmudgeonly collection of rantings (much of it against Bush and the landlord trying to kick him out of his rent-controlled apartment), poetry, and occasional self-promotion. It was an interesting, though sometimes troubling window into his mind.

 
 
Listening to: silence
 
 
 
(Deleted comment)
Diary of an Ass Monkey: amd: joslin zoomassmonkeydiary on July 9th, 2008 06:31 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I fight with those feelings myself sometimes. I hope you keep fighting it.

I have to say I take some comfort in the fact that Disch lasted to 68. I'm not sure what's so special about that age in my head, but it feels less like giving up to me.

Good luck.
Melissa, starry-eyed soy-lovin' Expatriated Zulu: Weathercockoddharmonic on July 9th, 2008 05:49 pm (UTC)
There is an interesting thread in his memory over at Making Light; several editors and authors commented there (including Moorcock) and there's a debunking of the apocryphal story that Disch punched Gibson after the latter won the Nebula.

Unfortunately in the relaying of Disch's passing to Vogon, I learned he hadn't heard me when I told him about Robert Aspirin's passing earlier this year. And that was hard on him, even with noting that Aspirin died in a relatively non-upsetting way.
Diary of an Ass Monkey: amd: blue bottleassmonkeydiary on July 9th, 2008 06:27 pm (UTC)
Now if he had punched Clarke after the 1980 Hugos, I could understand....

Thanks for the link!
micah: maximillianlaerm on July 9th, 2008 07:53 pm (UTC)
well, i don't know of the guy, which is surprising, because i do know SF (some), but i do know the brave little toaster, which is still one of the the 5 films that always manages to make me cry.
Diary of an Ass Monkey: amd: joslin no zoomassmonkeydiary on July 9th, 2008 08:08 pm (UTC)
I think I'll have to put it on my netflix queue. It's been ages.