Up To Now: Preface

Up To Now by Jack Speer, 1939

»»The Beginnings.

A careful analysis of prefaces to histories and other books as well shows them to be occupied, almost without exception, in bemoaning the inaccuracies, limitations, and general worthlessness of the work being introduced. This will not be an exception.

This is a kind of cross between a set of memoirs and a history. I have tried to cover, at least thinly, all aspects of the purely fan field, but, as a glance at the table of topics will show, I am able to go much more into detail about those parts with which I am better acquainted. You might even become weary with the minuteness of detail in places. I extend my sympathies.

I have tried, so far as possible, to make this history as objective as good history should be. I have been hard on my friends when they seemed on the shady side of the ledger, and have, I trust, never failed to give my enemies credit where due. Despite this, however, especially in accounts centering around June, 1938, the reader will do well to beware, for at that point I find myself unable to see Wollheim's actions as excusable, when, of course, they most probably are. On the other hand, since the object of this history is truth, rather than to make me popular, I have not leaned over backward with regard to my personal enemies.

In trying to cover everything at least thinly, I have relied upon unreliable memory, upon inferences from unauthoritative accounts, and in some cases, as in the origins of Michelism, upon pure guesswork — fairly good guessing I believe, however.

If I haven't already made it clear, let me say now that this doesn't pretend to be the final history of fandom — far, far from it. I only hope to make a connected beginning, perhaps to slam such a mass of misinformation at you that those who know will be bound to give the true accounts. When those accounts are in, when we have run a course of "vignettes of fan history" in the fanmags — then will be the time for the writing of a dependable history. The eventual historian or committee of historians will thus have a good groundwork for a better, fuller, and more accurate account than could possibly be supplied by any one fan, however experienced, working alone to write "the" history of fandom.

Since I have realized from the start that this couldn't be the history of fandom to stand for all time, I haven't made as great effort to check all points and fill in gaps as I might otherwise have — indeed, a large part of it has been put down from memory, in spare minutes at work.
If it succeeds in conveying to new fans a composite picture of fandom, not too irreparably distorted, as one fan sees it, that's about all I have a right to hope for.

But I think the old-timers will find interest here, too, aside from the certain sport of picking out mistakes and omissions. Fwun thing, the truth about several matters is here generally revealed for the first time, since I can't put into history anything I know to be false.

I turn now to a more direct discussion of the subject-matter of the history — or memoirs, as you will.

It will be found to deal almost entirely with American fandom. There is no disrespect to the Tommies, Aussies, et al, in the fact that I have nevertheless called it a history of fandom rather than of American fandom. The latter title seemed that it might force me to leave out entirely all references to English fandom except where it was directly connected with an event in America, a limitation I didn't want.

This is a story, not a handbook, and emphasis is placed on the flow of events rather than the elements thereof. Fans in most cases have been briefly identified personally if at all; fan magazines have not been mentioned as much as their importance would warrant. And professional s-f figures at the absolute minimum.

You will note the division of the history into periods. I acknowledge that the periods are much more strictly delineated than the actual conditions, but I have ample precedent in the writing of general history. And it seemed that it would be easier to recall the nature and context of the Schwartz-Wollheim feud if it were fitted neatly into a definite larger pattern, or of the Philadelphia Conference if emphasis were put on its place in a general trend of the times, and so on.

It might be well to here define my use of the terms "fandom" and "transition". A transition I conceive of as a period in which old structures are crumbling, new forces coming into being, and the entire nature of fandom in a state of flux. A "fandom" is a fairly stable stretch in which known elements work out to their conclusion thru interaction and development. I have thot of no transition before the first fandom, because it seemed to come in pretty much in the shape that would have been expected, without much doubt as to what its interests and activities would be. l may be wrong; I know practically nothing of the early years.

Without further ado, I conduct you to Page One.