FANAC Fan History Project Update 4

From the press release by Joe Siclari

“Keeping You Abreast of the Past”

November 20, 2017

Here are some highlights of the last 6 months:

Fan History Spotlight: Nearly everyone has heard of the Cosmic Circle and Claude Degler’s notorious fannish exploits in the ‘40s. If you haven’t, check the article at Fancyclopedia.org. However, few people have ever read the original “writings” by him, or the reports that fans wrote about him. This last summer, we added a section with over 40 of his original pubs and the investigations by T. Bruce Yerke and Jack Speer. (See http://fanac.org/fanzines/Cosmic_Circle_Pubs/)

Access: We’re trying some new ways to keep you aware of what we have online. Providing a bit more quick information has been a priority. On our Fanzine Index pages, you can now find the number of issues that we have online for that title. The last column will tell whether it is New, Complete or Updated. Another item is our Newszine Directory started last year. It’s a chronological list of all the Newszines (2,338) we have so far on FANAC.org. If you want to know the S-F and fan news of any given period, you can navigate directly to that month. The first ones are from way back in 1938 and the last in 2011. Finally, at the end of this FANAC Update, we provide direct online links to everything mentioned.

FANAC Fan History Project website: We keep adding more Newszines as we acquire them. In the last month, thanks to Richard Lynch, we’ve added a run of Chat, the Tennessee newsletter edited by Nicki & Dick Lynch in the early 1990s. We have been continually uploading issues of Mike Glyer’s File 770. Mark Olson has scanned dozens of them.

Since our last Update, we have added about 250 other pubs with “news from the past”. These issues come from 19 different titles. We are doing a lot to fill-in the runs of different zines. Unfortunately there are some issues I just can’t find or don’t have. Here’s where I need your help. If you can provide missing issues (zines, scans, even photocopies), please let me know. In particular, right now, I’m looking for:

Jack Speer’s Stefnews #58 (1946)
Merv Binns’ Australian SF News #1, 2 (1978), 47 & 48 (c1989)
Taurasi’s Fantasy Times #3 (1941)

Laney: We’ve added multitudes of material. Francis Towner Laney’s notorious memoir, Ah! Sweet Idiocy!, is the most requested item and it’s now online, plus lots of material about FTL in FanHistorica.

FAPA: So is Dick Eney’s A Sense of FAPA, a huge sensational historical anthology of fannish writings (nearly 400 pages), with contributors such as James Blish, Redd Boggs, Charles Burbee, Joe Kennedy, F. Towner Laney, John Michel, P. Schuyler Miller, Milt Rothman, Bill Rotsler, Jack Speer, Harry Warner, Jr., Donald A. Wollheim, C. S. Youd (John Christopher) and many others from the Fantasy Amateur Press Association.

LASFS:  The Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society has given us permission to put their primary publications Shangri-LA and both runs of Shangri-L’Affaires online. So far, we have added 20 issues from the 40s and 50s, with many more to come.

Mirage: We’ve also been given permission to put Jack Chalker’s Hugo nominated fanzine, Mirage online. Mirage was one of the best sercon zines of its time.

FANAC Fan History YouTube Channel: We have over 50 videos/audios online at YouTube! In the last week or so, we put up a Harry Harrison talk (1971 Eastercon) on “Stonehenge and Sex”. It includes a roaringly funny discourse on the introduction of sex into science fiction stories in the 60s, with anecdotes about well-loved authors and editors including Brian Aldiss, Mack Reynolds, Ted Carnell and George O. Smith.  He also talks about the filming of an editorial lunch with John Campbell, and just how much of the iconic fiction of the classic Astounding Magazine was intimately shaped by John.

We keep adding great recordings and subscribers get first notice. We’re over 180 subscribers and nearly 18,000 views, with 3 pieces having over 1000 views. It’s heartening that even for the less viewed videos, many get an intense response from their audience. As always, if you have audio or video material that we might use, please let us know.

FANCYCLOPEDIA 3: This is our encyclopedia (yours and ours), so we hope you are using it (and adding to it!). Going to a convention this year? Read about the “first conventions”. Want to know more about famous fans, infamous fans (see Degler above), convention facts, clubs in your area, or fanspeak (the jargon of our people)? It’s all there. But is your local club or convention listed? If not, contribute an article (or the beginnings of an article). It’s easy. Just follow the instructions on Fancyclopedia.org.

Outreach for Fan History: FANAC has a Fan History Project Table at conventions whenever we can. In February, we will be at Boskone 55 in Boston and we will be at Worldcon 76 in San Jose.

FANAC was at Balticon earlier this year. The Fan Lounge Discussions we helped organize were well attended and great fun. You can listen to the Steven Brust/Geri Sullivan discussion on the raucous history of Minneapolis fandom on our YouTube channel (link below). Most recently, we were at Philcon this month. In addition to showcasing our history project websites, we have been showing selected fannish artifacts, including fanzines, original art, convention publications, and video and audio recordings from as far back as the 1940s.

When you next see our table, come say hello and help us preserve and promote our fan history. Take a sticker for your badge and/or your contributor ribbon. Bookmark http://fanac.org and click on What’s New every week to find our most recent additions.

As we keep saying, this is a community effort and we can only say “Thanks” to those of you who have helped us make our Fan History websites successful over the years. We’re continually adding to our contributors list. We have 248 of you listed so far and adding more as we update our older files. If you DO want to let people know you are a contributor, ask for our “I Help Save Fan History” ribbon. And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/fanacproject/

We’ve added more: Photos, fanzines, and convention publications, video and audio recordings, and Fancyclopedia entries.  We provide information for fans, academic researchers, fan writers, and film documentaries. We’ve made some changes to the website to make it easier to use, with more to come.

Those who don’t know fan history may not be condemned to repeat it, but those that do know that Carl Brandon is not dead! Thanks for your interest our mutual fan history.

Regards…Joe Siclari

Dave Kyle (1919-2016)

David A. Kyle at Chicon 7. Photo by John L. Coker III.

David A. Kyle at Chicon 7. Photo by John L. Coker III.

David A. Kyle, who chaired the 1956 Worldcon (NyCon II) and was fan Guest of Honor at the 1983 Worldcon (ConStellation), died September 18 at 4:30 p.m. EDT “of complication from an endoscopy” reports his daughter Kerry.

Just yesterday Kyle had been shown on Facebook enjoying New York fandom’s “End of Summer” party.

Kerry Kyle wrote:

I know he was 97 and frail, but his spirit was strong, his heart was huge, and I’m still in shock. I’m still surprised. I expected him to last a few more years. I expected to be making him dinner tonight. And I’m bereft. And at the moment I don’t really want to type much.

I know many in the Fannish community loved Dad as well and are equally as bereft reading this. I hope it …makes you feel better to know that, as always, Dad chatted about science fiction with the EMT who brought him to the hospital and with the nurses who made him comfortable. He chatted about the love of his life–science fiction–genuinely interested in hearing what they read and watched. Always spreading the word and wishing to instill within them the flame he had within himself. And, yes, he made constant jokes and terrible puns that charmed everyone in the hospital….

Dave’s wife, Ruth, predeceased him in 2011. They met at a convention in 1955. The next year she served as Secretary of the Worldcon in New York, which Dave chaired, and the year after that they married, trufannishly honeymooning at the 1957 Worldcon in England, traveling there with 53 friends and in-laws on a specially chartered flight.

Dave and Ruth had two children, Arthur and Kerry.

Kyle was one of the most active fans from sf fandom’s earliest days. He attended the 1936 meeting of New York and Philly fans which decided to dub itself the first science fiction convention in advance of the Leeds event announced for 1937. He wrote the “Yellow Pamphlet” that helped inspire the “The Great Exclusion Act of 1939” but, unlike his fellow Futurians, was not kicked out of the First Worldcon. In later years he was made a Knight of The Order of Saint Fantony, won the Big Heart Award, and in 1988 received the First Fandom Hall of Fame Award.

Kyle also had a notable professional sf career. Dave Kyle and Martin Greenberg made history by co-founding Gnome Press in 1948. Together they published dozens of volumes of classic sf in hardcover for the first time. Gnome Press went under in 1962.

Kyle’s 1956 NyCon II is particularly remembered for producing the year’s Hugo Awards by affixing Oldsmobile rockets to a decorative wooden backing. The L-shaped base displayed the rocket standing upright while concealing its hollow underside.

A list of Kyle’s autobiographical fanhistory articles for Mimosa can be found here.

Arthur C. Clarke receives Hugo Award from chairman Dave Kyle at the 1956 Worldcon, NyCon II.

Arthur C. Clarke receives Hugo Award from chairman Dave Kyle at the 1956 Worldcon, NyCon II.

Early Science Fiction Clubs: Your Mileage May Vary

Several fanwriters celebrated yesterday, December 11, as the anniversary of the first science fiction club meeting. Was it? Probably not.

Eofan Allen Glasser made the claim that his New York club, the Scienceers, was “the first of all science fiction clubs” in an article for First Fandom Magazine #4 (1961):

The exact date on which The Scienceers came into being was Dec. 11, 1929. The founding members, as I recall, were Warren Fitzgerald, Nathan Greenfeld, Philip Rosenblatt, Herbert Smith, Julius Unger, Louis Wentzler, and myself, Allen Glasser. With the exception of Fitzgerald, who was then about thirty, all the members were in their middle teens.

Glasser also reported the intriguing fact that the host and president of this pioneer club was an Afro-American living in Harlem:

During the early months of the Scienceers’ existence — from its start in December 1929 through the spring of 1930 — our president was Warren Fitzgerald. As previously mentioned, Warren was about fifteen years older than the other members. He was a light-skinned Negro — amiable, cultured, and a fine gentleman in every sense of that word. With his gracious, darker-hued wife, Warren made our young members welcome to use his Harlem home for our meetings — an offer we gratefully accepted.

(See Bill Higgins’ writeup about his efforts to track down the location of the meetings and more information about president Fitzgerald.)

When I read that the Scienceers club was founded in 1929 I gave a sardonic little laugh, because I remembered any number of Westercons where I heard another eofan, Aubrey MacDermott, harp about the Oakland club he’d co-founded in 1928. At the time I had the young fan’s tendency to scoff whenever some geezer fussed about fine points of ancient fanhistory. Now I’m no longer a young fan and I have to laugh because Aubrey managed to etch that 1928 date on my memory anyway.

MacDemott also did some of his fussing in a 1980 issue of Asimov’s when he thought Darrell Schweitzer had slighted his contributions to history:

I see by reading Darrell Schweitzer’s article in the December 79 issue of lASFM that I founded an “impure” Science Fiction club in Oakland in June 1928.

We had over twelve “impure” members to start. Among them were Clifton Amsbury, Lester Anderson, A. S. Bernal, Louis C. Smith, Ray and Margaret St. Clair, Fred Anger, Vincent Brown, and later Forrest J Ackerman. We had the imposing name of East Bay Scientific Association until Forrie joined. Then we changed the name to Golden Gate because Forrie lived in San Francisco. Since he was only twelve years old, his mother would not let him take the long trek across the Bay to East Oakland, by street car, ferry, red train and then again a street car. So we on occasion all went over to Forrie’s Staple Street home.

We read, discussed, traded magazines, wrote letters to magazines and authors. We even put out a hectograph sheet each month for the members.

I know only too well that at that time East Coast fans considered any activity more than 100 miles from New York to be non-existent. But surely not today. As a matter of fact Sam Moskowitz in his Immortal Storm mentions Clifton Ansbury, Lester Anderson, and myself.

Moskowitz’ Immortal Storm testifies to both MacDermott and Glasser’s Scienceers“Aubrey McDemott” is mentioned in connection with the Science Correspondence Club – which was in general, as its title states, a club that did all its activity by mail, begging the question of in-person meetings.

Ordinarily I rely on Harry Warner Jr. to referee these disputes. Unfortunately, his book All Our Yesterdays mentions neither Glasser, MacDermott, the Scienceers nor the Eastbay Science Correspondence Club, despite all he has to say about scores of other eofans and their controversies. He only discusses the international Science Correspondence Club. Jack Speer’s early fanhistory Up To Now also is silent about Glasser and MacDermott, though his original Fancyclopedia has a short entry on the Scienceers.

Fortunately, another historian has reconciled the international correspondence club and the in-person meetings of the Oakland chapter. John Cheng’s Astounding Wonder: Imagining Science and Science Fiction in Interwar America says:

In 1928 Aubrey Clements of Montgomery, Alabama formed what he called the “Science Correspondence Cloub,” announcing the club in the pages of Amazing and gathering members as responses came in.  In the same year, while corresponding among themselves, Walter Dennis and Sydney Gerson, c/o 4653 Addison, Chicago, Illinois, also set upon the idea of a correspondence club, which they also called the “Science Correspondence Club,” to disseminate “science and scientific thought among the laymen of the world.” They announced their idea in the pages of Amazing Stories Quarterly and by the next year their group claimed two dozen members while Clements’s had twenty-five members. Membership was not mutually exclusive and indeed overlapped. Although he was the founder of one SCC, Dennis was also the sixth person to join the other, where he served as chairman under Clements’s presidency.

…In 1928, Aubrey MacDemott, Clifton Amsbury, Lester Anderson and Louis C. Smith on the Berkeley-Oakland side of San Francisco Bay began meeting monthly as the Eastbay Science Correspondence Club (ESCC). Raymond Palmer, originally a Chicago SCC member, suggested a national merger between the various organizations. By late 1929 the two original SCCs and willing members of the ESCC, which had reorganized as the Eastbay Scientific Association, merged into one club under a constitution drafted by Dennis, Clements, and A.B Maloire of Chealis, Washington.

Both the Scienceers and Eastbay Science Correspondence Club may have leaned more towards science than sf (some of the Scienceers would be drawn away to join an amateur rocket group) but their members were part of the social network of earnest teenaged readers of Gernsbackian magazines, many of whom became inextricably linked to 1930s sf fandom. Glasser and MacDermott each claimed the club they helped found was the first sf club to meet regularly in-person — one in December 1929, the other in June 1928 – and it seems, of the two, MacDermott’s group has the best claim.

Instant Analysis of Retro Hugo Vote

Orson Welles’ radio production of The War of the Worlds commanded the largest margin of victory of any 1939 Retro Hugo winner, 687 votes.

The infamous Halloween broadcast (based on a novel by that other Wells) was one of two first-ballot winners, reports Loncon 3. The other, John W. Campbell, Jr., took the Best Professional Editor – Short Form category with a 580 vote margin, in the process continuing his unique dominance of the Retro Hugos: Campbell has won the editor category every time the Retros have been given (1996, 2001, 2004 and 2014).

War of the Worlds recorded its own unique achievement – this is the second production to win the Best Dramatic Presentation Retro Hugo. Wells’ story won another for the 1953 movie (in 2004).

Retro Hugos exist to honor and draw attention to science fiction’s past. On that count Loncon 3 has already succeeded nobly.

But they always spark social media lightning. Some feel the awards are a failure unless voters ratify the views of nominees held by fans in Ye Olde Days. Others judge the outcome by how closely the winners reflect contemporary social values.

This year, the contrasting fates of two nominees reputed among the best sf stories of all time (each appears in a SFWA Hall of Fame collection) should keep everyone frothing, at least for the rest of today’s news cycle.

“Who Goes There” by Don A. Stuart (the pseudonym of John W. Campbell, Jr.), a novella included in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume Two, blew away Anthem, notwithstanding the Libertarian Futurist Society’s official endorsement of Ayn Rand’s story for the award.

But “Helen O’Loy” by Lester Del Rey, a short story voted into The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume One, 1929–1964, ran second to Arthur C. Clarke’s fanzine story “How We Went To Mars.” However, it’s hard to argue an ideological reason for the loss (despite the story being about a robot woman in a traditional marriage) when you see amateur fanzine stories by Clarke and Ray Bradbury (“Hollerbochen’s Dilemma”) bracketing it in first and third. The power of name recognition seems a more logical explanation.

Incidentally, Vox Day recommended that his readers vote for the Bradbury story. Does the defeat of two stories endorsed by different political activists forecast anything about the regular Hugo results coming later this weekend?

And speaking of Vox Day, with so much discussion about the tactics of voting No Award in the regular Hugo race, it’s interesting to see that option played no important role in the Retro Hugos. Will that trend continue? (Don’t bet the farm…)

Top writers like Clarke and Bradbury understandably have a great following. Each won Retro Hugos in 2004, Clarke for “The Nine Billion Names of God” and Bradbury for Fahrenheit 451. Other repeaters among the 2014 Retro Hugo winners besides those aleady named are artist Virgil Finlay and Imagination! by Ackerman and company.

On the other hand, Ackerman and Bob Tucker both failed to repeat in the Best Fan Writer Retro Hugo category, which was won by Ray Bradbury – a result that would have shocked all of fandom if the award had actually been given in 1939.

Loncon 3 published the nominating vote count in its report. The two works receiving the most nominations overall were The Sword in the Stone (114) and The War of the Worlds (112).

The Hugo administrator also identified items receiving enough votes to have made the final ballot that he ruled ineligible: J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel The Hobbit and two Lovecraft short stories, because all were published prior to 1938; and Forrest J Ackerman, expelled as a Best Professional Editor – Short Form nominee because he had no pro editing credits that year. (Nor any that I’m aware of until Famous Monsters began publishing in 1958 – though if I’m wrong, we’ll be hearing about that in five, four, three….)

1939 Retro Hugo Award Winners

The 1939 Retro Hugo Award winners were announced at a ceremony held at Loncon 3 on August 14. Members cast 1,307 valid ballots. A PDF is available here with the full voting statistics. 

Best Novel: The Sword in the Stone by T. H. White (Collins)

Best Novella: “Who Goes There?” by Don A Stuart [John W. Campbell] (Astounding Science-Fiction, August 1938)

Best Novelette: “Rule 18” by Clifford D. Simak (Astounding Science-Fiction, July 1938)

Best Short Story: “How We Went to Mars” by Arthur C. Clarke (Amateur Science Stories, March 1938)

Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form): The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells. Written by Howard Koch & Anne Froelick, directed by Orson Welles (The Mercury Theater on the Air, CBS)

Best Editor – Short Form: John W. Campbell

Best Professional Artist: Virgil Finlay

Best Fanzine: Imagination! edited by Forrest J Ackerman, Morojo, and T. Bruce Yerke

Best Fan Writer: Ray Bradbury

The committee’s press release follows the jump.

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On This Day In History 7/4

Three AWOL Worldcon members were in Yankee Stadium when this picture was taken.

Three AWOL Worldcon members were in Yankee Stadium when this picture was taken.

July 4, 1939: Julius Schwartz ditched the last day of the first World Science Fiction Convention and went with Mort Weisinger and Otto Binder to see a ballgame at Yankee Stadium.

He still got to see fan history being made. Baseball fan history.

A very special thing happened that afternoon: Lou Gehrig announced his retirement from the game of baseball. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. It’s something I will never forget.

Gehrig’s famous lines echoed throughout the park:

For the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.

(And if you’re any kind of baseball fan you should not miss the video of all 30 Major League first basemen doing Gehrig’s lines, something Fox Sports produced to mark the 75th anniversary of his speech.)

1939 Retro Hugo Voter Packet Available

Loncon 3 has released the 1939 Retro Hugo voter packet. It is now available for download by Supporting, Attending, and Young Adult members of the Worldcon.

The 1939 Retro Hugos celebrate the science fiction and fantasy that fans at the very first Worldcon in 1939 would have known.

The voter packet is an electronic package of nominated works made available by Hugo nominees and their publishers. It includes full editions of several of the works nominated for the Retro Hugos, though it was not possible to acquire permission for all of the nominated works to be included.

The 1939 Retro Hugo Awards will be presented on August 14 at a ceremony presided over by Mary Robinette Kowal and Rob Shearman, with music provided by the Brideshead Ballroom Stompers.

The full press release follows the jump.

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Me and Mr. Potter

If I want to know what the last 40 years of fanhistory would have been like had I never existed, all I have to do is read Arnie Katz’ new article on numbered fandoms. It’s quite a public service. Usually one has to wait for the Christmas reruns of It’s a Wonderful Life to experience this kind of thing.