Aly Parsons (1952-2020)

Writer, fan, and organizer Aly Parsons, 67, died February 9, 2020 of a heart attack and complications of kidney failure. Parsons was a catalyst for the Washington DC science fiction writing community, founding and organizing a writers’ group that, in its 40-year history, included many prominent SF writers in the area, including Catherine Asaro, John Hemry (AKA Jack Campbell), Edward M. Lerner, Bud Sparhawk, Carolyn Ives Gilman, Robert Chase, Annette Curtis Klause, Paula Volsky, and others. She co-directed programming for a number of conventions, including the 1981-89 Unicons and the 2003 World Fantasy Convention. She and her husband Paul Parsons, who died in 2008, hosted the Potomac River Science Fiction Society (“Prissyfish”) for 12 years.

Born Susan Weidler in 1952, she battled diabetes and kidney failure all her life, and went partially blind in 1977 and totally blind in 2009. She wrote SF/F from childhood, but only became serious when she learned she was going blind. She sold the first two stories she submitted, and one was selected by Marion Zimmer Bradley for her second Darkover anthology, Sword of Chaos (1982). After retiring on medical disability from her job at the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1996, she attended the inaugural Odyssey Workshop. She wrote fiction, memoirs, and poetry. Honors include first prize in a Maryland Writer’s Association contest in 2019 and a Readers’ Choice Award from New Myths in 2019. The need to use screen readers and frequent hospitalizations slowed her writing, but she completed a three-volume fantasy novel and was still revising it when she died. “Worlds wait to be created, and I have always wanted to be one of the creators,” she wrote.

Aly Parsons is survived by her sister Wendy Weidler and her writing group.

—Carolyn Ives Gilman


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