Good-Bye, Bob

Late last night I learned that Robert Lynn Asprin had died early that day. I didn’t know him all that well, but I loved his work. In high school, I devoured both the hilarious Myth Adventures books and the gritty Thieves’ World anthologies.

When I went to college at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, I knew that Bob and his then-wife Lynn Abbey lived in town. Bob had an office somewhere in the Nickels Arcade, in which he wrote many of those book I’d loved, and I’d hoped to meet him.

One night, my pal and mentor Will Niebling took me to dinner at the Full Moon, our favorite bar and grill, and we sat and chatted with a couple of his friends. After the others left, Will pointed out that “Bob and Lynn” were Robert Lynn Asprin and Lynn Abbey.

At the time, I was disappointed I didn’t get to tell them how much I’d enjoyed their work, but in retrospect, I can see that saving us all from that conversation might have been an act of mercy on Will’s part. It meant I got to meet them as regular folks, with no stars in my eyes, and that’s pretty cool.

Bob and Lynn divorced sometime after that, and he moved to New Orleans. He rode out Hurricane Katrina and lived in the French Quarter at the time of his death. His literary output slowed over the years, for various reasons, but never fully stopped.

My first ever paid writing credit was for the rules for the Myth Fortunes board game from Mayfair Games, based on Bob’s Myth Adventures series. Will and another friend, John Danovich, designed the game but needed someone to write up the rules. They brought me out to Will’s house, then in Lake Geneva, and showed me how it worked. I taped the conversation, took lots of notes, and then wrote it all up.

Today, if anyone tried to draw a line between my Blood Bowl novels and Bob’s Myth Adventures series, I wouldn’t be surprised to see how straight it stretched. The bits about the Big Game in Myth Directions resonate particularly well, especially when you consider how they form a thinly veiled version of the annual Michigan-Ohio State game, possibly the biggest rivalry in any sport—and certainly my favorite.

So, good-bye, Bob. Your books inspired me for years, and I’ll remember you through them for all my days. And I’ll always remember that dinner with Bob and Lynn too.