In Memoriam: Marion Zimmer Bradley,
A tribute by Beth Derochea,
September 1999

Editor's note: On Sept. 21, 1999, acclaimed science fiction and fantasy author Marion Zimmer Bradley suffered a major heart attack. She died on Sept. 25. Besides the wildly popular trilogy begun with the publication of The Mists of Avalon in 1982, MZB is best known for her ongoing Darkover series and Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine.

I did not know her, except as a reader can feel that they know an author through her books. I never had the pleasure of meeting her in person. I wish that I had.

However, as long as her books remain read, stay in print and are available on the library shelves, Marion Zimmer Bradley's creative spark will live.

I remember the first time I attempted to read The Mists of Avalon, not under the best of circumstances. I was temping in Boston, and as a result of dental work got an infected tooth. Between the antibiotics for the infection, Excedrin for the pain and Pepto-Bismol for my upset stomach, I was pretty woozy and not thinking very clearly. In order to distract myself from how miserable I was feeling, I started to read The Mists of Avalon. Unfortunately, I didn't get very far -- the words would swirl on the page, making it difficult to concentrate. Still, the power of the story came through in my very strange dreams.

After I recovered, I tried again, this time reading while commuting. Despite the hour-plus trip to Cambridge, I was drawn into the world of magic and beauty, and haunted by the image of MZB's Morgaine. I loved the idea that the heroine of a book could be like me -- short, dark hair, dark eyes -- and unlike me -- a powerful priestess and beloved of the Goddess. Reading Mists this time brought me back into the regular practice of paganism. Every time I re-read it, as well as its prequels, The Forest House and Lady of Avalon, I am reminded of the Goddess in everything in my life.

I'm certain that this wasn't planned by MZB; after all, no author can ever be certain of how her book will affect any single reader. An author can only hope that the story rings true, entertains, perhaps even teaches. MZB did all of that for me in her books.

I'm going to miss her so very much. Blessed be.

[ by Beth Derochea ]