I just learned that Robert - Rob - Holdstock, a good man and a superior author, has died in intensive care after being laid low by an E Coli infection. He was 61.
I first corresponded with Rob when he and Chris Morgan were co-editing Focus, a magazine on writing for writers and would-be writers, for the BSFA. We met at the next Eastercon, I believe it was. Strongly-built and bearded, back then he seemed indestructible. Despite health issues in recent years, he remained a presence who could light up any company by being a part of it. I remember him telling that one of his reasons for giving up zoology for writing was that he hadn't anticipated having to deal with the animal suffering that was involved in the science.
His novel Mythago Wood made huge and lasting impression on me. A beautiful and sure-footed conflation of English myth and grounded wonder.
Despite this world-class talent, he was without artistic airs and graces; he saw himself as a working pro. But he was the kind of working pro we should all aspire to be; ready to share, ready to teach, and incapable of giving less than his best. When he conceived and sold the Night Hunter series, which he wrote under the pseudonym of Robert Faulcon, what could have been a piece of hasty expoitation turned out to be a textured, gripping six-book cycle of genuine emotional power.
I'd heard that he was ill last week; I hadn't imagined that he wouldn't pull through. I know well enough what can happen. It's just a prospect that you don't want to entertain.
Read Mythago Wood. Please. It's brilliant. You won't be sorry.