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The Big Yellow Book

Seeing the World from Both Oculars-- a Bananaslug's Journal

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And another...Tom Dietz dies at 57
In not quite a month, I will turn 57. My friend Eric Flint, who is three years older than me, maybe four, is having open heart surgery today. Now I find that one of my favorite fantasy writers, who mined the well of native american legend long before Neil Gaiman did, has died, also at the age of 57. Tom Dietz was an absolutely original voice in fantasy when he started writing in 1986--- while everybody else was writing Tolkien pastiche, or dungeons and dragons plots, Dietz actually thought up original settings, used new material, and was among the first to write modern-day fantasy since C. S. Lewis.


Brad Strickland posted this:

Fantasy writer, SCA enthusiast, model-car fanatic, artist, and teacher Thomas F.Deitz has died at the age of 57. He was born on January 17, 1952, in Young Harris, Georgia, educated at Young Harris College and the University of Georgia, and was most recently an Assistant Professor of English at Gainesville State College. In 1986 he published his first novel, Windmaster's Bane, which combined a down-to-earth North Georgia locale with a fantasy world drawn from Irish and Cherokee mythology. It would be the first of sixteen novels in all, a good many of them in the same series (the David Sullivan series, as Tom called it).

One day after his 57th birthday, Tom had a devastating heart attack and had spent most of the intervening months in hospital. He had been a candidate for a ventricular assist device (VAD) implant, but his heart had been too ravaged for the cardiatric surgeon to operate. Last week he came home to hospice care, and since he had no immediate family, those of us who were friends and colleagues became his caregivers.

I went over to Tom's apartment this morning to sit with him. Two of his greatest friends had spent the night there and said he had had a relatively quiet time after some early restlessness. Around 2:30 a.m. his breathing changed noticeably, and by the time I arrived it was shallow and very slow. I called the hospice, and they said the end was probably a matter of hours or minutes away. They had me give Tom a very small dose of medication to ease the fluid buildup in his lungs and dispatched a nurse. Tom didn't seem to react at all--he was unconscious, breathing slowly. I stood near him and spoke to him, grasped his hand, and asked him to squeeze if he heard me and there was no response.

Then at about 8:30 he took the first deep breath he had taken since I had arrived, held it for a few seconds, and then let it out in a great sigh and did not breathe again. It was extremely peaceful and seemed to be completely free of pain. On Saturday, apologizing for his weakness, Tom had said to me, "I hate making this so hard on everybody. I wish I knew how to die better." In the end, he died as he did so many things, with grace, ease, and dignity. I don't think he could have done it any better.

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Wow... I hadn't read that story, and those are some pretty powerful paragraphs. I knew he didn't have any immediate family, but it is soothing to know that he died with his friends around him.

I'll definitely miss his writing.. and while I was holding out hope for a tenth David Sullivan book, at least we have 20 novels of his writing to fall back on.

Thanks for this post,


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