Red Hook - Stephen Forrest Hickman, 72, of Red Hook, NY, died of natural causes at home with his beloved wife Vicki at his side. In addition to her, his survivors include his daughters, Aurora and Zara, and his brother Lance.
Artist, illustrator, sculptor and author, Hickman was best known for his work in science fiction and fantasy, with over 350 book and magazine covers to his credit. His works illustrated the stories of Robert A. Heinlein, H. P. Lovecraft, J. R. R. Tolkien, Orson Scott Card, Neil Gaiman, George R. Martin, Anne McCaffrey, Andre Norton, Larry Niven's Man-Kzin Wars novels, and Steven Brust's Dragaera series. His most widely circulated effort was a series of space fantasy postage stamps done for the United States Postal Service.
Hickman was honored with a Hugo Award (1993, for Achievement in Science Fiction and Fantasy), five Chesley Awards, two gold awards from the Spectrum Anthology, and multiple Best of Shows at the World Fantasy and Science Fiction Conventions. He was equally adept at images of high action and calm reflection. He could balance deeply researched technical details with heart-breaking beauty. He had an eye for what was exquisite in a subject and worked to create worlds of wonder and grace that provided glimpses of the ethereal. Many of his most haunting paintings were scenes of life in an imaginary world he created that was also realized in his novel The Lemurian Stone.
Hickman was born in Washington, D.C., the son of John F. and Mary Lee Hickman. With his father in the foreign service, he was already a world traveler before high school, having lived in Manila, Philippines and Karachi, Pakistan. He also lived in Texas and Arizona before his family returned to the Washington area, settling in Alexandria, Virginia. Hickman's father regaled him with tales and stories to which Hickman credited him with inspiring his interest in literature and writing. Hickman's mother introduced him to painting and encouraged him to be original in all things. Both parents were supportive of his creative endeavors.
Hickman read broadly and often quoted two favorites, Mark Twain and H.L. Mencken. He was a master builder of models and boomerangs, customizing them in ways that enhanced their authenticity and aesthetic qualities. He delighted in playing guitar, especially the blues, and was devoted to the work of Robert Johnson.
Stephen touched many lives through his creativity, vision, and mentorship. His encouragement and support were the cornerstones to a variety of pursuits and career-long passions. His legacy will live on through those students, aspiring writers, artists and illustrators.
For Hickman, the highest accolade was "sublime." For him, that which was sublime reached beyond the quotidian, touching a beauty that might be. As he wove together strands of humor, humanity, intelligence, and creativity, he lived a life that must itself be termed sublime.
Arrangements are under the direction of Burnett & White Funeral Homes 7461 S. Broadway, Red Hook, NY.
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Published by Poughkeepsie Journal from Jul. 17 to Jul. 18, 2021.