File 770’s Carl Slaughter died August 11 in a car accident. The Murray, Kentucky fan had just moved back to the U.S. in March after years spent teaching English in China.
Carl had more than 250 reviews, interviews, features, and critiques published at Tangent, Diabolical Plots, SF Signal, File 770, and the Critters Workshop. I’m grateful he was so generous with his talent here.
Carl discovered fandom in a roundabout way, as he recalled in “An Interviewer’s Journey: From Battery Power to Warp 9”:
I didn’t set out to become an interviewer. Or a muse for that matter. Video compilations, never conceived it.
I just wanted some feedback about the first 10 chapters of a novel I intended to write. To qualify for that feedback, Critters, the oldest and largest online speculative fiction workshop, required that I provide feedback to other writers. Soon I started getting feedback from those writers about my critiques of their stories: You understand my story and what I’m trying to accomplish with it much more than other critiquers.
When Tangent put out a call for reviewers, I used my Critters work to get on as a reviewer. Fellow Critter Frank Dutkiewicz introduced me to Diabolical Plots, which was trying to accomplish the monumental task of reviewing all of Daily Science Fiction’s stories. So I used my Tangent work to get on with Diabolical Plots. I checked out the Diabolical Plots site and discovered that they also do interviews. Mike Resnick was my first interviewee…
When David Steffen, editor of Diabolical Plots, transferred his attention to The Submissions Grinder, which became an institution virtually overnight, he connected Carl with John DeNardo at SF Signal. When DeNardo shut down his site in 2016, I invited Carl to contribute to File 770.
One of his first interviews here was with Liu Cixin (“Liu Cixin, The 3 Body Problem, and the Growth of SF in China”). By the following year he had registered the 100th interview of his career, with Cat Rambo.
Carl was a whirlwind of productivity. Even as he was transitioning between sites in 2016 he did 225 posts — interviews, features, profiles, reviews, essays, editorials, and news tips. I was energized by his creativity and constant flow of ideas, and he broadened File 770’s coverage with his many YouTube video roundups.
Professionally, for the past 15 years he traveled the globe teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) in 6 countries on 3 continents. His essay on Chinese culture was published in Beijing Review. His essay on Korean culture was published in The Korea Times, as was his expose on the Korean ESL industry. For several years, he was editor of ESL Book Review. He created a Facebook page “ESL Around the World” with many photos of his classes.
He earned his BA in Communications in Journalism and Broadcast from Murray State University. Throughout his years of travel Carl made many friends while maintaining strong ties to Kentucky, his family, and church, returning periodically to the Western Kentucky area.
He is survived by his older brother Paul Eugene Slaughter of Landisburg, Pennsylvania and younger sister Elizabeth Ann Slaughter of Round Rock, Texas.
Thanks to Elizabeth for contacting me with the news about Carl, and for sharing a draft of the family obituary. Elizabeth says Carl’s memorial service, when scheduled, will be at the Collier Funeral Home in Benton, Kentucky. A statement about making donations in his name will also follow once an appropriate non-profit is selected.