A.C. Crispin died today.
She’d posted to Facebook earlier this week, telling fans she was losing her battle with cancer. I left her a quick note trying to encapsulate how much her writing has meant to me. I started thinking about writing up a post about it.
This morning, she passed.
Ms. Crispin was well-known for being a tireless writers’ advocate. But I want to talk about what her work meant to me, many years ago, before I ever became aware of the SFF author community.
I found A.C. Crispin through her Han Solo trilogy, back when I was obsessed with Star Wars and devouring every tie-in novel I could. Despite the care I have always taken with my paperbacks, the Han Solo trilogy was soon creased and worn from frequent re-readings. I loved her writing style so much I looked her up at the library and ordered Yesterday’s Son from a neighboring branch. I still remember the white pixelated letters on the screen of the ancient library computer—it wasn’t marked as a Star Trek tie-in; I thought it was some of her original fiction. When it came I felt a crushing disappointment—it was a Star Trek novel! I didn’t watch Star Trek; I was a Star Wars fan!
I read it anyway. A.C. Crispin is at least partially to blame for my subsequent obsession with Star Trek.
I adored her Starbridge books. Brilliantly imaginative, with aliens who had wildly different physiologies, and characters who were real people that I felt intensely connected to (though I’ll never forgive her for killing Hing!). Explorations of culture and language that the nerd in me gobbled up and that I felt were uncommonly creative, even for science fiction. And for some reason, I continued to feel a strong kinship with her style. Her prose connected with me somehow in a way my brain intensely liked. I’ve never felt that same . . . familiarity? satisfaction? . . . in reading any other author’s prose.
Perhaps my favorite A.C. Crispin novel—or, maybe not necessarily my favorite, but the one I reread the most, until the paperback was literally falling apart—was her novelization of V. To this day I probably can’t articulate why I liked it so much. I’d never seen the show. But somehow she managed to bring those characters to life in a way that hit every button I had as a kid. Their struggles with each other and with themselves, their love for their families, their humanity. Their courage. Their difficult, heartwrenching choices. How much they cared for each other.
I had some rough years when I was a child (most people do, I’m sure). Books were my escape. Whenever everything was going wrong in life, I would retreat to my room and bury myself in an old favorite. I had so many bookshelves my mother forbade me from getting another one because she was afraid the floor of my bedroom wouldn’t be able to support them (which didn’t stop me). From the time I was about 8 until the time I was 18, I spent almost all of my money on books; I asked for books for Christmas and birthdays; I absorbed free books from giveaways and garage sales.
And, to return to the point, whenever everything in my young life was going so wrong nothing would fix it, I would go to my room, shut the door, and find a book. Sometimes I’d pull a bunch off the shelves and stack them all around me, nesting myself while I read. The books I chose at these times were not usually new books; they were books I’d reread many times. They were best friends. Security blankets.
My number one panacea was V.
Even thinking about rereading it gives me a great feeling of calm. It was a mental place of solace for me. A place I could run to when I needed to. A fictional world that somehow enabled me to deal with reality.
Ann Crispin never knew it, but the words she wrote . . . when I think about my childhood without having them to lean on, without having her books to escape into . . . suffice to say, I’m so, so grateful I didn’t live in a world without A.C. Crispin’s work in it. She helped one small child more than I can ever repay.
Remembering A.C. Crispin: