Steve Tompkins has died.
It wasn’t just that Steve was incredibly well read, it was that he could tap into his vast depth of knowledge and recognize themes and connections that no one else had seen and then articulate them cogently and thoroughly, with great insight and an inimitable sly wit. When he decided to write about an author, or a genre, then by God it was worth the time to read every word and ruminate over what he had to say. His writing was so rich with depth and meaning that a second, third, or fourth look might well be needed to truly appreciate what Steve was saying, for he never wrote without thinking long and hard. If you don’t believe us, then visit The Cimmerian and leaf through any number of wonderful essays archived there, or pick up Del Rey’s KULL and read Steve’s introductory essay, or read the fine remembrance Steve co-wrote about the passing of David Gemmell right here on the Black Gate web site.
If, like us, you are an aficionado of sword-and-sorcery, then you should understand that we have lost a sword-brother. And not just any sword-brother, but one of the elite, a Cimmerian, a Red Slayer, someone who formed the shield wall when anyone moved against the authors and stories that we revere. Someone who saw the heroic history of our genre, understood its power and worth, and who could articulate its value in words of iron.
He has fallen now and the ranks will close, but no one can take his place. What five men could? We have lost more than a brother; we have lost all that he might yet have done, and are poorer for it than we can ever know.
Raise high your glasses then, and drink deep in his name. Cleave close to those you love and do not waste your time with the shadow players who blot our days. Find your passion and, so long as it harms no one, follow it. For all too soon those you treasure and the work you mean to do will be lost to you, for if life is sweet, death is ever greedy.
Howard Andrew Jones & John Chris Hocking