Ed Wood

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Ed and JoAnn Wood at NyCon 3, 1967.

(April 28, 1926 – May 12, 1996)

Edward Wood (not to be confused with the film director of that name) was a longtime sercon fan and well-known curmudgeon. He became a fan in the 1940s and worked on many regionals and Worldcons. He was a member of the University of Chicago Science Fiction Club, the Little Men, Pensfa, PSFA, the First Fandom club and Burroughs Bibliophiles. He co-edited the Journal of Science Fiction and, in 1956, co-founded Advent:Publishers, a major fannish small press. He was a reviewer for Luna Monthly, Science Fiction Times and, briefly, Analog.

When he started writing for SFT, Lane Stannard wrote in #276 (August 1957): “Mr. Wood is another of those rare s-f fans who reads each and every story that appears in a pro mag and has other qualifications to fill the posi­tion.”

Mike Resnick described Ed in a 2003 reminiscence in Mimosa 30 as “the most crochety, wonderful, ill-tempered, generous sonuvabitch I ever met.”

"Ed did something with atoms for his living,” Resnick wrote, “he was so highly specialized that only four or five places in the country were doing advanced enough work to hire him -- and when computers came along, he wound up teaching computer courses in college.”

He married fellow fan JoAnn Schmidt on December 30, 1966, in Palo Alto, CA, as reported in Degler! 163 (January 6, 1967, p. 2). They lived in California, Connecticut, Milwaukee and Chicago, where they were active for many years in Midwest fandom before moving to Texas. The Woods had one son, Larry. Before marriage, Ed had also lived in Idaho.

He was a passionate collector, which two stories exemplify:

Before he and JoAnn were married, she and a friend decided to clean up his kitchen. (Presumably he lived in fannish splendor.) He was sitting in his book- and magazine-filled living room when JoAnn, looking for cleanser, called, "Hey, Ed, where's the Comet?" He replied, "On the third shelf next to the bedroom door. There were five issues between December 1940 and July 1941."

At FanHistoriCon 3 in 1995, Ed was attending a panel on what do we want to happen to all our stuff after we die? Partway through the panel, Ed stood up and dramatically announced that he was not going to pass his collection on to anyone. It made sense only in the context of his life and when he died he was going to have it burned as a funeral pyre. He then stalked out of the room. (Ed was given to the occasional bit of drama.) JoAnn whispered loudly, "Like hell he is!"

Clockwise from left: Fred Prophet, Ed Wood and Ray Beam at Midwestcon 17, 1966. Photo by Mark Irwin from Zingaro 8.

At Tricon, the 1966 Worldcon, at the "Critics in Science Fiction" panel, Ed stood up, shook his fist, and roared, "I will not stand idly by and see the grandeur and glory that is science fiction crucified upon a cross of pedantic scholasticism."[1]

Ed was immortalized in The Enchanted Duplicator as Dedwood, who, like Ed, was sercon and disapproved of fandom's light-hearted, irreverent side. Ed had once boasted of having thrown away every issue of Walt Willis's classic fannish fanzine Hyphen, unread.

Resnick wrote: “Ed was a purist. By this, I mean he was Gernsbackian in his tastes, rather than Campbellian.” Among Wood's many acts of generosity, he persuaded John W. Campbell not to reject Doc Smith's Children of the Lens (1947) although it was crudely written for what Astounding’s standards had become since the 1930s, stressing that back then, the magazine relied on and benefited from Smith.

In his 1964 TAFF report, ATom Abroad, Arthur Thomson commented, “And do you know, Ed Wood is the friendliest of fans and nice to know, we got along fine. Of course, I didn't mention science fiction, or fanzines.”

Fanzines and Apazines:


  1. Compare to the later Let's Take Science Fiction Out of the Universities and Put It Back into the Gutter Where It Belongs. The editorial of the final, 1953 issue of the Journal of Science Fiction complained “The cynical transformation of science fiction from a literature of ideas into a literature of style is just about complete” (on the matter of increasing inclusion of sex in SF, followed by such literary conceits as "gloom, despair, degradation").

Person 19261996
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