Monday, July 09, 2007

George Alec Effinger

On Thursday, July 12, Octavia Books in New Orleans will hold its (sort-of-annual ) George Alec Effinger memorial reading. George Alec Effinger was a noted science fiction writer who lived in New Orleans during most of his last three decades. He died here in April 2002. Effinger's first novel, What Entropy Means to Me (1972), was nominated for the Nebula Award. Schrodinger's Kitten, a novelette, won both the Nebula and the Hugo awards. Although science fiction was his genre, many of his stories also included elements of fantasy and horror. His stories have a sly sense of humor and antic wit.

I'd heard of Effinger over the years numerous times, and had read some of his work during my SF-loving days in my twenties. I didn't know he lived in my town, however, until the early nineties when I joined SOLA, the local chapter of RWA. There I met Laura Joh Rowland, author of the Sano Ichiro historical mysteries set in 16th-century Japan. Laura credits her publishing success to her membership in an ongoing writers' workshop started by George Effinger in the late eighties. Effinger served as mentor to the group almost to the end of his life, until he became too ill to continue. (Laura, with twelve published novels to her credit, has now taken the post of mentor in the group, which continues to meet monthly.) As I grew to know Laura over the years, I heard more about Effinger; he even spoke at SOLA meetings a time or two. Over the years Laura often mentioned Effinger's generosity to and encouragement of aspiring writers.

After Effinger died in 2002 a group of his friends and his former wife, prolific author Barbara Hambly, decided to hold a reading of his work as a memorial to him. A local bookstore, Octavia Books, offered its premises as a place for the reading, and the first George Alec Effinger Memorial Reading took place. Amid chuckles, snorts of laughter, and a few tears, George's nearest and dearest read excerpts of his work. Readers included Barbara Hambly, Laura Joh Rowland, and Andrew Fox (also a member of the Effinger workshop; like Laura, Andrew credits his becoming published to Effinger's encouragement and support).

Sadly, at the time George died most of his work was out of print. In the years since, however, several of his novels and collections of his stories have been reprinted, due at least in part to Barbara Hambly's efforts. Octavia Books has continued to host Effinger memorial readings, held sporadically in conjunction with releases of Effinger's reprinted works. It's always an evening of fun, fellowship, nostalgia, wit, and good humor. This year Andy Fox (see above) is the featured reader. Barbara Hambly won't be there this year, but Laura Rowland will. And so will I, and other Effinger-ites.

If you're going to be in the New Orleans area around 6 p.m. this Thursday, July 12, why not drop by Octavia Books, 513 Octavia Street (corner of Laurel) in New Orleans' Garden District? Come pass a good time and join us in celebrating the genius of George Effinger.


Charles Gramlich said...

I'll try to make it. I only knew George for a couple of years but enjoyed talking to him and I certainly respect his accomplishments. I even did an article on him and his work back in the day. I think this is a great tradition.

Shauna Roberts said...

Thanks for alerting people to this. I enjoyed the discussion and look forward to reading Mr. Effinger's newly reissued book.

Sphinx Ink said...

Sorry you didn't make it to the event, Charles. It was fun. Maybe next year...or next time there's an Effinger Memorial Reading, whenever that may be.

Shauna, I was glad to see you there and glad you're dipping into Effinger's work. I can promise you'll be amused and entertained. I'm glad to know my blog posting brought in at least one extra attendee!

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

although i write crime fiction, i was lucky enough to have met mr. effinger just about the same time i met mr. gramlich here. he was a pleasant man and at the time, i was a relative unknown, so i'll always remember his willingness to talk and to listen.