Strangers

by Harry Stubbs (Hal Clement)

In spite of my membership in First Fandom, I was not really clear on what it was all about until the Stranger Club discovered me. This was after the publication of my first story in the June ‘42 Astounding. I was reasonably impressed; Art Widner’s YHOS, the first fan publication to come to my attention, contained a squib reporting that he understood Hal Clement to be one Harry C. Stubbs of Cambridge, Massachusetts. This came to my attention after I got to a meeting — I think as a result of a telephone invitation from Bob Swisher — and began to learn such things as the existence of fanzines (if the First Fandom authorities read this, they may disqualify me, but I’ll take the chance).

I attended several meetings that summer. They all took place at Bob Swisher’s house in Winchester. I knew Bob’s name — he had done an article on positrons for his friend John Campbell, which appeared in the same Astounding issue as Nat Schachner’s ‘Crystallized Thought’ (I’m trying to prove I have some right to FF membership. That’s memory; I don’t know where my Day Index has gone). Meetings consisted largely of sitting around and either talking science fiction or reading Bob’s magazines. His collection was complete, something which I doubt is possible any more even for Forry Ackerman. At one of the meetings — July, I think — John Campbell and L. Ron Hubbard were both present. This was long before Ron invented Dianetics and shifted from science fiction to Big Business, but he already had charisma.

There was an unnumbered Boskone which must have been the following February; it occupied one room somewhere in Boston, and had something like forty attendants. There was an art auction, with prices running up to fifteen cents or even more, and we put on a play containing some takeoffs on Jack Williamson’s ‘Legion of Space.’ I vaguely remember the ultimate weapon, the dreadful Kakkle-Kakkle.

I went into service immediately thereafter, saw no Strangers until after the war, and even when some of us did get together it wasn’t the same. Bob moved away, as I recall, and newcomers like Tim Orrok (who had been one of my Boy Scouts earlier, I think; I certainly met him originally in non-SF connections) were too busy with studies or jobs to go whole hog on science fiction discussions. I didn’t really get back into the swing until Philcon in ‘53, when I was pretty busy (teaching and new family) myself. This just wasn’t the Strangers any more.