I only learned early this morning that Tom Disch had killed himself July 4 in his New York City apartment. Even as I was teaching and conferencing and critiquing at Odyssey today, Tom was on my mind.
I didn't know him well, but I had spent a few evenings with him in Leipzig a half dozen years ago. Charles Sheffield and I were there to attend an SF con, at which Charles was GOH. The two men went on a sight-seeing tour (I had a panel). We all had dinner. Tom was charming and funny. We talked about the con, about the unacknowledged work he had done for Disney on THE LION KING, about his long-time companion, Charles Naylor. I told him how much I admired his complex, bleak, brilliant novels.
Suicide is always, I think, something of a mystery. Even when someone is in poor health, in bereavement, feeling isolated, we still say Why? How could he end his life, be so sure that nothing would improve? Things always change over time. Tom was only 68.
I don't know the answers to those questions for Tom Disch. I only know that the SF field has lost a major talent, one of our own.