In Memoriam: Joel Rosenberg (1954-2011)

Joel Rosenberg (b.1954) died on the evening of June 2, a day after suffering a respiratory depression that caused a heart attack, anoxic brain damage and major organ failure.

Rosenberg’s first published short story was “Like the Gentle Rains” in IASFM in 1982.  A year later, he published The Sleeping Dragon, the first novel in his long-running “Guardians of the Flame” series, in which college students found themselves in a world apparently based on a fantasy role-playing game.  Rosenberg revisited that theme with his “Keepers of the Hidden Ways,” which transported characters from the modern world into one based on Norse mythology.  His other fantasy series included two “D’Shai” novels and two novels in the “Mordred’s Heirs” series.

In addition to fantasy, Rosenberg also wrote science fiction and mysteries. He set four novels in his Thousand Worlds universe, two of which dealt with the Metzadan Mercenary Corps, a group of Jewish mercenaries in a science fictional setting. While his “D’Shai” books were fantasy-mystery hybrids, his two “Sparky Hemingway” novels were straight mysteries.

After a burglary attempt, Rosenberg became interested in guns rights and became a licensed instructor in Minneapolis.  He also wrote books on guns rights in Minnesota and Missouri.

Rosenberg is survived by his wife, Felicia Herman, and their two daughters, Judith and Rachel.

On a personal note, Joel was the first person I met at the first science fiction convention I attended.  I had exchanged some letters with him about his Guardian of the Flame books (and Mark Twain) and had decided to attend Windycon to have the chance to meet him. Not knowing anything about conventions, I arrived, figured out a panel he would be on, and sat in the front row. I planned to approach him after the panel and introduce myself. While people were still filing in, a big bear of a man planted himself in front of me and asked, “Are you Steven Silver?” It was Joel, on the look out for me. To this day, I’m grateful for his warm welcome into our community. It provided me an excellent reason to stay.