Fred had lived in a nursing facility since suffering a stroke in 2005. His sister, Sherrill Patten, told LASFS that on November 1 he was found non-responsive, moved to a hospital and treated, but never regained consciousness.
Patten’s first sf convention was the 1958 Worldcon in LA. He joined the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society (LASFS) in 1960 while still a student at UCLA. He was nominated for a Hugo in 1963 as co-editor of the club’s fanzine Shangri L’Affaires with Al Lewis, Bjo and John Trimble. For his service to LASFS he received the club’s Evans-Freehafer Award in 1965.
His biography almost ended in 1965, according to club legend – a party crasher evicted from LASFS’ Halloween event came back and fired a shot through the window, narrowly missing him.
Fred took a master’s degree from UCLA’s School of Library Science in 1963, writing his thesis on the books of Andre Norton. He joined Hughes Aircraft in 1969 as a technical catalogue librarian and worked there until 1990.
He was an insatiable reader and enthusiastic critic. He gained fame as one of the prolific, insightful reviewers for Dick Geis’ Hugo-winning Science Fiction Review along with Paul Walker, Ted Pauls and Richard Delap.
From 1975 to 1977, Delap and Patten produced their own monthly review journal, Delap’s F&SF Review.
Fred also had a strong interest in comics and graphic storytelling. He collected foreign language works like Tintin and Asterix, built a small import business by taking orders from friends, then for awhile tried to make a go of a publication, Graphic Story World, and a bookstore, Graphic Story Bookshop, with Richard Kyle in Long Beach.
He first encountered Japanese manga at the 1970 Westercon, and soon discovered anime. Home video recording units were becoming common, which made it practical if not easy for people to obtain copies of things shown on Japanese TV or syndicated in America. He co-founded the first American anime fan club, the Cartoon/Fantasy Organization, in 1977, and was recognized with Comic-Con’s Inkpot Award in 1980 for introducing anime to American fandom.
Fred started establishing contacts with Japanese anime production companies. Toei Animation’s Hollywood representative, then trying to sell an American production of its TV giant-robot animation, gave Fred lots of graphics to write articles for popular-culture magazines like Starlog promoting anime. Over the next 25 years Fred wrote enough pieces to fill a book, Watching Anime, Reading Manga: 25 Years of Essays and Reviews (2004).
These connections led Fred into regular contact with professional animators in Hollywood, where he clashed with them about their stereotyped views of Japanese animation:
Anime also got me into the biggest fight that I have ever been in, with Bill Scott of Rocky and Bullwinkle fame, at the meetings of ASIFA-Hollywood. Scott dismissed Japanese animation as unimaginative costumed-hero stuff, in horribly limited animation. I rebutted, “You should talk! Rocky and Bullwinkle may be brilliant, but it’s hardly for the quality of its animation. You have it animated at one of the cheapest studios in Mexico City. As for the giant-robot stereotype, there’s much more variety in Japanese animation than there is in American animation. It’s that the anime fans don’t want to watch anything besides giant robots.” But it was a lost cause. I was drowned out by Scott and the other American animation-industry veterans chanting, “Poor animation! Awful animation!” I dropped out of ASIFA-Hollywood for several years.
At the same time anime fandom was taking off, there was a parallel development among people interested in anthropomorphic comics and fiction, and Fred was an active participant. Furry fandom began with the amateur press associations (APAs) Vootie and Rowrbrazzle. Vootie, “The Fanzine of the Funny Animal Liberation Front”, run by Reed Waller & Ken Fletcher of Minneapolis s-f fandom, ran from 1976 to 1983. Marc Schirmeister started its replacement, the quarterly Rowrbrazzle, beginning in February 1984.
While helping to nurture these new branches of fandom, Fred remained highly active in mainstream fandom. He chaired the 1974 Santa Barbara Westercon, and the 1987 Loscon. He was on the committees of the 1972, 1984, and 1996 Worldcons. (For L.A.Con, the 1972 Worldcon, he edted the Program Book, and published the daily newzine Wabbit Twacks — a reference to the work of Frederik Pohl, the GoH).
He and John Foyster started the Down Under Fan Fund in 1972, to exchange visiting fans between Australasia and North America in the tradition of TAFF.
In 1971 he was DeepSouthCon’s fan guest of honor.
A highly respected fanhistorian, Fred’s research was helped by his access to Forry Ackerman’s collection of the earliest fanzines. He did an excellent series of articles about Worldcon history for MidAmeriCon’s (1976) progress reports. And he was a dependable authority whose views mattered in debates about whether the first SF convention was Leeds or Philly, and whether the LASFS or PSFS was the oldest existing SF club.
Unfortunately, Fred became bedridden after suffering a stroke in 2005, although with the aid of his sister Sherrill he did sometimes go in a wheelchair to LASFS or visit fans at her apartment, where she fixed up one room as his library with SF art and some awards hanging on the walls. And with the use of a MacBook Pro laptop computer he stayed active in fandom, typing with one finger. Remarkably, he was able to sustain his uninterrupted string of contributions to LASFS’ weekly APA-L until 2009, having an issue of his fanzine ¡Rábanos Radiactivos! in every distribution – for 2,279 weeks in all.
Moving into a convalescent home forced him to give up his sff collection. He donated almost 900 boxes of comic books, records, tapes, anime, manga, fanzines and books to UC Riverside’s Eaton Collection.
Despite finding typing to be much harder after the stroke, his productivity was remarkable. In 2013 he reported that he was reviewing books for three websites and writing a weekly column for another. In the past half-dozen years he’s edited 14 anthologies of anthropomorphic fiction. He also compiled fanhistorical works like Furry Fandom Conventions 1989-2015.
Fred’s indomitable fannish spirit was acknowledged with a Special Committee Award by the 2006 Worldcon, L.A.con IV, “in celebration of a lifetime of service to Fandom.” He was named Fan GoH of Loscon in 2006, and won LASFS’ Forry Award in 2009. And he was inducted to the Furry Hall of Fame in 2012 at the MiDFur convention in Melbourne, Australia, for a lifetime of service to Furry fandom.