Just barely a month ago, I was sitting on a panel next to writer Ann Crispin hashing out issues with the film, Star Trek: Into Darkness. I’d known she’d been battling cancer for some time, but I was surprised how well she seemed. I guess she was very good at hiding it, for she passed away on September 6, 2013, just 3 days after posting to her fans that she was not doing well after all. She was 63 years old.
Ann was a gifted science fiction and fantasy writer. She wrote Star Wars novels, V novels, the StarBridge series, and created novels and backstory for Pirates of the Caribbean, but her Star Trek novels, Yesterday’s Son, and later, Sarek, are often regarded as among the best Star Trek novels ever written; they are certainly in my top ten, and I’ve read hundreds. Ann knew and truly loved her material, and it showed in her clever and conscientious works. Earlier this year, she was named the 2013 Grandmaster by the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers.
A native of Connecticut, Ann served as Regional Director and later Vice-President of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. She cofounded Writer Beware, a subgroup of the SFWA, to help writers avoid the myriad con artists and scams aimed at them, and prosecute the people running them. At her workshops she would drill into her students, “Money flows to the writer, never away. If someone is asking you for money up front to publish your work, run. It is a scam.”
Ann was a frequent guest at science-fiction conventions, often running workshops for writers, one of which I attended perhaps 15 years ago. Ann was a tough teacher and a tough editor, which was not unreasonable. Like Hollywood, the writing industry is a tough business, and it’s best to get the stars out of your eyes at the start. While I felt gifted for not getting her “You need to go back and take a class in basic grammar and sentence structure” speech, my hands shook for the next year with every word I put to paper. She helped greatly, but at the time it felt like getting pushed off a cliff.
Ann’s books will survive, but they are a shadow to such a brilliant and talented writer.