Pixel Scroll 11/12/20 When The Scrolling Gets Weird, The Pixels Turn Pro

(1) THE NEXT GENERATION. James Davis Nicoll’s Young People Read Old SFF panel took a look at “’No Trading Voyage’ by Doris Pitkin Buck”. What did they think of this 1963 poem?

This month’s entry is from Doris Pitkin Buck, a Science Fiction Writers of America founder. Buck was mainly associated with The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, which for various stupid reason was not a magazine I followed closely back in the day. Accordingly, I was not familiar with her work when I encountered this example of it way, way back in 2019. I see I carefully side-stepped my issues with poetry in my review. Let’s see what my Young People made of her poem. 

(2) FREE MARS? In “Elon Musk’s Martian Way (Empire Not Included)”  on National Review Online, Texas Tech economist Alexander William Salter says a curious clause in Musk’s Starlink satellite contracts doesn’t mean Musk quietly wants to conquer Mars.

…But a much more exotic charge against Starlink, and Elon Musk himself, has recently come to light. A curious clause in Starlink’s terms and conditions suggests SpaceX’s future plans for a Martian settlement will result in SpaceX becoming a law unto itself. As the service agreement reads:

“For Services provided on Mars, or in transit to Mars via Starship or other colonization spacecraft, the parties recognize Mars as a free planet and that no Earth-based government has authority or sovereignty over Martian activities. Accordingly, Disputes will be settled through self-governing principles, established in good faith, at the time of Martian settlement.”

Nefarious! Or is it? We need some context.

Clearly, the clause doesn’t pose any immediate legal concerns. This is a long-term issue. One of Musk’s ambitions is to create a settlement on Mars. In Musk’s vision, much of the infrastructure for the settlement, including Internet via Starlink, will be supplied by SpaceX itself. That includes governance: the rules dictating how the intrepid Martian explorers will live together. In fact, SpaceX’s legal team is currently working on a Martian constitution.

This science-fiction-esque plan predictably led observers to decry the prospect of corporate domination of space. “Elon Musk plans to get to Mars first, and that means he can quickly establish a fiefdom where he makes his own rules by a first-come, first-serve system,” complains Caroline Delbert at Popular Mechanics. Legal experts weighed in soon after, claiming that this language violates international law. The smart set seems more than happy to cast Musk in the role of Hugo Drax, the tech-savvy Bond villain who sought space power to control humanity….

(3) ISFIC WRITERS CONTEST EXTENSION. Steven H Silver brings word that the ISFiC Writers Contest  for unpublished writers of science fiction and fantasy has extended its deadline for submissions to November 27. Guidelines for entries are at the link.

(4) HOW CAN THE SAME THING HAPPEN TO THE SAME GUY TWICE? “Bruce Willis returns to space to kick some alien derriere in Breach trailer”Ars Technica sets the frame.

…Originally titled Anti-Life, the film’s premise is that a devastating plague has wiped out much of Earth’s population, and the survivors are being evacuated via an interstellar ark to “New Earth.” Willis plays Clay Young, described as a hardened mechanic who is part of the crew selected to stay awake and maintain the ark for the six-month journey. But then he discovers a shape-shifting alien (or “a malevolent cosmic terror,” per the early press materials) has also stowed away on the ark, and it seems to be intent on killing everyone on board…

(5) FIRST FANDOM SALUTE TO MADLE. First Fandom Annual 2020 has just been published with the theme “Celebrating Robert A. Madle.”

Robert A. Madle

This is a tribute to legendary fan Bob Madle, who just recently celebrated his one hundredth birthday.  In a long article featuring rare photographs and illustrations, Bob recounts his involvement in science fiction fandom over the course of ten decades.   He also reflects on the early days of Amazing Stories, the origins of FAPA, and the genesis of First Fandom.

Among the highlights: appreciations of Bob by some of his long-time friends, including a poem from 1968 by Robert Bloch; a gallery of First Fandom photos and a Robert A. Madle bibliography prepared by Christopher M. O’Brien.

Edited by John L. Coker III and Jon D. Swartz. 60 pages, limited edition (26 copies); Laser printed on good quality paper; Photographs and interior illustrations; Gloss covers, 8½ x 11, saddle-stitched.

This will soon be out-of-print, so order your copy today by sending a check or money order for $30 payable to John L. Coker III to 4813 Lighthouse Road, Orlando, FL 32808.

(6) COVID DELAYS ANOTHER CON. The Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo has been pushed back: “C2E2 Postpones Next Convention to December 2021” at Comicbook.com.

The convention circuit has been profoundly impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as social distancing guidelines and fluctuating positivity numbers have thrown out the possibility of large scale events. As a result, many high-profile events have been forced to move into a digital format, or delay their dates well into next year. The Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo, or C2E2, is the latest to do so, announcing on Tuesday that its next convention will be held from December 10th through December 12th of 2021. This delays the 2021 convention pretty significantly, as it was originally set to occur March 26-28, 2021.

(7) MCCAULEY OBIT. Literary agent Kay McCauley died on Sunday. Melinda Snodgrass paid tribute in “Living Life On Your Own Terms — Kay McCauley”.

I met Kay McCauley at the World Science Fiction Convention in Toronto back in 2003. I was in desperate need of a new literary agent, and George offered to introduce me to his agent. Kay was there to support George who was the GoH, but wasn’t much into the convention scene so I took a taxi and met her for lunch at her hotel.

The woman I met was a bit taller than me with elegantly coifed brunette hair, elegant gold jewelry, a chic pantsuit and a perfect manicure. Kay alternated between being charming, brusque, funny, judgmental, demanding. She pushed me — what are your goals? Why do you do this? What do you want to write? I could tell she was sizing me up in every way possible. I guess I managed to do something right because she became my agent a few months later.

She worked tirelessly for me for nearly twenty years. But this wasn’t just a professional relationship. Kay became my dear friend and confidant and it was a two way street. I could call her when I was sad or upset and she knew she could lean on me whenever life dealt her a blow. We always kept each other’s confidences. We had each other’s backs….

(8) LAFARGE OBIT. Tom LaFarge (1947-2020) died on October 22. He is survived by Wendy Walker and his son Paul La Farge. Tom had recently completed The Enchantments, a series of three novels published 2015-18. Author Henry Wessells wrote an essay on his writings for NYRSF, “Ticket to Bargeton”.

(9) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • 1975 – Forty-five years ago, Poul Anderson’s A Midsummer Tempest would win the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award and be nominated for the Locus, Nebula and World Fantasy awards as well.  Set in a world where Shakespeare was the Great Historian, all the events depicted within his plays were historical fact. Lester Del Rey in his August 1974 If review said that it is “a fantasy I can recommend with pleasure.”  Tom Lewis is the cover artist. It is available in print and digital editions. (CE)

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born November 12, 1877 – John R. Neill.  Starting with the second Oz book, illustrated the rest of Baum’s, all of Thompson’s, three of his own.  Before, worked on newspapers; around the time of Baum’s death, became a free lance, drawing for e.g. Boy’s LifeLadies’ Home JournalVanity FairSaturday Evening PostArgosy.  Here is The Lost Princess of Oz.  Here is The Magic of Oz.  Here is Scraps, the Patchwork Girl.  Here is an interior from the Dec 19 Everybody’s.  Here is “Beyond the Dark Nebula” from the 4 Apr 31 Argosy.  A granddaughter maintains a Website.  (Died 1943) [JH]
  • Born November 12, 1929 Michael Ende. German author best known for The Neverending Story which is far better than the film which only covers part of the novel.  Momo, or the strange story of the time-thieves is a charming if strange novel worth your time.   The rest of his children’s literature has been translated from German into English mostly by small specialist presses down the years. Unlike The Neverending Story and Momo which I’ve encountered, I’ve not read any of these. (Died 1995.)  (CE)
  • Born November 12, 1930 – Irma Chilton.  Ten novels, a few shorter stories.  Wrote in English and Welsh.  Tir na n-Og Award.  Crown for prose at 1989 Nat’l Eisteddfod.  Welsh Arts Council’s Irma Chilton Bursary prize named for her.  (Died 1990) [JH]
  • Born November 12, 1943 Wallace Shawn, 77. Probably best remembered as the ferengi Grand Nagus Zek on Deep Space Nine, a role he only played seven times. He was also Vizzini in the beloved Princess Bride, and he played Dr. Elliott Coleye in the My Favorite Martian film.(CE)
  • Born November 12, 1943 Julie Ege. A Bond Girl On Her Majesty’s Secret Service as Helen, the Scandinavian girl. She also appeared  in Hammer‘s Creatures the World Forgot and The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires. And in The Mutations which got released under the alternative title of The Freakmaker. She had a role in De Dwaze Lotgevallen Von Sherlock Jones which got dubbed into English as The Crazy Adventures of Sherlock Jones. (Died 2008.) (CE) 
  • Born November 12, 1943 Valerie Leon, 77. She appeared in two Bond films, Never Say Never Again and The Spy Who Loved Me, and in the horror flick Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb as Margaret Fuchs / Queen Tera. She was also Tanya in Revenge of the Pink Panther, and had one-offs in The AvengersSpace:1999 and Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased). (CE) 
  • Born November 12, 1945 – Michael Bishop, 75.  A dozen novels, a hundred thirty shorter stories, fifty poems; a dozen “Pitching Pennies Against the Starboard Bulkhead” essays, many others e.g. Introductions to Nebula Awards 23-25, “Forty Years with Asimov’s SF” (Jul-Aug 17 Asimov’s), letters in LocusNY Rev SFRiverside QuarterlySF Commentary; a dozen collections, recently The Sacerdotal Owl.  Reflections, Reverie for Mister Ray.  M.A. thesis on Dylan Thomas.  Two Nebulas, a Rhysling, a Shirley Jackson.  Website here.  [JH]
  • Born November 12, 1950 – Michael Capobianco, 70.  Two novels and a shorter story; four more novels, two shorter stories, with William Barton.  Two (non-consecutive) terms as SFWA (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America) President; Service to SFWA Award.  MC & WB interviewed in SF Eye.  [JH]
  • Born November 12, 1952 Max Grodenchik, 68. He’s best known for his role as Rom, a recurring character on Deep Space Nine. He has a long genre history with appearances in The RocketeerHere Come The MunstersRumpelstiltskinStar Trek: Insurrection (scenes as a Trill were deleted alas), Tales from The CryptSlidersWienerlandThe Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Bruce Almighty. (CE)
  • Born November 12, 1969 – Olivia Grey, 51.  Three novels, four more under another name; half a dozen shorter stories.  Muse of the Fair at 2011 Steampunk World’s Fair.  Avalon Revisited won Steampunk Chronicle’s 2012 Reader’s Choice for Best Fiction.  M.A. thesis on Le Morte d’Arthur.  [JH]
  • Born November 12, 1976 Richelle Mead, 44. Best known for her Georgina Kincaid series, the Vampire Academy franchize and its spin-off series Bloodlines, and the Dark Swan series. I’ve only read Succubus Blues by her but it’s a truly great read and I recommend it strongly. Spirit Bound won a Good Reads Award.  (CE)
  • Born November 12, 1984 – Benjamin Martin, 36.  Moved to Okinawa from Arizona.  Two fantastic samurai novels (Samurai Awakening won a Crystal Kite Award), one shorter story.  Karumi Tengo photography prize.  [JH]

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) THE FIRST. James Davis Nicoll digs into “Science Fiction’s Very First ‘Year’s Best’ Anthology” at Tor.com.

… This 314-page hardcover, published by Frederick Fell, with a cover by Frank McCarthy (1924–2002) collected twelve stories from 1948. It sold for $2.95, which in today’s currency is about $30.

What did the best of 1948 look like, you wonder? I am so happy you asked.

The table of contents is dominated by men. One of the two women included, Catherine Moore, was concealed behind her husband’s byline effectively enough that an editorial comment makes it clear the editors believed the story was by Kuttner alone. Women were active in the field at the time, but as documented by Lisa Yaszek, the editors crafting SF canon were not much interested in acknowledging women. Who else, one wonders, was overlooked?

Still, one has to review the Best SF anthology one has, not the Best SF anthology you might want or wish to have at a later time….

(13) HOW SOME WRITERS GET PAID. “BYU Vending Machines Dispense Short Stories” reports KSL TV.

They are far from the typical vending machines found on college campuses.

At Brigham Young University, two new dispensers are offering a different kind of fare — short stories.

“I thought, ‘what a brilliant way to not be staring at your phone all the time!’” said Leslee Thorne-Murphy, an English professor and associate dean at the BYU College of Humanities.

Thorne-Murphy said she first saw the Short Edition dispensers in an urban mall in London and helped bring the idea to BYU as part of an initiative launched by the College of Humanities.

Three contactless buttons allow a student to select either a 1, 3, or 5-minute read, and the machine prints out a story selected at random from its database.

Stories range from famous works to student-submitted stories that have been added through writing contests.

(14) MAKE IT SO. SYFY Wire is there when “The Star Trek Cocktails book arrives with a bounty of libations to enjoy…for medicinal purposes”.

Relaxing from the universe’s withering stresses has always been an important part of the Star Trek universe. For some, that included imbibing alcoholic drinks. Be it solemnly inside their quarters to mark a moment, or collecting with peers in a bar like Ten-Forward, Trek has given us plenty of tantalizing visual cocktails in all of its various film and television iterations that audiences have long wished to taste at home

Luckily, you can now give almost 40 different Star Trek inspired alcoholic drinks a spin at home with the release today of Hero Collector’s Star Trek Cocktails: A Stellar Compendium. Written by Glenn Dakin with drinks curated by mixologists by Simon Pellet and Adrian Calderbank, the coffee table book features photos and illustrations of the drinks, the characters, and the events that inspired their creation.

(15) SPACEX IS GO. SPACEX but it’s THUNDERBIRDS! by Psyclonyx.

(16) BE KIND TO YOUR WEBFOOTED FRIENDS. “Who Would Rig This Vote? The Fraud Was Real (and Feathers Were Ruffled)” – the New York Times has the story. Tagline: “More than 1,500 fake votes were slipped into New Zealand’s Bird of the Year 2020 contest in favor of the kiwi pukupuku.”

…The scandal has roiled Bird of the Year 2020, an online popularity contest among the native birds of New Zealand, and made headlines in the remote Pacific Island nation, which takes its avian biodiversity seriously.

“It’s kind of disappointing that people decide to try their little tech tricks on Bird of the Year,” Laura Keown, the spokeswoman for the competition, told Radio New Zealand on Tuesday. “I’m not sure what kind of person could do it, but I like to assume that it’s somebody who just really loved native birds.”

No one has claimed responsibility, and no one is expected to.

The contest, which began on Nov. 2 and ends on Sunday, is conducted through an instant-runoff system that allows voters to rank their favorite birds — just as New Zealanders do when they elect humans to office. The organizer, a New Zealand-based advocacy group called Forest & Bird, has said that the contest is designed to raise awareness about the plight of the country’s more than 200 species of native birds, many of which are threatened or at risk of extinction.

(17) HONEST TRAILERS. In “Honest Trailers:  The Evil Dead Movies,” the Screen Junkies say the three “Evil Dead” movies are “as light on substance as they are heavy on style” and contain “enough red-dye corn syrup to flood the Eastern Seaboard.”

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, James Davis Nicoll, David Doering, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Patrick Morris Miller.]

Bob Madle Turns 100 Today

Robert A. Madle at home (May 2020). Photograph by Jane Madle. Courtesy of John Knott.

Happy one hundredth birthday, Bob Madle! We’re celebrating the date with the help of Rich Lynch, John L. Coker III, and Jon D. Swartz, plus highlights of interviews conducted over the years with the birthday boy himself!

Bob Madle: A Fan for the Ages

[This essay was originally printed in the Boskone 33 Program Book in February 1996.  Photos were added when it was reprinted in My Back Pages 6 in 2011.]

Rich Lynch and Bob Madle in 2008.

By Rich Lynch: Recently, I read somewhere that an average American’s life span is now over 72 years, up something like 100 percent over what the average life expectancy was for people who lived way back in the Middle Ages.  Mankind doesn’t have the longest life span in the animal kingdom, of course; great land tortoises are reported to live well over 100 years, for example.  Even longer lived, one of the bristlecone pine trees out in the Sierras was calculated to have lived for about 2,000 years, but even this pales in comparison to the ancient creosote bushes of the Mojave Desert, some of which are reportedly over 20,000 years old!

And then there’s Bob Madle…

Bob Madle and Mel Korshak (Chicon I, 1940). Collection of Robert A. Madle.

Now, wait just a minute!  Before you think I’m having a little cheap fun at your Special Guest’s expense, I’ll hasten to tell you that no insult is intended.  In fact, I meant it as a compliment!  You see, Bob Madle is a member of that fabled Dinosaurs of Fandom organization, First Fandom, which he helped found back in the 1950s.  To be a member of First Fandom, you had to be active as a fan no later than January 1, 1938, by taking part in such activities as writing letters, publishing a fanzine, or attending a fan gathering.  Actually, Bob’s involvement in fandom dates back even further than that; he discovered that there was a fandom way back in 1933 when he found that letters from other fans were being published by Hugo Gernsback in Amazing Stories (Bob’s first published letter to Amazing appeared in the August 1935 issue).  Once he discovered there were other fans, he was part of the vanguard to organize them: in 1935, Bob was one of the founders of the world’s second oldest continuing science fiction organization, the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society.  And in 1936, Bob was one of the attendees of the very first science fiction convention ever held, when PSFS hosted a contingent of fans from New York City.

Now that alone is a pretty impressive resume, but it doesn’t nearly end there.  The first World Science Fiction Convention was held in New York City, in July of 1939.  Bob was there.  He was also at the second, in Chicago in 1940, and the third, in Denver in 1941.  He even attended the very first Boskone, in 1941.  After World War Two finished interrupting just about everyone’s fan activities, Bob became involved with the running of Worldcons, as part of the committees for the Philadelphia Worldcons in 1947 and 1953.  And there’s more: he was one of the decision-makers of that 1953 Worldcon committee that came up with the idea for the Hugo Awards, which were presented for the very first time at that convention.

But there’s still more!  I can’t end this appreciation without mentioning that Bob did much to organize fan groups in other places besides Philadelphia.  In the early 1950s, for instance, he was a founder of a fan club in Charlotte, North Carolina, which led to some of the first science fiction conventions ever held in the southeastern United States.  Much of today’s very active fandom in that region can be traced back to these origins.  And in 1957, Bob was elected North American delegate for the still-new Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund, which had been conceived just a few years earlier.  TAFF brought Bob to the very first non-North American worldcon, which was in London that year.  (This resulted in one of the best fan trip reports ever written, which he titled for obscure reasons, A Fake Fan in London.  But that’s another story…)

Anyway, it’s only because Bob has spent much of the past few decades as a dealer of rare and hard-to-find science fiction books and magazines that his fan activity has finally slowed by just a bit.  Not by so much that I can keep up with him, though!  Even now, sixty years after that first science fiction convention, he still gets to more conventions each year than most other fans, myself included.  So when you talk with him, ask him about some of these adventures.  You’ll find he’s easy to chat with, and who knows?  You might even find yourself buying a book from him that tells all about some of those yesteryear exploits of fandoms past.

I began this introduction of your Special Guest with a metaphor; I’ll finish it with another.  Even though the dawn of science fiction fandom happened way back in the 1930s, we should remember that fandom is really still quite young; the fact that many of its founders are still active is something we can treasure.  Bob Madle is such a treasure; he’s living history – a fan for the ages.

Bob Madle in 1938

Robert A. Madle – In the First Person

(Excerpted from conversations with John L. Coker III during 1994 and 2006-2008)

My name is Robert Albert Madle and I was born June 2, 1920, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  I grew up in the City of Brotherly Love and attended Northeast High School.  I started reading when I was very young, and by the age of nine I had a big collection of boy’s books.  I discovered science fiction in Tom Swift, then began reading Edgar Rice Burroughs.  I was a great Buck Rogers fan.  I was ten years old when Just Imagine came out.  I thought that that was the greatest movie ever made.

In 1931 John V. Baltadonis and I discovered two issues of Wonder Stories in a junk shop.  A few months later, my father gave me two dollars to buy a new pair of Boy Scout trousers.  So, to downtown Philadelphia I went.  I never did get the trousers, as an incident of vast importance intervened.  I happened to see a large window crammed full of Wonder Stories, Astounding Stories and Amazing Stories.  I entered to find many more issues–and they were six for twenty-five cents!  I bought two dollars of the treasures to start my S-F collection.  Several weeks later, my father discovered what had occurred.  I don’t recall exactly what happened but I’m sure it wasn’t pretty.

In 1934, I formed the Boys’ Science Fiction Club with Harvey Greenblatt, John V. Baltadonis and Jack Agnew.  My very first letter appeared in the July 1935 Pirate Stories.  I was a Gernsback fan, and anything he published I picked up.  I read his editorial in the first issue.  He said that they would publish pirate stories of the past, the present, and yes, even of the future.  So, I wrote a letter saying that they ought to publish a novel about a space pirate and they should get Edmond Hamilton to write it.  They printed the letter and I won a year’s subscription to Wonder Stories.  I was fourteen years old and I thought that this was one of the greatest things that ever happened.

Morris Scott Dollens, Walter J. Daugherty, Robert A. Madle. Collection of John L. Coker III.

Gernsback announced the formation of the Science Fiction League in the April 1934 issue of Wonder Stories.  In the May 1934 issue, he went into more detail about how science fiction was a literature that was a force that would change the world forever.  It would be a wonderful world of tomorrow where science rules everything.  It was the Gernsback Ideal.  I was thirteen years old at the time, and I thought “Wow!  I could be a part of this.”

In October 1936, the New York group – Donald A. Wollheim, William S. Sykora, John B. Michel, Fred Pohl, Herbert E. Goudket, and David A. Kyle – made a train trip down to Philadelphia.   They were met downtown by Milton A. Rothman, Oswald V. Train and me.  We showed them around the city.  Later that day, John Baltadonis and several others joined us at Milt Rothman’s house.  Then we actually had a meeting.  As Sam Moskowitz said in The Immortal Storm, if we hadn’t had that little meeting, we could not have called it the first convention.  The first science fiction convention would have been the one in Leeds, England, in early 1937. 

At the first World Con – New York, 1939 – everybody was being let in, including the Futurians, although the promoters were very wary of them.  Someone did discover a bunch of propaganda that the Futurians had stuck in between the steps with the intention to distribute later.  At that point, Moskowitz kept them from entering – Wollheim, Lowndes, Michel, Gillespie, Kornbluth and Pohl.  This has gone down in fandom history as “The Exclusion Act.”  Later, a number of us went over to Coney Island, and had a photograph made where we’re all sitting in an old car.  It would be two months before England and France would declare war on Germany, but we knew it was on its way.  When Japan attacked us, most fans went into the military.

Coney Island, New York – July 4 1939. (Rear, L-R) V. Kidwell, Robert A. Madle, Erle M. Korshak, Ray Bradbury. (Front, L-R) Mark Reinsberg, Jack Agnew, Ross Rocklynne.

I enlisted in the Army in July 1942, but wasn’t much of a fighting man.  For some reason, probably because I had a driver’s license, I wound up as a truck driver, even though I had never driven a truck in my life.  I had gone in under a new program, because of my bad eyesight.  They had just started what they called “limited service,” non-combatant duty.  

Next thing you know I’m heading for overseas duty.  I was called in to see the captain, who said that I wasn’t supposed to be in that outfit.  The orderly room said that there was an opening in the signal office for a teletype operator.  That is how I met my wife Billie, a switchboard operator at the time. 

There was a period when I was assistant to the public relations officer.  He was looking for somebody who could write and had something that had been published. The job had to do with writing news articles for the Charlotte newspapers.  Because of all the writing that I had done, I received a promotion.  I spent three and a half years in the service.

Oswald V. Train and Robert A. Madle, PSFS ca. 1953.

I got married during the war and already had a three-year-old son when I started college.  After I graduated, I worked and went on for my MBA at night.  I got a job in Charlotte, North Carolina, and after that I worked for the government in Washington, D. C.  I went to work for the Navy Department doing personnel research.  We helped determine requirements for future weapons systems and worked with the contractors.  Later, I had the background and school credits to become an engineering research psychologist and was involved with the interfaces between man and machine.

Robert A. Madle, Ben Jason, Honey Wood (1955, Cleveland). From the Collection of John L. Coker, III

One day in October 1958 I received a call from Don Ford, saying that Doc Barrett was having a small group over at his place in Bellefontaine, Ohio and I was invited.  When I arrived, the group was already there.  They consisted of Doc Barrett, Don Ford, Lou Tabakow, Ben Kiefer – four old-timers – and a youngster named Stan Skirvin.  We all sat around and drank beer and talked of the tumultuous events of the day. 

It was kind of an opportune coincidence how First Fandom came up.  Someone once claimed that he saw something written on a toilet wall, which said, “First Fandom is not dead!”  Recalling this, I said, “What science fiction needs is a new organization, one in which the old-time fans are paramount, instead of those young upstarts who wouldn’t know a 1933 Amazing Stories if he tripped on it.” 

Don was immediately for it, and said, “Great!  We can give recognition awards to the great authors of the past such as E.E. Smith, because none of them will ever get a Hugo.”  Everyone was enthusiastic about the idea, and great plans were conceived right then and there.  Don said, “To be a member, one would have to be active in some phase of science fiction prior to January 1938.”  A magazine would be published.  Don thought it should be a formal organization.  But serious things would be accomplished also, mainly, keeping the history of SF in front of the fans of SF today.  Membership credentials would be required and acceptance would be tough.  It would be a Last Man Club, with the last First Fandom member alive in a certain year knocking off a privately held fifth of liquor. 

Don suggested that I be president, as it was my idea.  Lou and he would share the secretary and treasurer’s duties.  Lynn Hickman was contacted and he became the official editor.  Announcements were sent out, and the first person to join – Member Number One – was Robert Bloch.  I never called an official meeting, and I remained president for over twenty-five years.

When I was young, the sense of wonder meant “Gosh!  Wow!  Boy oh boy!  Stories of how great the future’s going to be!  How science fiction is going to be the most powerful force that would change the world.”  The magazines had personality – fans wrote letters and editors commented on them.  In fact, I received several letters from the editor of Astounding, F. Orlin Tremaine, in response to my letters.  One issue claimed that he got the best stories from the best authors, but I told him that he got the worst stories from the best authors.  He wasn’t too happy with that comment.  The magazines had an aura about them.  To me, that was the sense of wonder.”

L-R Jack Agnew, Robert A. Madle, John Newton, Oswald V. Train, John V. Baltadonis. PSFS meeting – Nov 17, 1984. Courtesy of David Ritter.

MORE HONORS, AWARDS, AND PUBLICATIONS. Notes by John L. Coker III & Jon D. Swartz

Madle, Forrest J Ackerman and Sam Moskowitz at the 1957 Worldcon.

Bob Madle was the TAFF winner in 1957, and published his famous A Fake Fan in London as his trip report.  Also at the 1957 Convention Bob became a member of St. Fantony.

Bob’s other fan publications include Fantascience Digest, Fantasy-Fiction Telegram, Fanzine Review, and PSFS News.  For the prozines he wrote a column, “Inside Science Fiction.”  Bob was also distributor of the British prozine Nebula.

Bob’s Guest of Honor appearances, awards, and other honors over the years include: 1974, Big Heart Award; 1977, FGoH, Suncon; 1982, GoH at Lunacon; 1990, elected to the First Fandom Hall of Fame; 1996, Special Guest, Boskone 33; 2002, Sam Moskowitz Archive Award; 2012, GoH at Philcon. 

Bob is also credited with naming the Hugo Award, and was Treasurer of Philcon II.  In 2014, Madle was nominated for a Retro Hugo Award for Fantascience Digest.

For many years Bob has been a highly respected book dealer, specializing in rare science fiction and fantasy books and magazines.

Robert A. Madle and Jay Kay Klein

First Fandom Annual 2018

Jack Robins

The 2018 First Fandom Annual has just been published: Remembering Jack Robins (1919-2015), Edited by John L. Coker III and Jon D. Swartz.

This periodical showcases new articles and photographs, as well as a long interview with Jack Robins recalling the good old days, an article by Lottie about her family, and two of Jack’s SF-themed plays: “The Ivory Tower” and “The Trials and Tribulations of Publishing.”

Here are first-hand accounts of some early adventures of SF fans from the 1930s, including Donald A. Wollheim, John B. Michel, Leslie Perri, Richard Wilson, Fred Pohl, David A. Kyle, William S. Sykora, Cyril M. Kornbluth, Robert W. Lowndes, Isaac Asimov, and Damon Knight.

Also presented are a selection of Jack’s poetry and several of his historic SF photographs.

Also featured, a Jack Robins bibliography prepared by Christopher M. O’Brien.

  • 90 pages, limited edition (50 copies); Laser printed on good quality paper; B&W photos and interior illustrations; Gloss covers, 8½ x 11, saddle-stitched.

This will soon be out-of-print, so order your copy today by sending a check or money order for $30 (payable to John L. Coker III) to John at 4813 Lighthouse Road, Orlando, FL – 32808.

Norman F. Stanley (1916-2016)

Norman F. Stanley, circa 1970s.

Norman F. Stanley, circa 1970s.

By Jon D. Swartz and John L. Coker III: Born in May 1916, Norm Stanley was a science fiction (SF) fan from Maine who was very active in fandom in the 1940s.  He was a member of the famous Stranger Club, and was one of the club members who attended Noreascon 3 as a Fan Guest of Honor.

Norm was also tangentially involved in the Skowhegan Junior Astronomical and Rocket Society, the kind of fan club that combined both science and SF activities and was common in this country in the 1930s and 1940s.  He was generous with his fellow club members, and  let them borrow from his seventy bound-volumes of SF prozines.

He attended early conventions such as Philcon, as well as some of the early Boskones.  He also participated in Mainecon Jr, a “conference” in the language of the times, in 1943, with his friend Jim Avery and the visiting Claude Degler.  He gave Degler some fanzines, and got along well with him.  This generosity of his, plus the “conference” they had had with Avery, apparently qualified him to be a member of Degler’s legendary Cosmic Circle.  Norm was still active in fan matters in the late 1940s, and attended the 1948 Torcon where he participated in a roundtable discussion on the probable date of the arrival of interplanetary travel.

Norm’s major fanzine was Fan-Tods, which ran for nineteen issues.  He also published Beyond with Roscoe E. Wright.  Fan-Tods was a SF fanzine that was subtitled “The Magazine for the Tod Fan.”  It appeared in the 1940s-1950s, and was edited and published by Norm from his home in Rockland, Maine.  This fanzine was mimeographed using blue ink.  Issue #1 appeared in December, 1942; with #2 appearing in Spring, 1943; #7 in Summer, 1944; and then following a regular quarterly schedule until issue #18 in 1949 — after which there was a three-year break; and then Issue #19 was published in the Fall of 1952, and was the last issue.  Fan-Tods was an apazine, distributed through FAPA (Fantasy Amateur Press Association), and then VAPA (Vanguard Amateur Press Association).  Cover illustrations were by Wright, among others.  By issue #7, Wright had become a co-editor.  SF historian Harry Warner once described Norm as “a power force in FAPA.”  

Jack Speer’s 1944 poll of the top SF fans found Fan-Tods to be among the nation’s top five fanzines.  On the other hand, in 1947 – in his fanzine Matters of Opinion Speer wrote an article, “The People vs. Norman F. Stanley,” that was very critical of the 16th issue of Fan-Tods.

In the 1940s, Norm was very much a member of the “sense of wonder” camp of SF.  According to Warner’s All Our Yesterdays, when Norm’s mother told him about atomic bombs and Hiroshima he remembered thinking:  “I confess my first reaction was one of elation, which even the obvious misgivings couldn’t quench. ‘Geez, we might blow up the whole planet,’ I thought, ‘but it’s still wonderful.’ ”

In addition to his fanzine work, Norm wrote for the SF prozines, including several letters to Astounding Science Fiction.  Three of his letters were published in 1938, two in 1939, and one in 1940.  In addition, he had an essay (“The Theory of Thing Things”) published in the 1948 Torcon Report.

Norm was one of the original members of First Fandom; and he was elected to the First Fandom Hall of Fame in 2013.

Norman and Eleanor

Norman and Eleanor

Norman F. Stanley passed away on October 22, 2016, at the Sussman House, Rockport, Maine, with his family in attendance.  He was 100 years of age.  He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Eleanor, their two children, a granddaughter, and four children of a nephew.

Here is a link to the obituary notice that appeared in The Courier Gazette / The Camden Herald on October 26, 2016:  http://knox.villagesoup.com/p/norman-stanley/1588807

norman-stanley

Sources: All Our Yesterdays; The Immortal Storm; Fancyclopedia 3; ISFDB; Wikipedia; and other Internet sites.

Remembering Jack Robins (1919-2015)

By Jon D. Swartz & John L. Coker III: First Fandom original member Jack Robins passed away on December 23, 2015 after a brief illness. Robins was a science fiction (SF) fan who belonged to the International Scientific Association (ISA) in the early 1930s [invited by Walter Kubilius to attend a meeting], was a member of the famed Futurian Society of New York when it was formed in the late 1930s [inviting a former classmate of his, Isaac Asimov, to join], was part of the small group of Futurians (that included Donald Wollheim, John Michel and Fred Pohl) that organized the Committee for the Political Advancement of Science Fiction (CPASF), and he also attended the first Worldcon (Nycon) in 1939 (despite the Exclusion Act that prevented some of the other Futurians from attending).

Robins was born February 17, 1919, in Elizabeth, New Jersey. His siblings were much older, and he “was like an only child.” Born Jack Rubinson, he legally changed his name to Jack Robins. After he left the Futurians, he earned a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from The Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn (which later merged with NYU), but he maintained an interest in SF his entire life.

In the late 1930s Robins published two issues of his fanzine The Scientific Thinker. In the early 1940s, he published ten issues of another fanzine, Looking Ahead. Later he contributed an article, “Sex in Science Fiction,” to Geep!, The Book of the National Fantasy Fan Federation (1987). In addition, he has written LoCs, articles, and reviews for fanzines, including The Fan and Tightbeam for the National Fantasy Fan Federation (N3F) and Scientifiction for First Fandom.

Looking Ahead No. 3. Ed. Jack Robins. (March 1940) COMP

Jack recalled the summer of 1936:

Walter Kubilius introduced me to the ISA. These were people like me. They read and lived science fiction! They met in William Sykora’s basement and issued a mimeographed fan magazine to which I contributed. In 1937, Sykora closed his door, but the group reformed and became the Futurians. I still have fond memories of the group, and feelings of the warm comradery of those early days.

 

Walter Kubilius (late-1930s).

Walter Kubilius (late-1930s).

Robins has just missed being included in several important events in the history of fandom. Once, he was away when pictures of attendees at an early meeting of SF fans were taken, a meeting that became known as the First Eastern Conference. At the premier performance of the movie Things to Come, Robins left before a party that took place among fans that included Wollheim, Michel, Pohl, and James Blish. Robins was forgotten later when Wollheim wrote about those who had seen the movie and attended the party.

He missed out on other historic events because he was attending college classes, did not have enough money for required expenses, or was uncertain about dates (not having a telephone at the time). When the ISA decided to produce a movie and asked for scripts, Jack submitted one, but his was chosen as a backup in case the first choice did not work out.

Robins was a photographer who made a number of historic pictures of the Futurians.

He recalls a long walk that they all took:

Once, during the 1939 World’s Fair Days, Wollheim, Michel, Lowndes, Chester Cohen, and I decided to make a trip to Tarrytown. After taking the IRT all the way to the last stop in the Bronx, we then walked, walked, and walked, until we finally reached our destination. I had taken along a cheap 35mm camera to take pictures of all my friends, but I neglected to ask anyone to take a picture of me. We found a diner, but Lowndes and I were too poor to pay for a meal. Later, when our excursion ended, we took the train back down to the City, and then took the subway back to our homes.

 

(L-R) Robert W. Lowndes, Donald A. Wollheim, Chester Cohen, Cyril Kornbluth, John B. Michel. (Photograph by Jack Robins.)

(L-R) Robert W. Lowndes, Donald A. Wollheim, Chester Cohen, Cyril Kornbluth, John B. Michel. (Photograph by Jack Robins.)

Years later, when he had a subscription to Locus, Robins saw a notice by Damon Knight seeking former Futurians. Knight wanted documents related to the famous SF fan club for the tell-all book he was writing. Robins sent him what he had, but all Knight used in his 1977 book, The Futurians, was a couple of pictures that Robins had taken.

In his 1983 book relating his memories of SF’s Golden Age, The Way the Future Was, Frederik Pohl barely mentioned Robins. Later, in commenting on Robins’ activities as a Futurian, Pohl referred to him as “the smiling guy in the background.” Another time – after acknowledging that Robins had been a Futurian from the beginning — he described him as more of an auditor than a participant.

One of the reasons for his exclusion from some Futurian activities probably was the fact that Robins was a “science man” and was not a would-be writer. Although he wrote some fan plays, he went on to earn three college degrees and became a research chemist with a doctorate. Most of the Futurians aspired to be professional SF writers and editors, not professional scientists. Another “science man” was Asimov, who had gone to Boys High School with Robins.

In 1984, Robins retired from his job with the Atlas Powder Company in Tamaqua, Pennsylvania, where he had worked for twenty-five years as a research chemist. Over the ensuing years Jack wrote family histories, convention reports, articles, poetry, sonnets, and plays, including a tribute to the Futurians, entitled “The Ivory Tower.” In retirement Jack was busier than ever, writing a column of non-fiction articles for his condo newspaper and working on his memoirs. In addition, he was at one time co-president of the computer club at his condo and the person in charge of publicity.

Robins was optimistic: “The world is full of wonder to me. Many scientists developed their interest in science after reading science fiction and some inventors attribute their creations to their knowledge of science fiction. I see the influence of STF everywhere.”

Jack was happily married for sixty-six years to Lottie, the love of his life. They shared an interest in photography and Classical music. They adored each other and enjoyed the daily company of family and friends. Then, after a brief illness, Jack passed away.

Jack Robins was inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame and made a N3F Life Member, both in 2012. He was a life-long genuine enthusiast who knew many of the early fans and was present as history was unfolding. Jack pursued his dream of going to college and becoming a real scientist. His written accounts and photographs have become an important part of the record of the early days of science fiction fandom.