By John Hertz (reprinted from Vanamonde 1543):
Many ways to think
Arrive through what others tell.
Restrain no freedoms,
Tolerate discords, knowing
Yet nutrition comes from them.
Marty Cantor (1935-2023) left our stage Saturday morning, April 29. Advanced cancer, which for a while had been held back by treatment, finally overcame him.
He was active in fanzines. His fanzine Holier Than Thou (with Robbie Bourget, then his wife) was a three-time Hugo finalist; his later No Award (I wrote to him “You are worthy of No Award and No Award is worthy of you”) too was applauded; he helped run Corflu IX (fanziners’ convention; corflu = mimeograph correction fluid, largely historical by Corflu I but once indispensable) and chaired Corflu XXXIV; he served three separate terms as Official Collator of APA-L (its sole officer; APA or apa = amateur press ass’n, in which contributors’ fanzines are collated and the whole then distributed to each); he helped found LASFAPA (L.A. Scientifiction Fans’ Apa, our old word scientifiction by then historical) and served as its Little Tin God (sole officer; accused of taking a high-handed attitude to the apa rules and behaving like a little tin god, he so changed his official title, LTG for short, then began the HTT fanzine; when Corflu XXII was called “Corflu Titanium” [Ti = 22] and people were given elemental nicknames, his was Tin); he (with Mike Gunderloy, Mike Glyer, Mark Sharpe) brought Shangri-L’Affaires into one of its bursts of life (clubzine of the L.A. Science Fantasy Society, begun in the 1940s, Retrospective Hugo finalist); he (with Glyer) published the 6th Edition of The Neo-Fan’s Guide; he edited and published Phil Castora’s memoir Who Knows What Ether Lurks in the Minds of Fen?; he edited De Profundis (a later LASFS clubzine; “LASFS” as if rhyming with a Spanish-English “màs fuss”).
He and Robbie were elected DUFF (Down Under Fan Fund) delegates to Aussiecon II the 43rd World Science Fiction Convention; each wrote a DUFF report, both published head-to-tail like Ace Books’ double titles; his was Duffbury Tales. He was an agent for the successful Britain in ’87 bid to hold the 45th Worldcon. He was given the Evans-Freehafer (LASFS’ service award).
From the mid 1950s through the early ’60s he was a folksinger and instrumentalist (also a poet published in the little magazines of that time), playing 6-string and 12-string guitar, gut-bucket, jug, washboard; he carried two guitars strapped to his motorcycle from coffee-house to coffee-house; Dave Van Ronk (1936-2002) taught him an open-C guitar tuning; he jammed with Jim Kweskin (1940- ), David Lindley (1944-2023), the New Lost City Ramblers.
Later he managed a tobacco shop and then was the only full-time clerk at another, from which he managed to get leave for his DUFF trip five months into his employment. During those years he was often seen with a pipe; so portrayed on the cover of Duffbury Tales. Later than that he managed a U-Haul shop; later than that, his apartment building, hosting tabletop board games in the garage when COVID-19 precautions eased. He and Robbie met at Chicon IV the 40th Worldcon, were married the next January; divorced after sixteen years; no children; managed to stay on good terms.
One of our more cynical – and self-deprecatory – sayings is The Golden Age of science fiction is 12. Cantor found SF fandom at 40. He joined the LASFS in May 1975. His Evans-Freehafer Award came in 2016.
He hated snow. One day Charles Curley driving along an L.A. freeway noticed the mountains could be seen clearly (they were sometimes obscured by smog) and were covered with snow. Here in Los Angeles! Practically on Cantor’s doorstep – aha! So Curley recruited some friends and shovels and a tarpaulin and a pickup truck; drove into the mountains; loaded the tarp with snow; and in the still of the night drove to Cantor’s place and piled snow by the outdoor entrance. Cantor was really touched that they cared enough about him to pull this stunt, but added “Don’t ever do that again.”
He didn’t forsake classical music. In his school orchestra he had been Principal of Second Violins (an orchestra has two violin sections, Violin I and Violin II, with different parts), calling for both musical quality and leadership. As an adult he loved Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto (1878) and Praetorius’ Terpsichore (1612) – two very different works, in case you don’t know.
In print, including electronic media, he could be vigorous in his opinions. He did not keep his mundane political views away from his fanac (our old word for fan activity); for example, in APA-L he waxed wroth upon such subjects with Karl Lembke, who also did much for the LASFS (chaired the Board of Directors twenty years, substantial donor, E-F Award 2010) and local conventions (often ran Hospitality, contributing his own cooking and brewing; chaired Loscon XXXII) but was as firmly on the Right as Cantor was on the Left. Yet Cantor punctiliously enagaged in fanac with people whose views were far from his – e.g. Lembke. It was a point of honor with him.
May his memory be for a blessing.
Thanks, John for this – it tells me many things I didn’t know about Marty Cantor.