The Way We Were

By John Hertz:  Still thinking, for a few hours yet, of this year’s Retrospective Hugo Awards i.e. for 1942, here are a few moments from fanzines then.

You are asked to contact, at your discretion, those readers who may, in your judgment, be brought into the ranks of active fandom.  Approach them in any manner you see fit, bearing in mind the fact that unless they possess some measure of real enthusiasm for fandom, their membership in the NFFF will be of no value either to themselves or to the organization.

Lou Goldstone, chairman of the Welcoming Committee
Bonfire v. 1 n. 5, p. 4

“Bonfire” derives from
“Bulletin of the National Fantasy Fan Federation”, which it was

We turned to Fandom, and to fan publishing, as an interesting and enjoyable hobby.  Instead of woodworking, or collecting postage stamps, wormeaten furniture, or used yachts, we decided to devote our spare time and money to fan activity.

Abby Lou & Al Ashley, En Garde 3 p. 1

A man went into a restaurant and ordered a dinner.  Included were some baked potatoes.  The man looked at the potatoes for a moment, and then proceeded to stuff them into his ears.  The waitress came along and politely inquired: “Sir, why are you stuffing those potatoes into your ears?”  The man replied, “Oh, are they potatoes?  I thought they were cabbages!”

Walt Liebscher, Mutant 2 p. 1

Inscription Found on a Martian Obelisk

I sing no futile obsequies;
Our world has lived, and loved, and died.
Risen in squalor, fallen in pride –
And in a hundred centuries
The weeds will over-arch this crumbled tomb.

Strangers may read the words I grave
And carry them to other stars.
Then let them drink a toast to Mars!
And may they stand with hearts as brave
As ours, to watch the coming of their doom.

Damon Knight, The Phantagraph 42 p. 4

We didn’t know then to put it this way, but for us fandom was the answer.

5 thoughts on “The Way We Were

  1. Here is another one, from the Futurian War Digest by British fan J. Michael Rosenblum:

    Another airman we have heard from this month is Mancunian William Shelton, now with an RAF Maintenance Unit detachment in Egypt and only too remote from sources of stf, Bill sends best wishes to all his friends especially Harry Turner. The optimist also wishes me to send his greetings to the Denvention – which took place last July. More news from the Middle East comes from ex-Leeds SFL director, Harold Gottliffe, RAMC sergeant. In his first letter for 11 months Harold says that he wants to be kept in touch with fandom and also manages to convey the information that he has left his Hospital Ship. Local rumour has it that he is in Palestine, on the staff of a P.O.W. camp. Another ex-member of the Leeds SFL is in that part of the world, namely Matthias Rivlin, now a teletypist in the Royal Corps of Signals. Again the local knowalls can state where he is – in Alexandria.

    (Futurian War Digest was published regularly from October 1940 to March 1945.)

  2. Alas, the fannish expression, “It is a proud and lonely thing to be a fan,” has completely fallen out of use and reality, when everyone thinks themselves a “fan” without having any knowledge of fandom, or written SF.

  3. Andrew Porter: when everyone thinks themselves a “fan” without having any knowledge of fandom, or written SF.

    Fandom has hugely evolved and changed over the last 80 years. Your definition of fandom is yours, but it is far from a universal definition; an exclusionist attitude does not enhance the importance of fandom, and just because you say fans are not fans does not make it so. 🙄

  4. Bonfire, now titled “The National Fantasy Fan”, is still published by the National Fantasy Fan Federation (N3F). As I type, I have next to my keyboard the first galleys for the Volume 77, Number 3 (March, 2018) issue. The N3F also publishes Tightbeam (reviews, letters, longer articles on SF history), Ion*i*sphere (interviews), N’APA (APA, founded 1959), and Eldritch Science (fiction, poems). For more info http://N3F.org

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