H.A. Hargreaves (1928-2017)

Being born in the Bronx did not keep Henry A. Hargreaves from becoming the acknowledged “grandfather of Canadian science fiction”. The pioneering author, who died July 27 at the age of 89, served in the U.S. Navy in WWII, then moved to Canada and used his G.I. Bill benefits to study theology at a university in New Brunswick. By his senior year he had switched majors, and he went on to have an academic career that culminated with him retiring as a professor emeritus of English Literature at the University of Alberta.

If not his Bronx origins, two other things that might have kept Hargreaves from becoming a Canadian sf icon were (1) he didn’t write much fiction — only a single short story every couple of years while on his summer break — and (2) prior to 1979 none of his fiction was published in Canada. Whenever he finished his latest story he invariably sent it to the top market — John W. Campbell’s Analog. But Campbell would always want significant changes made, so Hargreaves would mail the manuscript to British editor Ted Carnell who’d publish it as written. Carnell ran Hargreaves’ first story, “Tee Vee Man,” in New Worlds in 1963, and the author’s other stories in New Writings in SF.

Although Hargreaves wasn’t prolific, he eventually produced a body of quality work which was collected by Toronto’s Peter Martin Associates in the volume North by 2000 (1976).

That collection also helped bring him to the attention of Canadian fandom, in particular Robert Runté, who became an advocate for his work:

I first met Dr. Hargreaves in 1977 when I was helping to organize an open house for the campus science fiction club (ESFCAS). A club member I didn’t know well said, “Hey my English professor has just had a collection of his science fiction published. It’s actually pretty good. Let’s get him to do a reading.” I was skeptical, because in 1977 sf was not widely considered appropriate subject matter for a professor of English literature, so who knew what an English professor might think of as SF; and I had frankly never heard of Hargreaves. But I didn’t have a better idea, so we invited Dr. Hargreaves to read.

He read “Dead to the World”, his most famous and most widely reprinted story, to a crowd of about 50. That story—and the rest of the North by 2000 collection, which I then rushed out to buy—changed my life.

…Hargreaves showed me that there could be a distinctly Canadian science fiction. Hargreaves’ was the first collection ever explicitly marketed as “Canadian science fiction”, which was itself a new idea for me…

Runté thought Hargreaves’ being born in the States was no obstacle at all. Many Canadian sf writers come from someplace else: “It’s our immigrant backgrounds that explains half of what makes Canadian SF distinct.”

And years later, when Hargreaves’ collection was out of print and hard to find, Runté was instrumental in getting it reissued by Five Rivers Publishing (2012).

Hargreaves was twice nominated (1982 and 1983) for the Lifetime Contributions category in the Prix Auroras. He was inducted in the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 2015.

Complementing his scholarly and literary achievements, Hargreaves also sang with the Edmonton Opera for eighteen years.

He is survived by his wife, Margaret, two daughters, Alyson and Heather, and three grandchildren. His son, Hal, predeceased him in 1996. The family obituary is here.

Henry A. Hargreaves

Mike Hall (1955-2008)

Michael Hall died of a heart attack on August 1, in Fort McMurray, Alberta. Randy Reichardt, a pillar of Decadent Winnipeg Fandom in the mid-1970s, mourns the passing of a fellow DWF member:

“Michael Hall had been active in fandom from the late 1970s until at least the late 1980s or so, published extensively and participated in conventions in western Canada, including NonCon in Edmonton. He moved from Winnipeg to Edmonton in 1979, and to Fort McMurray AB in 1994. He had been Managing Editor of Fort McMurray Today, the local newspaper there, since 2004.

“His fanzines included Schmagg, Laid, New Wave Video Snacks, Schmagg Monthly, and Excuses, Excuses. He was also one of the founding editors of The Monthly Monthly, which appeared in twelve monthly issues from Oct 1979-Sept 1980, before it became The Bimonthly Monthly for two more issues (v.3 n.1 Oct 1980-v.3 n.2 Dec 1980/Jan 1981), then ceased publication.

“Mike maintained a significant collection of books, fanzines and CDs.  The University of Alberta Libraries has accepted these in donation from his partner, Mary, and we will be processing and adding these items to our collection in the future. Among his collection were 35 boxes of fanzines.

“Mike was a good friend to myself, Robert Runté and many others. He is already sadly missed.”

Hall’s own Fort McMurray Today and the Edmonton Sun are among the many Canadian papers that ran his obituary. Currently the Today article is available as a “print article” link (I cancelled the print menu when it opened and there was no problem reading the text).  The Edmonton Sun obit has to be purchased from the archive. The Edmonton Journal obituary mentions:

Michael’s great passions were the newspaper industry, his love of music, reading, photography, computers, and his family and to visit every Presidential Library in the United States. So far, Mary and Michael have visited Presidents, Washington, Jefferson, Nixon, Roosevelt, and Eisenhower. They were planning to visit Hoover, Truman, Clinton, Johnson and Bush Libraries in September 2008.

Robert Runté adds that Mike Hall, assisted by Keith Fenske and possibly others, developed and published a massive, 198-page bibliography of SF fanzines. Graeme Cameron remembers that it “was widely available in dealers rooms of Canadian cons circa 1985/1986. International in scope.”

Update 9/4/2008: Randy Reichardt saved me from a catalog of errors, and pointed to an online Guest Book where anyone can leave a comment or memory of Mike.