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My great friend and mentor Mike Resnick is Guest of Honor at Chicon 7, the 2012 World Science Fiction Convention, which begins next week in Chicago. To commemorate that, here’s the introduction I wrote for Mike’s 2003 collection Resnick at Large: Resnick Speaks His Mind on Everything.
Here’s something most people don’t know about Mike Resnick. His middle name — I kid you not — is Diamond.
Now, as a writer myself (one of the legions who have learned much of their craft by reading Resnick and being mentored by him), I know how important the symbolism of names is, but my wife always balks when I use one that’s too obviously appropriate. And yet, Diamond really is a perfect name for Mike.
First, of course, the guy’s brilliant. All you have to do is read any of his dozens of books to know that.
Second, he’s multifaceted. Mike writes some of the most socially relevant fiction in the history of SF (see the “Kirinyaga” stories, for instance), but he also writes lots of laugh-out-loud funny stuff. And, of course, he’s not just an award-winning novelist and an award-winning short-story writer, but also a screenwriter, a magnificent essayist, a wonderful fan writer, and an indefatigable anthology editor.
Third, he’s transparent. There is absolutely no guile in our Mr. Resnick. He speaks plainly — even bluntly; writes with Asimovian clarity; and makes no secret of his ambitions.
Fourth, as the Diamond Merchants Association’s slogan has it, “a diamond is forever.” Most twentieth and twenty-first century SF writers will be quickly forgotten. Not Mike. Because his work is often parable, it goes beyond being mere entertainment (although it most assuredly is entertaining); Mike writes passionately about things that matter to him and will matter to us, as a species, far into the future.
Fifth, like a diamond, our man Mike is known by his statistics: he’s won four Hugo awards, a Nebula award, a Locus award, the Prix Eiffel, two Ignotus awards, the Seiun award, the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya’s SF award, six Science Fiction Chronicle awards, four Asimov’s readers’ polls, a Hayakawa SF Magazine readers’ poll, and ten — count ‘em, ten — HOMer Awards voted on by the members of the SF Literature forums on CompuServe.
Sixth, Michael Diamond Resnick is the very symbol of generosity. No writer in recent history has done more to encourage beginning talent. He’s bought lots of first stories for his anthologies (and gotten jaded fools like me back into writing short fiction after having given it up), he freely dispenses advice on all aspects of the writing game, and he’s constantly taking time to promote other writers.
(I’ll give you an example: every year at the SF convention Eeriecon in Niagara Falls, New York, I do a panel on Friday evening called “The Late Night Talk Show,” where I pretend to be Jay Leno, and interview the other convention guests about whatever they want to promote. Mike was Guest of Honor at Eeriecon one year, and when it came time for me to interview him, he said, “You’ll all hear enough about me over the weekend. I’d rather talk about another writer who excites me,” and he spent his whole time in the spotlight promoting William Sanders instead. That’s class.)
Seventh, as the saying goes, a diamond is a girl’s best friend. There is no better marriage in the SF industry than that between Mike and his lovely, charming, witty wife Carol. Mike always refers to Carol as his “uncredited collaborator,” and he dedicates every single book to her first, and then, secondarily, to somebody else.
Eighth, diamonds are associated with Africa, the continent with the world’s best mines. Mike’s affinity with Africa is well known, and his nickname throughout the SF world is Bwana. Not only does he edit the Resnick Library of African Adventure, and frequently visits that continent, but his African-tinged tales — from short works like “Seven Views of Olduvai Gorge” and “The Manamouki” to novels like Ivory, Paradise, Inferno, and Purgatory — are the sort of thoughtful, important writing that let the rest of us hold our heads high when we say we’re science-fiction writers.
But, enough from me. It’s time to hear from Mike. Turn the page, and say hello to a true gem of a man.