By John Hertz: (reprinted from Vanamonde 1276)
“Turn!” he sang, with words
Of a king, and of his own,
“Do it now,” he meant,
“All things change,” so go change them,
“You can,” and from him, “you should.”
Randy Byers (1960-2017) was 57 when he died on November 20, 2017.
I knew he’d been in hospice care and why. Luckily I’d been able to get addresses for his parents and a sister. I sent a note hoping to expound the love he’d won among us. Geri Sullivan told me the sister had read some of my message to him who though barely conscious seemed to understand.
Luckily he’d had some recognition. The 12th and as it proved final issue of Science Fiction Five-Yearly, Lee Hoffman’s fanzine published on time for sixty years, was co-edited by him and Sullivan (2007); it won the Hugo Award for Best Fanzine. Chunga by Byers, Andy Hooper, and carl juarez won four Fan Activity Achievement Awards (Best Fanzine 2003, 2005-2006, 2013) and was twice a Hugo finalist (Best Fanzine 2005-2006); Byers himself won three more FAAns (Best Fanwriter and Number One Fan Face [highest sum of points in all categories], 2003; Best Single Fanzine Issue, Alternative Pants, 2012).
Chunga 1 (2002) explained its title was a Frank Zappa allusion (Chunga’s Revenge, Bizarre Records 1970), which Byers predicted (p. 1) would dominate Chunga 23, as indeed it did, with superb covers by Ulrika O’Brien and multi-page graphics by Brad Foster, Teddy Harvia, Marc Schirmeister, España Sheriff, Stu Shiffman, Dan Steffan, Steve Stiles, D. West (2015).
By 2002 Byers had been with us a couple of decades. In his part of the Chunga 1 editorial page he said he’d not helped with cons, raised money for fan funds, laughed at awful puns. Like Hilaire Belloc breaking vows on The Path to Rome (1902) Byers falsified those statements along the road.
He was elected Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegate, 2003; chaired Corflu XXVI (fanziners’ convention; corflu = mimeograph correction fluid, readily dispensable and long indispensable; “Corflu Zed” for the Commonwealth-English name of the 26th letter in the alphabet United States and Commonwealth folk have in common), 2009; ran WOOF (Worldcon Order of Faneditors, an amateur publishing ass’n with collation at Worldcons), 69th World Science Fiction Convention, 2011; ran the Fanzine Lounge at the 73rd Worldcon, 2015. For TAFF he beat inter alios Orange Mike who’d been nominated by inter alios Hooper, Byers afterward serving as North America Administrator until succeeded in 2005 by Suzle. Puns – well, he solicited and published an article by me in Corflu XXVI’s Progress Report 1.
I had four poems in SF5Y he and Sullivan splendidly got Jae Leslie Adams to calligraph; one was on the back cover with a trillion trillion suns; to another he’d given fine editorial help. I’ve fairly often been in Chunga.
Among other adventures Byers interviewed me for Tardum Flumen 7 (Westercon LXVI newsletter; West Coast S-F Conference, 4-7 Jul 13). He seemed to find me a hopeful man.
From time to time he called me ambassadorial. I told him I was taking it as a compliment.
Near the end he revisited Yap where he’d lived four years, and attended Corflu XXXIV. As Mike Glyer said, “A small mercy is that many people who cared for or loved Randy had a final opportunity to share those feelings with him.” R.I.P.
My title alludes to the fine Dave Hicks cover for Chunga 18, about which, when I saw it, I asked Byers “How do you contrive to draw left-handed from a scabbard at your left?” Pete Seeger’s “Turn! Turn! Turn!” (1959) quotes Ecclesiastes (attr. King Solomon; 3:1-8).