Robert D. Thurston, whose Legend of the Jade Phoenix trilogy became a cornerstone of BattleTech canon, died Oct. 20 in Ridgefield Park, N.J., according to his family. He was 84; the cause of his death was not specified.

Thurston’s five-decade-long writing career spanned more than 40 short stories, novellas, and novels. He is best remembered among BattleTech fans for his novels Way of the Clans, Bloodname,” and Falcon Guard, which followed heroic Clan Jade Falcon warrior Aidan Pryde’s fall and redemption and provided a look at the Clan Invasion from the Clan point of view.

“BattleTech has lost one of its progenitors,” said Ray Arrastia, BattleTech Line Developer. “His characterization—his humanizing—of Aiden Pryde, Peri, Horse, even Joanna, allowed us to truly see people where before we saw cardboard villains. His Jade Falcon trilogy and the characters he created are foundational to BattleTech, and will endure. My heart goes out to his friends and family.”

Thurston continued the story of characters from the Jade Phoenix trilogy in subsequent novels, including I Am Jade Falcon and two volumes in the “Twilight of the Clans” series. He penned a short story, “Face in the Viewport,” in BattleTech: 25 Years of Art and Fiction and another, “Zeroing In,” during the first days of the BattleCorps fiction website.

Thurston’s contributions remain an essential part of BattleTech lore today: Aidan Pryde was represented among the Legendary MechWarriors ForcePack created for the recent Clan Invasion Kickstarter, and a potent ilClan-era OmniMech, the Jade Phoenix, was detailed in the ilClan sourcebook. His Jade Phoenix trilogy will soon be available in re-issued hardcover editions.

“Bob’s impact on the BattleTech universe is undeniable,” said John Helfers, Catalyst Game Labs Executive Editor. “As the first author to write not only a completely Clan-centered novel, but a seminal BattleTech trilogy, he took fans deep into aspects of the Clans that hadn’t been explored yet, and set the standard for not only Clan-based fiction, but BattleTech fiction for decades to come.”

Beyond BattleTech, Thurston wrote a series of eight novels for the original 1978 Battlestar Galactica television show, the novelization of the movie Robot Jox, three novels of his own, and many short stories.

According to his family, Thurston held a degree in English literature from the University of Buffalo and was a U.S. Army veteran; he worked as a scholarship program administrator at New Jersey City University, taught science fiction and fantasy writing, and enjoyed acting, film, books, music, and TV.

“In his writing and thought, he was interested in exploring alternate worlds,” his family wrote. “We hope he is finding some good ones now.”

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