Earl Kemp Dies

Earl Kemp in 2007. Photo by Bill Burns, Corflu, Austin, Texas.

Past Worldcon chair and Hugo-winning fanzine editor Earl Kemp (1929-2020) died February 6 at the age of 90. The news was only recently shared by his son, Erik Kemp. Earl died from injuries suffered in a fall: after getting up from his computer, he fell and struck his head on the corner of his desk.

Although fandom was a small pond in the Fifties and Sixties, Earl was a very big fish in it. He worked hard to be a mover and shaker, and to circulate among its top writers.

Earl had been born in Arkansas and later moved to Chicago, where he worked in a job printing shop and learned typesetting and book composition techniques for offset printing.

After exchanging a few letters with Mari Wolf (who was conducting “Fandora’s Box” for William Hamling’s Imagination), she connected Earl with local Chicago fan Ed Wood, which led to Earl joining the University of Chicago Science Fiction Club in 1950.

He attended his first Worldcon when it was held in Chicago in 1952. Earl later said, “It was like walking into a world I had been seeking for a very long time. I felt, instantly, that I was at home at last and among my kind of people.”

Earl would become president of the University of Chicago Science Fiction Club and hold office for almost a decade (although the university was told a student’s name for that purpose.) Meanwhile, he chaired two unsuccessful bids to return the Worldcon to the city. As they say, the third time is the charm: he served as chairman of the 1962 Worldcon, Chicon III.

In 1955, Earl and several other UofCSF Club members started Advent:Publishers with the idea of bringing out critical works about science fiction. Advent’s other founders, besides Earl, were Robert Briney, Sidney Coleman, James O’Meara, George Price, Jon Stopa and Ed Wood. Damon Knight had written a goodly number of critical essays for science fiction magazines by then, and it was Earl’s idea to assemble them into a book. In 1956, Advent published as its first book Damon Knight’s In Search of Wonder. Advent would also publish major nonfiction works such as James Blish’s The Issue at Hand, Don Tuck’s massive bibliographic Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy to 1968, Robert Bloch’s The Eighth Stage of Fandom, as well as Harry Warner, Jr’s All Our Yesterdays and Alexei Panshin’s Heinlein in Dimension.

Earl said in one autobiographical comment, “[By] 1959 I was a reasonably well known science fiction fan, collector, bibliophile, pain-in-the-ass wannabe something significant. By that time I thought I knew absolutely every single person of any consequences involved with science fiction, and they knew me.”

Alexei Panshin sketched Earl’s character in these terms in “Oh, Them Crazy Monkeys!”:

…Earl’s strength was his ability to always think of the next thing to do, and then draw other people into wanting to play the game with him — very much in the same way that he’d propose writing a book on Heinlein to me, and then convince me to write it so Advent could publish it.

I described the Earl of those days this way in “The Story of Heinlein in Dimension“:  “He was a doer, not only full of bright ideas, but also able to bring them to fruition.  A typical Kemp project had an element of originality, called for a lot of work, but yielded results that only imagination and effort could achieve.”

In the copy of the essay which Earl read and then returned to me all marked in red, he inserted the phrase “by a lot of people” after the words “a lot of work” in the previous sentence.  That’s an important addition.  It emphasizes the group nature of these endeavors.  They weren’t undertaken for personalistic Crazy Monkey reasons, but rather for the sheer fun of doing them.

…On the other hand, Earl Kemp’s greatest weakness was that he had the demands of his own Crazy Monkey to contend with.  He aimed to get ahead.  He wanted to be a success.  He longed for recognition.  He wanted to rub elbows with the rich and powerful.  He wanted to be a player.

The reality, however, was that Earl had a living to earn at a job he didn’t always like, working as a graphics artist for a printer.  He couldn’t help thinking that he was capable of more demanding work and of exercising greater responsibility, and he wanted to better himself.

Earl Kemp in costume at the 1960 Worldcon masquerade. Photo by James O’Meara

In 1963 Kemp edited The Proceedings: CHICON III, published by Advent:Publishers. The book included transcripts of lectures and panels given during the course of the convention, along with numerous photographs.

Earl’s work as Worldcon chair gained fresh notoriety in the last decade when NIU posted an online exhibit of correspondence related to the 1962 Chicago Worldcon, including his invitation to Isaac Asimov to deliver a pseudo-lecture on the theme of “The Positive Power of Posterior Pinching”. (The suggested pseudo-lecture did not occur.) The exhibit was the basis for Stephanie Zvan’s 2012 post “We Don’t Do That Anymore”, the point of which seemed to be missed by Earl, who left a comment: “What a wonderful find. Thank you very much for posting this. It’s nice to be reminded of some of the good things. I admit I’ve forgotten this, but it certainly was Ike.”

He was a prolific fanzine editor, who won the Hugo Award for Best Fanzine in 1961 for his publication Who Killed Science Fiction? It was a classic Kemp project, edited with his then wife Nancy Kemp (1923-2013). To create the fanzine, “Earl sent the same five questions to 108 people, the elite of the science fiction world. And he printed the seventy-one responses he received.” Robert A. Heinlein participated, but insisted on being listed as an anonymous respondent. Who Killed Science Fiction? was distributed through the Spectator Amateur Press Society (SAPS), a long-running amateur press association.

In December 2006, Earl released the “complete and unexpurgated” text of Who Killed Science Fiction? as a webpage on eFanzines. The first question reads —

1)  Do you feel that magazine science fiction is dead?

YES:  2

NO:  55 replies, of which 38 qualified their “no” by following it with “but…,” and an alarming percentage of these 38 indicated that the death struggle was already in sight.

YES: Eleven replies, stating either “yes” or definitely dying already (this figure includes my personal vote).

After Earl won the Hugo, Heinlein seems to have regretted not putting his name on his reply.

In Seattle in 1961, after I had been awarded the Hugo for Who Killed Science Fiction?, Robert Heinlein approached me. He had this deliberately calculated way of insulting through faint praise; his words would flow out of him effortlessly as if he had spent some time rehearsing them, perhaps saying the words aloud to himself. 

“If I had of known what a good job you would do with Who Killed Science Fiction?” he said, “I’d have allowed you to use my name in it.”

Gee, thanks, Bob? I believe that was the closest I ever came to receiving an apology from Robert Heinlein

The Hugo win spawned some controversy among those who felt it was wrong for the award to go to a publication that only had a single issue. The eligibility rules for fanzines soon were changed to prevent the recurrence of a one-shot winning. The requirement for a fanzine to be “generally available” may also have been inspired by the zine having been distributed through a members-only apa.

Earl produced a number of other fanzines up until 1965, including Destiny and SaFari. After a 37-year break, he returned to editing fanzines with e*I*, which focused on Earl and his friends’ memoirs of the science fiction world. e*I* ran from 2002–2012, and won a FAAn Award in 2009.

As a fan legend and successful fanpolitician Earl had his share of critics and detractors, but for jaw-dropping accusations none approached the level of D. Bruce Berry, who wrote a 38-page rant, A Trip To Hell (1962), about the evils of fandom in general and Earl Kemp in particular. Berry, who also lived in Chicago area, alleged that Earl, wearing a mask, had robbed him on the streets of Chicago on Labor Day night in 1958. This did not take into account that on that date Earl was attending the Worldcon in Los Angeles (South Gate in ’58). Additionally, Berry accused Kemp of railroading him into an insane asylum for three weeks. This became, if nothing else, a collectible zine.

Or considering what happened later, was D. Bruce Berry surpassed by the FBI and Richard Nixon? You may think so after reading Earl’s version of being prosecuted for distributing pornography, “Dickless in San Clemente,” in Michael Dobson’s Random Jottings 8.5.

During the 1960s and ’70s, Earl worked with William Hamling at Greenleaf Classics, publishing erotic paperbacks (quite a few of them written by sf pros under pseudonyms). One of Earl’s great pleasures was the artwork – though probably not for the reason you think. As he wrote in e*I*

In the 1960’s, after the Porno Factory moved to California and when I was boss, one of my biggest thrills was posing for the covers of some of our books. And, later, when we began using lots of photographs, I enjoyed that one as well for different reasons. The cover artists who worked for us quickly learned of my addiction and would occasionally conspire to involve me a bit more directly.

I remember one particular cover of one of our books that I was very proud of for a number of reasons. I seem to remember it as being an exceptionally good novel and one that I singled out for special handling. It was GC222, Song of Aaron, by Richard Amory, a sort-of sequel to his best-selling Song of the Loon from the previous year.

I had Robert Bonfils, our in-house Art Director, do a wrap-around painting for the cover. It shows two cowboys in the middle of forever (two hills over from Corflu Creek), stopping, dismounting, and stretching. I posed for both cowboys in this painting.

In 1970, not long after the federal government released the Report of the Commission on Obscenity and Pornography, Greenleaf Classics produced a shortened edition called Presidential Report of the Commission on Obscenity and Pornography “replete with the sort of photographs the commission examined.” The commission had been created by the Johnson administration, and among its conclusions said that they found there was “no evidence to date that exposure to explicit sexual materials plays a significant role in the causation of delinquent or criminal behavior among youths or adults.” Nixon was in office by the time the report came out, and his administration emphatically rejected the commission’s findings and recommendations.   

Following publication of the Greenleaf Classics version of the report, Kemp and Hamling were prosecuted for “conspiracy to mail obscene material.” At trial, the report as published by Greenleaf was not found to be obscene, but the brochure sent out advertising it for sale was found to be clearly obscene by the jury. Earl was sentenced to a one-year prison sentence (as was Hamling), however, both served only the federal minimum of three months and one day.

Earl’s other output, listed in the Internet SF Database, is three anthologies edited under the Jon Hanlon pseudonym: Death’s Loving Arms & Other Terror Tales (1966), Stories from Doctor Death and Other Terror Tales (1966), and The House of Living Death and Other Terror Tales (1966), and the nonfiction work Sin-A-Rama: Sleaze Sex Paperbacks of the Sixties (2004), co-authored with Brittany A. Daley, Hedi El Kholti, Miriam Linna, and Adam Parfrey.

The Wikipedia includes The Science Fiction Novel, edited by Earl Kemp, Advent:Publishers (1959).

And the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction adds The Memoirs of an Angry Man: The Wit, Wisdom, and Sometimes Humor of The Fourth King of Pornography (2013)

Earl also appeared (sort of) in Milk (2008), about Harvey Milk, the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California: he was one of the extras. “I’m part of the wallpaper in many scenes. Please applaud loudly when you see the guy in the very loud, 1979 three-piece plaid suit.” (Frank Robinson was another, in one scene noticeably wearing a Greek sailor’s cap and a sweater emblazoned ANITA THE HUN.)

As Earl was ending the run of his amazing fanzine e*I* in 2012, he was presented a Lifetime Achievement Awards at Corflu Glitter, an award created to “salute living fans for their excellent fanac over a long career in Fandom.”

The next year (2013) he was inducted to the First Fandom Hall of Fame.

His survivors include sons Erik Kemp and Earl Terry Kemp.

Earl’s website with many photos is still online here.

Pixel Scroll 7/21/18 Number Five: Where Am I? Other Number Five: In The File.

(1) THE MAN WHO LOST THE MOON. Where do you hide something this big? “Giant moon artwork goes missing in post on way to Austria”.

A giant replica of the moon which is displayed all over the world has gone missing in the post.

The 7m (23ft) orb, covered in detailed imagery of the lunar surface, has been created by Bristol-based Luke Jerram and was en route to a festival in Austria.

Mr Jerram said the disappearance of the structure, titled Museum of the Moon, was “really annoying and upsetting.”

Courier firm TNT said it was looking into the issue.

Mr Jerram said the artwork has been booked for a series of public events across Europe over the summer.


(2) FUTURICON. Rijeka, Croatia is going to host Eurocon 2020, which will be called Futuricon. Their bid was accepted this week at Eurocon in Amiens. Their site has been home to Rikon for almost two decades.

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Rijeka
October 2-4, 2020

Rijeka, the coastal city in Croatia in which the annual convention Rikon has already been held nineteen times, has won the prestigious title of European Capital of Culture 2020. As part of the ECoC nomination, the SF society 3. zmaj, is announcing Futuricon, our bid for Eurocon 2020, for which we will combine the most important things the city of Rijeka has to offer – centuries of culture, diversity and tolerance, and a fresh glimpse into a positive future created by the people who live and breathe culture. With the support of the City and University of Rijeka, as well as other Croatian SF societies, we are confident that we can create a unique European experience for everyone.

(3) ALWAYS IN STYLE. Debra Doyle, novelist and editor, makes a statement “With Regard to the Recent Email to Nominees for the Hugo Awards”.

Science Fiction’s Hugos would not be what they are without accompanying periodic outbursts of controversy. This year’s topic is the email sent out to nominees for the award, “encouraging” them to dress professionally for the awards ceremony. The backlash from the sf/fantasy community was, shall we say, vociferous and overwhelmingly negative.†

As well it should be. To quote my elder daughter, on an occasion some time ago when I was fretting about the advisability of going out in public with my hair pulled back using a kid’s Snoopy-the-Flying-Ace hair tie:

“Don’t worry, Mamma. You’re a science fiction writer. You can wear anything.”

(4) THE MORE THINGS STAY THE SAME. You may not have thought the question of what Worldcons want people to wear to events was a new controversy. But would you have expected E.E. “Doc” Smith to be the person complaining about it? In 1962? Here’s a letter the author of the Lensman Series wrote to Chicon III chair Earl Kemp before the con.

(5) ONE BIG CHECK. That’s what you’ll be writing if you want any of his stuff — “One giant sale: Neil Armstrong’s collection goes to auction”. ABC News has the story.

Admirers of Neil Armstrong and space exploration have a chance to own artifacts and mementos that belonged to the modest man who became a global hero by becoming the first human to walk on the moon.

The personal collection of Armstrong, who died in his native Ohio in 2012, will be offered for sale in a series of auctions handled by Dallas-based Heritage Auctions, beginning Nov. 1-2 and continuing in May and November 2019.
The collection includes a variety of artifacts from Armstrong’s 1969 lunar landing and private mementos that include pieces of a wing and propeller from the 1903 Wright Brothers Flyer that the astronaut took with him to the moon.

The article names several other flown artifacts that will be in the auctions.

(6) ACCLAIMED SHORT FANTASY. Rocket Stack Rank lists 46 outstanding stories of high fantasy from 2016-2017 that were either finalists for major SF/F awards, included in “year’s best” SF/F anthologies, or recommended by prolific reviewers in short fiction (see Q&A). That’s 46 out of 166 high fantasy stories from those two years, and out of 470 outstanding SF/F stories from 2016 and 2017.

For our purposes, we define “high fantasy” as a fantasy story that takes place in a secondary world. That is, something like Lord of the Rings, where Middle Earth is clearly not in the past or future of our world.

(7) ADDRESSEE UNKNOWN. There was just one problem with choosing John Crowley as the winner: “Maine Literary Award withdrawn because of ineligibility; new winner named”….

The winner of a 2018 Maine Literary Award was found ineligible because he is not a resident of Maine, and the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance, which gives the awards annually, has named a new winner of its speculative fiction prize.

The award, which had gone to Massachusetts resident John Crowley for his book “Ka,” since has been given to Unity College writing instructor Paul Guernsey, who had come in second place for his book “American Ghost.”

“Ka” was nominated by the editorial director of Saga Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, whose marketing manager told the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance that Crowley owned a home in Maine and lived here part time. Crowley, who was born in Maine, was named the winner of the award in a June ceremony.

According Joshua Bodwell, executive director of the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance, Crowley notified the group that he did not live in Maine. While the award can go to seasonal or part-time residents, it is open only to people who live in Maine. Crowley reached out to say that he was unaware that his publisher had nominated him or that his publisher and his editor had said he met the eligibility requirements.

(8) STOPPING FOR ICE. Galactic Journey’s Ashley R. Pollard tells about the latest trend in fiction 55 years ago: “[July 21, 1963] Ice Cold Spies”.

I marvel at how quickly SF concepts have gone mainstream. With so many SF ideas transitioning into mainstream fiction, one of the current trends I see is the fascination with the Cold War and spies. Who as I’ve alluded to earlier, are it seems to be found everywhere.

The result is the creation of a new genre that blend SF with contemporary thriller to create what is being called a “techno-thriller.” A techno-thriller will use many of the ideas that were once purely science fictional, but set them within a conventional world that’s recognizable as our own.

A new novel by Allister MacLean called Ice Station Zebra has caught the public’s imagination. Whether this is as a result of all the stories of spies in the news I don’t know. MacLean is well known as a writer of action-adventure stories, but this new novel sees him move into a new genre.

Maclean is not the first author to do so. Fellow Scottish writer Ian Stuart wrote a similar techno-thriller, which came out last year called, The Satan Bug….

(9) A PAIR TO DRAW TO. SYFY Wire’s SDCC story “Guillermo del Toro confirmed to guest on The Simpsons in season 30” that confirms the celeb writer/producer/director Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water, The Hobbit trilogy, the Hellboy movies and games, and many more) will guest star on The Simpsons this coming season. He joins Gal Gadot (the Wonder Woman movies and others in the DC Cinematic Universe) in the “confirmed” column. There was apparently no indication the two would be on the same episode. The season’s first episode of their 30th season will will air September 30.

(10) FRONT ROW TO A SHARKNADO. Syfy Wire reports from SDCC: “Sharknado will return next year… with a live stage show!” Mike Kennedy says, “The article title pretty much says it all. I expect next we’ll have <engage echo effect> Sharks [arks… arks… arks] On [on… on… on] Ice [ice… ice… ice] !!!! <disengage echo effect>.”

You can’t keep a good Sharknado down. On Friday, at San Diego Comic-Con, the cast and crew held a panel on The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time. Yes, as you might imagine, this is the sixth and final in the Sharknado film franchise. But Sharknado will live on…

… with a live stage show.

Indeed, there is going to be a live stage version of Sharknado. No details were offered at the panel, other than it is expected to premiere at a resort/casino in 2019, and will be a sensory overload, if you will. An official announcement is expected later this year.

(11) HELL WARMED OVER. You may recall that Lucifer, canceled by Fox at the end of this past season, was picked up by Netflix for a 10-episode 4th season. At SDCC, star Tom Ellis dropped a few hints about what might be coming up after the major season 3 cliffhanger. SYFY Wire wraps up stories from other sources in “Lucifer’s Tom Ellis Teases Season 4 on Netflix”.

“We get straight back into it,” Ellis told TV Line of the start of Season 4, and teases that Lucifer was unaware that he had the devil face on at the time, so Chloe’s likely shock will come as a surprise. The pair are “apparently” still working together, but Ellis added that “The weird thing this year about coming to Comic-Con is that I can’t talk about the show and what’s going to happen so much, because I don’t know.” The scripts haven’t been written yet, and production begins August 13. Netflix has yet to announce a premiere date….

And he’s in no hurry to have Lucifer and Chloe embrace a romantic relationship. “I think it’s the heartbeat of the show, Chloe and Lucifer’s relationship,” he told [Entertainment Weekly]. “It wouldn’t be very wise to get these two characters together now… When you get the characters together, ultimately that’s kind of resolution. And you don’t want resolution till the very, very end.” But if/when that finally happens, “I am all for it.”

There were hints that Ellis could drop trou on Netflix, something that would have been Right Out on Fox.

(12) SHAZAM! Let’s catch up on our comic history before watching the trailer:  “DC’s ‘Shazam!’ Makes a ‘Big’ First Impression in Comic-Con Trailer”.

And for those of you asking, yes, he really is the first hero called Captain Marvel, debuting 20 years before Marvel Comics existed as a brand. Fawcett Comics was sued by DC in the early 1950s over claims that “Captain Marvel” ripped off “Superman,” and went temporarily out of business after it agreed never to publish the character’s comics again. However, in 1972 DC licensed “Captain Marvel” from Fawcett and brought the character into the DC universe.

But during the intervening decades, Marvel realized the trademark on the name “Captain Marvel” had lapsed, and introduced its own character of the same name. Which is why, to avoid legal problems, DC called its re-launched comic book “Shazam” and eventually changed the character’s name outright.


(13) SDCC TRAILERS. Here are several more trailers that got released this weekend.

(14) GRAND BOOK THEFT. These weren’t books he checked out. Now he may be checking into the pokey: “Men accused of stealing $8M in rare books, items from Pittsburgh library”.

Two men are facing charges of stealing or damaging more than $8 million in rare books and materials from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh over more than two decades.

Investigators on Friday charged Greg Priore and John Schulman with the crimes, alleging the two men worked together to remove the items from the Oliver Room.

According to the criminal complaint, Priore worked as the manager and sole archivist of the library’s Oliver Room, which houses rare books and items, for 25 years before being fired in June 2017. Schulman is the co-owner of Caliban Book Shop in Oakland, which specializes in rare books.

The Oliver Room closed more than a year ago once authorities discovered the thefts.

Priore first contacted Schulman about the scheme in the late 1990s, according to the criminal complaint. Priore allegedly told police he made between $500 and $3,000 for items he stole and gave to Schulman to sell.

(15) BE ON THE LOOKOUT. Lou Antonelli, who was slated onto the Hugo ballot in 2015, mourns his “Lost Rockets” [Internet Archive link].

…I decided I’d start wearing my pins this year, and I took them with me when I went to SoonerCon in Oklahoma City June 22. After I checked in and got my badge, I took them out and I was going to stick them on.

I took the first one out, and as I tried to stick it on, I fumbled it. I never saw it land. It disappeared. I never saw it again. I put the second one back in its bag. The next day, I realized I’d lost it also.

After I told this story to one colleague at Libertycon, he said, “Well, you can always ask WorldCon for a replacement.”

I laughed. “You’ve got to be kidding! They didn’t want us to have them in the first place! Do you think they would ever give me a replacement!”

(16) JANELLE MONAÉ. Rolling Stone lets you “Watch Janelle Monae Perform ‘Americans,’ Talk Science Fiction on ‘Colbert’”. Video at the link.

Twice during Monáe’s Late Show appearance, the singer danced atop Colbert’s desk: Once to close out the interview portion – where she and the host talked about first meeting at Barack Obama’s 55th birthday party at the White House – and again to kickstart “Americans.”

During the 10-minute interview, Colbert and Monae also discussed their shared love of science fiction, which heavily influenced the singer’s new LP Dirty Computer.

“I loved being able to see these different worlds that were different from mine, that allowed me to kind of escape from where I was,” Monáe said of the genre. “It just stayed with me. I started to write science fiction as a teenager… It stayed with me throughout my work.”

(17) ONCE MORE WITH FEELING. I ran this link yesterday before seeing Mike Kennedy’s take, which I think Filers will enjoy seeing just the same.

[Item by Mike Kennedy.] Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. — George Santayana

In 2016. the British Antarctic Survey asked the public to pick the name for their new survey vessel. They picked Boaty McBoatface. Well, the BAS was not particularly happy with that, and named the craft the RRS Sir David Attenborough, though they did relent and name an autonomous underwater vehicle Boaty McBoatface (the lead vehicle of its class).

Jump to the present.

The European Space Agency and the UK Space Agency are asking the public for help naming an upcoming Mars rover to be launched in 2020 (and land in 2021).

You get three guesses what the public wants so far (and the first two don’t count). Yep, Time Magazine notes that Rovy McRoverface is already trending on Twitter. Gizmodo throws in Marsy McMarsface and Spacey McSpaceface as their suggestions.

But apparently ESA and UKSA did learn at least a little from the Boaty McBoatface incident, since they say that they’ll be using a panel that they appoint to make the final choice. Or, at least they do if you dig deep enough into their 5-page PDF of Terms and Conditions. With no mention of this on the page where you make your recommendation, it would be easy enough for someone to misunderstand and think this was a straightforward popular vote.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Fired on Mars” on Vimeo, Nick and Nate ask, “What happens if you’re a corporate drone who gets fired–except your bosses are on earth and you’re on Mars?”

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, Carl Slaughter, JJ, Eric Wong, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Nancy Kemp Passes Away

Earl and Nancy Kemp in 1970.

Earl and Nancy Kemp in 1970.

Nancy Kemp, as she was known when she participated in her husband Earl’s Who Killed Science Fiction?, a Best Fanzine Hugo winner in 1961, passed away December 22 of uterine cancer.

Earl Kemp shared the news on several fannish e-mail lists:

My ex-wife [Nancy] died. We were divorced over 40 years ago and she’s outlived two husbands after me, but she was still the mother of my children. For over a year she had been fighting uterine cancer and it was touch and go all those months.

From the early ’50s to the early ’70s she was active in SF fandom, especially the Midwest area, attending conventions, playing hostess, making costumes, etc. It was an awful way to go, very painful, slowly shutting down but the worst is now over and she is at last at peace.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]

Deckinger Passing Learned

Mike Deckinger in August 2011. Photo by and Copyright © 2013 Andrew Porter.

Mike Deckinger, a longtime fanzine fan, died at home in San Francisco on February 12, 2012 but his death went unreported within fandom until today when Robert Lichtman received back the latest mailing of Trap Door marked “deceased.”

A notice in the San Francisco Chronicle last February read:

Michael Deckinger Passed away peacefully at home on 02/02/12. Mike died as quietly as he lived. Sandi, his wife of 47 years, Eric and Merrill, his brothers, and his many friends from work, the neighborhood, and the science fiction world will miss him. His unique sense of humor will be missed by many. Mike’s cat companions added joy to his life for many years. Mike didn’t like a fuss and hated crowds, for this reason, a private memorial service is planned at a future date. In remembrance of Mike’s life, donations can be made to the San Francisco SPCA, 2500 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103.

Mike came into fandom in the 1950s. He was a member of the Eastern Science Fiction Association (ESFA) from then until he moved to the West Coast in 1971. Most of that time EFSA met in Newark, where Mike lived seven years beginning in 1964. He served a term as director which came with the responsibility of finding speakers for the evening’s program. Among the guest speakers he recruited were Samuel Delany (a “beardless youth, just out of his teens”) and Joanna Russ.

Mike got active in fanzines at the same time — he cited the Coulsons’ Yandro as the first fanzine he ever received – and became a sufficiently notable faneditor that Roger Ebert paid him respect in a well-known reminiscence called “Thought Experiments: How Propeller-heads, BNFs, Sercon Geeks, Newbies, Recovering GAFIATors, and Kids in Basements Invented the World Wide Web, all Except the Delivery System” (available at Asimov’s):

But for the years of their existence, what a brave new world fanzines created! There was a rough democracy at work; no one knew how old you were unless you told them, and locs made it clear that you either had it or you didn’t. First, of course, was the hurdle of getting your stuff accepted. When Lupoff or Coulson or Deckinger printed something by me, that was recognition of a kind that my world otherwise completely lacked.

During the past decade Deckinger wrote two autobiographical articles for Earl Kemp’s eI, one about his days in ESFA, and another, “How I Almost Became Ivar Jorgensen”, recalling when he almost became a pseudonymous collaborator with pulp writer and editor Paul W. Fairman, who lived half a block away.

Mike is survived by his wife, Sandy (spelled this way in the Wikipedia). Her own fannish credits include a contribution to the original issue of Spockanalia, the first all-Star Trek fanzine, published when the series was still in its first season on NBC.

Mike Deckinger with part of his pulp magazine collection.

[Thanks to Robert Lichtman and Andrew Porter for the story.]

Update 01/16/2013: Corrected date of death per comment.

The Ackerman Oeuvre

Christopher M. O’Brien’s The Forrest J Ackerman Oeuvre is now available from McFarland.

For the benefit of those who only know the French they learned from Pepé Le Pew, ouevre means a substantial body of work constituting the lifework of a writer, an artist, or a composer.

A bibliography listing Ackerman’s fiction, nonfiction, poetry, screenplays, film appearances, speeches and other works, plus a filmography and concise biography, fill the book’s 242 pages.

This includes a foreward by Dennis Billows who met Forry at the San Diego Comic-Con around 1975 and spent his free time for the next 20 years organizing his collection. Billows also worked as assistant editor of Ackerman’s magazine, Famous Monsters of Filmland.

O’Brien has spent more than a decade researching the pulp magazines and early science fiction fandom. His fannish credits include an article about William Hamling in Earl Kemp’s eI #55.

[Thanks to Bill Warren for the story.]

Monsters of the Idway

Selected archives of Chicon III, the 1962 Worldcon chaired by Earl Kemp, were exhibited online by the Northern Illinois University’s Rare Books and Special Collections Department in conjunction with this year’s Chicago Worldcon.

There are letters from Robert Heinlein, Clifford Simak, E.E. Smith, and assorted other pros, plus Kemp’s invitation to Isaac Asimov to deliver a talk on “The Positive Power of Posterior Pinching” and Asimov’s coy but interested reply. (Apparently the talk didn’t happen – at least the item isn’t listed in the Chicon III program book.)

Stephanie Zvan at Almost Diamonds spotted this correspondence and brought it to the attention of fans who are discussing harassment in the wake of Readercon, in a post called “We Don’t Do That Anymore”.

The answering comments — people groaning and throwing up on their shoes — were interrupted by the arrival of Earl Kemp himself for a pleasant stroll down memory lane, sans clue:

What a wonderful find. Thank you very much for posting this. It’s nice to be reminded of some of the good things. I admit I’ve forgotten this, but it certainly was Ike. (There are better stories about him but not here, not now.)

I’m going to disappoint the person who copied the link to me expecting I’d join him in high dudgeon, but let’s be serious. Even Asimov himself seems to have doubted it would go over in 1962 and in 2012 the idea deserves Zwan’s critique.

Lifetime Achievement Awards Given

Earl Kemp and Shelby Vick received Lifetime Achievement Awards at the Corflu Glitter banquet on April 22.

The Lifetime Achievement Awards “salute living fans for their excellent fanac over a long career in Fandom,” Arnie Katz explained in Glitter #61.

Convention chair Joyce Katz presented Kemp and Vick with framed certificates featuring art by Dan Steffan.

The Lifetime Achievement Awards were given for the first time in 2010, to Ted White and Art Widner.

A judging committee selects the winners from among nominations submitted by fans. The committee is made up of the two most recent Corflu chairs, the current Fan Achievement Awards Administrator, and any past Lifetime Achievement Award recipients who want to participate.

Earl Kemp to Retire Zine “eI”

Earl Kemp recently published eI57 with the collected “Letters from Jail” by Ted White. Twenty-five years Ted ago was arrested for dealing drugs out of his home in Falls Church and served a term in jail. He wrote a compelling series of 21 letters to his friends about these experiences. Since his friends were also fanzine editors the letters soon saw print, however, their Eighties zines now are rarities.

Kemp, who published his own prison letters in eI10 (2003) in “I’ve Got Some Friends Inside,” had the vision to do the same with Ted’s letters, collecting them in a single issue, handsomely illustrated by Dan Steffan.

Kemp announced in the same issue that he will shut down his prolific fanhistory zine at the end of this year. Two more regular issues will appear, then Kemp’s last one, eI60, will contain an Index to the entire run. eI will definitely be missed.

Kemp’s Pulp Database

Earl Terry Kemp has produced the Golden Age of Pulps SF Magazine Database, Science Fiction Fantasy and Horror (1890-200) database.

The database runs as an MS Access application, and masses 786 megabytes once all the CD’s are installed. The cost is $40.

Indexed are contributions to 1,300 different magazine titles, a total of 19,140 separate issues (with over 13,333 cover scans), with contributions by 33,861 writers (with over 1,171 pseudonyms), as well as contributions by over 3,016 cover artists. Indexed are 171,871 entries and serial segments, 24,295 poems, and 44,999 articles and columns.

Earl says it’s the most comprehensive database ever constructed of contributions to magazines in the field of fantastic literature — speculative fiction including science fiction, fantasy, horror, and weird fiction. “It is so comprehensive that it cannot be surpassed, it can only be supplemented,” Earl claims.

The full press release follows the jump.

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Corflu Cobalt Videos

Peter Sullivan has posted links to videos of Corflu Cobalt’s online webcasts of two major program items:

Earl Kemp interview at Corflu Cobalt – Bill Burns interviews Earl Kemp about his life, his work and his time in Science Fiction Fandom. (Lighting is very dark due to slide show, but audio is listenable)

Radio Play: The Adventures of Pat and the Electric Motorman – A ‘radio play’ performed live at Corflu Cobalt, 20th March 2010. Written by the InTheBar mailing list.

Corflu is happening in Winchester, England this weekend.