Dian Crayne (1942-2017)

Dian Crayne

Author Dian Crayne, 75, was discovered dead in her Northern California home on October 4 by police making a welfare check at the request of friends after she failed to show up for their book club meeting.

Writing under her maiden name, Dian Girard, she had numerous short stories published in Galaxy, Amazing, and anthologies edited  by Jerry Pournelle and John F. Carr. The Internet SF Database shows her first published story, “Eat, Drink, and Be Merry” appeared in 1974. (There are some author pages that cite a much earlier date, possibly having confused this work with Katherine MacLean’s similarly-titled short story.)

After leaving her career as a technical writing manager for Xerox, Crayne began publishing mystery and sf novels under the pseudonym J.D. Crayne. These included The Cosmic Wheel, the Mark Stoddard mysteries, and the Captain Spycer space operas, which she called her “Silverlock for science fiction,” referencing the well-known literary pastiche by John Myers Myers.

She married Bruce Pelz in 1964. They had one daughter, Cecy. Dian was pregnant when she attended the LASFS 1965 Halloween Party, notorious because while it was in progress an assailant outside fired three shots through the window. No one was struck by the bullets, but Dian was cut by flying debris. As she recalled for File 770:

Yes, I remember that incident VERY well. Bill Rotsler and I were sitting in a window seat, talking, and the bullet went between us. I had wood splinters in my cheek, Bill remarked later that he thought momentarily that for some reason one of my earrings had exploded. (He used to say later on that we had been “under fire together.”) Of course, everyone in the room hit the deck, and I remember calling out to Bruce [Pelz], “Don’t get excited, but I think I’ve been hit.” Only splinters, though.

[At the time] I was pregnant with Cecy and she was born in March of 1966.

As for the location, it was wherever Don Simpson and his house mates were living at the time. Don dug the bullet out of the woodwork and I talked him into giving it to me. Alas, I lost it during one of our moves.

The surmise was that the shooter was one of a small group of people who had tried party-crashing earlier in the evening and been ejected. The police came and took statements, but no one was ever picked up for it.

Bruce and Dian divorced on amicable terms at the end of the decade – and in fact threw a divorce party, with Jack Harness officiating, in 1970 that helped inspire Larry Niven’s “What Can You Say about Chocolate-Covered Manhole Covers?”

Dian and Chuck Crayne wed on March 5, 1972 and were married for 36 years, ending with Chuck’s death in 2009.

She was one of the many women to whom Robert A. Heinlein dedicated Friday (1982).

I met her in person a few times, including at a FAPA collating party she and Chuck hosted in the Seventies. However, it was only the past few years on Facebook that I really had a chance to enjoy her legendry intelligence, wit, and empathy. It was a privilege, and I will miss her.

[Thanks to Lee Gold for the story.]

18 thoughts on “Dian Crayne (1942-2017)

  1. I met Dian back in the early 70’s. She and Chuck came East for reasons I don’t recall. George Scithers hosted a monthly open house at his home in Philadelphia, and Chuck and Dian came to one of them. It was a lively gathering. George knew Chuck and Dian, so it was old friends getting together again. My impression of Dian was a highly intelligent and quite capable woman, who would make a major contribution to efforts she was involved in, and what I learned of her fannish activities confirmed it.

    I’m sorry to hear this, but I’m old enough now to look at the Obituaries in places like Locus to see if anyone I knew had passed and I simply hadn’t heard about it. This is simply one more.

    Farewell, Dian. Perhaps you, Chuck, Bruce and George are all together at a great con in she sky, helping it run smoothly. It’s the sort of thing you all did.

    >Dennis

  2. Dang. I remember meeting her and Chuck once, IIRC when they were living in Orange County.

  3. She signed my Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society membership card when I joined at my sole LASFS meeting, in 1966. She posted regularly on the Trufen Yahoo group, as other members died or ceased posting. I really enjoyed all her posts there.

    Among stuff I don’t think anyone knew about her, in 2003-04, she was Corresponding Secretary for Roots of Motive Power, an organization dedicated to the preservation and restoration of logging and railroad equipment in California’s north coast. Chuck Crayne was listed as Treasurer and Director. She was also an expert on fabrics and worked for a time for a northern California museum as their director of quilts.

    Her mystery novels included Murder at the Worldcon. There’s more information about her, and a link to her books at:

    https://futurespasteditions.com/?page_id=714

    There are photos of her in costume at the 1964 Worldcon masquerade on the Fanac.org site. Arnie Katz wrote in Las Vegas Fandom Weekly #23,

    http://efanzines.com/VFW/VFW23.pdf

    “Dian Girard Pelz Crayne, whose exotic, sensual beauty ensnared a generation of male fans, was known as “Sadista,” after a cartoon image of herself she used in fanzines.”

    Posting a photo of what she looked like now doesn’t do her justice.

    The science fictional fannish tapestry is diminished by her death. The great fabric of our universe grows ever more tattered.

  4. The shooting took place at an L.A. slan shack dubbed “Galt’s Gulch” by LASFSians do the number of Objectivists living there at the time. Don was not one. Other inhabitants included Phil Castora, Phil Salin and moi. I was up stairs asleep at the time any was woken by someone opening my door and asking if any shots had come into my room. I was so bleary that it took me a while to process the question. I replied somewhat hazily in the negative. The person went away. I was about to go back to sleep when the meaning of the question finally penetrated. I woke completely and rushed down stairs to see what the Ghu was going on. I remember Dian calmly explaining to me and several other interested parties, how the shot had gone between her and Bill Rotsler. A few inches to the left or right and the history of fandom in the 60-70s might have been very different.

  5. Dian and her first husband, the late Bruce Pelz, put on a small convention here in Los Angeles over July 4th weekend 1968 (to make up for the Westercon which had been combined into the Worldcon that year), and that was my first science fiction convention. I knew her but slightly in real life, and then pretty much after she married Chuck Crayne. But we reconnected on Facebook a few years ago, and I always enjoyed her occasional comments here, as recently as last week. It’s sad to have lost her, particularly because I enjoyed whatever she had to say.

  6. I knew her by reputation for years before connecting with her on Facebook, where her contributions were always interesting. With her death so soon after Milt’s, these must be sad days around the LASFS clubhouse where it must feel like a generation of giants is passing.

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  8. Dian and I had many mutual friends, many of them are on Facebook, of course. At 10:30 pm Weds Oct. 5th I recieved a message informing me of dear Dian’s death from Peggy Hebrand, a mutual friend who was also a neighbor of Dian’s in Willits, California. A few hours before she messaged me she and her husband were responsible (along with other friends/fellow ‘Book Club’ members) for getting the police to force entry into Dian’s home and discovered that she had passed away, apparently peacefully, sitting in “her chair”, as Peggy described it. Peggy knew no one else within Dian’s large list of friends well enough to contact with the terrible news and in hopes of finding a telephone number or other contact info for Dian’s family. So, by happenstance, I was the first person outside of Willits to know of her passing. It was a terrible and heartbreaking shock.

    Dian was a wonderful, talented, intelligent, delightfully funny and charming woman and a dear friend. She was a successful author of mysteries, science fiction and humor. My wife Roxanne has known Dian since Roxie was a toddler, or as she puts it “I don’t recall a time in my life before Dian”. I have known her since about 1970 via West Coast Science Fiction fandom and our many mutual friends. The lyrics of one of my novelty songs (“I’ll Eat Your Brain”) even appears in her book “How To Bonk A Zombie” as chapter titles. Dian gifted me with a rare and vintage mandolin which had belonged to her late husband’s (Chuck Crayne) father or grandfather, which Chuck had gotten pretty good at playing. Dian Crayne was a wonderful woman and a wonderful friend.

    Now she’s gone to be with Chuck and to join Brucifer and oooh so many other friends at the ‘Tucker Hotel’ for that big convention in the sky. She was loved by many and will be sorely missed. Rest in peace, sweet lady… <3

  9. Many thanks to Mike and Lee for this lovely tribute to my mother, and to all her friends who have commented here. If it’s all right with you, I would like to use some of this post in the obituary that will be published in her local paper.

    It’s been a rough 10 days. J and I just got home from Willits, where the painful work of seeing to Mama’s effects and making her final arrangements was made a lot more stressful and complicated by the wildfires raging just south of town – and the phone and internet connections going up and down, so that we couldn’t call, email or post reliably until we got home.

    Most importantly, we found her kitty, Nim; he was scared and confused, but otherwise okay. We brought him back down to SoCal with us

    After moving up north, Mama was delighted to rediscover fandom online, and she loved reconnecting with old friends and making new ones on variety of sites and platforms. I know she would be pleased with all the reminiscences here.

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  11. I just found out of Dian’s passing via Facebook (which I rarely visit), where a mutual friend left me a message. I met Dian while we were both working for Xerox back in the 80s. She was in the El Segundo office and I worked for Versatec in Santa Clara, but we were both part of a recreational distribution list (via corporate internet email, which Xerox helped invent) called “Esoteria.” It was a fun and lively bunch, full of both extremely erudite and pathologically curious people. Dian and I struck up an online friendship that lasted for many years, with daily correspondence a bit part of it. We visited her homes in Manhattan Beach and in Willits (before Chuck passed), but over time our interests diverged and we only contacted one another infrequently. I am so sorry to hear of her passing.

  12. One of the many “joys” of increasing age is that one’s friends start dying off. (I refuse to use the term “passing”). I was greatly saddened to find out about this one yesterday, from a mutual friend. I knew Dian from my Xerox days and we stayed with her and her husband Chuck in Manhattan Beach during a long trip around California in the 80’s. They took us to Disneyland and we had a great time, even though they insisted on going on the “Small World” ride! (Although I’m not entirely sure I ever forgave her for saying, after we returned, “Oh, did you want to meet Larry Niven? We could have gone to dinner!”) Still, another one of the good people gone. Farewell, Dian, wherever you are.

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