It is with truly heavy heart that I must report that a good friend of mine, Michael Burgess, who used the pseudonym Robert Reginald in most of his writing, has died. He was truly a gentleman and a scholar (literally; he was a retired academic librarian and professor), as well as a fine writer of fiction and non-fiction alike as well as an editor and publisher. He was a true friend and champion of authors and was almost single-handedly responsible for publicizing the work of excellent but little-known authors throughout his career. He founded the Borgo Press in 1975 with his wife and ran that until 1998, publishing about 300 volumes. In 2003, Borgo Press was restarted as an imprint of Wildside Press and Rob ran that for Wildside, publishing something close to an additional 1500 volumes. He was also an extremely prolific writer, and I’ve reviewed a number of his pieces here. Rob’s website has a complete obituary and bibliographies of his writing and editorial work. Locus also has a brief tribute and the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction has a very long entry on all of Rob’s contributions to the genre.
Rob, as I mostly knew him, had had heart problems going back at least a decade, and even though he was hospitalized earlier in the year, I thought we’d have him for years to come. We began corresponding in 2010 as a result of a review I posted to this very blog of some of Rob’s work. Over the years we traded a lot of emails and even spoke on the phone. I had hoped to make it to the L.A. area next summer and thought we might finally have a chance to meet in person. Alas, that was not to be. Rob was an extraordinarily kind and generous man, and I viewed him as a mentor as well as a friend. His encouragement and wisdom meant a lot. I am very saddened by his death, and I know that his family and friends must all be devastated by his loss. In Rob’s honor, take a look at some of his work if you have a chance, and read something by a mostly unknown author — if you like it, then post about it! Celebrate good authors whenever you find them.