Doug Hoylman (1943-2015)

Doug Hoylman.

Doug Hoylman.

Doug Hoylman’s six championships in the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament are the exclusive focus of his Washington Post obituary, however, the longtime sf fan, who died on November 2, once was an active fanzine editor.

He grew up in the small town of Kalispell, Montana. He earned a B.A. in mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1964, and went on to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Arizona in 1969.

God comics HoylmanHoylman would have been a freshman at M.I.T. when he and Al Kuhfeld, another M.I.T. student, published God Comics #3: The World’s Most Blasphemous Comic Fanzine, with contents that included a Justice League parody called the “God Squad” featuring Thor, Mercury, Mary, Poseidon and Ball. The cover shows Batman removing his mask to reveal Wonder Woman.

Later, while editing the M.I.T. Science Fiction Society’s Twilight Zine, Hoylman advocated a viewpoint that so sharply contrasted with his contemporaries’ he is quoted in Peter Justin Kizilos-Clift’s 2009 dissertation “Humanizing the Cold War Campus: The Battle for Hearts and Minds at MIT, 1945-1965” –

While most science fiction readers were still men, more women were becoming readers, writers, and fans, and were being welcomed as equal participants into the MIT Science Fiction Society and the vast universe of science fiction. “Coeds are welcome in the society,” wrote Twilight Zine editor Doug Hoylman in November 1962, “in fact we have a disproportionate number of them. Our vicepresident and our treasurer are coeds. The views held by V—D— [Voodoo, the notoriously anti-feminist MIT humor magazine] and other forces of evil regarding Tech Coeds are not subscribed to by the Society.”

The first sf convention Hoylman attended was Pacificon II, the 1964 Worldcon in San Francisco.

He moved to the Washington area about 1970 and worked at Geico Insurance until the 1990s.

I’m missing some connecting history, but he was involved with NESFA closely enough to have been designated part of the club’s faux Fanzine Review Board in 1972, whose responsibilities were recorded in his apazine —

The Fanzine Control Act of 1971 is a little-known part of the Phase 2 economic program designed to fight fanzine inflation. Fanzines are important to the economy, particularly as regards the manufacturers of duplicating equipment and the United States Postal Service, and it is in the public interest to see that fanzines do not become so inflated that their publishers are unable to maintain them (the recent collapse of Science Fiction Review is a case in point).

The job of the Fanzine Review Board is to see to it that the President’s guidelines are enforced (these include a maximum permissible increase in number of pages of 5.5% per annum; any editor going from mimeograph to offset must have FRB approval).

The Board consists of five fans, five pros, and five large contributors to the Republican Party….

Hoylman also wrote a Holmes pastiche for the NESFA genzine Proper Boskonian, “Moriarty and the Binomial Theorem.”

When Minneapa was founded in the early 1970s he became a member, and was in the famous 1974 Minneapa group photo (as was Al Kuhfeld).

Wheile living in the DC area, he participated in the Washington Science Fiction Association. Google shows he was an active host of area gaming groups in his last years.

His dominance in crossword tournaments began with his 1988 championship, followed by others in 1992, 1994, 1996, 1997 and 2000. He also had three second-place finishes and three third-place finishes.

I hope File 770 readers who knew Doug Hoylman will add their memories about him in comments.

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9 thoughts on “Doug Hoylman (1943-2015)

  1. In a personal description usually reserved for presidential assassins, I liked the quiet, shy Doug Hoylman, who was a really sharp guy when you could engage him in conversation. His humor was much more accessible in print where I enjoyed everything he wrote. I’ll miss him like I miss Asenath and Jim Young before him.

  2. I have to agree with David Stever’s description of Doug: a very intelligent fellow, and his Minneapa contributions were full of knowledge and wit. He will be missed.

  3. I knew Doug had worked at Geico (as did I ), but my primary interaction with him was during the ACPT each year. No matter how quickly I finished a given puzzle, Doug was always done ahead of me, and since he lived in Maryland and I in Pennsylvania, (both considered Mid-Atlantic by the tournament’s creator, Will Shortz) I couldn’t even hope to make into the top layer by geographic region. They called him the Iceman; he never got excited or worried, he just worked his way quickly and methodically through each puzzle, fast enough to win six championships as noted above before the current crop of Young Turks came up and started their own monopolization of the tournament. I knew he was a fan, but until now I never knew the breadth of his interaction with the field. I’ll miss seeing him when I head up to Stamford this year; as with SF fandom, crossword fandom has lost too many friends in the past few years.

  4. I think I only met Doug once or twice, but we interacted a lot through APA:NESFA and other APAs, and some private correspondence (back in the days when you had to put a stamp on an envelope in order to send someone a letter). Doug was a long-time Corresponding Member of NESFA — I assumed that he had gotten friendly with the founding members of NESFA when many of them were involved with MITSFS. One thing not mentioned above was Doug’s love of puns — I got him to write a Feghoot for the never-published first issue of the fanzine that I never published in the 1970s.
    What I remember most about Doug was the sharpness of his wit.

  5. I was in APA-Q and CAPrA with Doug. His Qzine was called PUN CITY and he was a punster. (His CAPrAzine was titled after a Buster Keaton pun, DAMFINO.) His wit was not always appreciated and he enjoyed smartaleck mailing comments.

    He worked for Geico long before they erupted on tv and radio with commercials seemingly every 5 minutes (you thought I was going to say 15 minutes, didn’t you?). And no, he was not the model for the Gecko.

  6. Jeanne Mealy has alerted me that his brother (who lives in Montana) is looking for advice/help in getting Doug’s books and fanzines to the right places. Jeanne apparently has details, so I would recommend anyone able to assist getting in touch with her ASAP.

  7. I met Doug at MITSFS in September 1962 when I showed up as a lowly freshman and was reading my way through the back file of TWILIGHT ZINE. His writing permanently warped my brain. I recall wondering at the time where Kalispell was, and he assured me that it didn’t matter; but that if you were looking for some place cold, that was it.

  8. Doug and I interacted in Minneapa for many years (back in what now seems another lifetime), and his zines, full of intelligence and humor, were always one of each mailing’s bright spots, to me and to others. We met briefly and infrequently in person at conventions, and once when Doug visited Minnneapolis, but he was even more inclined to quiet lurking than I was, and I’m sure both of us were more “real” to each other (and to other people) on paper than in the flesh. I recall Doug’s delight in reprinting in his apazine the perfect sums-him-up-in-one-panel Gary Larson cartoon, which covers his quiet shyness while hinting at the dangers of crossing his sneaky snarky wit. The “Doug” in the cartoon even looked a bit like him. . .

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