Up To Now: The Undertow

Up To Now by Jack Speer, 1939

The Crucial Period«« »»The Situation in the West

But it was a Pyrrhic victory, for of that day was come a kingdom's ruin.

The general run of the FAPA does not seem to have become angered, at first, over the unfairness of Wollheim's last-minute accusations in the election the sending out of the Open Letter with the ballots, but after some four weeks had passed, definite feeling against the administration set in. No one wanted another election, but it was felt that the tactics had been unfair. Perhaps the circulation of Speer's petition, setting forth in definite form the various transgressions, had something to do with solidifying feeling, tho it was not finally published in the official organ till the next spring. A general growing dislike of the Wollheim "dictatorship" was probably a more important cause.

But there were more concrete things behind the detraction from Wollheim's prestige, perhaps the most important of which was the break-up of the second Greater New York SFL chapter, the new name for the Queens SFL. There was preliminary trouble when the Red group, with sympathizers among the Queens fans, such as Wilson, wanted to send a science fiction delegate to the Youth Congress. As the resolution provided that all members must contribute toward his expenses, Taurasi, as chairman, refused to allow a vote on it as being unconstitutional. He was impeached (charges brought), but before the next meeting, when the trial was to be held, support for the Wollheim men fell away, and the matter was dropped.

When the Wollheim clique came into the QSFL, it put Sykora in an awkward position, for, in the case of the Cinema Club, he had refused to be in the same club with them. While he didn't actually resign from the QSFL-GNYSFL, he attended few meetings, and his dues fell into arrears. Wollheim and Pohl moved that he be expelled for non-payment of dues and nonattendence, but it seems there was constitutional provision that the accused must be present in cases of expulsion. Taurasi, as chairman, refused to allow the show to go on, and was again impeached, and this time removed from the chairmanship, tho by the rules of the Science Fiction League, he retained the Directorship, as the member with the lowest-numbered SFL certificate of the lot. He chose, however, to resign completely, and exerted some influence on other Queens members, not including Wilson. Sykora took the matter to Thrilling Wonder Stories, sponsor of the SFL, who decided to dissolve the chapter and grant new charters only on condition Sykora and Wollheim should never be in the same group.

Thus broke Taurasi with Wollheim, and it was more important than Wollheim had imagined. Taurasi, in the Transition, had, with Thompson and Gillespie, formed United Publications. When Gillespie left for more vital things, Taurasi-Thompson Publications quickly turned into Cosmic Publications, with Moskowitz, Kuslan, and several Borough of Queens fans joining. Then Cosmic reached out even further, and even had some connections with Green Jester Publications of the Leeds, England, SFL. But their crowning victory was Wiggins' Galactic Publications, including the field-leading Science Fiction Fan. Taurasi, for his part, had established Fantasy-News, which forged ahead of the other weekly, Wilson's, in circulation. So when Wollheim antagonized Taurasi, it was the signal for a very large number of fans to turn cold toward the W.

Speer was not in Washington long, making side-visits to Conover, Gillespie, and others, before he arranged for a trip to Philadelphia, which coincided with Wilson's vacation sojourn there. Wilson, long considered in the Wollheim orbit, at this gathering with the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society stated himself as siding with them on Michelism, FAPA politics, and other issues. Tho nothing very concrete came of this, it indicated another weakening of the Wollheim group's grip on fandom; and all the PSFS and Wilson added their names to the Petition of Reprimand, the list of signers of which presently grew to include more than half the total FAPA membership, including many strict neutrals, such as McPhail, Swisher, and Farsaci.

The Crucial Period«« »»The Situation in the West