Last week, sad news came in that prolific New Mexican author Victor Milán passed away after complications with pneumonia. That’s a bit deceptive as he had been in and out of emergency room since early December, but so much time in the hospital took its toll and robbed us of one of the greatest adventure writers out there. Some good retrospectives on his writing career can be found at Locus, File 770, Tor, and GRRM’s blog.
Vic had a tremendous impact on the local science fiction and fantasy community here in Albuquerque, and it’s only fitting there will be a remembrance ceremony celebrating his life and work at Bubonicon, the local SFF convention, this August.
I met Vic through the NM-based Critical Mass writers’ group, which I first joined back in fall of 2012. He was always witty and kind and an insightful critiquer. I felt privileged to have read his work in turn, most notably his Dinosaur Lords series with Tor. His encouragement and support of my own writing over the years was a huge gift, and one I’ll carry with me for a long time.
When he got sick, getting shuttled from emergency rooms to hospital beds to nursing rehabilitation facilities only to be sent back to the ER for the process to start all over again, it was hard seeing such a gentle vibrant man brought low by illness and an indifferent healthcare system. But he was fighting up to the very end.
My last visit with him, a few days before his passing, was a good one. I wanted to see him before I left town for a weeklong trip back East to visit family. There were the usual gripes about the facility, interruptions by staff members taking vitals or administering meds, but he brightened up considerably when I mentioned some editorial feedback I’d received on a project, happy to talk about the writing process he’d devoted so much of his life to. When I left, he was still weak but showing outward signs of improving, even as pneumonia and sepsis were unknowingly setting in. I didn’t realize that would be the last time I’d see him.
After that visit, he sent me the following text:
I didn’t respond—I was going to see him as soon as I got back to town. We could talk then, right? Wrong. In any case, here’s my belated reply:
No, Vic. Thank you. And wherever you are now, happy voyaging!