William S. Sykora
(August 16, 1913 – June 7, 1994)
William Stephan “Will” Sykora started reading sf in 1924 and was a charter subscriber to Amazing Stories and his first fanac was a letter to the January 1930 Science Wonder Stories. He attended several meetings of The Scienceers before joining the five-member New York City chapter of the Science Fiction League in January 1935. The other members were Donald A. Wollheim, John Michel, Conrad Ruppert, and Julius Schwartz. Sykora also joined a branch of the International Cosmos Science Club (later the ISA), a group devoted to both science and SF.) He served as its president.
According to Sam Moskowitz, Sykora "epitomized the Gernsbackian ideal that all readers of the genre should consider the advancement of science their serious aim." The ISA embodied this idea. He also joined the Manhattan SFL and the Queens SFL.
Skyora (along with Moskowitz, Wollheim, Michel and several others) was at the center of the epic battles which shaped (and shook) fandom in the late ’30s. At the root was the SF (and science) focus of Sykora and Moskowitz versus the left-wing political focus of the Futurians such as Michel and Wollheim. See Sam Moskowitz' Immortal Storm for a comprehensive, though not entirely unbiased, history of the time. He was a charter member of FAPA and attended the First Eastern convention in 1936.
The battles were fought with the intensity that only a young fan can muster -- Sykora who was in his 20s then, was one of the older players (!). For example, Sykora was called Oily Will and The Mikado of Long Island City by his opponents. (For example, the Wollheimists attempted to throw Sykora out of the GNYSFL at a meeting he absent from. When the president ruled this out of order, the Wollheimists got him impeached and Sykora ejected, resulting in the collapse of the GNYSFL.) He was one of the Triumvirs who opposed the Quadrumvirate and who organized a number of the early conventions, including the First National (also known as the Newark Convention) and the Second Eastern States Science Fiction Convention. He attended the First Convention and the 1938 Philadelphia Conference and was a member of New Fandom.
After World War II Sykora resurrected the Queens Science Fiction League, which met at his home, sponsored the SF gatherings, and established a short-lived small press, The Avalon Company, with Moskowitz. He was the US representative of the Big Pond Fund. He belonged to the N3F.
It is reported that later in life he spent time in prison after being convicted of child molestation and was shunned by both his family and fandom. We can’t confirm this. It is certainly the case that he was rarely seen in fandom after 1960.
Also involved: - 1944 Best Fanzine Retro Hugo - Hydracon - International Observer - Nycon 1 - Philcon I - Phoxphyre - The Planeteer
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