Saturday, March 23, 2024

The Many Worlds of Tom Purdom


Saturday, a memorial was held for Tom Purdom, the man we know as a first-rate science fiction writer. But whom others remember as a pioneer bicycle activist, as an SF fan, as a rocketry exponent, as an early adaptor tabletop gamer, as a lover and reviewer of classical and old music, and as a local journalist.

Also as a good friend. I mean that most intently. But pretty much everybody in the back room of  Tabernacle Church in West Philadelphia (where Marianne and I were married, and where I once worked as church secretary) would be able to make that claim. Tom had a gift for friendship.

People from all those worlds, and family as well, gathered to pay homage to the man we thought would never die, simply because we couldn't imagine the world without him. Almost everybody who went up to the front of the metaphorical church to testify remarked on his unmistakable voice: loud and raspy.

The best testimony came from I-forget-who declared, "I asked Tom what he thought of cyberpunk and he said, 'I think of myself as cybergenteel.'" The second best came from me, when I observed that Tom would have loved everything about this gathering of people he cared about and family he loved but the praise of him. He hated praise when it was aimed his way. In my best imitation of his voice, I channeled him saying, "Can't we talk about something interesting?"

Representatives of all Tom Purdom's worlds praised him, expounded his virtues, mourned the loss of the man we thought would never die.

And then, still in mourning but feeling better for having spoken, we all went home.

And because you want to know . .  .

How can you honor this decent and talented man? Well, he has two books currently in print, both from Fantastic Books:

Lovers and Fighters, Starships and Dragons collects Tom's best military and romantic stories, including "Fossil Games," which was nominated for the Hugo Award in the year 2000. I consider it one of the best SF stories of the decade. If you disagree, I'll meet you out back of the bar.

Romance on Four Worlds collects novellas about Giacomo Casanova set in the far future. Tom, who read all of the original Casinova's multi-volume memoires, was struck by the fact that the Great Womanizer fell passionately in love with all of his conquests. In these stories, he imagines Casanova as heroic and romantic in equal parts.

If you know Tom's work, you have these books. If you don't, buy them now. 

You can find both Tom Purdom's books here

I urge you to buy them. You won't be disappointed.

And was Tom remembered, you ask, by local media . . . ?

Why, yes. You can find the Broad Street Review memorial here.

Above: Pic taken from Broad Street Review. Alaina Johns,  who was much younger than he, said he was proud to introduce her as his editor. She was at the beginning of her career and he gave her his wholehearted support, even in those rare cases when she thought his submission wasn't good enough. Thou gonnabe writers who will someday be important, learn from this and do likewise.



Richard Mason said...

The first hyperlink has a typo. It is of course mesnt to be

Michael Swanwick said...

Correction made. Thank you.