James H. Burns Has Died

James H Burns

A day of mourning. Frequent File 770 contributor James H. Burns has died, found by his landlord on June 2. A month ago Jim was hospitalized for blood clots in his legs and put on blood thinners. After he was released, Jim also told me he was troubled by other medical “mysteries,” comparing his case to an episode of House but without ever saying in so many words what the problems were.

Now other friends of Burns’ are saying on Facebook that doctors found a lump in his lungs and he’d been scheduled for a biopsy on Wednesday, but having no one to go with him had stayed home. By the next day he passed away.

Jim was about 56 years old. When this photo was taken by Patrick O’Neill in 1976 or 1977, he was about thirteen or fourteen years old – and already writing for some of the science fiction film magazines. (On the right is longtime sf fan and 1970s convention organizer, Steve Rosenstein.)

File 770's very own James H. Burns (back when he was more usually known as Jim!), circa 1976 or 1977 (when he was only thirteen or fourteen years old, but already writing for some of the science fiction film magazines!), with long time SF fan and 1970s convention organizer, Steve Rosenstein. Photo by Patrick O’Neill.

James H. Burns circa 1976 or 1977 with long time SF fan and 1970s convention organizer, Steve Rosenstein. Photo by Patrick O’Neill.

He was among the first writers for Starlog and a contributing editor to Fantastic Films, and Steranko’s Prevue. Jim was one of the first genre magazine nonfiction writers to cross over to mainstream publications like Gentleman’s Quarterly, Esquire and American Film, while continuing to write for Cinefantastique, Starburst, Heavy Metal and Twilight Zone magazines.

Jim also had the chance to appear in some movies, given minor parts in Igor and the Lunatics (1985), On the Q.T. (1999) and For Love of the Game (1999).

In his last years he became active in radio, and authored Op-Eds and features for Newsday, The Village Voice, thesportingnews.com and The New York Times.

Jim had a large fund of anecdotes about sf, movies, tv and the New York theater, which he enjoyed sharing on several fannish blogs and in the forums at the Classic Horror Film Board.

Around 2012, Jim discovered File 770. Initially I was signal boosting his pieces for other sites, Jim earning his way by authoring entertaining original “hooks” that made fans want to click and read the rest.

I always wished Jim was writing that stuff for me – and eventually my wish came true. He became one of the most active and creative participants here. The past two years we’ve exchanged e-mails every couple of days, Jim constantly coming up with ideas, drafting new articles, or finding ways to adapt material published earlier in his career.

Jim was especially proud of a trio of posts that paid tribute to the influence of his father — My Father, And The Brontosaurus, Sons of a Mesozoic Age, and World War II, and a Lexicon in Time.

Quite often his posts here were inspired by memories of “growing up fannish,” such as the very popular Once, When We Were All Scientists, and CLANKY!.

He also wrote about celebrities he’d known (Joe Franklin, R.I.P., THE Man from U.N.C.L.E.), comics history (Marvel Comics to Implode — End of a Fifty-Plus Year Era and Lee Falk’s Phantom of Happy Memory), longtime figures in NY fandom who’d passed away (Alan Levine, “Original Dealer,” 79 Years Old, R.I.P.), and pop culture classics that needed a champion (Are We Ready Again For George Pal’s Puppetoons?).

Jim’s strength as a writer was his ability to remind readers why they were – as he was – sentimentally attached to the works and experiences that brought us into fandom. That’s been a lifeline for me amid the uninterrupted controversies that fill my blog. Filers often ask each other what they love. That question was one Jim clearly enjoyed answering over and over. How much he will be missed.

55 thoughts on “James H. Burns Has Died

  1. I’m sorry. This is completely unexpected for me. I’ve enjoyed his articles here.

  2. I raise a glass to Jim in thanks for all his many informative posts. Hail and Farewell, Sir!

  3. Oh, Mike. I’m so sorry. I know that you were close friends.

    This is a real loss for fandom.

  4. This is a shock. Jim and I reconnected only a few years ago. He will be missed.

  5. Oh, man. 2016 can eff right off.

    My condolences to you, and his family and friends.

  6. Very sad news. I know this is a significant loss to you. My condolences.

    May I also say? Three years younger than me is way too young.

  7. What sad and terrible news. I enjoyed his pieces here a great deal.

    Just a note to anyone else who may be thinking of skipping doctor appointments because they don’t have anyone to go with them — ask if someone here is nearby. I would take somebody under similar circumstances. In a minute. And I don’t know anyone here personally. But still…

  8. So sad, my thoughts are with you Mike, and his loved ones. May his memories remind you of happy times and may those carry you through these dark days of mourning.

  9. Only knew him through his writings here. His love and enthusiasm came through in every post. He will be missed.

    My heart goes out to OGH, James family, and friends. May his memories be a comfort and carry you through hard times.

  10. Mike, I am so sorry of your – our – but especially your, loss.

    May he rest in peace.

  11. I’m so sorry, Mike. I really enjoyed his pieces here. My condolences to all his friends and family.

  12. I didn’t know him, but I enjoyed his posts and will miss them.

    Thoughts and condolences to those of you who knew him.

  13. Our Jim? But he was just here.

    Condolences to Mike and all his other pals.

  14. What a loss! I enjoyed his essays, and extend deepest sympathies to those who chetished him.

  15. I’m awfully sorry to hear this. I always enjoyed his articles here at File 770 and I’m pretty sure I must have read his work in Starlog and Cinefantastique, since he was writing for the mags around the time that I managed to find the occasional issue at a used bookstore in Rotterdam.

    My sincerest condolences to his family and of course to you, Mike.

  16. These are some sad, sad news to wake up to. 🙁 So sorry for you, Mike. My condolences to his friends and family.

  17. I really looked forward to his writing and am so very sorry that there won’t be any more of it. My condolences to his friends and family.

    I’ve about had my fill of shocking deaths this year.

  18. I’m so sorry to hear this. My condolences to his friends and family.

  19. *SIGH* Requiescat In Pace. My condolences to all who knew and loved him.

    An already bad year gets worse.

  20. My condolences, Mike. James was doing some really nice fanzine style writing here. It reminded me of the stuff I loved to read in the quarterly FAPA mailing. This sudden loss is a real shock. The best to you, his other longtime friends and his family.

  21. Steve Rosenstein lives literally across the street from me. I’ve forwarded the link to him.

  22. I’m very sorry to hear this. James Burns was a great writer and I very much enjoyed his forays into nostalgia.

  23. Sad to hear. I’ve probably read a lot of his Starlog articles back in the day and have enjoyed his recent contributions here. Seeing more and more people younger than I am passing away is getting disconcerting.

  24. Sad news. James’s enthusiasm was catching. Best to all his family and friends.

  25. *sigh*

    dammit, dammit, dammit.

    G’bye, Jim. Thanks for the articles.

  26. Oh no, my condolences! Sending bright thoughts to his loved ones and his friends here and elsewhere, I am so sorry for your loss.

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