wombat_socho (wombat_socho) wrote,
wombat_socho
wombat_socho

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Reflections on editors

If you spend a lot of your free time reading, as so many of us in fandom do, you are unavoidably affected by the books you read and by the people who chose those books for you. Your parents, editors of publishing houses, librarians, all those people have left an imprint on you through the books you read. This is part of the reason I love and respect my parents so much - they introduced me to reading when I was very young, took me to libraries so long ago I can't even remember the first time, and provided me with an enormous trove of books to pore through that they'd acquired over the years.

In fact, one of my favorite memories of time spent with my father was the time we went up into the attic at my grandparents' house on Vernon Street in Bradford and recovered several boxes of books he'd read when he was my age, in junior high school. They were mostly juvenile series like Mark Tidd, the Dave Darrin and Dick Prescott books by H. Irving Hancock which these days would be considered hopelessly old-fashioned but at the time were fascinating reading. But I digress...while even now I can't look at a copy of From Here To Eternity or One Day In the Life Of Ivan Denisovich or anything by P.G. Wodehouse without thinking of my father, by the same token there is no escaping the fact that during my high school years (7th-12th grades) the people who were showing me what was most worth reading in the field of SF were John W. Campbell Jr. , his successor at Analog Ben Bova, and Fred Pohl. This was when I was reading a lot of Heinlein, van Vogt. Pournelle, Laumer, and other authors whose works had appeared in ASF, Galaxy and If. I also read quite a few of the F&SF anthologies, but preferred Campbell & Bova's ASF to the other magazines, especially once Ejler Jakobssen succeeded Pohl at Galaxy and If.

Starting in my senior year of high school, though, the editor who most influenced what I read in the SF field was Jim Baen, who died this morning. I talked a lot about Jim here, and have a horrror of repeating myself, so I'll just briefly say that most of the SF authors I've read since 1977 have been those that Jim pointed me towards. Like the other great editors mentioned in the previous paragraph, Jim had the gift of being able to recognize talented storytellers and develop them. I sometimes wonder how many of those writers (like Flint, Stirling, Weber and Ringo) got better because they served an apprenticeship with David Drake under Jim's direction, but that's something I'm not sure I really want to know the answer to. It doesn't really matter anyway. What does matter is whether somebody at Baen has the same talent and can carry on developing the talent. I sure hope they do, because otherwise I have to rely on Glenn Reynolds, and he doesn't post often enough about SF for my tastes. ^^
Tags: back in the day, culture w/o politics
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