Robert Silverberg Comments on Juanita Coulson's 1953 Article

Comment on Juanita Coulson's article on fandom in 1953 by Robert Silverberg
Adapted from Noreascon Four's Introduction to the Retro Hugo Awards for 1953.

I've read Juanita's piece carefully, and she covers fandom of the era pretty well, even if she doesn't mention [my own] Spaceship by name, or note that Lee Hoffman and Walt Willis, two of the biggest fan names of the era, failed to attend the con [the 1953 Worldcon].

Significant fanzines of the period were Lee Hoffman's Quandry, Harlan's Dimensions, Bob Tucker's SF NewsLetter, Charles Lee Riddle's Peon, Redd Boggs's SkyHook, Joel Nydahl's Vega, Walt Willis's Slant, Gregg Calkins' Oopsla, and my own Spaceship. I can't tell, without actually prowling through the dusty archives, how many of these pubbed ishes in calendar year 1953.

Fan writers of note back then included Willis, Tucker, Rich Elsberry, Boggs, Dean Grennell, Bob Shaw, James White, Bob Bloch, me. Never paid much attention to fan art and the only name I remember from that era is Rotsler's.

I have certain reminiscences of the con that she had no access to, like seeing a poker game in which 13-year-old Dave Ish sat in manfully with the likes of Tucker and the original Marty Greenberg and did pretty well. Or the scenes in the suite that Harlan and I rented and subleased dormitory style to about fifty other fans at $5 a night. But this is Juanita's piece, not mine, and she remembers the parts of the con she experienced, which is as it should be.

I do think she's left a couple of the Hugo winners out: without going over to the office to check, I offer the recollection that Ackerman received a Hugo as Number One Fan Face, and Bester for The Demolished Man. The Hugos were little scraggly home-made things: I remember from my visits to John Campbell's office how pitiful his 1953 Hugo looked alongside the ones he won later.

Editors' Note: A growing list of the fanzines eligible for the Retro Hugo Award for 1953 is available online at the FANAC Fan History web site. This includes the complete contents of these publications so material for the Best Fanzine, Best Fan Writer Award and the Best Fan Artist Award can be enjoyed and evaluated. Contributions of additional material, especially scanned eligible fanzines, are welcomed.