To read the news (and the blogs, and the social media posts), you’d believe that the science fiction, fantasy and horror community is made of up of crying man babies who freak out at the slightest deviation from what they believe a property, or a person, should be. From remaking The Last Jedi to trolling Leslie Jones, from complaining about colorblind casting to crass (and illegal) treatment of women at events, the genre can seem like a cesspool, not just to outsiders but to some of us within it. Everyone has a story, it seems, about some creator or fan being an asshole.
This is not one of those stories.
Recently my son Charlie passed away. He was only ten, and the pain was, to borrow a phrase from Robert B. Parker, positively Wagnerian. It still is. Many of my wife’s relatives came to town for his funeral service, but since most of my immediate family is either dead or unable to travel, I knew I wouldn’t have as much emotional support, and I was prepared for that.
What I was not prepared for was the way the science fiction, fantasy, and horror community had my back.
I won’t drop names, but I will say that some people made Herculean efforts to be there for the funeral. Seeing their faces, receiving their hugs and tears, just knowing that they cared enough to be there for me, made the worst day of my life bearable.
And that wasn’t all. The outpouring of flowers, gifts, and financial help was overwhelming, and I’ll never be able to fully express my gratitude. Thanks to them, many of the immediate worries have been alleviated and we’ve been able to concentrate on supporting ourselves, and our other two children.
In this situation, the worst thing is feeling alone, and the SF/F/H community—my community—assured me I was not.
The jerks and assholes out there get press far out of proportion to their numbers. And perhaps this story, a tale of good people–writers, readers, fans–doing good things for one of their own, isn’t as juicy. And those stories do need to be told, so we can stop the trolls. But this is an important story, too, because I think it’s a more typical story of fandom and community. This is what we do at our best, and we need to remember, and celebrate, that.
From the Bledsoe family, in memory of our son Charlie, who loved Pacific Rim and Erin Hunter’s Warriors series and Overwatch and would’ve one day been a fan of so much more, we thank you.