I was surprised and greatly saddened to hear of the death of Robert Holdstock this past weekend. With his Mythago Wood series, he produced one of the most singular and significant bodies of work in British fantasy of the late 20th century. His central vision of folklore given physical form is amongst the most memorable, resonant and elegantly presented themes I’ve encountered in speculative fiction, and I’ve never forgotten what it felt like to read those books for the first time and be aware that I was experiencing something special.
I met him at the David Gemmell Legend Awards ceremony in London earlier this year. We spoke relatively briefly, about inconsequential things, and he was friendly and full of enthusiasm. But I was not on top form, and more than a little starstruck. I was introduced to him as a fellow writer, but felt entirely unworthy of such a status: I was a fan, meeting someone whose achievements I was somewhat in awe of, and was a little flummoxed as a result.
I should have told him, but did not – or certainly not emphatically enough, just how much I liked and valued his work. I should have told him, but did not, that the first story I sold to a magazine was published in an issue that included one of his own co-written works; and how much that simple fact meant to me at the time, to be appearing in print alongside a name that had so much weight and importance in my eyes.
It’s nothing compared to the loss now experienced by his family and close friends, of course, but thousands of readers suffered a loss this weekend too: a creator of wonderful fictions, dying too young, with, no doubt, too many stories still untold.
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