Up To Now: The Changing Tendency Among Fan Magazines

Up To Now by Jack Speer, 1939

The Decline and Fall of Wollheim«« »»New Fandom's Struggle for Recognition

The first newcomers were Harry Warner, Jr, and Jim Avery. All during the Second Fandom, of course, there had been a few new ones drifting in all the time, but the almost total lack of contact between the fan world and the professional magazines with their wider circulation made such neophytes few. Dale Hart definitely belongs to the Second Fandom. But, tho they were almost "old timers" by the time the full rush of new fans arrived, Warner and Avery belonged to the new day. They appeared rather without warning, dropping postcards to various fans, soliciting material for their proposed hectographed magazine, Spaceways. Warner was to do the typing, in Hagerstown, MD, and Avery the hektoing, in Skowhegan, ME. It was, ultimately, to the good of Spaceways that the hekto broke down and Warner was forced to purchase a mimeograph. In the more distinguished mimeo format, Spaceways was immediately in the top rank.

Under the influence of support from the pro magazines for fandom, and a wider appeal in fan magazine material, many new names began to show up in reports of the meetings of the new Queens SFL (phenomenally successful reincarnation of the Taurasi branch of the GNY fission), credited for items in Nell, in readers' departments of fan magazines, and elsewhere, tho but a comparative few of these have become "active" fans at this writing. There were several feminines among the newcomers. In the past, girl fans had usually been sisters or cousins of the male fans, and these neophytes, largely in Queens, were not exceptions. One amusing exception to this rule was Peggy Gillespie, who, it finally leaked out, was not Jack Gillespie's sister, but the family cat, with Dick Wilson and amateur astronomer Abe Oshinsky doing the ghost-writing.

Besides the new fans, quite a few of the men prominent in the First Fandom reappeared, some, such as Ray Palmer, as successes in the pro field (at the same time that many newer fans were scoring successes as authors), others, like Bob Tucker, as active fans. Bob had a letter published in Brass Tacks, and apparently was immediately deluged with letters asking him to return to fandom. He did so, lining up especially with Warner, Avery, and Wiggins, and began turning out reams of humorous and unhumorous publications. Some of these returns of the oldsters began as early as the Newark Convention, but few became as active again as Tucker.

The boys were getting older, too. Early in 1938 fans had been vastly surprised to hear of the birth of Wiggins' second daughter. Bob Tucker had family. Ackerman proudly announced he'd come of voting age and registered as a Socialist. Leslie Perri, illustratrix for Pohl's Mind of Man and Lowndes' Le Vombiteur, etc, and Fred Pohl began to be mentioned as possibly fandom's first matrimonial match; altho some married couples had afterwards begun work in the fan field together, such as the R D Swishers, whose S-F Check-List undertook to list all fanmags actually published or even proposed.

And at the same time that some old-timers were returning, certain of the prominent men of the Second Fandom were forced to reduce their activities. The results of Ackerman's employment have already been mentioned. Osheroff was forced to completely discontinue his, probably due to parental pressure, and Taurasi took over his Fantasy Scout as one of the myriad supplements to Fantasy News. Wollheim's retirement has been dealt with. Speer, on a Thanksgiving trip to visit Kuslan in Connecticut and return via Nell's first birthday party (she passed away half a year later, and Wilson began issuing Escape), ran his car into a telephone pole, and the resulting financial burden, parental pressure, and loss of typewriter in the shuffle forced him to cut his activities to a minimum. Baltadonis, attending college, had practically no time for fan activities any more. Ted Carnell, high-ranking British fan, announced that after the 1939 British Convention he would have to give up most of his fan activity — reason: newly married. Claire P Beck, the gloomy hermit of Lakeport, Calif, hitchhiked to New York to visit, where he fell in with Michel's crowd; after his return he announced an end to the SFCritic, and lapsed.

The change was reflected in the fan magazines. Spaceways was the trailĀ­blazer, as its pages were filled with gossip about forthcoming science-fiction, short science stories by both amateurs and professional writers, and almost no "fan" material such as characterized the Second Fandom. Its editorial policy of no controversial material on politics, religion, etc (jeered at by the submerged liberals), was quickly picked up by new and renascent fan magazines thruout the country. Fantascience Digest, Madle at the helm, rising to the fore with the SFCollector's virtual disappearance, went into mimeoed format and took Fantasy Magazine as its ideal. Bob Tucker, a member of Cosmic Publications now, issued a yearbook listing all stf stories in the stf mags and Argosy during l 938. Imagination!'s mimeographed format was widely copied, but by magazines of an entirely different type in interest. Gossip about collector's items, pro-mag line-up, author interviews, observations on the flood of new professional s-f magazines that gave such an impetus to the change in fandom, were the order of the day, and discussion about sociological systems, religion, etc, rigorously tabooed in most of the leading fan magazines.

The old-line fans now justified their claims to the title of "science fiction" fans by showing that they had not forgotten what they had once known about it, nor lost contact. There was almost a feeling of relief as they turned to something they could be sure they were good in. Practically no one attempted to buck the tide completely; even the SFFan began featuring more articles on stf books, etc, to pad out the material written mostly by the Quadrumvirate, which consisted of monotonous repetitions of the Michelist theory thinly veiled as biographies and exchanges of compliments.

"The official organ of the mutual admiration society of Wollheim and Company" the new British school described the SFFan. For in Britain, too, a new race had arisen. Disgusted with the lack of appreciation given Novae Terrae by lethargic Britishers and Americans, Hanson had finally given it up, and by the time of the 1939 British Convention, the SFA monthly organ was Satellite, a humorous magazine modeled along American lines by the new English fans.

Even that stronghold of subversive propaganda, the FAPA, came thoroly under the dominance of the new order. Controversial material dwindled to fractional proportions; strong literary efforts were put forward, the Swisher Check-List, Miske's CHAOS, Speer's Sustaining Program, Michel's Futurart, LA's Sweetness and Light, and so far, far into the night. A definite date for mailings was established under Rothman, till he moved to Washington/DC to work.

The Decline and Fall of Wollheim«« »»New Fandom's Struggle for Recognition