I first encountered the work of Christopher Barzak in his 2002 story "Born on the Edge of an Adjective", a beautiful, funny, sad, magical story about love and obsession and personal mythology. To me, that story still exemplifies what Chris does best: he writes movingly about people, and about the things -- good and bad -- that people do to one another for the sake of love or good intentions.
Barzak's stories don't usually have much in the way of villains, and often his characters are their own worst enemies, which seems very wise and realistic to me. I know I struggle more with my own shortcomings and contradictory desires than I do with any outside adversary. (Well, not counting the Department of Motor Vehicles; there are some real dark overlords in the world, I suppose.) His stories are predominantly character studies, but that doesn't mean they lack suspense or tension or surprises -- he creates people who seem so true and real that you feel genuine fear for the fate of their dreams and their souls and their hearts. That's why I was so pleased to have the opportunity, years ago, to read an early draft of his novel One for Sorrow -- which you can buy, right now, today! Even in that early incarnation it was a fascinating, heartbreaking, weird story of ghosts and growing up, and I can't wait to pick up the finished version and see how it all came out.
I don't remember when I first met Barzak. It must have been at Wiscon, the annual feminist SF convention in Madison Wisconsin, in 2001 or 2002, probably. He has one of those big, warm, welcoming personalities, and he's the kind of man who lights up any room he walks into. I sometimes tell people that, when Barzak comes to a party, it's like disco balls descend from the ceiling and glitter showers down all around. I wish him well on this, the publication day for his first novel (I hope it's the first of many). May glitter shower down all around him. May he have all the success he so genuinely deserves.
Today -- Barzak Day! -- is being organized and documented by Matthew Cheney, so visit his journal for more Barzak-related goodness, including this Q&A with the author!