D. Douglas Fratz (1952-2016)


D. Douglas Fratz

Doug Fratz, a five-time Hugo nominee for Best Fanzine and a well-known sf/f book reviewer, died September 27. It turned out that by missing MidAmeriCon II (while in the hospital) I also missed my last chance to see him: he moderated the retrospective panel about the first MidAmeriCon (1976) that I was supposed to be on. He is survived by his wife and two adult children.

A prolific reviewer, Fratz was one of the pillars of sercon fanzine fandom in the 1970s, which was my own interest in those days. He founded Thrust in 1973, renaming it Quantum in 1990, and finally merging it with Science Fiction Eye.

thrust-13His signature column title was “The Alienated Critic” (a passing salute to Richard E. Geis and The Alien Critic, the dominant reviewzine of the Seventies.)

According to the SF Encyclopedia

Fratz also wrote numerous book reviews for other venues during that period and afterwards, including Washington Post Book World, Fantasy Review, and Science Fiction Eye, and entries for numerous academic reference books. In the 1990s he wrote book reviews for Science Fiction Age, and in the 2000s reviewed primarily for Science Fiction Weekly (on the then Sci-Fi Channel web site), continuing to write reviews and articles for the site when it was renamed Sci-Fi Wire and then Blastr. In the 2010s, his primary venues for book reviews and interviews have been SF Site and The New York Review of Science Fiction.

Doug Fratz’ first fannish contacts were in comics fandom in 1966. He published several well-known comics fanzines in the late 1960s and early 1970s, including Comicology, Potpourri, CriFanAc, and Comicology Fan Review.

Professionally, Fratz was an internationally-respected environmental scientist serving as Vice President of Scientific and Technical Affairs for the Consumer Specialty Products Association  in Washington, DC, a trade association. He worked for CSPA for more than 35 years, and for the past 25 years much of his work focused on science policy and regulations related to air quality and atmospheric issues in California, nationally, and globally.

In fact, there has been an outpouring of tributes from his professional colleagues, indicating the depth of loss they feel at his passing, including this video posted by CSPA.

[Thanks to Steven H Silver and Moshe Feder for the story.]

Discover more from File 770

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.

17 thoughts on “D. Douglas Fratz (1952-2016)

  1. Thrust was great. I’ve got the whole run boxed up and reread it every few years. Of dust we are made and to dust we return.

  2. Doug was a regular participant at Capclave and taught a reviewers workshop for us several times. He will be missed.

  3. First off, Fratz did not “found THRUST.” THRUST was the clubzine of the University of Maryland SF Society which published the first three or four issues. Fratz took the clubzine with him when he was graduated in 1974, and I heard third-hand rumors when I connected with UMSFS in 1978 that there was some acrimony about this. (I wasn’t there in 1974.)

    That being said, the first check I ever got for my writing was from Fratz in 1978 for a book review, for which I got $2.50. I wrote several reviews for THRUST/QUANTUM, and Fratz was a good editor and produced a lively zine which was also serious and important.

    The last time I saw him at Balticon, where he was double-booked moderating panels on book reviewing and on sf about climate change. I tried to talk to him afterward, but he was too busy/ I told myself, “Well, I’ll talk to him at Capclave.: Now I never will, *Sigh*

  4. This was quite a blow. I met Doug at my first science fiction convention, the 1970 PghLange in Pittsburgh. Though he had been around comics fandom, it was his first SF con, too. Doug was the first person to ever buy a piece of my original art, which then turned up a few years later as a full page illustration in the first issue of THRUST, a college clubzine that he founded and edited and which he, to quote MMW’s needlessly snide comment, “took […] with him when he graduated.” (It had always been his project and he had every right to take it with him, no matter what third hand rumors might say.)

    I contributed artwork and writing to THRUST throughout the 1970s and Doug was one of the first to express confidence in my writing, in addition to my artwork. I was also the magazines art director during much of that time and I enjoyed working with Doug a great deal. He always had a zen-like attitude about fandom, his career, and family, but he always went the extra mile to assure that he gave each of them the attention and respect they deserved.

    Though we had lost track of each other since I moved to the west coast, it was just a few weeks ago that Doug sent my wife a friend request on Facebook, which she granted immediately. Sadly, it’s now too late to get reacquainted. What a waste and a shame. My deepest sympathies to Naomi and his kids.

  5. Uh, I take a little bit of exception to Dan Steffan’s comment that Thrust had always been Doug’s project and that he had the right to take it with him upon graduation. The fanzine was originally published by the University of Maryland Science Fiction Society from 1973 to the end of 1974 for a total of 6 issues. I was managing editor with Doug as editor-in-chief on the first five issues (and sole editor for the sixth issue). Martin Wooster was essentially correct in that Doug did take the fanzine with him after graduation starting with issue 7 and that yes there were some bad feelings caused by this. I was there at the time having been active in the club prior to Doug. Had the real world not intruded necessitating my move to New England I might have made a play for keeping the fanzine at the University.

  6. I grew up with Doug and attended Elementary and later Northern Jr. Sr. High School. After high school, I seldom saw Doug. I do know, he was very smart, articulate in every aspect in his life. After High School graduation, Doug went on with his education and his work.
    Doug treated me and all of his friends with respect along with his sense of humor.
    In closing, I regard Doug as a good friend and wish his family my condolences.

  7. Steven Goldstein: Thanks for writing. We shouldn’t neglect Doug Fratz’s work with Thrust when he was the editor but the statement that “Doug Fratz founded THRUST” is wrong and it’s good that you set the record straight.

  8. I was glad I had a chance to talk to Doug during MidAmeriCon II and am sorry to hear this news. Regardless of the who or what of its origins, I thought that Doug’s incarnation of THRUST was both entertaining and enlightening and, as such, an important part of our field’s small-press history. My condolences to Doug’s family and friends.

  9. Martin and Steven: I have never seen people piling on a man’s obituary like this. Get over it.

  10. Steven Goldstein: Could you address another point? Avedon Carol claims in ANSIBLE that Fratz “founded the University of Maryland Science Fiction Society.” Is that right? My guess is that he was ONE of the founders. Again, you were there and I wasn’t.

  11. Mike: I’d like to make clear that my asking questions about the origins of THRUST is NOT meant to posthumously stick it to Doug Fratz. Again, Fratz gave me the first check I ever got for my writing. He published me several times. THRUST/QUANTUM was a very good semiprozine. BUT isn’t fan history supposed to be accurate? If these questions aren’t asked now, they won’t ever be asked.

  12. Martin: No, Doug was not the founder of the University of Maryland Science Fiction Society. I can’t recall the name of the person who started the club but the fact remains that it existed before I went to the University in 1969 and I was there several years prior to Doug.

  13. These comments are by no means intended to put Doug in a bad light. All that Steve Goldstein, Martin Wooster, and I are hoping to do is to report the facts. Doug is not involved at all since he did not make these inaccurate comments.

    The club was founded in 1970 by Steve Rynas as an open university course. II took that course. I recall that we enjoyed the classes so much that we agreed to form a club. And that is how the University of Maryland Science Fiction Society started.

    I also remember the birth of Thrust magazine. Our meeting was held in the Student Union. I remember sitting around a table trying to come up with a name for our
    magazine. We settled on THRUST which I still feel was a great decision.

  14. I grew up in Accident and Doug was a friend and someone we could look up to. He was just 2 years older than I but, that made him so much more in those days. Thank you God for Doug being in our lives.

  15. The Oakland Republican arrived in Thursday’s mail as it does most every Thursday (a gift from my mother). I leaf through its pages scanning for familiar names or topics. I linger now a bit longer at the obits. Donna Haenftling (also from Accident) appeared there a few weeks ago and this time it was Doug. We ran in intersecting circles in high school. Doug left for College Park one year after Donna and I and several others made the necessary and heroic transition to the brave new wonderful world that existed outside of Garrett County. Most of us never came back to GC except for brief visits for rest and reinvigoration.

    We shared some adventures there. I particularly remember the evening when he introduced me to King Crimson and the “Court of the Crimson King.” We both eventually left College Park but not DC. I mostly lost track of Doug but periodically wondered where his adventures, intellect, and consummate humor had taken him. Now I better understand.

Comments are closed.