July 14th, 2009


Charles Brown RIP

 Since it is now known almost everywhere, I reveal nothing in an untimely fashion by noting the passing of Charles Brown, eternal editor of Locus magazine, tireless chronicler of the SF/F world.  He was on his way home on the plane to California and died without fuss in his seat.

Charles interviewed me at Readercon:  I was his last Locus interview, oddly.  So much about death is odd.  Yet I can say that Charles Brown had what we in the Catholic Church called a good death:  having just visited and spent time among many he loved and admired, who returned his admiration, and who he knew were indebted to him for his long toiling in the vineyard, which I think did not seem like toil to him, and vanishing away on his return home again.  My own last image of him is stretched out, after a fine and lengthy dinner, on his bed in his hotel room, where I was being interviewed -- actually interviewing myself; he contributed remarks rather than questions -- with Peter Straub and the faithful Amelia.  I'd hope Locus might publish the whole of that recording, more conversation than interview; a last remembrance. 



At Readercon (as in other venues) I was caught up in a conversation about Coincidence, and divination, prophetic dream, and all that class of experience, which it was generally agreed is only a function of noting or selecting from out of the vast and pelting river of experience those few items that are of interest to us, which stand out only because we note them.  I say it was agreed, but (as usual) somewhat dutifully, and even sadly.

Anyway today I was reading the Advance Reading Copy of Nicholson Baker's new book, which I'm to review, which is about a poet who is devoted to rhyme, and on an early page he quotes from Edward Lear, "The Pelican Chorus":

"Plumpskin, Ploshkin, pelican jill.
We think so then, we thought so still."

Then later in the day I open the new TLS and there in the "NB" snippets section, there's the same, quoted at slightly greater length, and differently punctuated:

Ploffskin, Pluffskin, Pelican jee!
We think no birds as happy as we!
Plumpskin, Ploshkin, Pelican jill!
We think so then, and we thought so still!"

So if any of you have recently been reading, or remembering, or thinking about, or opening an old childhood book (Nonsense Songs and Stories) and your eye falling on just that exact poem then we will have one of those astonishing, amazing coincidences, that wow must mean something, but what?

Nabokov called coincidence "A piece of pattern for which there is no use"  -- or something -- can anyone correct that for me?