Leah Zeldes Smith

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(???? – )

Leah Zeldes at AutoClave 1, 1976.
Photo © Andrew I. Porter.

Leah Zeldes Smith (pronounced LAY-uh ZEL-dəs), a longtime fan based in Chicago and Milwaukee, has been a fanzine fan, club fan and con fan. She leans strongly toward the faanish end of the microcosm.

She entered fandom in 1973 as a teenager in Detroit, where she belonged to the W3F, and went to school in Ann Arbor, where she was active in the Stilyagi Air Corps. Upon moving to Chicago in 1985, she became a regular at Thursday. She served on the board of directors of the N3F, SFOHA, AASFA and FEN. Her first convention was Torcon 2, the ’73 Worldcon.

As SF writer Leah A. Zeldes, she is the author of a handful of short stories, published in anthologies.

From the 1970s through the ’80s, she was an avid letterhack and apahack, and occasional poet and fanartist, as well as a frequent congoer. Apae included APA-50, MiSHAP (OE and co-founder), AZAPA, RAPS, ApaCorps, FLAP, ANZAPA, The Secret Garden, FHAPA and Milwapa.

In the 1990s, she edited STET, a thrice Hugo-nominated fanzine, published and mimeographed by her husband, Dick Smith. She has produced a variety of other zines, including several clubzines, numerous convention progress reports and program books, innumerable apazines and, with Larry Tucker, the perzine Insufficient Funds. She also contributed extensively to the later issues of Uncle Dick's and edited the fanthology Contact! She first earned her faned cred in her teens with Imp and as editor of the Omekronicle, the clubzine of the Oak Park High School Science Fiction Club.

Mike Glicksohn and Leah Zeldes, ca. 1979.
Photo by George R. R. Martin.

She was a fanzine reviewer for Astromancer Quarterly. In the 2010s, she was briefly a columnist for Amazing Stories, reviving “The Club House” for the revenant online prozine. Two of her columns were selected for Fanthology 2013.

She has been involved in running numerous conventions, including Wondaycon, AutoClave (co-founder and chairman), ConFusion, AutoFusion, Ditto and several Chicons and other Worldcons, as well as Detcon1. She co-chaired Operacon in March 2015 and published Flavor Forecast as a progress report for it. She is one of the Ditto Masters. She made endless pots of chili as a bidder for The First Occasional LoneStarCon Science Fiction Convention and Chili Cook-off and became a member of FACT.

Leah Zeldes and Larry Tucker, ca. 1977.

A fanhistorian, she attended the first FanHistoriCon and became a charter member of the Timebinders. She co-chaired FanHistoriCons 3 and 11. Much of her fannish lexicon written for STET 9 was incorporated into Fancyclopedia 3, including many post-Eney terms, and she has been a frequent editor/contributor.

In 1993, she and her husband, Dick Smith, won the Down Under Fan Fund, and traveled as delegates to the Australian National Science Fiction Convention, Swancon 18, in Perth, as well as visiting fans across Australia. Subsequently, they were the North American agents for the Australia in 1999 Worldcon bid.

She met Dick at a con neither of them can remember. After several years of a long-distance relationship, involving much correspondence, hideous long-distance phone bills, lots of bus, train and car travel — including one wreck — she moved to Chicago and they married in 1985.

In mundane life, she was a journalist — becoming managing editor for a chain of Chicago newspapers — and a freelance reporter and professional blogger, particularly covering Chicago's food and live entertainment scenes. She credits early fanwriting practice as helping her attain her professional writing skills. She was also the blogmaster behind Frederik Pohl's "The Way the Future Blogs." An avid and eclectic reader, she has written hundreds of reviews of old, out-of-copyright books of all genres.

Fanzines and Apazines:

Leah and Dick Smith, 2012.

Awards, Honors and GoHships:

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