Bryn Fortey – in memory

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We here at the Alchemy Press are sad to report the passing of Bryn Fortey, who died at the age of 83 on 21st July 2021 in his home country of Wales, from kidney failure and sepsis. He was surrounded by his family, and our heartfelt condolences are with them.

Bryn started writing short stories in the macabre/horror/SF field in the late 1960s and appeared in anthologies including The Fontana Book of Great Horror Stories, New Writings in SF and New Writings in Horror and the Supernatural. But, as his writing gathered pace, life intervened. In the 2000s his son Jim was tragically killed under harrowing circumstances, which was followed shortly by the death of his beloved wife Maddalena, and for a while his writing dried up.

It was a chance encounter with horror anthologist Johnny Mains, who was researching horror authors from the past, which prompted him to the write his first story in a long while. He submitted “Ithica or Bust” to The Alchemy Press Book of Ancient Wonders, which was launched at the 2012 British Fantasy Convention. This was followed by “The Flier” in The Alchemy Press Book of Pulp Heroes 2.  These stories, plus others from his past and a smattering of new tales, were collected in Merry-Go-Round and Other Words,  published by The Alchemy Press in 2014, with an introduction by Johnny Mains. A second collection, also from The Alchemy Press, Compromising the Truth, appeared in 2018, this time with an introduction by another of his friends, Adrian Cole. A new story, co-written with Johnny Mains, is scheduled to appear in The Alchemy Press Book of Horrors 3 later this year.

Besides a love of quirky weird tales, Bryn loved music and football. Adrian (and to a lesser extent Peter – only a passing football fan) took gentle digs at each of our hometown football teams: Newport (Bryn), Plymouth (Adrian) and Portsmouth (Peter) – and all coastal towns/cities. Is there a significance there? Although his passion for music was in jazz and blues, Bryn was keen to listen to new (to him) material. Much of his thoughts on music were funnelled through verse. His poetry was heavily influenced by the beat poets, which saw widespread publication. He won the Data Dump Award for SF poetry in 2009.

We had only known Bryn for a little over a decade. He came to our attention as a writer in 2011 but in the years since then we had become firm friends. He possessed a wonderfully mischievous sense of humour – which some would say it came from his Welsh roots – that never failed to make us smile. When we learned of his serious illness we feared and anticipated the end, yet when it came we were still shocked and deeply saddened.

Rest in peace, Bryn. We will miss you.

Peter Coleborn & Jan Edwards

5 thoughts on “Bryn Fortey – in memory

  1. I knew Bryn since 1968, meeting as science fiction fans, and we really ‘knew’ each other from the start, even though he was fifteen years older and actually wiser. There were occasional long periods when real life intervened and we lost contact, but whenever it was regained it was like no time or space had passed.
    His death is a dismal thing but as he would have said, its not so bad. I mean when you get to our age the idea of people older and somewhat infirm dying isn’t such a shock. And I know Bryn was entirely at ease with the likelihood of just *stopping* at any moment. He’d worked it all through. He was more concerned about how his family would react than anything else.
    He’d have loved to live forever and keep writing and listening to music. Reading, perversely, had become a problem since one of his more recent mini-strokes But you have to live in the real world.
    I regret now, and will regret more deeply in the future (starting right now…) not keeping in more contact with him, but that’s *my* fault and problem. Whenever we did speak on the phone I always
    told him I thought about him almost daily, and he’d always laugh and say he got it, sometimes you just don’t have to be in the same room to be with someone.

    Here’s a memorandum I wrote for Dave Langford :-

    Science fiction fan. Joins the BSFA in 1966. Goes to the 1967
    Eastercon in Bristol. On returning home starts thinking about a
    fanzine, RELATIVITY, inspired by seeing the Emshwiller film at the
    convention. Writes for many other fanzines, often short fiction,
    occasionally poetry, lots of letters. Joins in generally. Several
    other fanzines including more RELATIVITYs, usually oneshots, over the
    years – CHOPPING BLOCK, ACTION REPLAY, SUPERCRUD’69. Occasional
    convention-goer (lack of time and money). Keeps writing fiction,
    several stories professionally published in original anthologies.
    Things happen, has to disappear from fandom for several years in the
    1980s/90s. Is rediscovered, having made a bit of a name for himself in
    the amateur poetry world. Retired now, keeps writing when not looking
    after family and doing part-time jobs; more stories published, more
    poetry chapbooks issued. two small-press collections of fiction. Some
    of this stuff very good indeed – SHREWHAMPTON NORTH-EAST is an
    excellent short story, poem HONKY TONK a small wonder. Remains a jazz
    and blues fan, loves to talk writing and writers, always open to new
    sounds and words. Things go downhill with successive life-threatening
    ailments, but despite real family tragedy he is happy to be alive and
    still writing, the most important thing, even though reading has
    become a problem due to a stroke; even if no-one else likes it, he
    says, I do it because I must. Amazingly cheerful and kind, despite it
    all. Loved his cats, his dog, his family. A right guy. A right guy.

    BRYN FORTEY, 1937-2021. My oldest friend. Now and forever.

    • Thank you Greg. I envy your knowing Bryn for so much longer than me. His Shrewhampton North-East is wonderful, isn’t it! I read elsewhere that it’s one of your favourite stories.

  2. Hi Guys,

    Reading all these beautiful words about my Grandad, really warms my heart.
    To say I adored him, is an understatement,
    Simply trying to portray to anyone how much I love him, is an impossible task, as there aren’t any words that come near. Myself and my eldest Daughter Tia were with him til the end, so if it helps anyone to know, that he went very peacefully.

    As yet , I have not been able to face social media, as myself and my Grandad had so many great laughs on there. I remember we set him up with an account , and it took a while for his profile to gain any pace, he couldn’t seem to find anybody he knew, and could not believe that people actually updated their status only to inform everyone what they were having for dinner that evening. 😂😂😂

    As soon as he found “his people” he was well away, friend request after friend request after friend request, and that was it, he absolutely loved it.
    After the Tragedies of losing my Uncle Jim and then the loss of my Beautiful Grandmother
    Johnny Mains, became an unsung hero to me, as if it was not for his perseverance, I would not have been able to see that twinkle return to my Grandfather’s eyes, for that I will be eternally grateful. Even after Johnny’s first phone call it took me forever to talk him into investing into a computer and leaving his typewriter, he took to it like a duck to water though.

    I’m so thankful to each and every person who has been a part of his life the last few years, you all played a very important role in keeping him here, and also in helping keep his legacy alive beyond his departure from this lifetime, It’s comforting for myself and my family to know that in any part of the world, at any time, anyone could stumble upon one of his pieces of work, and think it’s just as fantastic as we do.

    He had not had the easiest experience of life, but he was witty enough to flip it on its backside and find a calm response to any situation, which is probably why I’m not coping that well.
    My Grandad has been my pillar of strength, my whole life, even when I lost my own Dad to the virus last year. He was my rock, but enough about that.

    Hopefully we will see the Bryn Fortey legacy live on, as my middle Daughter, Billie- kaya , who has just turned 16yrs has been quietly writing, for years unbeknown to anyone really. And only a few months ago actually took a pile to my Grandad for him to “critique ” , yet he was actually really impressed by her work, but still gave her a few pointers. She definitely wants to follow in his footsteps, so if anyone knows of anyone who would be willing to help , it would be greatly appreciated.

    I’m sorry I’ve responded here as opposed to Facebook, but I am just not ready for that.

    Thank you all, you’ve all made a sad 40 something girl, cry happy tears instead of sad one’s.
    Xxx

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