While my world is still reeling from the news of the loss of BVC’s beloved co-founder, Ursula, I kept replaying my few personal encounters with this giant of woman. I’m petite. She was shorter and more slender than me. But still she towered over all of us with her warmth, her clarity, her imagination, and her humor.
Years ago SWFA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) arranged for multiple book signings around the country over the weekend of the Nebula Awards, their signature honor of highlights in the SF/F genre. Ursula was already slowing down, not traveling much and not up to attending the award banquet somewhere else in the country. But she agreed to do a signing with some other Portland, Oregon authors if we could do it at the 23rd Avenue Books, in her neighborhood and about as far from home as she cared to go at the time. She had been a patron of that independent bookstore for decades.
The line for an autograph from Ursula went around the block, and then some. One man had flown in from Chicago with a suitcase full of books for this rare opportunity. The rest of us sat at the same table as Ursula, an honor indeed, and chatted quietly among ourselves. No one wanted our books. They were all there for Ursula.
Danielle Perry, Lea Day, John C. Bunnell, and I were discussing the movie Dogma which had just come out on DVD, and how perfect was the casting of Alan Rickman in his part.
Ursula lifted her head from the latest copy of Left Hand of Darkness, eyes bright and twinkling. “Alan Rickman?” she asked us. “Are we going to see an Alan Rickman movie when we’re finished here? Just let me tend to these last few people and we’ll go. I love Alan Rickman. He’s such a hunk.”
Alas, there were no Alan Rickman movies playing in Portland that weekend.