News Obituaries

Amy SF

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I thought this would be a good place to post obituaries of notable persons when we don't want to start a new thread for a specific person, but do want to note his or her passing.

I'll start with Daniel Keyes, the author of "Flowers for Algernon", one of the most heartbreaking and brilliant stories I've ever read in my life.


Daniel Keyes, whose fascination with the workings of the mind drove a writing career that produced the classic 1966 novel "Flowers for Algernon," died Sunday at his South Florida home from complications of pneumonia, his family said. He was 86.

"Flowers for Algernon," which Keyes initially wrote as a short story, goes inside the head of Charlie Gordon, a man with an IQ of 68 who is painfully aware of his mental limits and yearns to be smart.

The novel takes the form of Charlie's journal entries or "progris riports," which are filled with his spelling and grammatical mistakes until he undergoes an operation that enhances his intelligence, much as it had with Algernon, the lab mouse that had the surgery first. But when Algernon regresses, Charlie realizes that the same fate awaits him.

"I was deeply moved and always in awe of the way Keyes used subtle changes in voice to illustrate the mutating nature of Charlie's intelligence," Steven Gould, president of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, said this week. "Today I'm finding it incredibly poignant that Charlie's last expressed wish in both the short story and the novel is that someone put flowers on Algernon's grave."

"Flowers for Algernon" brought Keyes some of the highest honors in science fiction: the Hugo Award for the 1959 short story and the Nebula Award for the novel. It also inspired numerous adaptations, including a 1980 Broadway musical and a 2000 TV movie starring Matthew Modine. The most famous adaptation, however, was the 1968 movie "Charly," which starred Cliff Robertson in an Academy Award-winning performance.
 

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One beneficiary of his philanthropy, the Sea Shepherd Society, which opposes whale hunting, named one of its boats for Mr. Simon. (Others are also named for celebrity supporters.) In 2011, his Sam Simon Foundation started a program that provides low-income families with free vegan meals.

Asked whether he was imposing his own vegan diet on those his charity served, Mr. Simon said: “They can eat all the meat they want. I’m just not going to pay for it.”
More: Sam Simon, Who Guided ‘The Simpsons,’ Then Shared His Profits, Dies at 59 (March 9, 2015)