David B. Silva passed away earlier this week at the age of 62. While I’m certain the details of his passing will be a matter of public record, out of respect for his loved ones, I’m not writing about them here. Instead, I think it’s more important to look back on his career and his contributions to our field.
David was best known as the founder and editor of Hellnotes and The Horror Show. Both publications had a seminal, long-lasting, influential impact on our generation of horror writers, readers, and editors. The Horror Show helped launch the careers of authors such as Bentley Little, Poppy Z. Brite, Brian Hodge, Gary Raisor, and many of the Splatterpunks. Hellnotes informed an entire industry, and was a huge influence on my own Jobs In Hell (and I was very honored to freelance for Hellnotes, as well). David was also a renowned short story writer and novelist. The winner of the Bram Stoker Award and the World Fantasy Award, his books included Come Thirteen, Through Shattered Glass, The Disappeared, All the Lonely People, and Walk the Sky (with Robert Swartwood).
I learned of his passing yesterday from Robert Swartwood (who has written a wonderful remembrance here). Later, while driving across a mountaintop in the snow, I was on the phone with Ellen Datlow, talking about David’s passing, and we both agreed that David’s influence on this genre and our field is monumental. So, perhaps it’s fitting to look at what others in the genre are saying about his passing:
THOMAS F. MONTELEONE: “He was such a wonderful writer and so under-appreciated. In a field populated by posturing assholes and mooks deluded by mis-reading their own press-releases, Dave was that rare combination of talent, sincerity, intelligence, and decorum. I counted him as one of my True Friends in this field and I am so whacked and pissed that he’s gone too early, while some of the True Fuckwads of the genre will most likely be doddering around at the age of 97.”
BRIAN HODGE: “This is heartbreaking news. Dave was so immensely supportive that it’s no exaggeration to say he changed my life. He provided the garden in which so many of us sowed our first true seeds, and was the hub by which so many of us got connected to each other. After he’d published my first few stories in The Horror Show, I asked him if he wouldn’t mind giving me some feedback in general. Not on any particular work, but overall … how I could be doing better, etc. Several days later I got a multi-page letter in his enviably neat, precise handwriting. He’d written this by lantern light during a power blackout at his home in northern California.”
LAIRD BARRON: “I got a rejection from him when I was in my teens. Form letter with a personal note. Meant a lot.”
JEREMY LASSEN (Nightshade Books): “David Silva helped inspire a generation of writers & readers AND editors. I’m one of those folks he inspired. Much respect.”
BOB FREEMAN: “A master of the short story. Man, that guy will be missed.”
MARK SIEBER (The Horror Drive-In): “Oldsters like myself cherish the memory of Dave’s 1980′s magazine, The Horror Show. It was the coolest magazine of its day, and also a contender for the coolest mag of all time. The Horror Show ran fiction and nonfiction, and Dave’s mantra in it was “Better Weird Than Plastic”. Weird the magazine definitely was. No one in their right mind would have called it plastic.
JAMES BEACH (Dark Discoveries): “Plain and simple Dark Discoveries wouldn’t exist without Dave Silva and his Horror Show magazine.”
KEALAN PATRICK BURKE: “Silva was a gentleman, plain and simple, and a great help to me at many times during my writing career.”