Marty Helgesen 1938-2021

By John Hertz:  Long-time fan Marty Helgesen, active in fanzines and thus known across the country, sometimes seen at SF cons, quick-witted and comical, thoughtful, cheerfully Catholic, left our Earth for a better life, as his co-religionists trust, on Sunday, May 23rd.  He was 82.

He was a wise guy in the highest sense, like – though the comparison would have embarrassed him – Ronald Knox, a Catholic priest who made a new translation of the Bible and wrote detective stories.  Marty’s fanwriting included – as I noted here – things like “All syllogisms have three parts.  Therefore, this is not a syllogism.”

His own fanzine Radio Free Thulcandra in the mid-1980s through mid-1990s ran three dozen issues of five or six dozen pages, its title alluding to Radio Free Europe broadcasts and a name for Earth in three books by C.S. Lewis, Out of the Silent PlanetPerelandraThat Hideous Strength.  Marty was, besides, in three apas that I know of, MinneapaAPA-L, and FLAP.  Minneapa, mighty in its day, came to an end; APA-L and FLAP continue.

He knew and quoted Msgr. Knox’ writing; also the writing of another who had the gift of speaking clearly on topics difficult to manage, Frank Sheed.  This was welcome.  Marty resisted anti-Christian or anti-Catholic prejudice – as I’ve sometimes put it, too often we fans aren’t really tolerant, we just march behind a banner that says “Tolerance” – but, although Christians may proselytize, he did not misappropriate fannish moments to urge his faith.  He was a counter-example to the Spanish proverb Every man pushes his own sardine a little closer to the fire.

He earned his living as a librarian.  He lived in Malverne, New York.

I cherish the memory of running across him one day at a convention, dressed in his usual white short-sleeved shirt with four pockets, black trousers, drawing a little red wagon carrying a children’s T-shirt, the T-shirt filled out somehow as if worn on a human or humanoid body and reading “My parents went to Middle-Earth and all I got was this stupid ring.”

A friend of his posted a notice here about Marty’s funeral Mass and burial, to be held on Friday, May 28th.  If you can go, do.  If you can remember him in prayers, do that.  He and I had substantial differences, but we were too occupied with what we had in common to dwell on them.  I’m not sure fandom is a way of life, but if it is, that’s in it.

He enriched us.

R.I.P.

5 thoughts on “Marty Helgesen 1938-2021

  1. He and I overlapped in Minneapa, and I saw him at a number of Minicons and some East Coast cons I got to, and on at least one visit to New York. He had many virtues, features, and beneficial characteristics.

  2. I’m sorry to hear of his passing. He was charming, good-natured, and respectfully argumentative.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.