Monday, November 20, 2017

Randy Byers

A few days ago, I saw in the grocery store some bottles labeled "Not Your Father's Root Beer." On inspection, they proved to be beer with the flavor of root beer. I bought some, and had just opened the first bottle to have with dinner tonight when I heard that Randy Byers had died.

So I drank it in his memory. Randy was a great connoisseur of beer, and I'd have loved to tell him about this one.

Randy was also a great many other things, most notably one of the writers who make the best science-fiction fanzines some of the finest personal writing to be had. You can find much of it at the download sites for his fanzine Chunga and his TAFF trip report. He also posted a lot online, much of it on DW as randy-byers, also keeping a separate blog for film reviews and other writings. I knew him in person, casually, but I found we really connected online.

Over the last couple years, a lot of his DW writing was about treatment for his brain cancer. Although he didn't hide that this was a grueling process to live through with a depressing prospect ahead, I was impressed with the fortitude with which he faced it. He quietly retired from his job in administration at the University of Washington, and set about living the rest of his life with fullness and dignity. He took one last trip to Micronesia, where he'd spent some colorful years of his childhood - and wrote about it, of course - but didn't frantically try to stuff experiences in. He just kept on going, and when the news hit that no more curative treatments were available, he wrote of the life he now found himself leading, "Let it roll, baby, roll. Until about 8:30, or whenever I'm ready to go to bed. Quality of life, that's what I'm all about!"

And so he kept on doing what he did, as long as he could do it. He'd been re-reading classic SF novels, especially ones by women, and writing thoughtful considerations of them. His last DW post, two months ago, considered Sarah Canary by Karen Joy Fowler.

Let us honor and remember him by doing the ordinary little things that give us pleasure with the same rich and full appreciation that he gave to his.

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