Lowrey: Sue Blom Passes Away

By Michael J. “Orange Mike” Lowrey: Long-time Milwaukee SF fan Suzanne Alles “Sue” Blom, author of the excellent alternate history novel Inca: The Scarlet Fringe (Tor, 2001) [and unsold sequel(s)], died at approximately 5:30 p.m. June 23 from complications of intestinal cancer. “She had friends around her talking politics when she just slipped away.”

Formerly a student of ancient history in Iowa, Sue came to Milwaukee as a VISTA volunteer, working for the local tenants’ union, and ended up staying here. She became a tax preparer, helping people “keep the tax man away from the door,” and has been a mainstay of Milwaukee progressive politics behind the scenes, as well as an active member of the Wisconsin fannish community.

Due to insufficient sales of the first volume, she was unable to find a publisher for the planned sequel(s) to Inca; but it garnered her more than one person’s nomination for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (although she’d had a novelette, “In Memory of Prince Edward”, in the April 1993 issue of Tomorrow Speculative Fiction). Sue was also the co-creator of the Verdant Lore Tarot, a plant-centered tarot deck.

Gene DeWeese (1931-2012)

Gene DeWeese died on March 19. “He had been in great pain (physical and mental) from Lewy body dementia,” reports Mike Lowrey, “and it finally took him pretty suddenly, after months of pain and mental suffering had traumatized [him and his wife, Bev] badly.”

Bev and Gene had been married for many years. Beverly Amers and Juanita Wellons formed the Eastern Indiana Science Fiction Association (EISFA) in the early 1950s and in time wed two other club members, Buck Coulson and Gene DeWeese.

Buck revealed in a Pixel interview:

When we first got acquainted, he wrote voluminous letters to loads of people but would barely say two words in a face-to-face contact. A friend of mine met him once, and after he’d left, asked, “Does he talk?”

The Coulsons’ fanzine Yandro won the Hugo in 1965. About the same time, Buck and Gene launched pro careers as collaborators on a couple of Man From U.N.C.L.E. novels. DeWeese remembered:

The U.N.C.L.E. books were the first sales Buck and I had made, in fact the first things either of us had written longer than a short story, so we considered them a great ‘earn-while-you-learn’ program.

The team of DeWeese and Coulson wrote several sf novels, plus two murder mysteries set at Worldcons, Now You See It/Him/Them (1975) and Charles Fort Never Mentioned Wombats (1977), filled with references and in-jokes. Another reference-filled short story  “Queen of the Timies,” appeared in Mike Resnick’s Alternate Worldcons (1994), in which Time Tunnel fans gather to honor Time Fleet Admiral Bjo Trimble and the show’s creator, Gene Roddenberry, presents a special cut of “The Trouble with Trimbles.”

DeWeese, writing solo, also did novels based on TV sf shows like Star Trek and Lost in Space and wrote gothics under a pen name. His YA novel The Adventures of a Two-Minute Werewolf was made into a TV movie. His last story may have been “The World of Null-T,” published in 2010.

Before turning to fiction DeWeese was a technical writer in the Apollo program of the 1960s.

With Christopher Priest’s name being bandied about lately, it’s an interesting coincidence that DeWeese once named him as one of the authors he especially liked:

Gene: I’ve always read both sf and mysteries — PLANET STORIES and Clarke and Erle Stanley Gardner in grade and high school, Priest and Clarke, Gorman and Pronzini, etc., now.

[Thanks to Mike Lowrey, Steven H Silver and Andrew Porter for the story.]