Thoughts & Well Wishes

Rachel Holmen | Jun 19, 2019

I had hoped to sing this song at the memorial, but a sore thoat prevented me.  I had sung this in Berkeley the night Vonda died, with some other singers I know.  Here's John Doyle doing an unpretentious version of the song, "The Exile's Return".  The song's chorus hopes that the exile and their friends will be reunited.

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Alma Alexander | Mar 29, 2019
I am still hoping that I might get a chance to see you in April - but you may not be in the frame of mind for visitors if sleep is what is what you need right now - so I will share this here, in case April doesn't happen, in case this is the only place I get to share it.

You were the co-GOH at the very first science fiction convention I went to, In Auckland, in 1995. (The other was RogerZelazny; that must have been one of his last hurrahs because if you will recall the con was in April and by June we had lost him...) I have to confess that the reason I raced to that con, when I found out about it, was ROGER ZELAZNY who had been one of my literary gods for years. I had not read anything by you at that time. But I got into the writing workshop that the two GOHs were running at the con. I remember it with astounding clarity. The format was that each of us five participants got to say a few words about the others' stories, and then you two, the pros, weighed in. Before I got my benediction from Roger Zelazny (those words are kind of carved in my brain) I received back the copy of the story that had gone to you. My EYES crossed. You had annotated this thing to an inch of its life, little scribbles in pencil in every available space. Every single thing, even when I was being pulled up for some literary sin, intensely kind, and apropos, and valuable (and there were a couple of scribbles in there that merely said "nice!" so there was that... :) ) I pored over that manuscript for weeks afterwards. I learned more from that one manuscript than I might have done in a year's writing course.

Somehow I ended up with your email, and knew you were in Seattle. And some little while later I found myself in Vancouver - in Canada - and I did one of my chutzpah-hy things - I emailed you, and I said, hey, remember me? I'm the ingenue from the Auckland workshop. ANd I"m near(ish) to where you are. And I might be coming down to Seattle for the day. And could I -um - buy you a cup of coffee or something? There was every possibility that you would look at that email and go, who the heck is THIS and why is she emailing me? Instead, you emailed me back, and told me that there seemed to be little point in breaking my neck whiplashing between Vancouver and Seattle for a couple of hours, that there was a party at your place that night (hello Vanguard!), and that I could come to that and crash on your couch that night. You picked me up when I got to Seattle (I don't remember how I did - bus, maybe?) and you said, mysteriously, that you wanted to show me something before you took me home. I said, what? and you said, just keep your eyes peeled. That is how I met the Fremont Troll, gasping as he first hove into view, and you wore... such a smile. Then it was home, and party, and you introduced me to your friends, and in the aftermath you and I stood at your kitchen sink washing dishes and having a companionable discussion about science fiction, writing, life, and everything. I have never forgotten this. I never will.

I've been re-reading some of your books. "Dreamsnake", of course, and then there was something that I'd forgotten that I owned - signed by you - at that Aucland con, so many years ago: "Enterprise: Captain Kirk's First Adventure".  I'm lingering over the last pages of that right now.

I was hoping to get to tell you this in person - which may or may not still happen depending on the state of your health and whether you're willing or able to be tired out by all the people who want to come by and shake your hand - but I wanted to get this on record, just in case it does not.

Back in Auckland in 1995 you were an unknown to me. But I discovered you, then. And I kept on discovering you. And the unknown writer became a vibrant, kind, smart, passionate person - one whom I have been proud and happy to know.

Thank you for the words. And the dishes at midnight. And the Troll.
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Sam Hackney | Mar 29, 2019
Dear Vonda, 


I don't know if I'll get to thank you in person, so I'll be inarticulate in this medium. 


Thank you for everything:

For your stories,

For your hospitality (the Vanguards, the Thanksgivingses, the home-away-from-home when Rory was brand new and I didn't know which way was up),

For your kindness to the socially inept teenager that I was,

For the Chocolate Decadence,

For your generosity and creativity and grace.


I wish you a gentle transition. I'll miss our chance encounters. 
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Kyra Freestar | Mar 27, 2019
Dreamsnake—the story and then the novel—changed my perspective on my body and its place in the world. I've read all your books (and lots and lots of other books) in the 30 years since, and I am still grateful. 

I am grateful for your kindness the couple times I met you briefly at Potlatch.  
I am grateful for all your community-building work around speculative fiction authors and readers.
I am grateful for the perspectives your work has brought to my awareness.
Thank you for making the world a better place.
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Alexis | Mar 25, 2019
Don't really know what all to say, but I hope Vonda knows how known and loved she is in the sci-fi/fantasy writing community. I am so glad she was able to finish her latest book, and I look forward to adding it to my collection.

I hope that my place in the writing community will someday have as great an impact as Vonda's. And I hope someday to attend Clarion West, which I just learned she founded!

Love and well wishes. <3
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Starshadow | Mar 24, 2019

Vonda, I remember with fondness all of your kindness at Norwescons and V-Cons and Orycons past. Remember the old NWcon-and-a-half? The one in the University Tower hotel, where Ole Kvern had done the artwork for the peel and stick nametags? You took one of them and labeled the recycling bag of cans "Doctor Doctor Pournelle." We were all in stitches. 

I've always loved your writing and I love you, and will miss you. I'm glad you finished your newest book. I hope to come see you before you cross the veil. I hope you'll be greeted by all our friends and my love who's already there. 

I wish I could do more. I'm in Everett now. Said goodbye to too many friends and family in the past few months and years, but it's the price I'm willing to pay for all the love before I join you all. 

All love and hugs. And brightest of blessings. 


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Amy Sterling Casil | Feb 23, 2019

My daughter is just now getting more mature (she's a young adult). She hasn't known or known of many of my writing friends, nor been much aware of anything I've written. Like millions of other Millennials, she's back at home with me and my husband and staying in my former office/library. She also doesn't know much about my family background though she knows my mother died when I was a baby and was the artist who redesigned Mr. Magoo and other well-known 50s animated characters.

So I also didn't know much about my mom and only learned things over time through many coincidences. 

I went into my former office yesterday and said to my daughter, "see up on that shelf on the bookcase? Those are books by people who are my friends. People I care very much about. Some of them are very important, valuable books." I told her if something happened to me, she didn't have to keep the books but she should distribute them responsibly.

"This beautiful one, the Moon and the Sun, is by a friend," I said. "The closest friend I have I've never physically met."

I told her about Vonda and said, "This has hit all of us very hard. We all care very much about her. She's one of the most wonderful people we've ever known."

"Honey," I said. "For me it was very hard to hear because she has the same disease that took my mother's life. She has pancreatic cancer."

A few years ago, my brother casually dropped the information to me at a family meal that my mother had been undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer for about three years before I was born. When she became pregnant, she stopped all treatment. She died three months after I was born, and I was three months premature: in 1962. 

I had no physical connection with my mother, just spiritual and emotional. She was home from the hospital only a few days with me before having to go back in. During this time she went shopping at the Farmers Market (Fairfax/La Brea) and bought a sugar Easter egg for me, which I still have. I put it in a Russian tin, one of the few things I have from my Grandma Mary (my Dad's mom). Grandma Mary lived right by Farmer's Market so I'm almost positive the two would have been there together. 

I never met Vonda in person. By the time she was helping me format my books or we were corresponding about Ursula Le Guin's Nobel Prize, I was no longer attending the type of event where I would have been able to spend time with her. I know her through her words. And deeds.

What happened to Vonda is what my mother experienced. Not just pancreatic cancer, the exact type and order of events and diagnosis.

Our lives are woven in a fabric and sometimes a thread is pulled. We see how alike we all are. We see that we are all interconnected and we see that our joys and our sorrows are what it means to be alive.

Sometimes I think, "You shouldn't be here" because of what happened with my mother. But then I realize my mother would have hated my thinking that. I think of how strong she must have been and I know that Vonda is also so strong. So gentle and kind and honorable and gifted and so very strong.

All of my love, Vonda - always and forever. 


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