Fandom in Boston, Massachusetts, began in February 1940, when the Stranger Club was founded by such notables as Art Widner, Louis Russell Chauvenet, and Robert D. Swisher (Harry Stubbs (Hal Clement) joined later). It frequently met at a member's parent's home in Cambridge. During World War II, the Stranger club sponsored the first series of Boskones, but the club itself disappeared during the post-War years.
The MIT Science Fiction Society, MITSFS, was founded in 1949 and still exists, but never became much of a force in fandom outside MIT, though fans very important to later Boston fandom such as Tony Lewis and Leslie Turek came out of MITSFS. During the long gap between the Stranger Club and BoSFS, the only fandom in the area seems to have been individuals such as Hal Clement and visitors such as Andy Young (who got a PhD at Harvard in the late 50s) and his wife Jean Young.
The next organized group was the Boston Science Fiction Society, which ran three of the early Boskones of the second series. BoSFS did not last very long after the abject failure of its Boston in '67 Worldcon bid, and most of its members moved over to NESFA when it was founded in 1967. NESFA also took over running Boskone. Many of the same people who created NESFA also quickly recycled into the independent Boston in 71 bid which ran very successful Noreascon 1 under the leadership of Tony Lewis.
The ’80s were eventful. Boskone (held in February) grew until by 1985 it was comparable in size to the Worldcon and was widely called the Winter Worldcon. Boston in '89 won its bid to bring the real Worldcon to Boston, but NESFA doubted its ability to handle this growth and in 1987 the Boskone from Hell proved that doubt to be justified.
See Rise and Fall of the Giant Boskones for more details.
Because no Boston-area hotel was willing to host it, Boskone shrank dramatically and moved to Springfield, MA (about an hour west of Boston) for several years. Yet at the same time, NESFA acquired a permanent clubhouse in Somerville. Also about this time, partly as a consequence of the collapse of Boskone, Readercon and Arisia were founded. Ironically, Readercon was founded because of a perception that Boskone was too open and too fannish, and Arisia was founded by a different group that felt that Boskone was too closed and too sercon.
The years after Noreascon 3 saw NESFA rebuilding Boskone and moving it back first to Framingham (a western suburb) and then in 2003 back to Boston. Perhaps as important, NESFA's longstanding publishing program, NESFA Press expanded to become a major reprinter of classic short SF. This same period saw two failed Boston in 1998 bids, a failed Boston in 2001 bid and a successful Boston in 2004 bid which resulted in Noreascon Four.
- “Boston in the '60s” video with Tony Lewis, Leslie Turek and Mike Ward, moderated by Mark Olson: Part 1, Part 2.
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