Robert “Bob” Sabella. The first time I saw the name was in Richard Geis’ classic fanzine “Science Fiction Review”. Bob was one of the regular reviewers. At the time, he was one of the few contributors who was not a professional science fiction writer. Unfortunately, “Science Fiction Review” came to an end and Bob’s name disappeared from my world.
Jump forward to many years later when I started this little science fiction blog. As I started posting more often I became aware of other bloggers. One of the sites that immediately caught my attention was “Visions of Paradise”. The person behind “VoP” and I seemed to have very similar tastes in science fiction. We started regularly leaving comments on each other’s blog. We both started to enter the field through the Tom Swift Jr. series. Both of us read juveniles from the old Winston series. When we became more interested in the field, we started subscribing to “Galaxy” and “Worlds of IF”. The more we had conversations, the more we found in common. Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover? Check. The Amber books of Roger Zelazny? Check. Poul Anderson’s various series? Check. Known Space by Larry Niven? Check. The list goes on and on. It even extended into some of our musical favorites. Paul McCartney and Pink Floyd are on both of our playlists.
Last year’s vacations were almost scary. We went to Myrtle Beach last year. Guess where Bob and his wife went the next month? Yep. Neither knew that the other was going to Myrtle Beach until after his return.
I got to the point where I automatically added a book to my list based on his recommendation. In November, Bob reviewed Jack McDevitt’s collection “Standard Candles”. I left a comment. Bob posted on a weekly basis. After the McDevitt review, the posts stopped. Bob quit leaving comments on my posts. This morning I decided to check out the efanzine site where he did a monthly zine version of “Visions of Paradise” to see if he had posted a new one. The comment at the top sent chills down my back.
“I'm sad to report that Bob Sabella died on December 3rd, 2011.”
It just goes to show that friendship can develop even if you don’t actually meet the person face-to-face. I always thought we had plenty of time to meet at a science fiction convention. It turns out that we didn’t have that time. But, based on our many emails/comments, I will always remember Bob as one of my friends.
Will this affect my blogging? Yes. I plan on a semi-regular basis to read books that I talked about with Bob. “Standard Candles” is now near the top of my list. Robert Silverberg’s “Alpha” anthologies was one of his favorites. Expect to see reviews of them. I will definitely have a link back to his reviews. As long as I am blogging, Bob’s name will be remembered. Another commitment I am making is that I will take the time to comment on other people’s blogs. Bob took the time to comment on mine. The least I can do is “pass it on”.
The last couple of paragraphs sound depressing. Although I am sad that I will not be hearing from Bob again, I want to celebrate his life. One of the amazing benefits of the internet is that his blog will be available for our reading. Take the time to go read “Visions of Paradise”. Go to the efanzine site and read the pdf files of the monthly “Visions of Paradise”. Reading them will introduce you to Bob and show you how much he loved science fiction. As long as we have fans with his passion for the field, science fiction will have a great future.