Monday, September 22, 2008

Brian Thomsen

Editor and good friend Brian Thomsen passed away this past weekend, of an apparent heart attack, in his home in Brooklyn.

The news went out, by emails, then announcements on SF sites, then phones calls, then the blogs. By mojo wire and jungle drum, the news passed from hand to hand, voice to ear, person to person in our community. Brian had a wide-spread network of friends, co-workers, fellow strugglers, allies and associates, and the wires of those links sigh and cry with the man's passing

Brian had been an editor for Warner's Questar line, TSR Books, and most recently Tor, but a mere listing of his many works and positions does not do justice to his ability and talent. Brian had the singular ability as an enabler for books, He had the ability to pull together diverse elements into a functioning whole, to create a "reason for being" for each book he worked on. Author, subject, artist, theme, cover, blurbs, schedules, release dates, all combined into a single functioning piece of a hundred components. This was considering the book as a mechanism, and Brian was did it best.

Those seeking Brian's editorial chops should check out The American Fantasy Tradition. Those looking for his more trenchant writing should take a look at Pasta Fazool for the Wiseguy's Soul.

I knew of Brian initially through his Questar ads, and met him when he came to TSR some fifteen years ago. I re-taught the New York City native how to drive so he could survive in Wisconsin. We had lunch almost every Tuesday at the local Chinese restaurant in Lake Geneva (which used to be a Dog 'N Suds), and played Magic, and argued about publishing. For the past ten years, we were on the phone at least once a week. trading gossip and arguing about publishing. I spoke with him last on Friday, and he talked about two new books he was about to begin next year, his most recent turnovers, and his plans for the future.

He always had several plans for the future, several irons in the fire, several projects he was wrapping up, and several more he wanted to launch. The list of writers he has aided over the years is prodigious and includes much of the modern fantasy genre. He was always straightforward and direct in his dealings. He had his own code, and made his position clear. You knew where he was coming from, and what he was looking for. He would begin conversations with "Hello, Great Man!" and end them with "God Bless America and Larry Flynt". He was a constant, a fixture, a rock that many of us were fortunate enough able to anchor alongside.

I will miss him horribly, and express my deepest sympathies to his wife, Donna, and his family and friends.

God bless America and Larry Flynt.