James White, 1928-1999

Irish SF author and longtime fan James White, born 1928, died yesterday.

He was the author of many SF novels noted for their intelligence, such as SECOND ENDING and the quite brilliant THE WATCH BELOW. He's probably best remembered, though, for the "Sector General" series of stories and novels set aboard an immense multi-species space hospital. Witty, clever, full of supporting characters you grew to care about, and alive to the nuances of professional cooperation between sentient species, the Sector General novels were ensemble-cast series SF at its best.

His fannish accomplishments included co-editing, with Walt Willis, SLANT, widely acclaimed as one of the best fanzines of all time. His fanwriting was intermittent but wonderful; perhaps the most widely-reprinted instance was 1975's "The Exorcists of IF," a supernatural story about 1950s Belfast fandom seen through the latter-day haze of the Troubles.

We began publishing James with the Sector General novel THE GALACTIC GOURMET, timed to coincide with his appearance as Guest of Honor at the 1996 Worldcon. This was followed by three more: FINAL DIAGNOSIS, MIND CHANGER, and the forthcoming DOUBLE CONTACT. Teresa Nielsen Hayden was James's editor on all of them, and enjoyed every minute of working with him. He was funny, kind, and humane. We'll miss him very much.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden

posted August-24-1999

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