Mourning a Fallen Scholar
I had the pleasure of meeting Steve Tompkins in person only once, at a World Fantasy Convention, but I had known him for many years prior, and maintained a fairly regular correspondence with him up until the time of his unexpected death.
Steve was bright, and passionate, and gifted. He was enormously well read, and even today, ten years after his death, I sometimes think about him, especially when I myself critically contemplate the work of Robert E. Howard. I am certain he would have continued to contribute to REH scholarly studies, just as I am fairly sure he would have cast his net even more broadly as the years passed. I should love to have read what he might have written about Leigh Brackett, another writer whose work we both adored. I once sent him an essay discussing her, knowing he’d provide helpful and insightful feedback, and he told me that when he got to one line I’d written about the excellence of her prose, he’d stood at work and given a fist pump. That accolade from him was better than a starred review from anywhere else.
I should have liked to have read what else Steve had in him. And I should like to have sat down with him in person again.
I dedicated one of the Harold Lamb volumes I edited to him, in part because I knew Steve would have loved to have held it. But it was in part because I wanted in some small way to preserve his name, so that others would see it, and maybe pull out some of his essays and see again what a fine and brilliant fellow he was.