Pixel Scroll 5/20/23 I’m Not A Doctor, But People Are Saying Pixels Are A Perfect Cure For Social Isolation

(1) RIC BERGMAN UPDATE. [Item by Chris Barkley.] As of this past Tuesday, the Cincinnati Police Department and the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office were unable to locate any of the late Ric Bergman’s relatives. If no one had been found, Ric’s body would be processed and buried in a pauper’s area of a local cemetery.

I say would have been, had I not been very attentive Wednesday morning.

At just a little before 10:00 a.m, I received a message on Twitter from a fan named Paul Hattori. Mr. Hattori stated that he had read the tribute I wrote and was moved to contact me.

He provided the names and phone numbers of several relatives who live locally, including a sister, Beth Kelley.

I relayed all of this to my fellow CFG member Tanya Carter (who had been in contact with local authorities), who in turn contacted the family members.

The relatives quickly swung into action and forestalled any further action by Hamilton County. 

This past Thursday, Beth Kelley professed her thanks to the CFG for notifying the family members and wrote the following in the CFG Facebook page:

“Hi everyone, I’m Ric Bergman’s sister. Thanks so much for getting in touch with us. I should be getting access to his apartment sometime today.  I was thinking of having prayer cards made for him, but I want to do something that really says “Ric Bergman” … Please feel free to contact me. I’ll keep you all posted as I know more.  Thanks for being there for him.

If anyone is interested I was thinking about having a get together a little later in the summer.  He’s going to at least partially get his viking funeral!!   There’s a small park in Covedale I was going to rent for a day.  Also there are soooooooo many books and movies. I’ll try to get pictures of them today and tomorrow while we’re packing up his belongings. I will be selling a lot of that stuff to help pay for this….

Please let me know what you guys think and if anyone would like to attend.  Thanks again!”

(2) MARCHING TO A DIFFERENT DRUMMER. Meanwhile, in the Guardian “M John Harrison: ‘I want to be the first human to imitate ChatGPT’”.

How do you feel about the emergence of AI?
I’d separate the thing itself from the boosterism around it. We’re at a familiar point on the curve when it comes to the overenthusiastic selling of new scientific ideas, where one discovery or tech variant is going to solve all our problems. I’d say wait and see. Meanwhile I’ll be plotting to outwrite it; I want to be the first human being to imitate ChatGPT perfectly. I bet you it’s already got mimickable traits.

(3) FREE ONLINE POE READING. The Baltimore Sun tells about a marathon Poe reading that’s in progress NOW. “In Fells Point, reading Edgar Allan Poe through the night for ‘Doomsday’ is ‘quirky, like Baltimore’”. The article is behind a paywall, but the reading can be viewed free on YouTube.

If you stumble through Fells Point late enough Saturday (or early enough the next day), swing by the independent bookstore on the corner of Aliceanna and South Ann streets, and peer into the window, you’ll catch a glimpse of something strange: a group of people reading aloud while the city sleeps.

Don’t be spooked — they’ll be celebrating “Doomsday,” an annual event started last year by Baltimore’s National Edgar Allan Poe Theatre. This year, the 24-hour Poe-themed read-a-thon will be co-hosted at Greedy Reads’ Fells Point shop. Enoch Pratt Free Library is also a partner in the event.

“It’s quirky, like Baltimore is,” said Alex Zavistovich, the founder and artistic director of The National Edgar Allan Poe Theatre.

Zavistovich started “Doomsday” last summer as a locally oriented take on “Bloomsday,” an international celebration of the Irish writer James Joyce’s “Ulysses.”

“Why focus on an inscrutable Irish writer when we have a perfectly inscrutable American writer, right here in Baltimore?” said Zavistovich, 62….

…Local celebrities, including Maryland State Del. Mark Edelson, WYPR host Tom Hall and Baltimore-based authors Brandi Collins-Dexter, Sarah Pinsker, Jeannie Vanasco and Jung Yun, are slated to participate….

(4) VERY BAD NO GOOD. Walter Jon Williams calls his visit to Malta the “Worst. Trip. Ever.” After you read the medical problems that beset him and his wife Kathy when they got to the island, you won’t disagree.

(5) KUANG Q&A. “Rebecca F Kuang: ‘Who has the right to tell a story? It’s the wrong question to ask’” in the Guardian.

… Yellowface’s protagonist, who describes herself as a boring “brown-eyed, brown-haired June Hayward from Philly”, is viciously jealous of fellow writer Athena Liu, a “beautiful, Yale-educated, international, ambiguously queer woman of colour”, whose education in British boarding schools equips her with “a posh, unplaceable foreign accent”. “Publishing picks a winner,” June thinks; Athena, with her string of bestsellers, is the anointed one. After Athena suddenly dies, June discovers a manuscript she had been working on, about the 95,000-strong Chinese Labour Corps who supported Britain in the first world war. It’s intimidatingly good. When June polishes it up and passes it off as her own, the book shoots her to literary stardom.

Reviewers then debate June’s right to tell the story, echoing familiar conversations on whether authors should write about characters and histories outside their own race or lived experiences. In Yellowface, that initial query spirals into increasingly outlandish backlashes, and everything that was once coherent and proportionate disappears under a mountain of tweets. Kuang’s view, however, is clearer. “I really do not like this framework,” she says. Concerns about “who has permission to tell these stories, or who has the right, or who is qualified” seem like “the wrong questions to ask”.

“We’re storytellers, and the point of storytelling is, among other things, to imagine outside of your lived experience and empathise with people who are not you, and to ideally write truthfully, and with compassion, a whole range of characters,” she continues. “Otherwise all we could ever publish are memoirs and autobiographies and nobody wants that.” For her, more interesting is how authors approach these stories: “Are they engaging critically with tropes and stereotypes that already exist in the genre? Or are they just replicating them? What is their relationship to the people who are being represented?” And, “most importantly, does the work do something interesting? Is it good?” While some concerns about the “permission to speak” come from desires to support underrepresented authors, Kuang thinks it “usually gets wielded as a double-edged sword against marginalised writers, to pigeonhole them into only writing about their marginalised experiences. And I hate this. It really functions as another form of gatekeeping.”

(6) CLASSIC FILK MANUAL. Fanac.org has added the 2001 combined edition of Bruce Pelz’s Filksong Manual.  Originally published in 4 parts, the combined edition is 101 pages long. Cover by Stu Shiffman.

This index is intended to be ordered chronologically, but I’ve listed this right after the original publication of part 2. If you’ve wanted to find the words to the Gilbert and Sullivan parodies, or “The Childish Edda”, here’s your chance. There are songs by Poul Anderson, Randall Garrett, Tom Digby, Ted Johnstone, and of course, Bruce Pelz. Plus many others. The original publications were in 1965-1969, and some of the songs are considerably older. “Think of the Old Tacky Stuff as Of Historical Interest. To Someone. Somewhere. Somewhen. And blame the appearance of this revision/reprinting -three years after I started it — on Lee Gold.”


1980[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

So let’s talk about Walter S. Tevis whose Mockingbird is the source of our Beginning this Scroll. Tevis wrote not only The Man Who Fell to Earth which is definitely genre and I think has had at least two film versions so far, along with the near future SF novel The Steps of the Sun but also the delicious chess novel The Queen’s Gambit which also became a film of some distinction.

This novel was published by Doubleday in 1980. The cover illustration is by Fred Marcellino. 

It was nominated for both the Ditmar and Nebula Awards. 

And now for our Beginning…


Walking up Fifth Avenue at midnight, Spofforth begins to whistle. He does not know the name of the tune nor does he care to know; it is a complicated tune, one he whistles often when alone. He is naked to the waist and barefoot, dressed only in khaki trousers; he can feel the worn old paving beneath his feet. Although he walks up the middle of the broad avenue he can see patches of grass and tall weeds on either side of him where the sidewalk has long before been cracked and broken away, awaiting repairs that will never be made. From these patches Spofforth hears a chorus of diverse clickings and wing rubbings of insects. The sounds make him uneasy, as they always do this time of year, in spring. He puts his big hands into his trouser pockets. Then, uncomfortable, he takes them out again and begins to jog, huge and light-footed, athletic, up toward the massive form of the Empire State Building. 

The doorway to the building had eyes and a voice; its brain was the brain of a moron—single-minded and insensitive. ‘Closed for repairs,’ the voice said to Spofforth as he approached.

‘Shut up and open,’ Spofforth said. 

And then, ‘I am Robert Spofforth. Make Nine.’ 

‘Sorry, sir,’ the door said. ‘Couldn’t see…’ ‘Yes. 

Open up. And tell the express elevator to be down for me.’ 

The door was silent for a moment. 

Then it said, ‘Elevator’s not working, sir.’ ‘Shit,’ Spofforth said. 

And then, ‘I’ll walk up.’

The door opened and Spofforth walked in and headed across the dark lobby toward the stairway. He muted the pain circuits in his legs and lungs, and began to climb. He was no longer whistling; his elaborate mind had become fixed narrowly now upon his annual intent. 

When he reached the edge of the platform, as high above the city as one could stand, Spofforth sent the command to the nerves in his legs and the pain surged into them. He wobbled slightly from it, high and alone in the black night, with no moon above him and the stars dim. The surface underfoot was smooth, polished; once years before Spofforth had almost slipped. Immediately he had thought, in disappointment, If only that would happen again, at the edge. But it did not.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 20, 1911 Gardner F. Fox. Writer for DC comics and other companies as well. He was prolific enough that historians of the field estimate he wrote more than four thousand comics stories, including 1,500 for just DC Comics. For DC, He created The Flash, Adam Strange and The Atom, plus the Justice Society of America. His first SF novel was Escape Across the Cosmos though he wrote a tie-in novel, Jules Verne’s Five Weeks in a Balloon, previously. (Died 1986.)
  • Born May 20, 1928 Shirley Rousseau Murphy, 95. Author of the Joe Grey series of mysteries. Its narrator is a feline who speaks and who solves mysteries which is definitely genre. Excellent series which gets better in characterization as it goes along. And the audiobooks as narrated by Susan Boyce are a great deal of fun listening. She also did some more traditional genre fiction, none of which I’ve read in the Children of Ynell series and the Dragonbard trilogy. 
  • Born May 20, 1936 Anthony Zerbe, 87. Zerbe played the major role of Matthias, the news anchor turned mutant albino cult leader determined to kill Charlton Heston’s Richard Neville in The Omega Man, the loosely-adapated 1971 film version of Richard Matheson’s novel, I Am Legend. He  was the villain Milton Krest in the Licence to Kill bond film;  Roger Stuart in Steven King’s The Dead Zone; Admiral Dougherty in Star Trek: Insurrection; and Councillor Hamann in The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. Series wise, he showed up on the Wild, Wild West and five episodes of Mission: Impossible as five different characters, he was Dr. Charles Napier on the Asteroid series on NBC in 1997 that I never heard of. 
  • Born May 20, 1940 Joan Staley. She showed up twice as Okie Annie on Batman in “It’s How You Play the Game” and “Come Back, Shame“. She played Ginny in Mission Impossible’s two-parter, “The Council”, and she was in Prehistoric Valley (Dinosaurs! Caveman! Playboy mates in bikinis!) She also played Fiona in Brigadoon which has to be genre, isn’t it? (Died 2019.)
  • Born May 20, 1946 Cher, 77. Yes she was Alexandra Medford in The Witches of Eastwick, a film that I absolutely love and adore, (and no I’ve not read the novel) which is really her only genre credit. She did appear as Romana on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. in “The Hot Number Affair” and she’s voicing herself in The New Scooby-Doo Movies which despite the name was actually a series, but that’s it. 
  • Born May 20, 1951 Steve Jackson, 72. The UK game designer (not to be confused with the owner of Steve Jackson Games). With Ian Livingstone, he founded Games Workshop and also the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks, the two most dominant aspects of the UK games industry before it came to be essentially wiped by the advent of videogames. I’m fairly sure the only one of his works that I’ve played is Starship Traveller which I’d have been playing around the same time as Traveller.
  • Born May 20, 1961 Owen Teale, 62. Best known role is as Alliser Thorne on the just-concluded Game of Thrones. He also was Will Scarlet in the superb Robin Hood where the lead role was performed by Patrick Bergin, he played the theologian Pelagius in 2004 King Arthur, was Vatrenus in yet another riff on Arthurian myth called The Last Legion, was Maldak in the “Vengeance on Varos” episode in the Era of the Sixth Doctor, and was Evan Sherman in the “Countrycide” episode of Torchwood. He’s currently playing Peter Knox in A Discovery of Witches based on the All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness, named after the first book in the trilogy. I read most if not all of that series and it’s quite excellent. Keeping with my firm belief of never watching a series based on fiction that I really, really liked, I have not seen the series. 

(9) IN A HOLE IN THE GROUND. Space.com’s review says “’Crater’ on Disney Plus offers kids out-of-this-world charm”.

NASA’s Artemis program is stirring up renewed interest in lunar exploration, and retro-style coming-of-age flicks from Hollywood are proving to be very popular with audiences and viewers.

So Disney Plus has decided to merge those two elements for its new kid-friendly sci-fi film, “Crater.”

Directed by Kyle Patrick Alvarez (“C.O.G.”), “Crater” unfolds its gripping tale of five adventurous kids in the year 2257 living at a protected mining colony on the surface of the moon who steal a research rover and embark on a wild overland romp to explore a notorious crater….

(10) ROGER CORMAN APPEARANCE IN LA. Fans will have an opportunity to meet Roger Corman at Chris Alexander’s book signing on June 10.

Canadian writer, editor, music composer and filmmaker Chris Alexander (former editor-in-chief of iconic horror film magazine FANGORIA and editor-in-chief/co-founder of DELIRIUM magazine), and legendary American film director, producer and actor Roger Corman are meeting in Los Angeles on Saturday, June 10th for a signing of CORMAN/POE: Interviews and Essays Exploring the Making of Roger Corman’s Edgar Allan Poe Films, 1960–1964. The book will hit shelves June 6th.

Written by author and filmmaker Chris AlexanderCORMAN/POE: Interviews and Essays Exploring the Making of Roger Corman’s Edgar Allan Poe Films, 1960–1964 is the only book to fully examine this important chapter in horror film history. In-depth conversations with the maverick Roger Corman are book-ended by engaging critical analyses of each of the eight films, which together stand as a fully realized and consistent creative vision.

WHEN: Saturday, June 10th, 3pm – 5pm PST

WHERE: Dark Delicacies, 822 N Hollywood Way, Burbank, CA 91505

(11) NEW FAMILY TRADITION. “Orcas have sunk 3 boats in Europe and appear to be teaching others to do the same. But why?” Can Live Science really not guess the answer?

Orcas have attacked and sunk a third boat off the Iberian coast of Europe, and experts now believe the behavior is being copied by the rest of the population.

Three orcas (Orcinus orca), also known as killer whales, struck the yacht on the night of May 4 in the Strait of Gibraltar, off the coast of Spain, and pierced the rudder. “There were two smaller and one larger orca,” skipper Werner Schaufelberger told the German publication Yacht. “The little ones shook the rudder at the back while the big one repeatedly backed up and rammed the ship with full force from the side.” 

Schaufelberger said he saw the smaller orcas imitate the larger one. “The two little orcas observed the bigger one’s technique and, with a slight run-up, they too slammed into the boat.” Spanish coast guards rescued the crew and towed the boat to Barbate, but it sank at the port entrance.

Two days earlier, a pod of six orcas assailed another sailboat navigating the strait. Greg Blackburn, who was aboard the vessel, looked on as a mother orca appeared to teach her calf how to charge into the rudder. “It was definitely some form of education, teaching going on,” Blackburn told 9news.

Reports of aggressive encounters with orcas off the Iberian coast began in May 2020 and are becoming more frequent, according to a study published June 2022 in the journal Marine Mammal Science. Assaults seem to be mainly directed at sailing boats and follow a clear pattern, with orcas approaching from the stern to strike the rudder, then losing interest once they have successfully stopped the boat.

(12) HUNGRY ALIENS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Over at Science and Futurism Isaac Arthur is more SFnal than usual with a second genre-related posting, this time on hungry aliens and another possible answer to the Fermi Paradox…

The galaxy is a dark, mysterious, and silent place – perhaps it is quiet and empty because some great predator already consumed all in its path, and if so, might we be next?

(13) LEAVING A BIG WAKE. PBS Space Time host Matt O’Dowd has been wondering whether we can detect alien space craft’s gravitational wake… “Could LIGO Find MASSIVE Alien Spaceships?”

Whenever we open a new window on the universe, we discover things that no one expected. Our newfound ability to measure ripples in the fabric of spacetime—gravitational waves—is a very new window, and so far we’ve seen a lot of wild stuff. We’ve observed black holes colliding, and their oddly high masses challenges our understanding of black hole formation and growth. We’ve seen colliding neutron stars that have forced us to rewrite our ideas of how many of the elements of the periodic table get made. But what else might be hiding in the ripples’ of spacetime? Oh, I know: how about the gravitational wakes caused by planet-sized alien spacecraft accelerating to near light speed….

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Steven French, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Jeffrey Smith, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kevin Harkness.]

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask #74

Self-portrait, circa 1980’s

Ric Bergman, 1949-2023

By Chris M. Barkley: We may not give it much thought, but we dance with death on a daily basis.

We evade death every day by doing little things; not crossing against the street light, using our turn signals, putting on a life jacket before boating, taking our daily medications and watching our step on mountain trails.

We take these precautions almost unconsciously, with the almost reckless assurance that we will wake in the morning and go soundly to sleep at night.

But none of that is true. 

We live in a very perilous world where calamity, disease and sudden death are dealt out wholesale on a daily basis. And occasionally, we are reminded that it is closer than we can possibly imagine.

On Saturday afternoon, April 29, I was preparing to go to one of the irregularly scheduled meetings of the Cincinnati Fantasy Group with my partner Juli.

We were excited to see our CFG friends who were gathering at our friend Karen’s residence for an impromptu wake for a recently deceased member, Frank Johnson. There had been very few gatherings (and no annual Midwestcons) since 2020 due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This meeting marked a return to something resembling normalcy. But we were all mistaken.

As I waited for Juli to get ready, I was checking the CFG Facebook account (which I am a co-administrator of) and noticed we had received a urgent notification from a fan named Rita Deering Webber:

Hey, folks, I need a favor. Ric Bergman hasn’t posted on FB for around 6 weeks and that’s not usual for him. I’m in Chattanooga so aside from the telephone I have no way to check on him. If any of you have the ability to go by and see if he’s okay I’d really appreciate it. I’ve called multiple times and left messages. Now his voicemail is full and he’s still not answering. Another friend in New York has tried also. I have his phone number and address if anyone is willing to go over there. Just message me if you need it. I’d hate to think something has happened to him and nobody knows.”

Ric and Rita Deering Webber, Midwestcon 1978. Photo by Stephen Leigh.

I knew Ric Bergman, but not as well as some of the other members. He was a longtime and well known member of CFG. But no one in the group had seen him in the past few years; in fact, the last time I remember seeing him was at one of our annual picnics in 2018 or 2019. 

I messaged her and asked for his current address so Juli and I could conduct a wellness check. Ms. Deering responded immediately. And as it turned out, it was on the western side of town and not too far out of our way to Karen’s house. 

Childhood portrait, late 1950’s

Richard Charles Bergman was born in Cincinnati and was a graduate of Western Hills School in 1967. You might say he was born to be a fan. In September of 2013, Ric wrote on Facebook:

Sixty-four years ago I was born, 1949 September 5th, 5 maybe 6 miles away at the Hotel Metropole the banquet was happening at Cinvention and at Deaconess Hospital at 7:27 pm, I was born. I love Doc E. E. Smith, he was there, I love Fritz Leiber Jr.’s Fafhrd and Gray Mouser stories, he was there. And now I’m a part of it, small part, but that’s probably for the best.” 

When I discovered the CFG in June of 1976, Ric was hard not to notice or like. Back then, we had been gathering annually for several years at the Quality Inn Hotel in Norwood, Ohio (which, sadly, was recently demolished and razed for new development). Ric, who was well over six feet tall, possessed an unruly bush of reddish hair, had a great sense of humor and a booming laugh that could be heard several hotel rooms away.

And while I wouldn’t describe us as close friends, we had many mutual friends and we got along well enough and I certainly regarded him as a valued member of the CFG family.

A demonic portrait of Ric at Midwestcon 1982. Photo by Stephen Leigh.

After Rita transmitted Ric’s address, I googled it and looked at the area. I’ve lived in the area a majority of my life and was familiar enough with the part of Cincinnati where the apartment complex was located. 

We arrived at the huge, sprawling complex on top of a hill just before sunset. The parking area and driveway was mostly composed of potholes, loose gravel and cracked pavement. I found a parking space right in front of the Ric’s building.

Juli elected to stay in the car. I made my way inside and knocked on what I thought was Ric’s apartment door. I say that because the person who answered the door was Hispanic and was not fluent in English. 

As I started to go through my brain’s rolodex of Spanish phrases, the man held up his hand and reached for his smartphone. It took a couple of tries but eventually he got his English to Spanish voice translator to work. A person I assumed was the man’s partner looked on with a bemused look on her face.

When I asked if he knew Ric or his current whereabouts, he said he didn’t have any idea. Despondent, I thanked them and returned to the car. I checked the apartment number with Juli. I discovered that I was one digit off; it was actually the door next to the one I knocked on.

I went back inside and used the brass knocker on Ric’s door. Several times. There was no response. 

I then did something I really did not like doing; I put my nose to the edge of the door to test for noxious odors.


Which didn’t surprise me all that much because I could see that there was some sort of seal with bristles bordering the edges, which probably reduced any noise as well.

A thought occurred to me as I stepped back outside; Ric has a car. Maybe it was still here. I texted Rita and asked her if she knew what kind of car Ric drove. She responded: “He has an old white sedan. I think a Chrysler.” 

I glanced out and noticed just such a car, parked right next to our car.

I took a photo and sent it to her. “Is that it?”

Rita said: “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen it.”

I went over to the car and examined it. It was covered with grime and dust. There were also leaves and dirt accumulated under the tires. Although the evidence was purely circumstantial, it certainly did not look good.

Off to the west, I could see a line of storm clouds advancing towards the complex. After consulting with Juli, we agreed that there was no telling how long it would take for someone to check the apartment so we decided to proceed to the CFG meeting and arrange for an official wellness check by the police and EMT’s from the fire division. 

I can’t speak for Juli but I can freely admit I also had absolutely no interest in being present when they opened Ric’s door…

I texted Rita an update on how we were doing and we left.

For many years through the 1970’s through the 1990’s, I saw Ric in the company of Diane Devorn. They were a lovely couple and enjoyed each other’s company and ours as well.

Ric, Diane & Denise Leigh, September 1982. Photo by Stephen Leigh.
Ric and Diane on their wedding day, March 20, 1981.
Ric Bergman and parents on his wedding day.

From reports that I have since received from fellow CFG members, they were married in 1981 and for a time moved to California for a while. There was an amicable divorce towards the end of the century and Ric eventually moved back to Cincinnati. Ms Devorn died of cancer sometime afterwards. 

(I was unable to verify any more of this as of this publication. Friends and acquaintances of Mr. Bergman and Ms. Devorn are free to contact me or comment on this File 770 post for corrections and clarifications).

If you were to scroll through the last two years of Ric’s posts (and I did), you can tell that he was fiercely against war, economic inequality, hypocrisy, sexism and racism. He was also a HUGE fan of Star Trek, Doctor Who and Star Wars. I also noted that the both of us shared the same sorts of political memes and jokes.

Ric and Diane with family members at Thanksgiving in California, circa mid-1980’s. Photo by Ric Bergman.

Being white, Ric could have easily used the societal privilege granted to him to his advantage but from what I could tell from his Facebook posts, he consciously chose to speak up and speak out about things he saw in his life that were wrong. I admire him for that.

Juli and I arrived at Karen’s house at dusk. After greeting our friends and apprising them of the situation with Ric, I commandeered a bedroom, closed the door and began to make phone calls.

My first call was to the housing management company which was located in northern Kentucky, across the river from Cincinnati. I did not expect anyone to answer at that hour and no one did. I left a lengthy voicemail about being concerned about not hearing from Ric and that I was calling the proper authorities to arrange a wellness check. 

The next call was to the local police district; I spoke with an office who took all of my information and a narrative of everything that had happened up to that point in time. I also shared everything that Rita told me, including the condition of the car which we thought was Ric’s parked in front of the unit. The officer on duty told me that a wellness check by paramedics and police would be scheduled as soon as possible and that they would call me directly with any updates.

Sitting there on the bed, I decided to check Ric’s recent social media posts; he did not have a Twitter account so I went to his Facebook account. Besides Rita’s entreaties for help, the last known post Ric made was on Friday, March 10. 

My heart sank. If Ric was not hospitalized somewhere (something the police said they would check on as well), all of our worst fears would certainly be realized.

From Ric Bergman’s September 2013 Facebook post:

It’s hard for me to get to many meetings, I need a new pair of knees and steps and inclines are rough on me, but when I can’t walk and have to be put away someplace, I’m still gonna want Bill to keep me on the list. The only benefit I know is the people I’ve met and get to hang around with sometimes. I met my late, ex-wife at a Rivercon, she was part of The Terran League out of Columbus. I met my late best friend Wally Franke. I played D&D for maybe 9 years with the best DM possible, a Science Fiction writer. andrew offutt invited me and Di to his house for the weekend and he sent me galley proofs (?) of several of my favorite of his books. You’ve even sent me books, Mike.”

(The “Bill” mentioned in this post is Bill Cavin, the current head of the Cincinnati Fantasy Group and “Mike” was undoubtedly the late Hugo and Nebula Award winning local author, Mike Resnick.)

The wait for the call was almost intolerable. I can say almost because I was among my CFG friends and it was better to share Ric’s ultimate fate with them than face it alone.

After about forty-five minutes, my phone rang. It was a call from the police.

I identified myself and said, “I hope you have good news.”

“Well, I’m afraid I have bad news for you…”

The office explained that they found Ric in the apartment, deceased. By the look on my face, several CFG members seated near me acknowledged the news; Ric was gone.

The officer went on to explain that from all indications, he had suffered some sort of sudden medical event and had died very quickly. The county coroner was summoned and would be there shortly. 

They went on to explain that they had to breach the door and wanted to know if I would be able to come by and give some more information and take custody of his house keys once they found them. I said sure and concluded the call.

As I told other assembled members, there was much despair. More so for our host, Karen, whose beloved partner Frank Johnson has succumbed to cancer five years ago. 

I told Juli that we were wanted over at the apartment and we said our goodbyes. Since the car was parked several hundred yards away, I opted to get the car and drive back to pick Juli up.

The promised rain showers had just begun to strike the pavement as I walked down the hill. It was a full-fledged downpour as I pulled up to Karen’s house. As we rode, I told Juli that I wasn’t sorry that we went by or got involved. Because I had no doubt that if we had not answered Rita’s inquiry, Ric may not have been found until the apartment managers came to collect the overdue rent.

When we arrived at the complex, two police cruisers were parked in front of Ric’s unit. As I parked, Juli asked, “Do you want me to come with you?” 

I sighed and said, “You don’t have to if you don’t want to, but I would welcome your company.” She squeezed my hand and we got out of the car. The rain was coming down pretty hard as we approached the entrance. There was an officer underneath the awning and it seemed as though he had been waiting for us.

We introduced ourselves. He introduced himself and stated that he was among the personnel who entered the apartment. He said that Ric was found, face down in the hallway. His estimation was that he had been there for at least two weeks. I shuddered, thinking about Ric’s last Facebook post in March.

He then asked us about our involvement with Ric and I shared Rita’s phone number and showed him our text messages we shared over the past few hours. When I asked why they were still there, he stated that the county coroner had not arrived yet. 

Juli and I paused and let that sink in. 

The officer said that he noticed that Ric had a Stargate poster on his wall. I said that he was a long time fan of science fiction and that so were we. Ric was truly one of us…

And with that, Juli and I walked in the rain back to our car and went home. Saddened by the loss of our friend, but happy that we were the ones who made sure he was found. I’m certain Ric would have done the same for any of us.

As of this post, the coroner has not released a cause of death. CFG member Tanya Carter reported eight days ago:

I called the Hamilton County Coroner’s office. “L. L”. is the investigator assigned to Ric’s case. He is putting an ad in the papers to try and locate next of kin and will try for 10 days to find someone. After that…. he will give me a call if they find someone or not. If the club wants to do something about arrangements, we can do so as far as they are concerned. Otherwise, the county will treat him as an indigent, and do whatever they do in such a case. It sounds like we could dispose of any assets he had to help defray expenses, and make arrangements as necessary. Guess we need to discuss this…”

More ten years ago, Ric Bergman wrote the following to his friend Rita Deering Webber after she made a comment about a mutual friend’s memory loss;

“That’s horrible, that was always like my greatest fear, you know, like Alzheimer’s. I don’t mind dying, but I want all of me to go all at once. I don’t have anyone that could take care of me and nothing could be as lonely as losing your memories.”   

And I saw and heard from Ric so infrequently that he faded from my memories as well as others, too.  

Two days after Ric’s body was found, National Public Radio’s All Things Considered aired the following story: “America has a loneliness epidemic. Here are 6 steps to address it”.

The next day, Morning Edition host A Martinez interviewed Eric Liu of Citizen University about this “epidemic of loneliness” in America: “Why the U.S. surgeon general says feeling lonely could lead to an early death”.

The point must be made that what happened to Ric Bergman could have been avoided. 

It is ironic that in a world that is more interconnected and socially active that people everywhere are feeling an alarming amount of alienation and loneliness.

The advice I would impart to fandom, our families and friends is this: stay safe, keep in touch and know that you are loved and valued.

 I’d like that put on my headstone. Ric Bergman, 50 year member of The Cincinnati Fantasy Group. – FIAWOL –
-Richard Charles Bergman, September 2013

Ric Bergman and the late Frank Johnson at Ric’s wedding, March 1981. Photo by Stephen Leigh.