William H. Patterson Jr. (1951-2014)

William H. “Bill” Patterson Jr., author of the Hugo-nominated Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue With His Century, Vol. 1 (1907-1948): Learning Curve, died April 21, only a month before the second and final volume of the biography will be released.

Full obituary to follow.

[Thanks to Michael J. Walsh and Joseph T. Major for the story.]

Update 04/24/2014: Click here to read my tribute to Bill.

7 thoughts on “William H. Patterson Jr. (1951-2014)

  1. Ow. This was unexpected. Bill had become a welcome fixture in my letter column … I’ll have a few inches of empty column space to fill now, but with more than just a few hundred random words. We didn’t often see eye to eye, but his profundity and knowledge will be missed.

  2. What a rotten shame! By one lousy month, Bill missed getting to hear the standing ovation he had earned from the sf community and the world at large. I was uniquely privileged to praise and thank him for his great achievement, only because he sent me a pre-pub copy of Volume II for me to fact-check. (I’m quoted a few times, each time with perfect accuracy.) He and I last swapped emails 3 weeks ago, when I happened to learn that one of RAH’s fellow Carmel residents was Doris Day, a factoid which delighted Bill as much as it did me. I will miss him greatly, and I’ll treasure his magnum opus for the rest of my life.

  3. I just missed Kansas City in 1976 by moments; a story for another time.

    But even as a kid, I knew how wonderful it might be to see/hear Robert Heinlein give a talk.

    (A while later, when reading accounts of the World Con, I realized my Dad and I might have been unlucky, and had to resort to watching R.A.H. on the hotel’s in-room video feed…)

    A few years later, I had become a bit known in the media magazone field for acquring interviews with those who normally didn’t want to chat.

    I think Howard Zimmerman at STARLOG told me a Robert Heinlein interview would be the cover, Ted Klein at TWILIGHT ZONE told me it could never happen, and Julie Simmons-Lynch at HEAVY METAL said she’d pay double.

    But I had this weird idea that before attempting the attempt, I should read every word Heinlein had written…

    So, I never tried…

    Stupidly, because a conversation of any kind might have been remarkable, at least for me!

    Not that it likely would have happened under any circumstances…

    (Although Paddy Chayefsky and I once had an extraordonary conversation for twenty minutes, off the record, and never recorded, as he turned down an interview!)

    I was excited when the book of Heinlein’s letters was published over twenty years ago…

    But as I’ve written here before, at Mike’s place, it was just last summer, when I read the first volume of the biography, that I finally, and joyously, discovered what I had wondered about since I was a boy.

    What it would be like to be in conversation with Mr. Heinlein in any century.

    Thank you, Bill.

    Best,. Jim

  4. Bill had a good sense of humor. I live with a woman named Karen Anderson, who was going with me to the Locus Awards when Bill’s Heinlein book was up for one. He got in touch with her, thinking she was Poul’s widow, to ask if she’d accept the award if he won. They figured out the confusion; he thought it might be fun if she accepted anyway, but she declined. She mentioned that she lives with me, and he asked if I still had his dining room table from the 1970s. I didn’t.

    Bill was also the officiant at Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden’s wedding, but I won’t tell my story from there in this venue. Ask me in person. Too much of its humor is in the timing.

    Bill did an amazing job with the Heinlein book, and he will be missed. Go well.

  5. I only just found this news. I worked with Bill over the course of production for the full Collected Works of RAH, and got some nice detail on Heinlein from him. Several times I had analysis or background info that led him to invite me to submit a write-up to the Heinlein Society newsletter, but the press of other parts of life kept me from following through. I’m sorry that I won’t be able to share any further discoveries with him, even privately.

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