"Early yesterday, a literary icon passed away in his Florida home.
Erik Abshire, famed author of science-fiction novel The Web, is best known for his visions of the world of tomorrow and what it might bring.
Praised for his 'stunningly realistic' depictions of day-to-day life in an electronic future, Abshire will be remembered as one of America's best science-fiction authors of the 1960's."
A clean, succinct overview of a life. To the outside world, it summed up Erik Abshire well enough. It was pleasant, professional, and understandable. Cut and dry, black and white. Ink on paper.
To those of us who knew him, though, it was an obviously inadequate obituary.
Erik Abshire was an author, yes. He had written a few successful books, settled down, had a family, and made his money from royalty checks,
occasionally shutting himself in his study to pump out a new spaceships-and-aliens paperback. This was undeniably true.
But that was what the man did, not who the man was. Erik Abshire was a person out of time: an enigma, a black hole. Anyone who has met Erik knows that there was something... off about him.
A strange melancholy, a detachment from the world around him. You might call it darkness-- or depression, if you are psychiatrically inclined-- but I don't think these would be quite accurate.
No, Erik Abshire was just... other. From somewhere else; maybe one of the planets he wrote about, maybe from that oft-mentioned "world of tomorrow" that the critics set his books in.
Personally, I knew enough not to ask.
Erik had his whole childhood, his whole backstory up there in his head, but you could always tell that even he never quite believed it when he told it to you.
Born in Michigan, deployed to Korea, moved to Florida: it all fit, and yet you somehow knew it was wrong, a facade floating above reality like oil on water.
Because of all that, the man had a hard time keeping up appearances. He had his wife, and kids, like any normal man, but the tone of his life rang false.
His family was pleasant but quiet, private to an extreme, like the man himself. Nice people, but very odd.
In fact, it was only at the bar, on Fridays, that he would open up, and only to us lucky few. Most of the time, he said nothing of note. Politics, or remarks about his day-to-day life. Normal things.
Occasionally, however, he would go all... weird. Ramblings about things that had never happened, or perhaps events remembered wrongly.
For a while, I thought the guy had some insanity, some fundamental disconnect in him that, for now, only showed itself in inebriation: the sort of sickness nobody talked about back then.
Every so often, though, he said something that would stick with me. A few years ago, he was talking stocks-- some Japanese technology company. It was something none of us had ever heard of.
A couple days later, unable to get the thought out of my head, I bought some shares on a whim. Within a year, I was damn close to being a millionaire because of it.
It was the first of many Erik-picks, and not even the most profitable.
And yet, when I asked Erik about these magical selections, how he knew the machinations of the stock market, his eyes would gloss over.
He refused to answer, and as you might know, when Erik refused to answer, that was that.
Now, I'm not saying there was anything supernatural or crazy going on. Maybe Abshire was just some kind of savant: a stock-picking genius who just couldn't fit in with society.
But, the more I think about it, the less I believe it. His book? The famous one? Every year, I can see a little more of it coming true in the world.
All these microprocessors and portable telephones and, hell, practically the same World Wide Web his book is about; it's not the same yet, but it's getting there.
I don't know if Erik was a time-traveling space man or a quirky author with a penchant for prediction, but I know one thing: I don't envy him.
When you imagine it, knowing what's to come would be a blessing... and I think that too, sometimes.
But then, as soon as the thought pops up, I remember Erik, and those melancholy eyes, and I change my mind. Behind those eyes was none of the optimism ascribed to his novels.
All I saw was resignation, and a dim, foreboding terror, of a man forced to watch an inevitable future drawing ever closer, never slowing, never stopping.
And that? I wouldn't wish that on anyone.