“You need to read this,” he told me
Death claimed many friends in 2022. This year will be better, brighter, someone told me. 2023. Fewer tears, they said.
Five days in and it is worse.
Horribly, horribly worse.
Rembert Parker died last night in an Indiana hospital, surrounded by his family.
He was one of my dearest friends.
Rembert and me trace back to 1983 and Evansville, IN. I had taken a job at The Evansville Press and discovered there was a geek-factor to the city, a vibrant science fiction and game base. My people! At its helm sat Rembert Parker, an actuarial by day, a convention organizer by days-off. He ran Contact on the SF side and Glathricon on the gaming end. After attending a Glathricon and playing all manner of D&D tournaments, Rembert roped me into volunteering for all the cons after that.
He talked me into writing D&D tournaments … which grew into a love of game-writing. I eventually took a job at TSR, Inc. in Lake Geneva, WI., running the RPGA Network. TSR produced the D&D game … DUNGEONS & DRAGONS. Probably wouldn’t have happened for me without Rembert’s nudge. I wrote novels in the Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance lines…which became a springboard for other ventures. And Rembert, at my nudging for a change, volunteered for the RPGA at more conventions than I could count.
Back to Evansville: Rembert’s SF convention featured big-name SF writers … Mike Resnick (who I became buddies with and included in some of my anthologies); Jack Chalker; and Timothy Zahn (who I also became friends with and follow to this day). Because of Rembert, I was able to attend seminars featuring these authors, took copious notes, and learned from them. I had it in my head I was going to write SF.
Rembert lured me to SF conventions outside Evansville … wow, there was a marvelous geek-factor in the Midwest! Rembert helped me discover it. During one Rivercon in Louisville, KY, Rembert tugged me to the dealer’s room, plucked a book off a seller’s table, and thrust it at me. “You need to read this,” he told me.
It was a hardcover copy of George R.R. Martin’s Fevre Dream…vampires on a riverboat. Not my cup of tea, but I bought it–even though I had a paperback budget. Rembert always gave me good advice. George happened to be at the convention, so he signed it for me, and I got to chat at length with him several times that weekend. Fast-forward many years to a World Fantasy Convention. Beth Vaughan and me were sitting in the con suite talking to Joe Haldeman about which books influenced us. I told Joe that when I read Fevre Dream I decided I wanted to write fiction instead of newspaper articles. Joe said after he read Fevre Dream he thought he should stop because he couldn’t equal that. A conversation I would have never shared if it weren’t for Rembert. I published several of Joe’s short stories in anthologies I edited. That probably wouldn’t have happened either without that fateful Fevre Dream nudge from Rembert at Rivercon.
When I switched genres from fantasy and SF to mysteries, Rembert encouraged me and read every one … from Pockets of Darkness to The Bone Shroud to all my Piper Blackwells. The third Piper Blackwell, The Dead of Summer, features a comic book store similar to the one Rembert ran in Anderson, IN. The collectible card game the characters played in the book was called Loot the Castle … named after a series of D&D adventures he wrote in Evansville. Rembert named the fire chief in my work-in-progress, The Dead of Sled Run. He told me he wanted to honor one of his long-time customers.
Rembert had been writing an amazing blog series about old rock tunes and had amassed a significant following. He turned them into books: LOST or Forgotten Oldies (on Amazon). Before that, he wrote a blog about this and that … and I encouraged him to turn those into a book. Again, I got to nudge him for a change. To get an editor, cover, publish it himself … Resisting the Challenges of the 21st Century: How Much Extra Does No Cheese Cost? (Resistance Book 1)
…and it hit Amazon bestseller lists. He was toying with another book before he took ill, something along the lines of: How to Make a Small Fortune With a Comic Book Store … Start With a Large Fortune.
I am going to miss him forever. I can’t imagine how his wonderful wife, Bev, is dealing with this. So many people loved this man.
If you haven’t read one of his books, pick up the first: How Much Extra Does No Cheese Cost?
Rembert friends and fans, gamers who attended those long-ago Glathricons and Contacts, grab a bag of White Castle sliders or slather up a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in his honor.
Truly, I am going to miss him forever.