Another late blog post this week, though I’ve really been thinking about it all day. I could write about this, I could write about that, I could write about the other thing . . . and though I always like to keep it positive and upbeat here at Fantasy Author’s Handbook, nothing else really resonated. It’s been kind of a weird week for me, with some ups and downs, good news and bad, sickness and health, birthdays and . . . other things.

The science fiction and fantasy genres lost a great author, fan, supporter, and friend this week in Jay Lake.

Like most people, I first became aware of Jay’s work in magazines and other short story venues, and kept hearing his name mentioned alongside the burgeoning steampunk sub-genre. Then I read Mainspring and thought, Wait a minute, this guy isn’t just good, he’s great.

Then where did I hear that he was a gamer? I don’t remember, but when I was still at Wizards of the Coast he was one of the first names on my short list when we went out looking for authors to contribute short stories to the newly upgraded D&D web site. Jay was kind enough to contribute a story, which was later anthologized in Untold Adventures.

When I left Wizards, Jay and I kept in touch via email, and when I started talking to Mel Odom about some indie projects, then started talking to authors for the Fathomless Abyss project, I took a chance and asked Jay—and he wrote a fantastic story for the opening anthology, Tales From the Fathomless Abyss. When James Duncan of Writer’s Digest Books approached me to add a new chapter to Orson Scott Card’s book on writing SF and fantasy, he asked me if I knew someone who could write a chapter on steampunk, and it took about one tenth of a second for me to recommend Jay, and there we were in a book together again.

I didn’t know Jay very well. I wish I’d known him better. We only met in person once, at a Steamcon here in Seattle a few years ago, but we kept in touch from time to time, were connected on Facebook, and so on . . . he told me a few times that he still intended to write his Fathomless Abyss novella, but with soft sales on the previous books, and his health already failing, the last thing I’d ever do was bug him about it. But I knew he wanted to, and that’s more than I had any right to ask.

Now he’s gone, but we’re left with an amazing body of work—work that will live on after him, maybe even forever . . . whatever “forever” means.

But if you’re reading this, and haven’t read anything by Jay Lake, stop now and go read something by Jay Lake. After that, you won’t need me to tell you to go read some more, and some more, and some more.



—Philip Athans


About Philip Athans

Philip Athans is the New York Times best-selling author of Annihilation and a dozen other books including The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Writing Monsters. His blog, Fantasy Author’s Handbook, ( is updated every Tuesday, and you can follow him on Twitter @PhilAthans.
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