Friday, August 31, 2007

Happy 60th Birthday

to Steve Perry. Author of many good books, blues guitarist, silat player, proud grandpa, good friend.

So what's so great about Steve?

Well, to begin with, he writes knowledgeably and intelligently about martial arts. And he's one of very few science fiction authors to do so. (Steve Barnes and Daniel Moran are two others; it's a very small crowd.) The early NetForce books actually brought quite a few people into pencak silat who had never heard of it before. (You haven't heard of it either? Go here.)

But the Matador books, which are my favorites of Steve's writing and I suspect his as well, are the real prizes from a MA point of view. The main idea behind these books is that MA can make the world a better place; that, in fact, that's what MA is for-- protecting the powerless and people who work for social justice, defeating evil, and having an all-around rowdy good time in the process. Heady stuff for those of us who number a streak of idealism among the stripes on our belts.

But I mention this mostly as background to the following: Steve is a Good Guy. Not just a Nice Guy (and this is from someone whom he's alternately referred to as a hobbit, a menehune, a Munchkin, and The Shrimp), but a genuine Good Guy.

Martial artists have a strong tendency towards hero-worship. (This gives rise to all kinds of weirdness, which you can find plenty examples of by browsing my blogroll.) Consequently, fans of Steve's books who are also martial artists tend to be a bit... um... "over-awed" might be the best word here.

Over the past few years we've had occasion to introduce Steve to a number of adoring fans. Now, most people in his position would be tempted to puff up at least a bit; spout some profound-sounding garbage, maybe give it a little mystical spin, that sort of thing. Not Steve; he's more likely to tell off-color stories about Louisiana politicians (there are apparently no clean stories about Louisiana politicians), or distract everyone by making the house dogs sit up and beg.

(I've seen professional dog trainers who weren't as good with dogs. It's been a running joke in our crowd that if there's ever a series of daring daylight robberies at dog-protected houses in Portland, we'll know who to blame.)

I don't know if this reflects a high ethical standard on Steve's part, or if he's just constitutionally allergic to that kind of pretension. In either case, I'm proud to count him among my friends. Here's to many, many more happy birthdays for Steve!

I don't have a picture of Steve handy, but here's one of his kid brother:


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