Ed Bryant (1945-2017)

Ed Bryant. Photo by Gage Skidmore.

Science Fiction author Ed Bryant, who died in his sleep after a long illness, was found February 10 reports Locus Online.

Bryant discovered science fiction at the golden age of 12 when he purchased the August 1957 issue of Amazing Stories. A decade later, he made his way to the very first Clarion Workshop in 1968, where he sold a story to Harlan Ellison’s Again, Dangerous Visions that became his first professional publication.

John Clute’s entry about Bryant in the Science Fiction Encyclopedia captures one of the reasons for the author’s meteoric ascent in Seventies sf.

His conversational, apparently casual style sometimes conceals the tight construction and density of his best work, like “Shark” (in Orbit 12, anth 1973, ed Damon Knight), a complexly told love story whose darker implications are brought to focus in the girl’s decision to have her brain transplanted into a shark’s body, ostensibly as part of a research project; in the story, symbol and surface reality mesh impeccably. The setting for many of the stories in this collection is a California transmuted by sf devices and milieux into an image, sometimes scarifying, sometimes joyful, of the culmination of the American Dream…

Registering an exception to the overall regard for Bryant’s work was Thomas M. Disch, who named him as part of “The Labor Day Group” (1981), a set of young writers whose work stroked fannish sensibilities, and as a result often won Hugo and Nebula awards. This provoked a response from another Disch target, George R.R. Martin, “Literature, Bowling, and the Labor Day Group”, which gave Bryant a deceptively lighthearted defense.

The Colorado resident was a 7-time nominee for SFWA’s Nebula Award, winning twice – “Stone” (1979) and  “giANTS” (1980) – as well as a 3-time nominee for the Hugo, World Fantasy, and Bram Stoker Awards. The International Horror Guild Awards named Bryant a Living Legend in 1997.

Bryant has been a prolific short fiction writer whose career has been regularly punctuated by new collections of stories — Among the Dead and Other Events Leading up to the Apocalypse (1973), Cinnabar (1976), Wyoming Sun (1980), Particle Theory (1981), Neon Twilight (1990), Darker Passions (1991), The Baku: Tales of the Nuclear Age (2001), Trilobyte (2014), and Predators and Other Stories (2014).

He regularly contributed to George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards series, appearing in five different volumes.

His other professional gigs included writing an annual media coverage essay in the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror anthology, which he did for over 20 years. He also edited an anthology of original stories and some poems, 2076: The American Tricentennial (1977).

Bryant’s fame did not rest entirely on his writing. He was in great demand as a convention toastmaster, gaining the pinnacle of notoriety by conducting the Denvention Two (1981) Hugo Awards ceremony on roller skates.

[Thanks to  Andrew Porter for the story.]

14 thoughts on “Ed Bryant (1945-2017)

  1. As I said in the scroll, Ed was the first pro I met, and who could have been better? He was funny, accessible, and patient with us neos. He was generally found with a microphone at all the Denver conventions I drove down to, until we left the region in 1980.

    I’m sorry he was so sick for so long. I know I’ll miss him. I’ve missed him for 36 years already. Reading his columns was a way to keep the memory going, but it would have been even better to shout out to him in person.

  2. I had the pleasure of meeting him once at a con. He struck me as a really nice guy. It’s not unexpected, but it still makes me incredibly sad. Requiescat In Pace.

  3. I am deeply saddened to read this. I’ve known Ed for a long time. He was always warm-hearted and full of good humor. He also gave me one of the best inscriptions I’ve ever gotten on a book; it filled the whole fly-leaf and was, itself, a piece of art. I continue to treasure it. I will miss him very much, and I will miss all of the future conversations we will not get to have.

  4. Ed was one of the people who made working at ARCHON a joy. When he was in the VIP suite, you knew you were appreciated. One of those people you don’t see often, but think of regularly, and always with a smile.

  5. When I read a sad record of someone’s passing like this, I can’t help worrying about the private papers of the authors and fans of Ed’s vintage. Are they being preserved, catalogued, curated? Are we losing big chunks of genre and fannish history with the passing of these people? Anybody know if Ed’s private papers are being preserved?

  6. @Bruce Arthurs:

    Your mention of Copper Stars triggered a memory I haven’t recalled for quite a few years. Back 20 years at least, Cemetery Dance had a collection by Bryant on its schedule. It was delayed for a number of years and then disappeared altogether from the listing. I was quite disappointed, because I was looking forward to seeing what promised to be a very nice book. Somewhere, I suspect, it sits on a shelf with The Last Dangerous Visions and all the other books which never quite managed to appear in this timeline.

    I’ll have to try to dig out my copy of Copper Stars and reread it in the next few days. I’m not sure, as I got it a long time ago, but I may actually have bought my copy from your table at a con.

    It’s a sadder and less enjoyable world today.

  7. Thank you so much for the photo of Ed in the roller skates at Denvention. That so depicts the fun that Ed always seemed to be having.

    Along with being GOH at the 1986 OryCon (which I chaired), he often attended Portland conventions in the 80s and I always enjoyed talking to him. I’ll miss him.

  8. Ed helped me run World Horror Convention in Seattle, 2001. In 1992 he was one of our GoHs at VikingCon 13. Ed was one of the good guys. Hard to type through the tears.

  9. Through the years, Ed showed up at library events, book fairs, and other places where we’d run into each other. Both my son and I joined his Old Possum Writing Group. In the last couple decades our group lost and gained members but the core five of us have been on-going. Ed’s advice was always sage and sprinkled with wry humor.

    Ed and I were the same age and could commiserate about the state of the world, younger whippersnappers and all those other things that seem so important. Our hour long conversations, through the years, as we drove between his house and where Old Possum met and back again, will always remain with me. He taught the world so much about acceptance, life’s mysteries, and…oh, yes…writing.

    Like so many horror authors, Ed was into helping others, and one of the gentlest souls I’ve ever known. In whatever after-life there may be, he will surely be grinning at his friends and the world. Many will remember most his ready smile and softness of voice, as he gently guided us to better writing and lives.

  10. Horror author! That reminds me of a jolly day in 1985, sitting around Mega City Comics in Norfolk (or Virginia Beach… Southside Hampton Roads, let us say), watching and making cracks (we were MST3K before its time) at THE LAUGHING DEAD, to the amusement of its writer/star/composer/whatever, Somtow Sucharitkul, who used the movie to kill off several SF writers and fans. Gordon Garb was supposed to meet his doom in the movie, but something happened and he didn’t. Ed Bryant played a driver run over by his own bus, and, well, it was good to see him even so.

  11. I am coordinating transferring Ed’s papers to the SF archives at the Cushing Library, Texas A&M. It’s what he wanted. Please contact me for more information.

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  13. When I contracted to edit Horrible Beginnings, a collection of horror author’s first published stories, I made sure to include Ed’s story “They Only Come in Dreams.” That was an interesting experience because when I asked Ed to send me a copy of it, he of course didn’t have it electronically (it hadn’t ever been reprinted), and sent me tear sheets of its original publication, including all the pictures of naked women that surrounded the text since it was from a 1970s girlie magazine.

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