Up To Now: The Founding of the FAPA

Up To Now by Jack Speer, 1939

The Nature of Wollheim's Dictatorship«« »»Michelism and the Third Convention

The stage is set; the dramatis personae are known to you. If the story were now dramatically perfect, the curtain would go up on the Third Eastern Science Fiction Convention.

But another element, full of significance and typical of the Second Fandom, had already been introduced.

Among the myriad organizations that dotted the later months of the period of the First Transition, the Fantasy Amateur Press Association did not stand out. Some kind of a fraternity for editors; Dan McPhail had had some such idea. Well, if you're the joining kind, go ahead and see what it's about.

Once a member of the National, United, and other Amateur Press Associations, it was inevitable that a fan should think of adapting the idea for s-f fan use, as it was tailor-made for the hobby. The idea was simple and unusual: Publishers published when and what they desired, and paid the expenses of their own publications, making the required number of copies, which were sent to the official mailing office. In return, each member, at intervals, got a packet containing a copy of each of the efforts that had been sent the mailing bureau since the previous mailing.

Wollheim early began dawdling with the idea of a science fiction amateur press association, but only on urging from Bill Miller, Michel and others did he move toward its accomplishment. Getting started was the big task, but Wollheim, more than any other fan, was in a position to get it going in a hurry. Nevertheless, he found the going very difficult. Persuading fans to join up, pay the 50Ā¢ dues, and then go to the expense of making up 50 copies of a magazine, for an infant organization, was like persuading them to a tooth-pulling.

Natheless, by hook and by crook and brute strength Wollheim rallied enough material to put out a fair-sized mailing; much of it, of course, MichelĀ­-Wollheim special publications, broadsides for new members, and left-over copies of magazines, such as the Mijimags, previously for sale.

The first mailing, going to prospects as well as members, brot in a goodly flood of applications, raising the rolls to over twenty. Another large block held back only until it was made clear that they did not have to publish anything for the FAPA — any fan activity during the preceding year qualified a person for membership.

Thereafter applications continued in a more or less steady stream until, by mid-1938, the full quota of 50 was filled, and further applicants began to be put on the waiting list, to be given places as members might vacate them.

The FAPA mailings were important because they removed from editors the obligation to tum out something that subscribers would pay for. Tho many publishers made sincere efforts to tum out magazines as good, on a small scale, as the subscription fan magazines, the actual compulsion was absent, and an editor, if he wished to brave adverse comment, could devote his entire magazine to attacks on other fans, sociological declamations, purely personal opinions of hardly any interest to anyone, or very rotten amateur science fiction.

The Nature of Wollheim's Dictatorship«« »»Michelism and the Third Convention