Jay Lake (1964-2014)

Author Jay Lake, 49, died June 1, 2014 of cancer.

Lake began to write seriously in 2000, when he joined the Wordos writing group. First story “The Courtesy of Guests” appeared in September 2001, and he soon became one of the most prolific writers in the field, publishing over 300 stories in his too-short career. Notable stories include Hugo nominee “Into the Gardens of Sweet Night” (2003), Hugo and Nebula Award finalist “The Stars Do Not Lie” (2012), Sturgeon Memorial Award finalist “The Weight of History, the Lightness of the Future” (2012), and novellas The Baby Killers (2009), The Specific Gravity of Grief (2010), and Love in the Time of Metal and Flesh (2013).

His stories have been collected in Greetings from Lake Wu (2003, illustrated by Frank Wu), Green Grow the Rushes-Oh (2003), American Sorrows (2004), Dogs in the Moonlight (2004), The River Knows Its Own (2007), The Sky That Wraps (2010), and forthcoming The Last Plane to Heaven. On the strength of his stories, he won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2004.

First novel Rocket Science appeared in 2005. Other books include the “New Weird” City Imperishable sequence: Trial of Flowers (2006) and Madness of Flowers (2009); the Mainspring series, with Sidewise Award nominee and Campbell Memorial Award finalist Mainspring (2007), Escapement (2008), and Pinion (2010); the Green series: Green (2009), Endurance (2011), and Kalimpura (2013); and short novel Death of a Starship (2009). Fantasy novel Our Lady of the Islands, co-written with Lake’s frequent collaborator Shannon Page, is forthcoming.

Lake’s last major project was his ambitious Sunspin space opera sequence, with many stories set in the universe published and work done on related novels, beginning with Calamity of So Long a Life.

Lake was also an accomplished anthologist. He co-edited the first sixth volumes of the Polyphony series with Deborah Layne (2002-2006), All-Star Zeppelin Adventure Stories (2004, with David Moles), TEL: Stories (2005), Spicy Slipstream Stories (2008, with Nick Mamatas), The Exquisite Corpuscle (2008, with Frank Wu), Other Earths (2009, with Nick Gevers), and Footprints (2009, with Eric T. Reynolds). He was a World Fantasy Award finalist in 2004 and 2005 for editing Polyphony.

Joseph Edward Lake, Jr. was born June 6, 1964 in Taiwan. His father was a foreign service officer, and Lake grew up in Taiwan and Nigeria. He attended high school at the Choate Rosemary Hall boarding school in Connecticut and graduated from the University of Texas in 1986, lived in Austin until 2000, then relocated to Portland OR. He worked in advertising and for dot-coms but spent most of his career doing marketing for a telecommunications company. He married Susan Mendes in 1993 (they separated in 2004), and they adopted their daughter Bronwyn in 1998.

In 2008, Lake was diagnosed with colon cancer. Though that mass was successfully removed, he later developed tumors in his lung and liver, which led to more surgeries and rounds of chemotherapy over the years. Lake acquired new fame as an outspoken cancer survivor and blogger, discussing the details of his illness and efforts to navigate the health care industry with frankness and, often, humor. Lake and his cancer battle were the subject of a documentary film, Lakeside – A Year with Jay Lake, which was screened at Worldcon in 2013 and is scheduled for release later this year. Lake held a fundraiser to have his entire genome sequenced, both in hopes of finding information that might aid his doctors in treatment, and to add to the body of scientific knowledge about cancer. He entered hospice care in May 2014.

Lake is survived by his partner Lisa Costello and his daughter.

See the July issue of Locus for a complete obituary and appreciations.