Today I wanted to talk about Aaron B. Larson. Who? A South Dakotan (if that's the correct term) Aaron was one of those people who'd held every job around at one time or another. We were somewhat kindred spirits in some way as we were of similar age (though he had a few years on me). We both had worked in the hotel business more than we really wanted to. And we both were writers. I've edited a lot of projects and I still consider him to be one of the best writers I've ever read. His writing more or less centered around the genre of the weird western–way before they were even considered a genre. That's how I knew him. He was one of the first people to submit to my fledgling Trails magazine. Trails: Intriguing Stories of the Old West later became Science Fiction Trails.
Over the years we became friends. We got together infrequently, but it didn't matter. We'd both turn up in LA or somewhere at some science fiction con and take up where we last left off. Aaron loved science fiction and knew everything about nearly every science fiction story ever made. Mention a story or mention a movie and he knew about it–no matter how obscure. He was a devoted fan of August Derleth. And a formidable writer, although he never found much commercial success as an author, I urge people to try and get their hands on a copy of his collection The Weird Western Adventures of Haakon Jones. It's been out of print for a long time, but libraries and used bookstores do sometimes have a copy lying around. His hero, Haakon Jones and sometimes in the company of his sidekick Native American Small Jumper traveled the west and had some amazing adventures. Vampires, witches, Bigfoot–you name it and they encountered it.
His individual stories appeared in various places."The Door in the Desert" and "Belfry's in your Bats"[my favorite] were in my magazine, Trails: Intriguing Stories of the Old West. He was a very frequent contributor to Classic Pulp Fiction Stories. In 1999 he bundled up these wonderful stories into a book. I still have my autographed copy. My name appears on the acknowledgments page.
He really was a fascinating individual to simply hang out with. Aaron also had an interest in theater–more I think with the technical aspects like directing than wanting to be an actor.. He would have likely had more luck going to the bright lights of Broadway, but he couldn't quite pull himself from his beloved South Dakota.
Sadly, over the past few years he kind of gave up on writing. I don't really know why. And I had not seen him in quite some time. I just learned he has passed away. Tonight I'm going to have a beer or two in his honor and maybe re-read some of his wonderful stories. That may be kind of weird, as I don't even know if Aaron drank. I don't recall ever seeing him consume an alcoholic beverage.
Aaron B. Larson