First Fandom Takes Aim at the Future

After the last original member of First Fandom, Bob Madle, died last October, the organization’s leadership decided to canvass the membership, now composed of Associate Members who have been active in fandom for more than three decades, asking whether First Fandom should continue and in what form. President John L. Coker III has shared the results of the survey in the group’s newsletter and with File 770.

First Fandom Questionnaire

(Reprinted from Scientifiction, the First Fandom quarterly newsletter, No. 75 – 1Q2023, edited by John L. Coker III.)

(75) questionnaires were sent out to the members.  (57) members responded (that’s an approximately 78% participation rate).  Here are the four questions:

(1) Now that there are no original members left, should we continue as an organization?

(2) If you do feel that we should continue, should we reorganize under a new name to legitimately continue our original mission of presenting awards, issuing our publications, keeping alive the memories, and having fun?

(3) Do you agree that, in the new organization, the members’ annual dues should be current?

(4)  Do you wish to become a Charter Member?


(1) An overwhelming majority of respondents said that we should continue as an organization, and only four said we should not continue as an organization.  One respondent felt that “it was time everyone moved on to something else, whether it be a foundation or something not yet thought of.”    One stated that they did not care. Another: “I like the idea of an organization bringing together long-time fen interested in the history of fan-dom.  I’m not enthusiastic about organizing the group as a memorial to a generation of folks all of whom I love to read about but not all of whom I necessarily feel comfortable lionizing.” Another: “I think First Fandom should now be ended.  Some kind of organization to honor the first fans is a nice idea.  I’ll applaud it, but probably won’t join it.  Another: “First Fandom was *their* thing.  I was friends with some of them, but I wasn’t *one* of them.  Some of those guys made it clear to me that they wanted the organization to end when they did.  So, I say, let it end.”

(2) An overwhelming majority of respondents said that we should reorganize under a new name so that we could continue our original mission, and only three respondents said that we should not reorganize under a new name.  One person stated “…they had no problem keeping the organization going with the original name.”  One stated they did not care.  Another wrote: “Count me in!” Another person wrote: “If the questionnaire were longer, I’d vote for measures to broaden rather than freeze the definition of ‘First’.” 

(3) All but two respondents felt that, in order to belong to the new proposed organization, the members needed to be current in their dues.  One person felt that if some members were unable to afford dues, that their dues should be paid for them by a reserve fund.  One person noted that in the past some members had made a lifetime dues payment.

(4) An overwhelming majority of respondents felt that they did want to become charter members of the new organization.  Only four respondents did not want to become charter members.  One respondent said it depended on the cost.  Another suggested that we could merge with or align themselves with another organization (for example, the Science Fiction Research Association) so that our members would have opportunities to be published.


Based on written responses to the questionnaire, the great majority of our members agree that we should continue, but that we should reorganize under a new name.  Most agreed that members should pay annual dues.  Nearly all respondents felt that if a new organization was formed, they wanted to be charter members of that new organization.

So, according to our membership, it seems that “First Fandom is not dead.”  It is just reorganizing.  Dinosaurs that adapt will not as easily go extinct.  More information about our path forward will be made available soon.

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10 thoughts on “First Fandom Takes Aim at the Future

  1. Another alternative would be to change the name to just the Fandom Hall of Fame.

  2. If I recall my fanhistory, there were Six numbered Fandoms, until in the mid to late ’50s a young Harlan Ellison and friends declared that THEY were “Seventh Fandom”. This caused such an uproar that the counting of fandoms was dropped. Dick Geis, in Science Fiction Review, in the early to mid-Seventies (I think) asked, “Are we now in Eighth Fandom? Fanhistorians, speak!” But they never did.

  3. @Rob: Yeah, my understanding is the Fandoms 1 through 6 had numbers assigned retrospectively, periodizing fanhistory up to the late 1940s – but when Ellison and others tried to assert that the Seventh Fandom was beginning right then, the idea of numbering fandoms retrospectively got seriously messed up.

  4. Several people, including Arnie Katz and Andy Hooper, proposed further numbered fandoms, describing prominent fans, “focal point” fanzines, and typical concerns and themes. But their proposals didn’t gain traction.

  5. We make the 60’s era First Fandom, episode 4. Then do 3 previous fandoms as the prequel fandoms episode 1-3. We are currently in one of the three sequel fandoms 😉

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