Charles N. Brown, 1937-2009

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As reported by Locus magazine, science fiction publishing lost one of it’s more ardent and vociferous supporters this past Sunday.

Locus publisher, editor, and co-founder Charles N. Brown, 72, died peacefully in his sleep July 12, 2009 on his way home from Readercon.

Charles Nikki Brown was born June 24, 1937 in Brooklyn NY, where he grew up. He attended the City College of New York, taking time off from 1956-59 to serve in the US Navy, and finished his degree (BS in physics and engineering) at night on the GI Bill while working as a junior engineer in the ’60s. He married twice, to Marsha Elkin (1962-69), who helped him start Locus, and to Dena Benatan (1970-77), who co-edited Locus for many years while he worked full time. He moved to San Francisco in 1972, working as a nuclear engineer until becoming a full-time SF editor in 1975. The Locus offices have been in Brown’s home in the Oakland hills since 1973.

Brown co-founded Locus with Ed Meskys and Dave Vanderwerf as a one-sheet news fanzine in 1968, originally created to help the Boston Science Fiction Group win its Worldcon bid. Brown enjoyed editing Locus so much that he continued the magazine far beyond its original planned one-year run. Locus was nominated for its first Hugo Award in 1970, and Brown was a best fan writer nominee the same year. Locus won the first of its 29 Hugos in 1971.

During Brown’s long and illustrious career he was the first book reviewer for Asimov’s; wrote the Best of the Year summary for Terry Carr’s annual anthologies (1975-87); wrote numerous magazines and newspapers; edited several SF anthologies; appeared on countless convention panels; was a frequent Guest of Honor, speaker, and judge at writers’ seminars; and has been a jury member for various major SF awards.

As per his wishes, Locus will continue to publish, with executive editor Liza Groen Trombi taking over as editor-in-chief with the August 2009 issue.

A complete obituary with tributes and a photo retrospective will appear in the August issue.

Having read Locus religiously for the past fifteen years I can attest that Mr. Brown’s insight, enthusiasm, and voice were singular in the genre. We at The Daily Planet pass our condolences to his many mourners.

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