Porter: With the Carrs in 1966

By Andrew Porter: This is a photo I took back in 1966, after a party at Ted White’s apartment in Brooklyn, en route back to civilization, uh, home, for TAFF winner Tom Schlueck, now a famous German literary agent, and a guy who got a black eye in fannish circles for never doing a TAFF report. From left to right, we have Jock Root, Schlueck, Terry and a sleeping Carol Carr, and Gary Deindorfer. Miller High Life (the champagne of Bottle Beer) has a starring role, plus ads for Sominex, a sleep aid, and the famous Meet Miss Subways ad — pick one of these beautiful girls for the honor. I can’t figure out what the ad on the left is for. As an added bonus, we can see a “Women” tiled doorway on that station platform, from those forgotten days of last century when, maybe, you could actually go into a room in the subway station to go to the bathroom, instead of the unthinkable alternative of relieving yourself directly onto the subway tracks (men only). This photo was taken so long ago it’s before NYC’s teenaged hoodlums had thought of graffiti, or before they invented spray paint and markers. Maybe both. It’s also way before the subway cars were air-conditioned.

Rogers: Peanuts! T-Shirts! Pre-Supporting Memberships!

By M. Lee Rogers: Ron Zukowski and M. Lee Rogers hope y’all will mark the date of Saturday June 18 on your calendars for an evening to remember a very special event.

Things are still tentative, but June 18 is the planned date for the ConFederation 25th Anniversary Celebration. The facility and other plans will be announced later, but this will give you as much notice as possible.

The Celebration will be a one-day party for Southern SF fandom and its friends to remember that weekend when we brought the science fiction community to our part of the world. It is not a convention itself. It will be open to members of ConFederation and to those other fans who are known to the organizers. The Celebration is not open to the general public, primarily because it is not trying to be Dragon*Con.

The Celebration will request a small donation but will not turn anyone away for financial hardship. Any material surplus will be donated to fan funds.

Obviously, the organizers will need some help in pulling this shindig together. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact us at mleerog (at) bellsouth (dot) net.

NOTE: ConFederation was the 44th World Science Fiction Convention held in Atlanta, GA on August 28-September 1, 1986 at the Atlanta Hilton, Hyatt Regency, and Marriott Marquis Hotels. Ray Bradbury was Guest of Honor, Terry Carr was Fan Guest of Honor, and Bob Shaw was Toastmaster.

William Tenn Dies

By Mike Glyer: William Tenn (Phil Klass) died February 7 at the age of 89 from congestive heart failure, closing a celebrated life. Tenn was one of Noreascon 4’s Guests of Honor in 2004 (for the occasion producing a collection of nonfiction and personal essays, Dancing Naked). He also was a SFWA Author Emeritus (1999).

His first story, “Alexander the Bait,” was published in Astounding (May 1946). Fans saw through the “William Tenn” pen name, but convinced themselves this was not the work of a newcomer. At the Philadelphia Worldcon (1947) Phil Klass gave a monolog based on alleged mail from fans who thought “Tenn” was one of Henry Kuttner’s innumerable pen names.

He is survived by his wife, Fruma Klass, and their daughter Adina. Fruma married Phil in March 1957, a year after they met. She wrote about their courtship:

When Phil told me, with some trepidation, that he wrote science fiction, I was delighted. I read science fiction. I read everything, including the backs of cereal boxes, though most of the time I couldn’t remember writers’ names. But I did know the name “William Tenn.” I had loved the only story I could remember under that byline, and I told him so. “I loved your story ‘In Hiding,'” I told him.

There was a silence. Then he said morosely, “I didn’t write that. That was Wilmar H. Shiras.” “Oh,” I said. There was another silence. It wasn’t a really good way to start off on a relationship.

I found that a striking coincidence for the very embarrassing reason that I encountered her admission while checking the title of the same story, which I read 40 years ago in Terry Carr’s collection Science Fiction for People Who Hate Science Fiction. Evidently it’s not my favorite William Tenn story after all.

Plan B: My favorite Tenn story is “On Venus, Have We Got a Rabbi,” from Jack Dann’s collection Wandering Stars: An Anthology of Jewish Fantasy and Science Fiction (1974).

William Tenn wrote science fiction while Phil Klass taught English and comparative literature at Penn State University for 24 years. And the man with two names made a lasting mark in both his professions.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]

Update 2/8/2010: Posts on File 770 without a byline are written by Mike Glyer, and hopefully the misattribution on the official Tenn webpage will be corrected in due course. (Besides, Andy Porter probably knew it was Wilmar Shiras’s story all along.)  

Sound and Fury Signifying Trivia

Today’s trivia question: Every winner of the Best Fan Writer Hugo has made at least one professional sale, but two winners have never sold a science fiction story. Can you name them?

The winners since the creation of the category in 1967 are: Terry Carr, Richard E. Geis, Mike Glyer, Dave Langford, Cheryl Morgan, Alexei Panshin, John Scalzi, Bob Shaw, Wilson Tucker, Harry Warner Jr., Ted White and Susan Wood.

Most of the names are easy to rule out because their record in the sf field is so well known.

Wilson Tucker won the 1970 Best Fan Writer Hugo, then had Year of the Quiet Sun nominated as Best Novel in 1971.

Scalzi’s novel Old Man’s War and its sequels have received Hugo nominations.

Dave Langford’s “Different Kinds of Darkness” won Best Short Story in 2001.

Bob Shaw’s classic short story “Light of Other Days” received a Hugo nomination in 1967. He didn’t get around to winning the Best Fan Writer Hugo until 1979 (and again in 1980.)

Ted White’s first novel was written in collaboration with another Best Fan Writer winner, Terry Carr. Invasion from 2500 (1964) was published under the pseudonym Norman Edwards. Ted went on to write lots of other novels under his own name.

Terry Carr, in the middle of a run of seven other nominations for his fan writing and fanzines (Fanac, Lighthouse) had a short story nominated for the Hugo in 1969, “The Dance of the Changer and the Three.” The year Terry finally won the Best Fan Writer Hugo, 1973, he was also nominated for Best Professional Editor (in the category’s debut), and it was as an editor he won his last two Hugos (1985, 1987).

Alexei Panshin won the first Best Fan Writer Hugo in 1967. He declined his nomination in 1968, hoping to set an example for future winners. He also had great success as a pro. His novel Rite of Passage received a Hugo nomination in 1969 and won the Nebula.

Harry Warner Jr. had 11 short stories published in the mid-1950s (and grumbled when that was discovered by his neighbors in Hagerstown — see the link below in comments).

Richard E. Geis has sold any number of erotic sf novels.

I trail this parade at a respectful distance, with one pro sale that appeared in Mike Resnick’s Alternate Worldcons.

That leaves two winning fanwriters to account for: Cheryl Morgan and Susan Wood. Cheryl has made nonfiction sales, but the Locus index lists no fiction. Susan Wood published scholarly work about the sf field, but no stories. So Morgan and Wood are the answer. (Subject to correction, as always…)

Update 10/12/2009: Of course Harry Warner sold short stories — text corrected. Thanks to Patrick Nielsen Hayden for the assist. Update 10/13/2009: And to Dave Langford for catching mistakes about Shaw’s story I have been helplessly repeating since, oh, 1967, although they ought to be avoidable  — I can always remember the exact year “Neutron Star” won its Hugo. 10/18/2009: Alexei Panshin’s comment gives the real reason he turned down his Best Fan Writer nomination in 1968.

Bheer Can Tower to the Moon

Someone posted the image above on a sports-themed message board and I thought those poor mundanes were missing a lot because they’d never heard of the Bheer Can Tower to the Moon.

Dave Rike was among the Bay Area fans who created that Tower of fable in the mid-1950s (Terry Carr and Bob Stewart contributed as well). Rike retraced its history in an article for Mimosa 15 (talking about himself in third person):

While Dave Rike might have been the first to refer to the Tower in print that doesn’t mean that the idea was entirely original with him. It might have been at one party or another that one of the gang would idle away his time while listening to endless fannish talk of the others by attempting to stack up some empty bheer cans. (If they’re drunk by a fannish sort then they become bheer instead of beer cans.) All cans at that time were made of steel instead of extruded aluminum and might have stacked easier. “Hey, Bob, what’re trying to do there?” “Oh, I dunno, jes’ thinking that if I had enough cans I could build a tower that’d reach up to the moon.” “Oh yeah, well you buy the bheer and I’ll drink it for ya.” Something like that. Dave doesn’t remember any attempt to set up a Tower but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

The Tower cast a figurative shadow over fandom in decades to come. I’m sure that’s why the late Randy Bathurst sculpted a beanie-wearing bheer can cranking a mimeo for the original FAAn Awards. And rich brown, Dr. Gafia, said in his faannish lexicon:

Occasionally, even today, partying fans at conventions will construct such a Tower out of bheercans in Terry Carr’s memory. At Magicon [1992] this was attempted on a night when the moon was not visible but Art Widner was heard to intone, “If we build it, it will come.”

My own unforgettable experience with the Tower tradition happened while I was co-chairing the 1978 Westercon. We used the hotel’s Presidential Suite as our evening hospitality suite, serving Heineken in bottles (Poul Anderson was GoH) and other beverages in cans. Both side bedrooms were left open for the party, including mine, but one night I was so exhausted I crashed on my bed while the party carried on without me. I awoke in the middle of the night to discover that everyone had gone, leaving the doors wide open. Before going, fans had stacked all the empties in a pyramid on a coffee table, almost reaching the ceiling – the traditional bheer can tower. And lastly, I discovered my wristwatch had been stolen from my arm while I slept.

Future of Fanzines Past

This article of mine was originally posted on Trufen.net in October 2004.

From-purple-fingers-to-pixel-flingers: When you go, your fanzines stay here – a rule made to avoid cluttering up all Eternity like one big Slanshack. So what will you do to make sure they have a nice warm home?

One solution is to donate them. Pick out a library that is building a fanzine collection. Three ambitious libraries have websites that let you step in and take a virtual tour of their fanzine holdings – UC Riverside’s Eaton Collection, Temple University and the National Library of Australia.

Eaton Collection: The niftiest and most fannish website shows off the Eaton Collection at the University of California, Riverside. Curator George D. Slusser, Ph.D. has put a lot of ingenuity into this display. On the front page, the animated rocket of Fanac blazes above a background that resembles a faded old Twiltone fanzine cover, complete with two rusty staples in the margin. Five icons link to the website’s main divisions – watch how they animate when you click on them!

The foundations of the Eaton Collection’s fanzine catalog came from Terry Carr, Rick Sneary, and Bruce Pelz. It is the most extensive fanzine collection available to researchers. When J. Lloyd Eaton donated his 6,000 hardcover sf books to UC Riverside he helped aim them in the right direction. Bruce Pelz gave them 190,000 fanzines. The collection also has Rick Sneary’s personal correspondence, a unique fanhistorical archive.

Slusser’s website shows remarkable sensitivity to fanzine fandom’s subtle nuances. You can’t get more “inside” than to quote Arnie Katz (from The Trufan’s Advisor) in making a point about print-versus-electronic fanzines. Equally delightful is Slusser’s impatience with the claims of teenaged faneditor Harlan Ellison: “[His fanzine’s] cover promises ‘Ponce de Leon’s Pants,’ a fantasy by Mack Reynolds, which is nowhere inside the covers. Why bother to copyright this stuff?”

Of course, Slusser isn’t completely perfect either – for example the Carr Collection page refers to “Bob Bergeron” as the editor of Warhoon and Linda Bushyager’s “Grandfalloon.”

Then there is the unintentional irony. When Slusser says “The Carr fanzines are stored in acid-free containers in acid-free boxes” I’m sure he means they were acid-free before Richard Bergeron’s prose was slipped inside.

Temple University: Another zine collection is on the opposite coast. Temple University (in Philadelphia) accepted donation of the Paskow Science Fiction Collection in 1972. It has grown since then to 30,000 volumes (plus other stuff, like manuscripts, they can only gauge by the cubic foot… sounds like my office!) Their catalog of fanzine holdings is available at the Paskow Collection’s modest website.

Lots of popular fanzines are represented, though like the Platte River the collection is a mile wide but only an inch deep. There’s one issue of Mimosa, two issues of File 770, the first three issues of Trap Door, and so on. There are whole handfuls of a few other zines, for example, seven issues of Dick Geis’ Psychotic. And a like number of issues of Locus — just none dating later than when Charlie Brown lived in Boston!

Surprisingly, some of the most prolific fanzines are missing entirely. There are no issues of Ansible at all. (But how long can the Paskow Collection be kept uncontaminated, when anybody with an internet connection and a printer can own a complete run?)

National Library of Australia: On the far side of the world, the National Library of Australia owns a fanzine collection with a different slant, primarily Australian media fanzines contributed by long-time Star Trek fan, Sue Batho (formerly Smith-Clarke).

Unfortunately, the webpage about her collection is full of grindingly earnest prose, a jarring contrast to Batho’s appreciation for good entertainment. The tendency begins with the site’s description of Batho herself:

“It would not be unfair to say that Susan Smith-Clarke is one of the founding mothers of media SF fandom in Australia. The accompanying history of Star Trek fandom shows that Susan Smith-Clarke has been involved in many ways and through many years with fandom.”

Z-z-z-z-t — Wha’? I’m sorry, I nodded off there. Not that the earnest narrative completely smothers the subject. Batho’s personal sense of humor peeks through whenever zines are called by their titles, though I suspect the writer picked up some of them with a pair of tongs, for example:

“In this collection, are a number of issues of The Captain’s Briefs….”

However, for newcomers to the field the webpage explains basic terms with unexpected fannishness. Its definition of fanzine reads:

“The actual word means a magazine produced by a fan. Fan itself means, of course, a SF fan, just as Fandom, the collective noun, means SF fandom and nothing else. A non-fan is a mundane, which is why the word does not need any qualification.”


Your Fate Is in Your Hands: When you decide to donate your fanzines, there will be two general questions to think about.

The first question is: Do you want to send them to the place having the most success in acquiring and presenting its collection, or do you want to strengthen a collection that looks like it needs a boost?

It’s not a casual decision. In researching this article I was disappointed to find nothing online about the fanzines held by Bowling Green State University’s Department of Popular Culture. They had an accumulation (it wasn’t organized enough to deserve being called a collection) when I attended there in 1975, most of it donated by Vern Coriell (founder of the Burroughs Bibliophiles.)

The second question is: How will you make sure the transfer happens?

You can do it in your lifetime (as Bruce Pelz did) or through a properly drafted will. By all means, avoid Harry Warner’s mistake of leaving them to the local church and hoping things work out!

One last thought — the representative from the Eaton Collection told John Hertz they are perfectly happy to receive duplicates of zines already in the collection, feeling that makes the holdings more accessible to researchers, the same as having more than one copy of a rare book.

Update 03/05/2009: Updated the links to the Eaton and Paskow collections.