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Judy was fond of saying, “We only really learn in conversation after sex.” She was right. She is right. Those we love who loves us are always our best teachers.

“Why did I have to lose the two I loved the most,” Judith Merril, the mother of modern SF, heard daily from her mother.

Judy was described by writer J. G. Ballard as “the strongest woman in a genre created by weak and ineffectual men.” She was. They are.

Writers almost as a whole tend to be strong on the page, weak on the stage.

Judy, whom I personally knew and loved from 1968 on, was strong on the page. She was, more importantly, strong on the stage.

When I sat Shiva with her family Judy’s daughter said as I walked in, “We were hoping for someone like you.”

They could only eat what they were brought. Most brought a symbolic bag of grapes. I brought a literal bounty.

Business had been slow. The night before I went I prayed for the means to bring what I felt required. My prayers were answered.

Judy was for all intents and purposes an atheist.

Her daughter, Ann Pohl (fathered by SF writer Frederick Pohl) told me Judy’s father had killed himself, her brother had died young hence the daily mantra of, “Why did I have to lose the two I loved most?”

With a mother like that (which is the mother many of us had) we either kill ourselves or become very strong.

Judy was particular in whom she loved. She was very particular. She was a discerning person.

After she recovered from her first heart attack she asked me to meet with her in a restaurant up the street. There she said, “I am limiting myself only to the people I love.”

I was deeply honored to find myself included.

Judy was not a harlot with her affections. The stories she wrote were well thought out, thoughtful, thought provoking.

She single handedly moved Science Fiction to become Speculative Fiction.

I first knew her from her annual collections of THE YEAR’S BEST SF.

The stories she chose were first rate. Her brief introductions to those stories were even better.

I first met her in 1968 when some people showed up at my then venue THE PUBLIC ENEMY (located on the east side of Yonge Street in Toronto at Yorkville 39 steps above a pool hall).

They came from a place I knew nothing of named ROCHDALE COLLEGE. They spoke of a woman I knew something of.

I headed over to Rochdale pre-punk punk, rail thin (wish I were now), dressed head to foot in black.

Said Judy in that restaurant up the street so many years later, “The first time I met you you scared the shit out of me.”

I seem to have that effect on many people even now.

However I had 8mm prints of great silent films such as Fritz Lang’s 1927 SF masterpiece METROPOLIS and more.

Rochdale College had started as an 18 floor student high rise. Along the way it morphed into the boldest experiment in alternate education ever. This was with a purpose. The purpose was to get a break on their taxes. Very practical.

The Rochdale idea was that there were no teachers. Each Rochdalian was called to be their own teacher. What there were was what was called Resource People. These were people who, having achieved success in their fields, had been invited to live rent free all costs covered at Rochdale in first class provided they make themselves available to speak with those who wanted to speak with them.

That was a fine idea on paper. In real life most who lived there for two reasons. The rent was cheap. Drugs were openly available. As part of the Rochdale experiment the government decided to allow within Rochdale the use of hashish, LSD, marijuana, mescaline and peyote. I like to say, “Rochdale was 18 floors. The higher up we went, the higher we got. When we got to the 18th floor our clothes fell off. We sunbathed naked. Doing that I learned when we sunbathe naked we do not sweat.

Judy was there as a resource person in editing, publishing, writing, a whole lot more.

Rochdale was the most important place on earth to be at that moment. At Rochdale the ideas people talked about were tried out. When poet Allen Ginsberg spoke at Rochdale Judy said, “Allen, your ideas won’t work.” Ginsberg said, “How do you know?” Judy said, “We tried them.”

I was attracted to Rochdale because I had just started living the life we are called to live in the ancient Chinese oracle, THE I CHING. THE I CHING teaches that doing and learning, like faith and works, must be one, be united otherwise both are dead, sterile.

This is why we have such a parade of dead minds emanating from academia.

Rochdale embraced the idea THE I CHING taught.

Read more about Rochdale (and Judy) in my self-published THE NIGHT THEY RAIDED ROCHDALE COLLEGE.

Embrace the Rochdale idea. Become your own teacher. Make your life your work of art. I decided to do that in my early teens. It has stood me well.–Reg Hartt

We are all at the mercy of our mothers. The film SONNY is about a man raised by a prostitute to be a prostitute. Prostitution, her sons discovers, is living off our capital. Her son’s capital has run out.

Judith Merril, Reg Hartt, THE SALVADOR DALI DINER prepared by Marc Sleep.


Mark Sleep with Owen Hartt, father of Reg Hartt.

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