Free Read: Homefront – Fandom in the UK (1939-1945)

The cover photo shows the remains of The Red Bull, the first pub to host London fandom’s meetings, after it was destroyed during an air raid on 16 April 1941. Photo courtesy of Holborn Library.

Homefront – Fandom in the UK (1939-1945), a massive fanhistorical compilation by Rob Hansen focusing on British fandom during World War Two, is available as a free download from the TAFF website. (Donations to the fund appreciated.)

Hansen brings together first-hand accounts of wartime experience through fannish eyes, showing how the lines of communication between fans continued during that huge national disruption – and so, somehow, did the fannish sense of humor.

It chronicles how against all the odds a handful of dedicated individuals kept that community together in circumstances inconceivable to any who didn’t live through them. Despite being bombed out of their homes, called up to serve in the armed forces, or facing the hostility of tribunals in order to register as Conscientious Objectors, they somehow succeeded in keeping our eventually far-flung fandom together when it could all so easily have just faded away. Many of those who feature most prominently in Homefront went on to be the first post-war generation of British SF writers and there is much here that should be of interest to scholars of their work.

Hansen says “I’ve also included as a prologue Chuck Harris’s funny and evocative account of his 1930s childhood amid poverty and the British Union of Fascists in London’s long-gone Jewish East End.”

To accompany Homefront, he has set up an online photo gallery of fans in uniform during World War Two.

The Ansible Editions ebook is available in several formats. 161,500 words.

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