R.I.P. Joel Rosenberg 1954 – 2011

Joel Rosenberg died June 2nd, a day after he suffered a respiratory depression that caused a heart attack, anoxic brain damage and major organ failure.

His wife, Felicia G. Herman, posted on her blog “In accordance with his wishes, he shared the gift of life through organ and tissue donation. He is survived by his daughters, Judith Eleanor and Rachel Hannah, and his wife, Felicia Herman. Today [June 3rd] would have been his 32nd wedding anniversary.”

Joel Rosenberg (May 1, 1954 – June 2, 2011) was a Canadian American science fiction and fantasy author best known for his long-running “Guardians of the Flame” series.

Writing career
Rosenberg began publishing in 1978, with an op-ed piece in The New York Times favoring nuclear power.

His first published fiction, “Like the Gentle Rains”, appeared in Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine in 1982. The following year, he published his first novel, The Sleeping Dragon which was the first in his long-running Guardians of the Flame series. This series placed a collection of college students into a fantasy setting similar to a role-playing world. Throughout numerous books, Rosenberg has traced these characters, their descendants and the changes they have made to society. He has shown no compunction about killing off popular characters.

The “Keepers of the Hidden Ways” trilogy similarly places people from the real world into a fantasy setting, making heavy use of Norse mythology. A third fantasy series, consisting of the novels D’Shai (1991) and Hour of the Octopus (1994) (both lightly humorous mysteries) is set in an Asian-influenced fantasy world with very strict cultural standards and etiquette.

Paladins, the first in his “Mordred’s Heirs” series, was published by Baen Books in September 2004; the second, Knight Moves was published in November 2006. This series, an “alternate fantasy history”, takes place in a world where Mordred defeated King Arthur, establishing the Pendragon Dynasty.

Science fiction
In addition to fantasy, Rosenberg wrote a number of science fiction novels. Although dealing with different characters, Ties of Blood and Silver (1984) and Emile and the Dutchman (1986) are both set in the same setting. Two other books set in this setting, Not for Glory (1988) and Hero (1990), focus on family members of the Metzadan Mercenary Corps from the Jewish (and others) settled World of Metzada (Masada).

In recent years, Rosenberg turned his hand to mysteries, publishing Home Front, the first of his “Sparky Hemingway” mysteries in 2003; the second, Family Matters, was published in early 2004.

Themes and influences
Rosenberg’s novels frequently feature the theme of freedom (particularly in the Guardians of the Flame series, where the initial characters make it their life’s goal to abolish slavery in their new world) and the right to keep and bear arms. Other themes include protecting children at all costs, and the message that people can overcome hardships and abuse suffered as children.

His heroes also frequently find inspiration in the heroic figures of the Greek classics and of American folklore and history.

Biographical source: Wikipedia

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