I know I've said this about a few people, but Jay Watson is one of the loveliest human beings alive. He's a giant of a man, tall and broad, and just big, but there's not an ounce of malice or intimidation in him. Quite the opposite: he's one of the gentlest, most caring people I've ever come across. And while it is often a truism, in this case it's simply true: there's not a person you'll meet who doesn't adore the man.
A passionate and long-time SF fan, he's been on more Swancon committees than is healthy, is one of the organisers behind the excellent CrimeScene convention, and is a friend and safe space for anyone who needs it. My first experience of him was sitting at a dinner table, throwing Goon Show lines at each other, and it's been a long, happy association ever since. Now here he is, in his own words.
Precious Things: Jay Watson
Jay's on the left.
My father made sure that I was interested in science and science fiction by exposing me to things like Doctor Who pretty much from birth. Because we were poor, we didn’t have many books in the house – those that we did have were ones that Dad picked up cheap at the second-hand bookstore. To this day, I still love the feel of a dingy old second-hand bookshop.
After we moved from Whyalla to Perth in ’78, I began to develop a love for the local library, to the point that I would go there as often as I could to get out new books to read, mostly about science and/or movies. Not long after this, my Dad picked up three books for me at a bookshop that I have treasured ever since – Star Trek 5 (stories adapted by James Blish), Doctor Who and the Revenge of the Cybermen (by Terrance Dicks), and Splinter of the Mind’s Eye (by Alan Dean Foster).
They were the first books in my personal library (if you don’t count Little Golden Books or Dr Seuss) and, while they weren’t great literature or anything, they meant a lot to me. The Doctor Who and Star Trek books gave me a different perspective on the episodes that they covered, while Splinter of the Mind’s Eye helped to feed my blossoming love of all things Star Wars. They also helped me with my nascent interest in creating adventures for role-playing games, which I was introduced to around the same time by one of my (female) teachers.
While my Dad also introduced me to Tolkein, Asimov, Herbert, Clarke, Smith, Wells, Verne, and on and on, via the books he was reading, those three books still grace my shelves and will continue to do so for a long time to come.