Seth Goldberg, 3-time Hugo administrator and long-time OE of FAPA, passed away at the age of 44.
Seth fell ill Monday and went to the doctor on Tuesday, when he was diagnosed with stomach flu. The initial coroner's report suggests he had a viral infection which caused his heart to fail late Tuesday or early Wednesday.
Many of us last saw Seth at Corflu just two days before, laughing, talking, and seemingly healthy. No one thought it would be the last time! A memorial service is being planned, but since fandom is worldwide, most fans won't be able to attend Seth's memorial in person. So I've created this page as a virtual memorial service where the fannish community can post memories, anecdotes, tributes -- whatever touches your soul.
Use the form at the end of the page to post your contribution or e-mail it to me (webmaster ) and I will make sure it gets added.
Berni Phillips firstname.lastname@example.org Sun Mar 23 14:03:36 PST 1997
My relationship with Seth was primarily as his being my husband's best friend. Perhaps it is because of this that I didn't know him as well I might have if he were not. I knew the two of them wanted to get together and talk, and I felt that my presence would only inhibit that, so I generally let them be alone together.
Here's one of those little things I never told anyone. I once went out on a date with Seth, shortly after I first met David, just so that I could get to find out more about David. Seth caught on to this pretty fast and didn't mind talking about David all night.
I will always remember Seth as being one of the official witnesses at our wedding. For the religious contract, we needed two Jews and parents were ineligible to sign. We asked Seth to be one of the signers. Indeed, if we had had more than one attendant each (as we did for simplicity's sake), Seth would have been in the wedding party.
David and Seth were such a good team, through PenSFA, through FAPA collations and egoboo polls, through Hugo ballot counting, that I can't believe he's not there. It's like someone rammed a car into our house: there's this big hole there that shouldn't be.
-- Berni Phillips
David Bratman Bratman@HOOVER.STANFORD.EDU Mon, 24 Mar 1997 11:21:55 PST
One of my functions in Seth Goldberg's life was to drag him out of his cave from time to time to attend conventions he might like. He went at my urging to the first two Corflus; then we travelled to Corflu Vegas together and shared a room. And, just as I had pledged to Seth that whenever he became OE of another apa I would join it (a pledge I had to make good on several times - perhaps nobody in fannish history was OE of more apas than Seth) - when Corflu Wave won its bid and I became registrar, I prevailed on him to buy a membership in my convention. Even though I was no longer registrar by the time Corflu was held, he did attend, and he did enjoy himself.
Seth and I shared a love for statistics. We counted apa contributions. We counted Hugos together for three Worldcons in four years - and an upcoming one asked us. (We declined through exhaustion - and now it's a good thing because I couldn't do it without him.) So when Alyson Abramowitz, Corflu's chair, came up to us at the banquet on Sunday and asked if we'd make an accurate head count, she couldn't have said anything to make us happier. There were too many people milling around the room to make it feasible literally to count heads, so we cheerfully spent a concentrated few minutes working out a formula,
and counting up the numbers for it. (The untouched napkins were prominently folded in the water glasses, which made them easy to count and ruled out fannish sloppiness as an error factor.)
That was our last fannish project together, in a long line extending back to 1979, when we first added up contribution lengths in LASFAPA, the apa where we met. I'll miss Seth dreadfully. Who else will count with me? Who else would collate, and stuff fat FAPA envelopes, so tirelessly? With whom else could I have marathon fannish gossip sessions lasting the whole 9-hour drive to L.A.?
There's been talk on Usenet of the proper memorial for Seth. I think I know what it should be. Seth's life work as a fan was in fanzines. He wasn't a social butterfly, he never worked on a convention except as Hugo Administrator huddled over the ballots and leaving most of the committee contact to me, he was dubious of the Hugo winners and was only interested in the voting process. He was a fanzine fan. What made him happy was getting fanzines. Fanzines (printed or online, like this one) should be his memorial: as many as possible.
When I heard of Seth's death, my first duty was to contact some of his closest friends by phone and e-mail. Then I sat down at my computer and started to write a memoir. By the time I ran out of steam (though not material!) at 2 a.m., I had dealt with my grief in the way I unconsciously wanted - by filling my mind with happy memories.
I'll be completing this memoir and publishing it in my perzine Girabbit in May. I suggest to you reading this: pub your ish, and mention Seth. If you have something to say that you want in print, but aren't doing your own fanzine, send it to me by May 1st, and I'll put it in mine. Thus we'll remember him in the medium he loved best.
Eva Whitley email@example.com Mon Mar 24 17:23:26 PST 1997
To my knowledge, I never met Seth, but I appreciate what a daunting and thankless task he had as OE of FAPA.
I'm an atheist, and don't believe in an afterlife, but if I'm wrong, there should be a heck of relaxacon there.
Richard Brandt firstname.lastname@example.org Mon Mar 24 22:14:09 PST 1997
As I posted to Usenet, Seth was the backbone of FAPA; as I might also have said, he was one of its unsung heroes. I can't say I ever got to know Seth well, but he was unmistakably one of those seldom-honored folks whose devotion and hard work keeps the wheels of fandom turning.
Having just marked the passing of another year myself, I can personally vouch that Seth's turn came 'way too soon.
Some folks, you don't realize how much you'll miss them until you turn around and they're not there...
Arthur Hlavaty email@example.com Tue, 25 Mar 1997 21:32:46 (EST)
Seth Goldberg was an apparent mass of contradictions. He was a successful businessperson with hair down to his ass. In the apas we shared, he appeared in *every* mailing, but never wrote more than two pages, and rarely even close to that. But maybe the most remarkable thing about him was that, while he was the sort of real-world success Sharyn McCrumb says all us fans should devote ourselves to becoming, he managed to find the time and energy to put in years of quiet, persistent, largely unrewarded effort to help sf and fanzine fandom.
What he may be best known for is that he and David Bratman counted the Hugo ballots three times, or four if you count the Retro Hugos as a separate one. That's something that sane people have been known to do once. I have known several people who have done it, and I get the impression that it is a complex and tedious business, one that offers almost limitless opportunities to become the Big Tree at a dogs' beer party, as Seth and David found out one year. (That was not the last time they counted the ballots.)
Seth was more remarkable for his service as an Official Editor of several amateur press associations, most notably 15 years or so with the Fantasy Amateur Press Association, the oldest sf apa. I was an OE for a long time, but it was an apa half the size of FAPA, and it was invitational, so I was able to make the rules myself and use it as a way of staying in touch with my cronies. Nevertheless, the sheer level of work and responsibility, over and over again, finally drove me out.
FAPA has a constitution, which Seth obeyed scrupulously, and the OE has no control over who gets to be a member, so I can't see anything Seth could have gotten out of it, other than the satisfaction of good work well done. I guess that was enough for him to run it, steadfastly and efficiently, getting the mailings out promptly and remaining a faithful contributor.
I won't say I knew him very deeply. I guess we met FTF maybe half a dozen times, and I always enjoyed his company. He was a friendly and helpful host whenever I visited the Bay Area. I'll miss him, but the real loss is fandom's.
Arthur D. Hlavaty
Richard Lynch firstname.lastname@example.org Wed Mar 26 14:32:42 PST 1997
I'm going to really miss Seth. I met him in 1981 when I came to the San Francisco area on a business trip. I had already known him from an apa we were in, so paying him a visit seemed a natural thing to do. I had expected to stay only a short time, but pizza and an on-line game of Zork caused me to stay way past midnight. Nicki came with me on the next trip to California, and we spent two or three nights as guests, sleeping on his living room floor. He wanted us to stay longer, actually, and as we were waiting for the plane to leave, I remember he was having a good time thinking up wilder and ever-more-entertaining reasons why we should cash in our tickets and become Californians. It was clear that he was our kind of person.
There were other times after that we'd gotten together over the years... I remember the tour of the linear accelerator facility where he worked, which was capped off by watching him successfully coax the mostly feral bunch of cats that lived under his office trailer for their daily lunch.... it was almost like watching a feline version of the pied piper in action. Another trip to California brought me to his apartment at an opportune time... just in time for a FAPA collation, and a lunch at a Chinese restaurant with him, Dave Rike, and Redd Boggs (it was the only time I ever met Boggs).
I'm still in a daze about this, even a week after Seth's passing. It's not yet real, and I don't want it to be real. The world is going to be a less friendly place after this.
Mike W. Burger email@example.com Thu Apr 3 12:05:31 PST 1997
I met Seth at the Department of Chemistry when I first came to UH Manoa in Hawaii in 1976-77. He was a regular in our Friday night expeditions to Maple Garden, a local restaurant.
I remember him also through some ancient editions of a local fanzine called "The Mongoose".
One of our Friday expeditions included a record setting attempt by a driver on The Bus route #6 into upper Manoa. This route has hairpin turns, on street parking, very tight fits through almost single lane streets with parking on both sides and many similar challenges. The driver had bragged the week before that he could make the transit up and through the upper Manoa area not in the allotted 20 minutes, but in only 7 minutes, a new record.
The next week a group of about nine of us was waiting for him on his last run of the night at the UHM stop heading up into the valley. We showed him the stopwatch and piled aboard in great spirits. In less than two blocks we had managed to scare off the few other riders who decided we were all nut cases and it was safer to walk.
As we passed the Safeway store starting line, he kicked the 40 foot bus into high gear and we were off. I still remember us careening through the narrow streets, sliding back and forth dodging parked cars first on one side of the narrow street and then on the other, each of us holding on to the poles trying to keep from being slammed from one side of the bus to the other.
Coming down the final stretch, a cat ran across in front of the bus. The driver slammed the brakes, the cat just made it, and then he floored the bus again. We actually managed to completely drift the bus sideways at the right turn at the bottom of the hill, close to flipping the bus over.
Just past the finish line, the engine on the bus exploded, belched black smoke and quit. We had to stand around looking innocent as a supervisor was called, a second bus was sent, and everyone was questioned about why a city bus would suddenly blow an engine.
The driver missed the record by two seconds. We decided to spot him the two seconds for braking for the cat.
If I dig around I probably could find my copy of The Mongoose that has Seth's writeup of that particular wild ride through Manoa Valley. I still clearly remember the stunned faces of the people at the various bus stops as they flashed past the windows of the last bus of the night while they waved frantically for it to stop.
The weekly Friday afternoon beer drinks at the department are gone. Maple Garden still exists. The #6 bus still runs up into Woodlawn at the top of Manoa Valley. Maybe I will take a ride up and back after dark and remember our record setting ride on The Bus.
Val Giddings firstname.lastname@example.org Mon Apr 7 14:29:57 PDT 1997
I met Seth when I started graduate school in Genetics at UH in 1975. Seth had an interest in philosophy, and a good friend of mine, Bill McCurdy, was a graduate student in philosophy at UH at the time, as was his cousin, subsequently my sensei and also good friend, Mike Bybee. The four of us shared numerous interests and often pursued them together. I remember Seth as a committed pacifist with an interest in martial arts. I recall a tai-chi demonstration he gave me once (I had no idea what it was then) at Sunset Beach on the North Shore. The rest of us were swimming, appropriately unattired, but Seth didn't even take off his t-shirt to do tai-chi on the hot sand in the blazing sun, his long hair blowing in his face (in five years, I don't recall ever seeing him wearing anything other than long pants and a t-shirt). I also remember his generosity as a friend. He spent hundreds of hours, most between 1000pm and 400am, helping me transform millions of data entries into a few hundred intelligible graphs, using the computers to which he had access in the basement of the chemistry building (they were supposedly reserved for electron spectroscopy work). He was particularly proud of his success at fulfilling one of my more unreasonable requests on this project: I remember him saying with quiet pride that to do so had required "a non-trivial bit of programming". And for all that, he only let me buy him dinner once, in compensation. I remember assembling with him giant orders for SF to send off to "A Change of Hobbit" (to which he led me later, on pilgrimage, as it were)in order to score the best volume discounts. He helped me fill in a lot of classics I had overlooked coming up through the hard Heinlein/Herbert route. I don't think he ever forgave my distaste for two of his favorites, Silverberg and Ellison. But I remember going to see with him numerous movies at the on campus film societies that flourished in the mid seventies -- we saw upwards of a hundred movies in 1976, including Harold & Maude several times, which he enjoyed as much as I did for its anti-authoritarian irreverence and sophomoric send-ups. I remember visiting him at his parents' home in Downey, CA one summer, where he had me drive an ancient Mustang (he hated to drive, walked everywhere in Hawaii, or took TheBus; I remember the famous Manoa circle record run mentioned above, though I wasn't on it myself) to visit the Greek Theatre, where Neil Diamond had recorded Hot August Night (which we both liked a lot; back before Diamond broke for the blue hairs big time). I remember it was a blazing hot day, and even though I drove far more gently than usual, the mustang revoltd and overheated. I remember the yellow-brown haze in which we sat and waited for it to cool down so we could continue, and Seth's calm confidence that the experience validated his distate for automobiles. Later that day Seth treated me to a typical Jewish dinner with his parents and grandparents, first time I'd had beef brisket (he was sorry he couldn't arrange a Seder to satisfy my curiosity, but the seasons were not cooperative). It was excellent. I remember eating tons of japanese food with Seth over the years at one place or another, and discovering with him cha-zsuke (green tea over rice) as a fine form of ballast one night when we were hungrier than our wallets could support as we visited one of our favorite places, Restaurant Kawalo owned by Katsuo Sugano in Kilohana Square (long since gone). I remember being delighted for Seth when, on graduating, he had good offers from both JPL and SLAC, and astonished that he would go with SLAC (they offered him about a grand more than JPL) for the money, rather than opting for what I thought was much the more adventurous and fun possibility with JPL. After we all left Hawaii, I lost track of Seth. I figured he would always be out there as the most delightfully idiosyncratic, warm, generous, sf fan I'd ever had the pleasure to know. I'd often thought I should check out how he was doing and re-establish the connection. I really regret not having done so.
Drew Lambert email@example.com Tue Apr 8 16:14:29 PDT 1997
For the short time I knew Seth I always thought of him as a good person that was because he had longer hair than I do.But the way I met him was through his company.We never really hung out but when we were to gether riding in his car to go work on computers we would always would talk about cars.I on one hand like old power cars.You know the ones that have 455,and 454.Seth on the other hand liked sports cars.We would always debate on which one would when if they raced.
I only knew him for a year but in that short time he was a genus to me.I never met any one who could sit down and figure out problems and learn programs in a matter of minutes.Most of my life I never really had an idol but the momment I met Seth and Judy I found to people that I like more than anyone.I am so glad Seth was a part of my life,I hope on day I can be like him.
Bob Hettel Hettel@slac.stanford.edu Tue Apr 8 17:21:48 PDT 1997
I sort of knew Seth when he worked at SSRL/SLAC in the early 80s. He was a great long-haired cyber-geek whose claim to fame in my book was that he was a freshman at Harvey Mudd when I was a senior (he and I were in the same dorm group picture, although I didn't know it until at least 10 years after it was taken). I haven't seen him since he left SLAC in the mid-80s, but I'm still saddened at his departure. It is great to see he had so many friends endeared to him --- Bob H, SSRL/SLAC
Tommy Ferguson firstname.lastname@example.org Wed Apr 9 00:28:55 PDT 1997
I've only heard of you, and yet I miss you.
Mike Bybee MikeBybee@aol.com Thu, 10 Apr 17:43:37 EDT 1997
My association with Seth went through two periods. We were first friends for about three years in Hawaii when we were both graduate students. Then we were roommates in the period during which he finished his dissertation and moved on to bigger, better, and far more exciting things.
We met because he had befriended my cousin (and fellow graduate student and roommate), Bill McCurdy, and the two of them also knew a graduate student in genetics, Val Giddings. Bill introduced the two of them to me.
In those days the four of us convened "Spaghetti Sauce Symposia"--Friday night bullshit sessions. While we cooked, ate, and digested spaghetti dinner (I won't mention wine), we discussed questions like, "If God is good and omnipotent, how can there be evil?" [answer: there is no god] and "Does science have moral values, and if not, should it?" and "Can good literature be immoral?" and "To what extent does the science in science fiction have to coincide with the current state of science?" As I recall, Seth was agnostic regarding the latter. Perhaps his chemistry training made him suspicious of "objective science" with its history of Lavoisier's theory of acids, of Dalton's caloric, and of phlogiston. What would today's science have to do with tomorrow's science? Generally, however, I remember that (1) you could simply not count on Seth to have a knee-jerk reaction and (2) he would on occasion change his mind. Neither of these attributes applied to the rest of us.
Seth had a greater background than any of us in science fiction and, especially, fandom. He never quite understood how any of us could read science fiction omnivorously and not read fanzines or be totally "into" fandom--but he tolerated our quirks and idiosyncracies I think in the calm belief that if we were simply to deliberate long enough, we would see the superiority of involvement and "convert." In other words, we didn't know what we were missing. But he would do his best to educate us and be patient until we understood. He even inaugerated a little fanzine (I forget the name) to introduce us to the joys of fandom--oh, and for far better reasons as well.
I got to know Seth better when we were roommates, for roommates, of course, have to negotiate day-to-day living. How are we going to divide up the space in the refrigerator--that sort of thing. So I guess it was during that time that I finally understood--and appreciated--what I can only call Seth's goofiness.
I don't mean "goofy" at all in a derogatory or perjorative sense but as the most fitting encomium I can offer him. He just didn't operate in the universe the way the rest of us did, and so much the better for him.
For example, let's face it, he had a goofy smile, one that no still camera could capture because Seth's smile was a process over a period of time, culminating in his characteristic chuckle. And it was a smile-laugh that came at the strangest--all right, the goofiest--moments, when it was least expected and most appreciated. Once a friend of mine was discussing how one of her acquaintances had almost a perverse relationship with his car, almost sexual; in the reverential pause that followed this diatribe, Seth commented wryly, almost to himself, "Ah, true auto-eroticism," and THEN gave his smile-laugh.
The crazy hank of hair aided and abetted the goofiness, of course. People who think chemists are nattily-dressed, clean-shaven, conservative squares should have met Seth in his salad years. I take it his tonsorial elegence did not remarkably change following graduation.
My enduring image of Seth, whenever I think of him, is a moving picture of his smile-laugh process, beginning with a twinkle in the eye that expanded to his cheeks--a grin and a laugh and a joie de vivre and-- All that stuff. It was a non-standard, characteristically Seth sort of moment, that laugh, and is, therefore, my most enduring image.
Seth had agreed with the landlord that we would do the gardening for a rent rebate, which meant we were responsible for the spider-plants that the landlord wanted to grow in the front yard. That may be all well and good, but how could Seth and I divvy up that responsibility equitibly? We tried all sorts of arrangements; any one of them COULD have worked. None of them ever did. He took one week and I took the next. That didn't work. (We were both graduate students, after all, and who could anticipate the demands of graduate work far enough in advance to schedule something a week away?) So then he took one half the yard and I took the other. That didn't work. (Just exactly what would be a half of a yard, and how could you determine whether one only watered one half the yard or both halves. . . .) Then we agreed we would meet and work together on the whole yard every Saturday for a couple hours. That didn't work, either. (See above, re graduate school.) In fact, nothing ever worked. Indeed, the one constant was that constantly nothing we planned to do while we lived together ever got done. Finally we had a conversation in which we realized that nothing was working and nothing ever would work and so, "What the hell." Can there be any goofier a realization than that?
Until a friend of mine pointed it out, I didn't realize that Seth even had goofy working habits: He left for work at sundown and came home to sleep at sunup. "Well," she said indignantly, when once he came home through the front door at four in the morning, waking her up, "How many other people do you know who do that?" Well, to tell you the truth, I had never thought about it. I guess that HAD I thought about it, I would have thought that Seth dealt with computers, and the midnight hour was the best time for getting on the computer, and how else was he to order his life? But in a way, to tell you the truth, I was nonplussed because it seemed to me that Seth's working hours somehow simply FIT Seth and anything else would have seemed strange.
But he must've heard her complain, or maybe she said something to him, because from then on, he came through the backdoor when he came home.
During the time we were roommates, his constant companion was Leslie, whom most of you know, I take it, equally into speculative fiction and fandom, it appeared to me. They had a host of friends coming to Honolulu, either on the way through to some other place or (sometimes) to visit. It appeared to me Seth was always the gracious host. I would come home from someplace and find him preparing once more to pack off people to one of his favorite eateries or directing them on how to take the bus tour of upper Manoa Valley (not the 7 minute version, but the standard one, including Paradise Park) or something else. Where the hell did all those people come from? Maybe someone can enlighten me.
After a bad day he once quite uncharacteristically snapped at me for my habitual practice of parking my bike in the way. Well, he was right. I was being pretty insensitive about where I parked my bike. Later, however, he apologized, not for being right about his objection, but for the way he raised it. I still remember his words: "I was much too violent." I still grin when I remember that, because for Seth, that was indeed "violent."
I guess, however, that this is my most delightful memory of Seth: One day he came home from the lab all aglow. He had his grin-laugh going, and somehow managed to be ebulliant and radiant, both. He had made a DISCOVERY! As I recall (and please don't correct me if I'm wrong) he was at the time doing x-ray crystallography, determining (as I understand it) the physical structure of various molecules. One problem with one substance was this: The research team knew there had to be an oxygen atom in the molecule somewhere, but they could not figure out where it was, on the "right" or on the "left" (or something like that). In any event, the evidence was ambiguous. Seth had a brainstorm and suggested that maybe--just maybe, now--the oxygen atom could be in a hole in the very middle. So they checked the size of the hole and compared it to the size of the oxygen atom, and it seemed as though it COULD be. And as my memory goes, then they did something x-ray-ish on the crystallography-ish, and lo and behold, there it was! He was so damned happy when he came home, with his sheepish, happy-go-lucky grin.
He was, I think, at that moment more who-he-was than at any other time I knew him--he was, well, yes, characteristically goofy.
All right, maybe "giddy" would be a better word.
After his graduation, he went on to work with computers at SLAC and to investigate even more closely the constituents of matter or whatever, and I never saw him again; and since that was in medieval times, in the era before e-mail, we had to rely on snail mail--and our snail mail connection petered out slowly. We last exchanged letters about a decade ago.
He nevertheless remained an important part of my life in the following ways, I discovered: First, he had been a wonderful interlocutor during those "spaghetti sauce symposia," and whenever I addressed an issue in later life, I always did so thinking unconsciously that Seth was one of the members of my audience. Second, he had been a wonderful roommate, putting up with my bike, my girlfriends, and my philosophical bizarreness; and whenever I was a roommate in later life, I tried as best I could to emulate him. And third, he had that "goofy" (all right, "giddy") penchant for life that I would liked to have copied--but frankly, I lacked his calm self-assurance and confidence and self-esteem. All right, unperturbable "cockiness" in a way.
Like all of you, I suppose, I always thought that if I needed to, I could contact him again, especially in the days of e-mail and CD-ROMs and information-technology. To have received an early morning telephone call and be told that he had died suddenly leaves a very strange hole in my existence--like losing a molar. You just keep probing at the hole with your tongue, not quite believing that that tooth is gone. Not that one. Another one, maybe, but not that one. It had never given you any trouble before.
Alice Goldberg email@example.com Mon Apr 14 11:22:16 PDT 1997
Thanks to all who posted a note here. It told me a lot about Seth that I didn't know and clarified a lot I did know. Yes, we will all miss him.
Michael Okuda Thu Apr 17 17:36:31 PDT 1997
April 8, 1997
Seth Goldberg was a very special human being. He was imaginative, friendly, thoughtful, quiet, and even shy. He could also be opinionated, argumentative, egotistical and sometimes even obnoxious. Yet he was also brilliant, and proud of being exactly who he was.
Permeating it all was the insatiable curiosity of a child, and an innocent sense of wonder about the world. Both of these qualities drew him into the worlds of science fiction and of real science and engineering.
I met Seth in the late Seventies when we both attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa. One night in early 1978, Seth and I sat around, complaining about the latest batch of sequel movies, bemoaning the lack of creativity in some of them. We shuddered in horror at the thought that someone might someday attempt a sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey. (This was, of course, years before Clarke did exactly that). Anyway, Seth quipped that a sequel was pointless, because all that would happen would be that the Starchild would return to Earth, and, finding humanity wanting, destroy the planet of his origin. It was a typically acerbic Goldberg observation, and we both laughed. A moment later, a light bulb went off over both of our heads. We talked about it for a few hours, coming to the conclusion that this was something that could be animated on film fairly easily, even with the modest production resources available to a couple of college students. With the help of our friend, Alan Kobayashi, we shot some very simple animation on sixteen millimeter film. It was crude, but we thought it was funny.
A few weeks later, we premiered our little gag film at Iguanacon, the 1978 World Science Fiction Convention. Seth somehow managed to get "2002" scheduled late at night, right after the screening of 2001. I stood in the back of the room with Seth and Leslie, waiting nervously as our scratchy soundtrack sounded the plagiarized notes of "Thus Spake Zarathustra," and our little film flickered to life. There were a few groans from the audience as the economy - well, okay, cheapness - of our production became quickly evident. I wanted to hide, but Seth remained supremely confident in the genius of his creation. One and a half agonizing minutes later, we watched the Starchild blow up the big blue marble and smile at the audience. It was over.
To my considerable relief, the audience loved it. They roared with laughter and rewarded us with thunderous applause. A few even rose to their feet in a standing ovation. Seth jumped up when someone in the audience called for the film's writer, and the applause surged again. We both grinned when someone wondered loudly if it was too late for "2002" to be considered for that year's Hugo Awards, but Seth beamed with special pride, because it was his idea.
Last year, I saw Seth at LA Con III, the 1996 World Science Fiction Convention. We talked briefly, but Seth was working as a Hugo Awards administrator, so he didn't have much time to chat. We did reflect on the good fortune that we both shared, to have followed careers shaped by our love of science fiction. We reminisced a little about "2002," but then he had to go.
It was the last time I ever saw Seth, but it was enough to reassure me that the business world had not extinguished the sense of wonder in his heart. He still loved science fiction, and he took pride in his role in promoting the genre to kids like himself, hoping to inspire others to experience the wonder of it all.
I can't believe my friend is gone, but as long as we, his friends, share his sense of wonder and his child-like curiosity, a part of him will live in our hearts.
Michael Okuda was recruited by Seth Goldberg and Leslie Blitman in 1977 to join the Honolulu Science Fiction Society. Mike currently works as Scenic Art Supervisor for Star Trek, and is a co-author of four Star Trek books. He is a member of the American Civil Liberties Union.
rick albertson firstname.lastname@example.org Fri Jun 27 16:58:05 PDT 1997
Oh, Goddess, oh no... after a decade-long hiatus from fandom, I on a whim decided to search Yahoo for the term "LASFAPA", and the first thing I saw was this memorial...
I discovered West Coast fandom through LASFAPA, and Seth through his contributions there. I was a die-hard LASFAPAN myself for many years, and had my own flirtations with SMOFdom along the way... I travelled a lot in those days, and got to LA often enough to make a number of friends and lovers there, but never got to meet him in person. But I still considered him someone whom I knew, and who I considered a friend even if it was once-removed.
I was surprised, and proud, when later on I discovered how well-known and significant his contributions were to neep-neepery in general as well as his fannish activities. And whenever I've tried to describe my apa days to other folks, and what they meant and how they worked, I always ended up describing LASFAPA -- and talking about Seth.
How much I now regret coming back to the fold after such a lapse, and hoping to find him here, constant and pithy as ever -- and finding out that I was too late.
Goddess rest ye, Seth, and may ye post forever from the stars...
Michele Armstrong email@example.com Fri Feb 6 14:10:02 PST 1998
Hey there, Goldberg, you knew it would take me this long to write something for you, didn't you? Just like I always wrote for the apas in which you involved me, always at the last minute, unedited, uncontrived, except that we had discussed all the topics in detail every which way from Sunday before you sat down to write your short and well-crafted replies and I my bumptious and bumbling blather...
But I actually stopped and thought about this little piece... stopped for, oh, over ten months now. But I knew you'd be patient, like you always were with me, no matter what or how or when or why. I'm sorry you didn't get a chance to read the obituary I put in the SF Chronicle (that's San Francisco Chronicle, for the information of all your fannish friends) for you, because you were so shy about being recognized for the most wonderful person that you were. So let me tell you what I said, more or less--fittingly, I don't have a copy of what I wrote, since you were the one who kept everything I wrote, in your inimitable keep-everything style. (And last February, in 1997, mind you, you brought out something I wrote in 1989, just to prove I had mis-remembered something! And, blast you, you were right!)
I wrote something like, "Seth was a passionate and compassionate man, who loved David Bratman, Celia Chapman, and Michele Armstrong...and who died literally and figuratively of a broken heart, and not just because his beloved Dodgers were being sold." (Your friends can hear your snort of derision, but we know how you loved baseball, and the Dodgers especially. Why'd you have to leave just when the Giants and Dodgers battled until the last game of the season to win their division, huh? Oooh, the arguments we could have had!)
I'm not sure you know how well-loved you were. Certainly you were the only man I know who stayed friends with practically every woman with whom he became involved; your kindness and caring superceded any pain when each relationship turned out not to be "the one and only". Your friends are intensely loyal, and you would have been surprised at the amount of tears shed at your memorial service. You cared for all of them, and they knew it, and they miss you, even as some of us know how much we hurt you.
But your great heart, caring for everyone, never received the comfort and nurturing it needed, even as, and, perhaps, because you kept all the connections open. I know you were in terrible emotional pain about it, and I think it killed you in the end. The doctors never figured out why...I figure my guess is as good as theirs...I certainly knew you a lot better than they did.
Enough to know what a passionate person lived behind that shy exterior...someone who was passionate about order and detail (oh, those statistics!), about intelligence and objective thought ("observe behaviour", you always told me, "take the long view and watch closely"), and, well, in your own word, *that*. All the girlfriends giggled at your memorial service through their tears, you know, because you were so darn good at *that*.
There are many of us who miss you desperately, Seth, for all the reasons listed in all of the messages above, and in this one. Would that you could have felt loved the way you loved your friends...for we loved you.
Walter Willis firstname.lastname@example.org Thu Jul 9 05:14:59 PDT 1998
I never really knew Seth that well. He was just another friendly guy at Pensfa. When I see what his friends wrote about him, it makes me wish I'd known him better when he was around.
Alice Goldberg email@example.com Sat Mar 20 16:53:58 PST 1999
It's been 2 years and it doesn't get any easier.
Michele Armstrong firstname.lastname@example.org Fri Mar 26 21:20:17 PST 1999
No, it doesn't...and sometimes, it even gets harder.
Jonathan Boswell email@example.com Wed Oct 13 14:40:22 PDT 1999
I attended Harvey Mudd College with Seth, and greatly regret his passing. I remember him as one of the more pricipled individuals at college, but with a remarkable streak of warmth and sensitivity most people probably never noticed.
One night I was walking past his dorm room, and I spotted on his door a poem so lovely that I committed it to memory on the spot. Unfortunately it had no attribution. Nevertheless, 25 years later, I've remembered it well enough to discover that it was written by a 19th century author of children's fairy tales named Dinah Marie Muloch Craik. It went like this:
Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort Of feeling safe with a person. Having neither to weigh thoughts, not measure words-- But pouring them all right out just as they are, Chaff and grain together-- certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them--- Keep what is worth keeping--- And with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away."
---Dinah Marie Muloch Craik
Michele Armstrong firstname.lastname@example.org Tue Nov 16 12:11:11 PST 1999
Happy belated 47th birthday, Seth, and happy belated 17th anniversary too. No flowers this time, just memories. YDSKWIM.
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