Up to Now: The Decline and Fall of the Era

Up To Now by Jack Speer, 1939

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Wonder has been sold! italicized FM's Science Fiction Eye.

In subscription, Wonder was doing rather badly, even compared to other pulps, and the depression had hit all of them pretty hard (What depression?) But that is in the history of science fiction, and this is a history of fandom. Some of the life seemed to go out of the SFL toward the last, tho perhaps it is only my fancy. At any rate, with the disappearance of the parent magazine in early 1936, the SFL ceased to be, despite its imposing list of somebodies on the board of directors, which TWS at this writing still carries. The huge Chicago org of 50 or so authors, readers, and fans lost interest in itself. All over the country three-man chapters gave up the ghost; in England the young SFA took them over.

The sale of Wonder was almost the last big story FM carried. Conrad H Ruppert's Printing Service could no longer print the magazine, and the bunch in Everett, PA, had done one or two issues. But FM was skipping months, and a long interval elapsed before the last one. They didn't know at the time that it was the last, altho they acknowledged the situation to be bad.

The rights to the name Fantasy Magazine were turned over to Willis Conover, and it was expected that it would be combined with the ScienceĀ­ Fantasy Correspondent of Corwin Stickney. But personal differences arose, and while the S-F C, later the Amateur Correspondent, filled out FM's subscriptions, Conover was out of the deal. Many people resented the transfer of their subscriptions to the AC, since it catered largely to weird, as had Charles Hornig's Fantasy Fan, which was not considered competitive with FM during its brief life. Presently Stickney frankly stated that he did not aim at fans as such at all; that he intended his magazine primarily to aid young authors aiming at the pros, thinking that that was a larger group. There was a great deal of entirely unstfic advertising, and a stamp department for which dyed-in-the-wool fans cared not a whit. FM had had, toward the end, no more than 50 subscribers; the Correspondent probably had very few of its own. A printed magazine, it cost money to publish. At length, like FM, it appeared less frequently and finally ceased, but the title passed to no one else.

One reason for the decline in fan interest was the decline in the science-fiction field, on which fandom then depended closely. It was a long time after the last Wonder before Thrilling Wonder appeared. Astounding had reached its plateau under Tremaine, and Sloane's Amazing sank slowly into the depths. Naturally, interest in a fan field dependent upon these would decline.

Thus the First Fandom slipped away.

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