A Death In the Family

Recently there has been a fight raging in SF. (Sarah stands back and lets the understatement sink in.) Okay, what I mean is that one of the facets of the permanent, rolling SF/F fandom/writers/whatever fight has revolved around Star Trek.

Like all family fights that got ugly fast.

Some say we love Star Trek for the engineering, and then Gerrold said it was for the progressive social morals. And then…

You don’t want the details, do you? All family fights are weird and confusing, and it all devolves to “I know what you did at your first communion/bar mitzvah” flung at the face of someone past fifty. And it’s all irrelevant when death strikes, when disaster threatens or when outsiders attack.

First, let me say I started by not paying much attention to Star Trek. By the time it played in Portugal, I was already a science fiction fan, baptized in Heinlein, confirmed in Simak, schooled in Anderson, versed in Phil Dick. I could make references, refute extrapolations, argue future tech. I was a fan.

This was made weirder by the fact that there is no organized fandom in Portugal (or at least there wasn’t). We weirdos knew each other from meeting outside bookstores, before opening hours, on days when the twice-monthly volume of the single SF line (Argonauta. Hurray for Argonauta) came out. You see, if the author was one of the popular ones, the book would disappear before noon. And there were no reprints. If it wasn’t one of the popular/well known ones, we’d find the volumes, later, moldering in turn racks on tourist shops. I bought them too, mind, just not as hurriedly.

I didn’t consciously seek out an sf fan to marry. But I wonder if I’d have managed to have a marriage this long, otherwise.

However ours was a mixed marriage. He was star wars, star trek, media all the way. I was books and sneered that movies and series were just rethreads of the really powerful ideas.

I gave him a reading list that first year. And we sat up late and watched the Original series.

Later came the serious writing and seriously trying to break in, and we only really discovered conventions and organized fandom after I’d sold a book, so I was never so much a fan but a pro.

But of course I heard the stories of the various fandoms, and the epic fights, and the literary snobs (which I never was, quite, always having preferred Farmer to Dick and Heinlein to both) trying to make the field something to brag about at academic parties, and the gonzo media people dressing in costumes and wearing Spock ears at cons.

I understand there was a near fatal split over the Vietnam war. I catch echoes of it in older writers who don’t mention other writers without sneering. And the present mess is going to leave another mark.

There have always been groups who come into SF and try to change it, like the new inlaws who want to tell you how to fold the napkins the way their people did. If the split is minor, we absorb them, we learn from them, they learn from us. If they can’t be absorbed, they eventually leave, like those inlaws who divorce because “I can’t stand your people.”

But there was a revelation I had many years ago when watching people at the airport after a con. You can tell our people. There’s the way we move, like those who have the first sight and the second thoughts. There’s the way we look. Like we’re calculating what to do if an interdimensional portal opens. There’s the way we live, the way we joke. The reason I think I wouldn’t have ever have been married long to a non-SFer, one of those our tribe calls “mundanes.”

My husband never could talk me into Star Wars. Star Trek sure, but I have to draw the line somewhere. However, ultimately, I make the jokes, “Come to the darkside, we have cookies.”

And I understand such things as that the most important thing about landing on a comet is not the shirt the scientist wears to announce it.

It’s a way of thinking.

And here we come to how my husband convinced me to watch Star Trek. He went about it the sneaky way by giving me Leonard Nimoy’s book “I Am Not Spock” which charmed me into watching the series.

Right now what I’m thinking of is when Nimoy had to go through someone’s desk at Paramont and spilled green ink, and immediately left a note complaining of the sharp implements in the drawer, and saying he’d cut himself dangerously.

That – THAT – is the joke one of us would make. Never a mundane.

Leonard Nimoy, whatever else he was, was of our tribe.

And today, beyond divisions, beyond arguments of our ever fractious people, the messages on facebook are filled with the recognition we lost a family member.

It doesn’t matter how we fight, we are kin.

Tomorrow we’ll return to the fight and throw dinner rolls at each other across banquet halls, and write spectacular death scenes for each other in our novels, and not in a good way.

But today we mourn one of our own.

Farewell, Leonard. May the great convention in the sky receive you kindly. Keep the attendees amused until we arrive, and try not to cringe too much at the Spock ears.

In the end, you were Spock after all. And one of us.

About accordingtohoyt

I am a novelist with work published in science fiction, fantasy, mystery and historical "novelized biography". I've won the Prometheus award and the Dragon award. I also write under the names Elise Hyatt and Sarah D'Almeida. http://sarahahoyt.com/

36 comments on “A Death In the Family

  1. Bones, Scotty, and now Spock….. my childhood is dieing…… Heinlein,McCaffrey…………………………………………………………..


  2. […] of the best I’ve seen so far, though, is Sarah Hoyt’s tribute. I like it because of two things. First, she notes how she was a latecomer — not because she […]


  3. Fair Winds and Following Seas Mr. Nimoy. You will be missed.


  4. Brava, Sarah.


  5. Well said, Sarah.

    Tomorrow the spats will no doubt resume, but for now we pause and remember.

    Gene, Majel, Dee, Jimmy and Leonard. That “away team” is starting to get large.

    I had forgotten about that green ink incident. -ss- Thanks for the chuckle. I needed it.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. .-.. .. …- . .-.. — -. –. .- -. -.. .–. .-. — … .–. . .-. — .-. … .–. — -.-. -.-


  7. I’ve been at work in places that wouldn’t allow me access to a computer most of the day. I’ll not be making my own post on the loss of one of the greats, because everything I could say, has already been said here, and in the other posts. So all I can say is “gentlemen I give you the toast, Absent friends”

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I got lucky, and met him once. At the last of the original Star Trek Conventions in NYC, 1975, at the aptly-named Commodore Hotel. Actually, the ONLY member of the cast I didn’t meet there was Bill Shatner (that is a story for another day).

    And that con was my introduction to Fandom. To Panels. To the Huckster Room. To Filking (and a few other things, had NO idea what “Hava Nagila” was back then, but I knew “There’s an Amoeba” was sung to it. . . )

    And somewhere, I still have my autographed program. Signed by everyone EXCEPT Nimoy and Shatner. Even got the Bird himself to sign it. And chatted with Majel at the Lincoln Enterprises table in the Huckster Room. . .

    I was 14. I was on a solo trip to NYC from Pennsylvania. And I was HOME. . .
    I had found my tribe, and Leonard Nimoy was DEFINITELY a member of it. . .

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Damn. That’s a piece of my childhood that will henceforth remain only in that garden of memory now. As for those memories…

    I am the son of geeks, so I come by it honest. But it wasn’t Staff Sergeant Dad or Mom that made geekery and Oddness cool to me. It was Spock- it was Leonard Nemoy, the man, the actor who breathed life into that role. He made logic, knowledge, oddness (and Oddness) awesome.

    Without him, I wonder if I ever would have got so wrapped up in studying Classics, logic, and philosophy. Or any other of the things any of us got up to, because it was fascinating. I never knew the man but for what he wrote and what he did on screen. That was enough.

    From the earth we were born, long eons past. Before that, the suns that died to make this earth. Back to the mud with ye, Leonard Nemoy. The earth is the richer, and we the poorer, for it.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. so much win in this blog …

    99% of the deaths in hollywood I couldn’t give two craps about. the egos, the drama, the stupid too much of it. This one hurts … he was so much more than Spock .. but that is how we will remember him and he is ok with that. I so looked up to him as a kid in the early days of Trek … As I got older I watched his other works and delighted in finding him in things I never knew he did, Such as the first time I saw him in Twilight Zone. The man has become and will always be .. a true legend.


  11. […] — this is Sarah! — I posted about Nimoy’s death yesterday at Otherwhere Gazette.  Link here, if you’re curious.- […]


  12. The thing is, I guess I’m used to members of the Tribe passing. So many of the men whose minds I have loved over the years were dead before I ever knew them. Kipling. Mencken. Twain. Walter B Gibson. Milne. Kenneth Grahame. Oh, now the actors who made my adolescence tolerable are going, too, but I believe in an After. I believe in an Artist, and decline to think that He wastes His most astonishing Creations. So, I’ll miss them, and regret the films they will never make in this world, but I have hopes for hearafter.

    Bon voyage, Mr. Nimoy. May your afterlife be full of the roles you wish you had gotten in life, even though we would probably be happier if you kept playing Spock.

    Here’s a thought; an revival of THE LION IN WINTER, with Robert Preston reprising his role as Henry and Nimoy playing Geoffery.

    Any takers?


  13. I never had the fortune to meet Mr. Nimoy, but he has been in my life since I was a toddler. Sundays at 4, everything stopped for the Star Trek rerun on the local TV station. I’ve seen every episode of TOS more times than I can count. The characters those actors played, the stories they told, are to me folktales told by wise elders around the campfire. Good and evil, and sometimes a bit of each. But mainly the stories of people exploring and trying to do the right thing, and being there for each other. Those ideas are a part of me.

    As they leave, one by one, it feels like losing family. We never met, but Leonard has been in my family for more than 40 years. And Bill, and De, and James, and Walter and Nichelle, and George, and Majel, and Gene, and…

    So, yeah, it hurts. God bless them all, they did a lot of good for a lot of people. Ad astra.


  14. Count your blessings. You had Star Trek. I read every SF anthology I could find in the school library. And joined the Space Club. Where three of us wanted to look at the science of space travel and the other 20 or so wanted to read Bug Eyed Monster stories.


  15. Good post, got here from the instapundit. I especially liked the line “And I understand such things as that the most important thing about landing on a comet is not the shirt the scientist wears to announce it.” Love it !!!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. I came to SF much like you. I don’t know why, but Poe and Wells captured me in the Jr High library, and led me to Heinlein, Clarke and Asimov. When I started buying my own books there was PK Dick, deCamp and Avram Davidson. The list expanded to include pretty much everybody who did good SF courtesy of IASFM. In short, I was hooked.

    Tonight we watched Star Trek “Amok Time” on network TV. I saw it when it premiered. It’s still worth watching all these years later.

    If getting older means anything it means that you lose the things that you love. And if I see Nimoy in the hereafter I’ll be sure to wear Spock ears. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  17. To the man who was a role model for logic and self control in an age when everyone else was pushing do-as-you-feel: Godspeed.


  18. I just realized that, as a small child, the first time I probably heard the word “logic” was on Star Trek. I wasn’t exactly sure what it meant, at first, but figured it out via a reasonably good example.

    Thanks, Mr. Nimoy, for such an intriguing idea portrayed in an interesting way–even if I was six at the time…

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Beautiful, touching and profound Sarah. I appreciate your having written this.


  20. Very nicely done


  21. An old Irish prayer, that I learned about the same age I saw my first TOS episode.

    May the road rise up to meet you.
    May the wind always be at your back.
    May the sun shine warm upon your face,
    and rains fall soft upon your fields.
    And until we meet again,
    May God hold you in the palm of His hand.


  22. Icons educate and inspire. Lenord Nemoy was a true Icon!


  23. Thank you Sara. I had never stopped and thought about it before but my wife and I did have that connection, the shared secret language and family that helped what were two very dissimilar people stay together. Because there were rough spots over the 37 years.
    I often wish I still had those costumes she made for us for the 1980 WorldCon. Hers was a Harem Girl. Woo Woo! Wish I had that the pictures, but a total house fire in 2004 took everything.
    She’s been gone now almost four years. But I still remember the girl I met and talked to about SF and Fantasy (her preference) all night.

    She always loved Mr. Spock. I’m sure she’s giving him a warm welcome (she was always a hugger).


  24. Dusty in here. Damnit. Not again. Thank you for your words, Sarah Hoyt. I learned something of my own story from yours. That’s always the gift offered in writing about the real stuff, whether fiction or non-fiction. Thanks for the gift. I’ll try to pay it forward one day, if I can.

    Sadly, I’m getting better at losing the good ones. It doesn’t feel any better, but the suddden agony and long ache are familiar, and I know better how to encorporate them both. For one thing, I’ve learned to follow the breadcrumbs to solice from other members of the karass. Fellow travelers going the same general direction grieve together, and are examples to live up to. Do something good with it. That’s the other call of the oddballs. They live created lives. What’s the life that you’d make in the world you have, and the world you’d make to live in? Nimoy was that, too.

    One day I may manage to put out an appreciation similar to yours. I’m not that good, yet. For me, it’s a similar story, buying the one book allotted me in the in-school paperback distribuiton program, then frankly extorting a frist-read of the ones I couldn’t afford from one of the few better off readers in class. He bought one of everything, his parents just pleased to fund it & himself amused at my need.

    I did it because of the people I found, the characters but behind them the authors. It’s Asmov’s fault that I’m here at all. I saw him speak once, when it mattered. I have yet to write that story well enough. They were exotic then. Now I know we’re the same, on the same journey. I had found my people, and now I’ve lost another one.

    I was a wreck for 3 days when Asimov left. I’m better now. It’s just pain. I don’t lose time. Now there’s just a bit more of the load for us remaining. We just have to continue being real humans with one less ongoing example. We just have to carry on knowing that there won’t be any more of his particular surprising moments of joy. I was mesmerized when I caught Nimoy’s one man show “Vincent” by accident on the TV. His Spock vs. Q is pure joy.

    I’m getting better at this, which is good because more are coming. Pournelle & Ellison both had strokes recently. Opinionated, divisive, possibly crazy both of them. Throwers of more than dinner rolls across the family table. But they are both kin. It’s gonna hurt like hell. I managed to write them appreciations. I’ve learned that you might as well do that when you can, because you might lose the chance.

    So, thanks Sarah Hoyt, for writing about losing Nimoy better than I can. Yeah, what she said. Now, to do something about this dust.


  25. […] much better piece on the passing of Leonard Nimoy by Sara Hoyt then anything I could ever […]


  26. He’s off to THE final frontier.


  27. I’m 73 now and started watching with the first episode with my wife the year we married. We were and are devoted followers of all things Star Trek. For these 47 years we have faithfully watched every episode of every series and seen all the films and reseen all of them again and again. Spock was always my favorite and not a little because of the way Leonard played him. I think of all of them the way I think of beloved family and friends. Leonard lived long and prospered as we all wished for him the way he wished it for us. Farewell dear friend…

    Liked by 1 person

  28. My husband and I were able to see a live stage performance of Nimoy as the title role in “Caligula” by Albert Camus at St. Thomas U in Austin; this was probably 1975 or 1976. The theater students formed the rest of the cast, and staged the play to specifications.
    He was … convincingly demented .. to coin a phrase.
    I think it’s easy to forget what a gifted actor he was, because he literally became Spock.


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