Prolific and distinguished author and editor Eric Flint died July 17 at the age of 75. David Weber made the announcement on Facebook.
Flint was frequently hospitalized for health problems in recent years. In 2019, he had to leave the NASFiC/Westercon/1632 Minicon where he was one of the guests of honor to be treated for pneumonia (though he did one of his panels by Skype from a hospital bed.) Before that he had cancer surgery in 2016. In 2017 had to forgo his GoHship at Balticon 51 due to a previous case of pneumonia. This May, he told Facebook friends he was in hospital for a staph infection.
Flint’s incredible career in sff was all the more remarkable for having essentially started after he reached age 50.
Flint spent many years as a longshoreman, and then machinist, as well as serving as a labor organizer and member of the Socialist Workers Party, before beginning his writing career.
With his short story “Entropy, and the Strangler” he won the fourth quarter of the 1993 L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest. However, it was another four years before his first novel, Mother of Demons, was published by Baen Books. He only moved into writing full-time in 1999.
Since then he has published over 70 novels, many in collaboration with other authors including David Freer, David Drake, David Weber, Ryk E. Spoor, Mercedes Lackey, and more.
Beginning in 1999, he became the first librarian of the Baen Free Library, working with Jim Baen to determine whether the availability of books free of charge on the Internet encouraged or discouraged the sale of their paper books. In a 2001 article in The Industry Standard — primarily composed of quotes from Harlan Ellison railing against e-piracy — Flint took a very different tack: “’The real enemy of authors – especially midlist writers – is not piracy,’ says Baen’s online librarian Eric Flint. ‘It’s obscurity.’ Two-thirds of the e-mail Flint has received since the Baen Free Library began posting books is from readers who purchased books they initially downloaded from the site.”
Flint also helmed Jim Baen’s Universe, an e-zine published from 2006 until 2010.
The 1632 series also earned Flint a Special Achievement citation from the Sidewise Awards for Alternate History in 2018 —
for his ongoing encouragement of the genre of alternate history through his support of the community and writers developed around his 1632 series. In 2000, Eric Flint published the novel 1632. Following the publication of the novel, Flint has encouraged an extensive on-line community to expand on his vision and explore the ramifications of alternate history through discussion and publication of fiction and non-fiction that builds off his original work, resulting in dozens of stories and novels and helping to launch the careers of many authors.
And he was a five-time Dragon Award nominee for novels he co-authored in the 1632 series, winning last year for 1637: No Peace Beyond the Line written with Charles Gannon.
Flint’s resume as a labor organizer for the Socialist Workers Party did nothing to keep him from being embraced by the many conservative authors connected with Baen Books. And during the Sad/Rabid Puppies contretemps of the last decade he wrote several maddeningly even-handed essays such as “Do We Really Have to Keep Feeding Stupid and his Cousin Ignoramous?” He also tried to get people to see things as he did on the topic of “The Divergence Between Popularity and Awards in Fantasy and Science Fiction”, an essay which helped trigger the development of the Best Series Hugo proposal in 2016.
Flint donated his archive to the department of Rare Books and Special Collections at Northern Illinois University in 2008.
Some of Flint’s convention guest of honor appearances not already mentioned were at the 2010 NASFiC, ReConStruction, and as guest of the 1632 Minicon held in conjunction with the 2020 NASFiC in Columbus, OH.
He is survived by his wife Lucille, their daughter Liz, son-in-law Donald and his grandchildren.
[Thanks to Jeffrey Jones for the story.]