Today is the official release date for The Last Plane to Heaven: The Final Collection by Jay Lake.
The prolific Lake’s death in 2014, after a long, harrowing, and very public battle with cancer, gives extra weight to these 32 epitaphs. Lake’s command of language is strong and sincere, and his stories of everyday heartaches, filled with secret fears and self-delusion, whisk readers from inner geographies of mind to limitless gulfs of space. Lake’s characters emotionally embody the doomed heroism of Nordic gods sneering at grim fates, finding bittersweet redemption in dark byways of human ignorance. Reality is shattered when an alien controls a hardened mercenary’s dreams in the darkly romantic “Last Plane to Heaven: A Love Story.” Cynical humor greets oblivion in “The Speed of Time.” In surprisingly intelligent space opera (“Permanent Fatal Errors”) and a visit to the City Imperishable (“Promises”), revelations eschew oversentimentality for moral complexity. “Such Bright and Risen Madness in Our Names” injects pathos into the Cthulhu mythos, questioning identity and raising hackles. Malevolent faeries face metaphysical annihilation in a dying young woman’s cancer cells in “Her Fingers Like Whips, Her Eyes Like Razors.” And in “The Cancer Catechism,” Lake discovers faith in the inevitability of death. As he states, “In the end, words are all that survive us”; his fans and friends may find some comfort in the hope that his words will live on forever. — Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
I was away from the internet much of yesterday but news of the passing of my dear friend and talented client, Jay Lake, reached me regardless. I always kept thinking and hoping it would be tomorrow or tomorrow or tomorrow, and never today, that there would be a world with no Jay Lake.
The first time I met Jay Lake was at Worldcon in Toronto in 2003. It sure seems like I’ve known him longer than that. We sat in the lobby of the Fairmont Royal York and talked for a really long time. The first thing he sent me to read was a draft of MAINSPRING. The first cheese he ever bought me was Sottocenere al tartufo. At the time, it was the fanciest cheese I had ever eaten. Last night, in his honor, I bought a cheese I have never tried before.
When it comes to his writing, I hardly know how to talk about it all. So, a few snapshots — I loved his story “America, Such as She Is.” The one that made me cry (on an airplane over the Atlantic) — “Little Pig, Berry Brown and the Hard Moon.” He created amazing worlds in his novels — from the clockwork earth of MAINSPRING to the exotic lands of GREEN and TRIAL OF FLOWERS. There’s a novel he told me about that was called BLACK TULIP that I really hoped he would get to write. He had so many ideas. In one of the first emails I ever wrote him, I said I thought he had a boundless imagination.
The last time I saw Jay Lake was at his home in Portland and at Orycon last November. We had a lovely dinner at Little Bird Bistro for my birthday and I was so pleased he got to try something there he’d never had before. And at another dinner that week I got to try the family recipe for momo’s.
I’m sorry we won’t be making new memories or talking about new stories, and I’ll miss him, but I’m glad for all we got to share over these years. My heart goes out to his family, especially his amazing daughter Bronwyn. Even knowing this was coming, it still arrived too quickly and too suddenly. I hope Jay finds that death really is but the next great adventure…
As reported elsewhere around the internet:
Jay Lake is an award-winning American author of ten science fiction novels and over 300 short stories. He is also one of more than a million Americans who have colon cancer. Diagnosed in April, 2008, Jay’s cancer has progressed from a single tumor to metastatic disease affecting the lung and liver, recurring after multiple surgeries and chemotherapy courses, and multiplying from single tumor presentations to multiple tumors presentations. Jay is now in his fourth round of chemotherapy, but it’s not clear that it’s working, and his doctors have little to go on in terms of advising further courses of treatment for him. In short, things are not looking good for Jay. Not at all.
A group of science fiction and fantasy authors have joined forces to raise funds for Jay by committing Acts of Whimsy on the internet. These range from Cherie Priest’s Steampunk fashion show for pets to Neil Gaiman’s cover of a Magnetic Fields song on the ukulele.
You can pledge here to help unlock one of these Acts of Whimsy and support Jay.