Up To Now: The Beginnings

Up To Now by Jack Speer, 1939

Preface«« »»The First Staple War

THE BEGINNINGS

For this writer, mere guesses must suffice for the early contacts between fans. Many, probably, when editors no longer felt like carrying the discussion in the readers' columns, continued arguments over scientific matters in private correspondence, and some controversies on non-scientific points may very likely have also been continued privately after they had progressed too far for general interest. Or a particularly sparkling letter published might cause other readers to desire to write its author, aside from any particular points brot up. At any rate, many science fiction fans did contact each other, but for a time didn't realize that others were doing the same thing.

Forrest J Ackerman and alias Jack Darrow popularized the letter-every­-month habit with regard to the professional magazines, and built up extensive correspondences. Then, according to McPhail, one year in the early thirties Forrest Ackerman took a trip east from his home in Califorrynia, and visited many correspondence friends on the way. This helped unify the field.

Some local groups took to publishing official organs, which became the first fan magazines. The West Coast publication, The Time Traveler, was the first to achieve general circulation. Science Fiction Digest, published at the other end of the country, must have gotten some mention in readers' columns, and built up a small circulation that was nevertheless nationwide, with some subscribers in England. This magazine eventually absorbed The Time Traveler, and shortly changed its name to Fantasy Magazine, to include facts pertaining to the weird fiction field.

The issue after its second anniversary, Fantasy Magazine began dedicating issues to the Big Three of scientifiction, and to other special fields, including Weird Tales. Its first dedication was to the field-leading Astounding Stories of Street & Smith, and it received mention in Brass Tacks. When Wonder's time came, they did even more, seeing to it that every member of the SFL got a copy of that issue.

A bit earlier, taking cognizance of the existence of the fan world, Charlie Hornig, who turned out a few issues of the unsuccessful Fantasy Fan, and then teen-age managing editor of Wonder Stories, recommended to editor Gernsback the formation of a Science Fiction League. This was undertaken with enthusiasm, and being well-featured by a commercial magazine of large circulation, attracted many scientifictionists to the fan field. At the same time a Swap Column and other features of interest to veteran "fans" were inaugurated. Later, the SFL Department began giving semi-annual Bachelor of Scientifiction tests which increased the interest of membership. It was the Golden Age of Fandom.

Preface«« »»The First Staple War