Remembering Fans Who Were Activists in Real World Politics and the Counter Culture

Stirred to action by a particularly stupid and dismissive media generalization about science fiction fans, Rob Hansen has prepared this collection of brief biographies and essays that tell — both in his words and in their own — the stories of fans who have made some impact on the mundane world: Beyond Fandom: Fans, Culture & Politics in the 20th Century.

…In this volume you’ll meet fans who fought in the Spanish Civil War and World War II, and others who were jailed for their pacifist beliefs; fans who marched against the bomb in two separate decades a generation apart, and fans who published the first music fanzines. You’ll meet the fan who became a famous movie critic, the fans who became famous rock stars, learn of the part various fans played in increasing LGBT visibility, and discover who got beaten up by cops and arrested during the Stonewall riots. One fan even became a government minister….

The 72,000-word book is available in multiple electronic formats from the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund’s website, where they also hope you’ll make a little donation to the fund. Find it here. (A paperback edition will follow soon.)

The coverage is not only beyond fandom, but beyond the traditional SF-inspired careers in writing, editing, publishing or Big Science, as is evident from chapter titles in the Table of Contents:

1. The Anti-Fascist
2. The Pacifists
3. The Warriors
4. The Lesbian Pioneer
5. The Voice of America
6. The Futurists
7. The Painters
8. The Record Company
9. The Folkzines
10. The Aldermaston Marcher
11. The Political Prisoner
12. The Beat Generation
13. The Film Critic
14. The Film Director Swami
15. The King of Greenwich Village
16. The Friend the Beatles Wrote For
17. The Nazi Occupation Movie
18. The Playwright
19. The Kings of Pornography
20. The CIA Pilot
21. The Counterculture
22. The Musicians
23. The Music Mogul
24. The Punk Promoter
25. The Senior Civil Servants
26. The Anti-Nuclear Activists
27. The Government Minister
28. The Trans Icon
29. The Pope’s Astronomer
30. The Professor of Law
Appendix: As Others See Us

The cover shows UK fan Norman Shorrock posing with a BBC camera at the 1957 London Worldcon, in a photo taken by Peter West.

[Based on a press release.]

13 thoughts on “Remembering Fans Who Were Activists in Real World Politics and the Counter Culture

  1. Wow! Sounds quite interesting, and indeed brings a lot of details scarcely available before now (to my humble research abilities), although I wouldn’t mind if the relevant names were all listed at some place within the book. (Though I could imagine ways to improve the typesetting of the PDF, especially the footnotes.) ((And I found the phrasing “The chairman was Leslie Turek.” slightly jarring at first, but I looked and it was indeed the Noreascon Two’s usage.)

    Also, have I mentioned lately that linking by “here” is Wrong?

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  3. Grabbed an e-copy of the Fan Activist book immediately (with a donation for TAFF of course!) because this topic is of great interest to me — anybody know what the particular media insult was (there are so many, probably not!).

    Thanks for the info and link!

  4. Thanks as always, Mike. The “particular media insult” is discussed in the Foreword. As usual this was designed as an ebook (reflowable text) with an auto-generated PDF transcript — those who want more beautiful typesetting are urged to buy the imminent trade paperback.

  5. Jan Vanek jr., I have not been subjected to your advocacy on this point. What, in your view, is Wrong about linking by “Here” (something I do often)?

    Tom Becker: I’m pretty sure I’ve guessed “The Voice of America,” and “The Pope’s Astronomer” is a no-brainer, as The Pope’s Astronomer’s books are on the shelf of “books by authors who have stayed in our house.”

  6. If there were a chapter called “The Pulitzer Prize Winner,” it would probably be about Washington Post book critic Michael Dirda, who is defininitely a fan. (It wouldn’t be about Roger Ebert, also Pulitzer Prize Winner, because he alread has a chapter.)

  7. @Bill Higgins: I would have made “72,000 word book” the link and omitted “Find it here.” (as well as the – between the number and the noun). It’s a bigger, easier target to hit and the wording would still make sense if the text were not hypertext.

  8. Meanwhile, I was a much-smaller-scale politician. I ran for a seat on the local fire board a few years ago. (No salary, so no filing fee, but I had to fill out the same paperwork and abide by the same financial reporting requirements as if I was running for governor or senator. I actually turned down a contribution to my campaign as it would have probably cost me more to abide by the financial reporting requirements for it than the amount of the contribution.) The outgoing board chair (who was being termed out by Nevada’s term-limits law, and who tragically died shortly after leaving office) and the fire chief has asked me to run. But it’s difficult to run for office when you don’t have any easy way to reach the voters, and I ended up placing last among the seven candidates for the three seats. Perhaps it’s just as well, as it would have been yet another unpaid volunteer position, of which I have had more than my share — I’m on the boards of three fannish non-profit corporations and am officers of two of them.

  9. Bill Higgins: As decently, though a bit wordily summarized here, in a randomly googled article from 2017: it is bad for usability and for accessibility (not to mention “search engine performance and content find-ability”). To unpack just one particular argument (Patrick Morris Miller already touched upon this), it is always better to have more area to click on than mere four letters.

    Tom Becker: Just about 4 and two halves. (I missed Conover, for example, although I should know his name and may have even seen the SF connection before.)

    I also heard from John Hertz, who kindly took the trouble of explaining the usage of “chairman” to me.

  10. Mmm.. indirectly related to Rob Hanson’s excellent work cited above (also look up his definitive “THEN” tome on early UK fandom and Cons and this is available to buy), it was brought to my attention recently at one such UK Con re the early history of BSFA (The British SF Association Ltd). Still going strong –at now age 65– and still welcoming members whether UK based or from overseas ( go: bsfa(dot)co(dot)uk ), BSFA’s early manually entered and numerically listed membership records are a feast of early SF names and history. These definitely include the (all now late and sadly missed) Brian Aldiss (on their Register as BSFA Member No 1), Harry Harrison and then one rather young (ahem) “Terence” Pratchett !! Early-ish BSFA members included UK and non UK people. As Joint Company Sec of said BSFA (and current holder of these items in safe keeping), I may now do an article on this archival matter (for a future article in our BSFA writers magazine: Focus). best wishes…

  11. So, as I have too much to do and too little time, I preferred to procrastinate by composing a cast list / name index.

    Of course this led me to spending a couple unplanned hours on Herbert Häußler (transcribed as Haussler in the book, alas even umlautless); but I learned a lot, and that is always good. Makes me sorry that I had not learned German better…

    Dave (I mean, David), I truly believe that if you merely adjusted the current PDF autogeneration parameters so that the footnotes section had the maximum width, say, 80 % of the main text block, the result would be improved significantly from the current jaggedness.

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