RIP Mark Bourne (1961-2012)

UPDATE: Mark's funeral service will be Thursday, March 1, in Seattle. (Details here.) A less formal celebration of his life will be held in a few weeks.

Growing older comes with a lot of unexpected benefits. One of those benefits, though, is most definitely not the way that more and more good friends seem to leave this life before their time.


I was stunned yesterday to learn that Mark Bourne passed away on Saturday. Given his history of serious heart problems, I probably shouldn't have been, but you're never really prepared to hear that someone as young as he was has gone.

Besides writing many very fine science fiction stories, Mark was a musical theater enthusiast, a film reviewer, and a writer of planetarium shows. If you ever went to planetarium star shows, you probably saw some of his productions without knowing it. (I did.)

It's funny. I considered Mark a good friend, even though we only met in person a few times. I think the first time I ran across his name must have been in 1994, when he and I turned out to have come in 9th and 10th place in the balloting for Campbell Award nominations. Our first actual interaction came during an unfortunate online flamewar a few years later. I sent him a note of apology some months later, which he very graciously accepted. This was entirely to my good fortune, as he had no good reason to do so. It didn't take long before we were fast friends.

One occasion when we met in person was at the 2004 Nebula Award banquet in Seattle. Another was on a visit he and Elizabeth made to New York City. My wife and I took them out to Kabab Cafe in Astoria, and Mark talked about how amazing that evening was for the rest of the time that I knew him.

But as I said, mostly we were online friends. We used to trade short stories back and forth, point out great film and theater reviews (sometimes our own) to each other, and for as long as I was making them I used to mail him copies of my monthly CD mix discs. It wasn't that long ago that, having both written science fiction stories about stand-up comics, we started half-seriously batting around the idea of editing an anthology of such stories. I was also trying to persuade him to make Chicago a vacation destination in the near future so I could have him appear at the Tuesday Funk reading series. I'm sad that neither of those things are now going to happen.

If you knew Mark at all, you knew him as an inveterate punster. He was a master at that low art, and sometimes in the comments of our blog entries we would trade the most horrendous puns back and forth for as long as we could possibly sustain it. I hope and suspect he would forgive me for saying that a change for the better is the mark borne by everyone who knew him. I'll damn sure miss him.

We send all our sympathies to Elizabeth Bourne, whose loss is incalculable, and to everyone else who knew and loved him.