Walking with the dinosaurs: Vic Milan

The science fiction world lost another great one tonight, as Victor Milan left us. Pneumonia as a complication of myeloma. Dammit.

Active since the late 1970s, Vic has an impressive bibliography under his own and several other names in a career spanning more than 90 books and 43 years. Winner of the Prometheus Award, Vic divided his time between media tie-ins and original fiction, writing both Star Trek and dinosaurs, romance and BattleTech.

In his own words, he was a cowboy, semi-pro actor, a radio DJ, pizza deliverer, tech support, and oh yeah, a writer. For some reason, I have no problem imagining Vic as a cowboy, and a much harder time imagining him as a pizza boy.

He was well-known as a gracious and passionate writer, a gentleman of the first order. He lived in Albuquerque, but returned to our region every year as the perennial emcee of the Archon masquerade - a role he has held as long as I can remember. Faced with cosplay of all kinds and skits both terrific and... odd ... he held his own with dry wit and aplomb, keeping the jokes friendly with a wink to the audience.

It's hard to imagine Archon without him. It's hard to imagine that I knew the man since I began touring as an author and don't seem to have a single picture of us together. He was the guy who always remembered to wish you a happy birthday, and treated you with the same respect he would treat a Hugo winner, even if you were a nobody ebook author no one had ever read.

Once upon a time, an absolutely epic signing was scheduled: Vic Milan, Esther Friesner, Murv Sellars, and my husband Jim. I threatened various unseemly acts to get in on that signing, but Jim insisted on doing his own. Because that, my friends, was a lineup of kings and queens. (And Vic could talk Godzilla with Jim like a boss.)

Once upon a time, Vic reposted a piece of writing advice I'd dug up from the interwebs. It read:
1. Write 50 words. That's a paragraph.
2. Write 400 words. That's a page.
3. Write 300 pages. That's a manuscript.
4. Write every day. That's a habit.
5. Edit and rewrite. That's how you get better.
6. Spread your writing for people to comment. That's called feedback.
7. Don't worry about rejection or publication. That's a writer.
8. When not writing, read. Read from writers better than you. Read and perceive.

But Vic added his own advice:
9. Break it down into the simplest possible steps, then proceed to do them systematically.
10. Gradually build up. 
11. The greatest single factor in future success is persistence.
Indeed, these things hold true for pretty much every endeavor. And dammit, they aren't just old saws or easy-meme aphorisms. They work.

He shared his experience with everyone, and was one of the few authors I knew who never let ego out of the box. Once upon a time I polled all my author friends who would stand still for advice for new writers. Vic gave them this: "Don't let anybody tell you there's a 'right' way to write. Just write."

Everyone liked Vic; I never heard anyone say anything bad about him, and that's pretty rare in this business. When he first got sick eight years ago, we banded together to auction off our work to help raise money for his medical bills. We take care of our own, yes... but Vic was special.

We are losing too many of our mentors.

Walk with the dinosaurs, Vic. It goes without saying that Archon will never be the same. More importantly, the starscape of the writing world is all the dimmer for your loss.


  1. Thanks for the words about Vic, Elizabeth. What a shock. He was a sweet guy, and I don't say that about a lot of people.

  2. "Archon will never be the same." - That sums it up right there. :-(


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