I only knew him from a distance. I bought a very pretty coffee table book of his, Greetings From Lake Wu, mostly for artist Frank Wu's images. Frank was a regular at BASFA meetings. Reading his journal entries, I figured I should reads one of his books. Rocket Science (his first book) came to me by way of an auction, I think. It was okay, kind of Young Adult, showed some imagination but did not blow me away with writing style. It was a long time before I read his first major novel, Mainspring. It took a long time to read. I think it would be fair to call it one of the first steampunk-ish novels, creating a world which ran, literally, like clockwork. Very imaginative. But again, his style was not a page-turner for me, and the inventions were not interesting to me. The operative phrase is "to me". Man of my friends are all aglow at the mention of clockworks and steampunk and Jay's writing style.
One thing is for certain, Jay was larger than life. I have a tough time believing that Science, which he loved dearly, did not triumph over his cancer. Or that such a huge personality succumbed to it.
Where some people faced with a prognosis as serious of his would crawl into the nearest hospice, Jay kept authoring and editing and partying and going to cons and readings and helping his friends. I don't think he did the skydiving, racing car driving thing, but it wouldn't have surprised me.
Like many large men, his fashion sense trended to Hawaiian shirts. Unlike many large men, it also trended to tie-died socks.
Having known him only from afar, I will miss him from afar.