It is comforting that when I heard the news today about the death of Phil Klass, who wrote science fiction under the pen name William Tenn, I was among fans. Phil was a gentle, witty, sardonic, deliciously satirical man, and it was a very great pleasure and honor to count him among the guests of Noreascon Four. He and his wife Fruma were marvelous to be with, and my deepest sympathies go to her and all of their family and many friends and admirers.
In 2002, I was at dinner in Pittsburgh with Phil and Fruma, my husband Mike, and Jim and Laurie Mann, and I asked Phil if there was anything special he wanted to do as our Guest at N4. He honestly *twinkled* at me when he said, "Well, I've always wanted to dance naked on stage." Fruma gave him a look (a very well practiced look, one suspects), and I snorted. We moved on.
But never one to withhold a good story from my friends, I made sure everyone on the N4 committee (well, as many as I could) heard about his answer.
And when we needed a title for the book NESFA Press produced to coincide with his GoH appearance in Boston, I kept bugging Laurie (who edited the book) ("Oh, c'monnnnn...see if he'll do it...") with my choice. Eventually, Fruma rolled her eyes and capitulated, and the book was titled Dancing Naked. It joined the other two books NESFA had published by Phil: Immodest Proposals and Here Comes Civilization.
It was at the Millennium Philcon when Phil came back to Worldcon. We were delighted that our win in the Worldcon site selection there meant that "William Tenn" could be appreciated by a new generation (or two) of fandom. And it was there that NESFA had Here Comes Civilization available for the first time. Phil was to do a signing at the NESFA Sales table in the dealers room, and one of our people (I don't remember who...Jim, maybe?) was escorting him to the table. There was a long line of people lined up near the door of the dealers room.
"What are those people standing in line for?" Phil asked.
"They're waiting for your signing, Phil," was the reply.
Now that was a glorious day...when a man who thought SF fandom had forgotten him discovered how much he was missed.
And he will be missed. I think the Hebrew is alav ha-shalom.