Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Ken Rand (1946-2009)

About a month ago, I was looking through some second hand books and saw a copy of Star Trek Strange New Worlds II which, I remembered, had a story by my friend, Ken Rand. Flipping through the volume, I saw his story, "I Am Klingon," on page 107 and knew I had to add the book to my steadily growing library. The find also left me wondering how Ken was doing, I knew his health had been in decline for a while. Shortly thereafter, I got the sad news that Ken had passed away on the 21st of April.
I first met Ken in Logan, Utah at CON2it, the short lived spin off of the CONduit sci-fi convention. As Ken would later recall, "You, me and the other dozen people who were there had a good time." While there were slightly more than a dozen people in attendance, it still was a rather small gathering. It was there that I first had the opportunity to hear Ken talk about the craft of writing and I purchased a copy of his book, "The 10% Solution: Self-editing for the Modern Writer." He was kind enough to autograph if for me, "Stan - I hope this helps - at least 10%!"
Ken's hope did pan out. After reading the book, I got all inspired and started writing. One of the stories that came out of that fit of inspiration was, "Drug Runner," it ended up winning the Weber State writing contest in the fiction category and got published in volume 19 of the university's literary magazine, Metaphor.
At CONduit 11, somebody was kind enough to get several copies of Metaphor and put them on the, "Freebie table," with a note mentioning my story and that I was a convention member. Right in the middle of a writing panel that guest of honor, Alan Dean Foster, was conducting, Ken saw me in the audience and, rather spontaneously, blurted out, "I read your story, it was really good." It took Mr. Foster a bit to get the discussion back on track. After the panel I got the chance to talk to Ken and tell him how much his book had helped my writing.
We continued to run into each other at conventions and even a meeting of the USS Ticonderoga Star Trek fan club. I like to think that he took some pride in his contribution to my success as a writer. One of our more interesting meetings was at the second Anime Banzai convention, when they packed the student union building of the Salt Lake Community College to the gills with over a thousand fans dressed up like characters from Naruto and Inuyasha among many, many others. Ken got a table in the dealer's room right nest to the manga guest of honor, Amy Reeder Hadley, so he got a lot of foot traffic and interest in his books. We both commented on the size of the convention, who knew it was going to double in size from it's first year? Not to mention the age of the attendees, if I remember the numbers right the mean average age of the people going to the first con was 16.5, making me more than double the average and Ken . . . somewhat more than that.
While my writing is better for having met Ken, I think that my life has been richer for the times I got to share Ken's company. Ken was a friend and a mentor, he was an original character with a great personality, he will be missed and he will be remembered. For those of you who didn't have the chance to know Ken, I recommend you go out and read, "Fairy Brewhaha At The Lucky Nickel Saloon," it should put a smile on your face.
(Photo Credit: CC from Nihonjoe)

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