Another of my heroes has left the planet. It's been decades since I've seen Mike in person and, to my surprise, I find that on reflection we never spent enough time together that I could claim he was a friend. He was just a terrific writer whose work I admired. But he was such a warm and positive man that his loss hits hard.
In the wake of his death, I find myself thinking of when I first met him. That was when he was Principal Speaker at Philcon in 1978. He gave a speech then that was easily the most hilarious thing I have ever heard at a convention. It was filled with wisdom and sprinkled with news items from Locos, the version of Locus published in an alternate universe askew to ours. He had the audience in stitches.
Just before he went on, Mike impulsively borrowed the black cowboy hat Gardner Dozois wore back in his pre-Asimov's days. Then he announced that when he was wearing the hat, the words coming from his mouth were telepathically projected from Gardner's brain, and that when he wasn't, the words were his own. He then proceeded to employ every possible comedic variant from the idea. No professional comedian could have done better.
Fancyclopedia, which I checked to make sure I had the date right, called the speech "luminous."
That sounds about right. And so, I fancy, might one characterize his life.
And now he's gone. Have I mentioned that Bishop was a sincere Christian? If he was right in his beliefs, then he's in Heaven right now. That would be fitting. I'd applaud that.
He had the greatest smile ever.