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cultural vandal | by maryann johanson

a sad story about the fannish life

This appeared in The New York Times recently:

F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre lived in two dimensions.

The F stood for Fergus. That was how neighbors in his working-class neighborhood in deep Brooklyn knew him: a bearish pariah holed up in a fetid apartment stuffed with a lifetime of newspapers, books, belongings and all sorts of trash, who worked nights as a printer in Manhattan and ranted about his horrid childhood.

The F also stood for Froggy. That’s what fans in the rabid science-fiction world on the Internet called him: a witty and eloquent man prone to using obscure words and coining new ones, who published numerous books, articles and short stories to great acclaim and spun fantastic tales about his travels.

Both were vaporized June 25. In a dramatic farewell that could have come from Froggy’s pen, Mr. MacIntyre, according to fire officials, methodically set ablaze the contents of the apartment in Bensonhurst where he had lived for a quarter-century. First the flames consumed a lifetime of possessions; then they feasted on his weary flesh, ending his painful 59-year earthly existence. Born in Scotland, raised in Australia — or so he said, in his impeccable British regional accent — he now lies unclaimed in a Brooklyn morgue.

And it goes on and one about the oddities of this man’s life… oddities that are not so odd if you’ve ever moved in fannish circles and have met some of the very, very strange people who are drawn to science fiction. Strange even to the eyes of people who don’t think Doctor Who is weird.

It’s almost an understatement to call tragic the story, as it unfolds in the Times, but there doesn’t seem to be another word that covers it.

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