Oh no! Again? Yes. Sorry.
Or is he?
No; no, I'm not. I mean, it's my site! I can do what I want! Now and then it's good to break the paradigm and do something different, both in life and in this place. A deep dive into this or that. Today it's . . .
Welcome to Dork Culture, 1933.
This looks like something you'd see on a start-up one-issue zine. I have a friend, he can do the cover, he's really good. And it is! Not your average sci-fi 30s pulp cover.
The stories don’t interest me much. To be honest, the art doesn’t do much for me, either. It's interesting in a historical sense, to learn what other eras thought the future would be, and to remember that there were geeks and nerds long before Star Trek.
It’s the back of the book that has some mysteries, because it’s real. It’s the early days of fandom. The Jurassic era of Geeks. It’s not the birth of sci-fi - these are the sons of the men who grew up on Frank Reade Jr.
Consider this missive from Mr. Medina. I love the our magazine touch - these guys were building communities and gatekeeeping from the start.
“Sometimes my theory hits a snag.”
The editors’ reply might have stung a little. But - but I thought you’d understand! You of all people would know! Scientists should run things! Science!
This will matter in a bit, trust me. I mean, it’ll matter right here, on this page.
A fairly ordinary letter:
OLON WIGGINS seems a unique name. Let’s google. Well, well: he has his own page in the Fancy Clopedia! (Kidding. It’s the Fan-cyclopedia, obviously, but your eye finds the FANCY first.
The first signs of Denver fandom appeared in 1932, when letters from Olon [Fletcher] Wiggins started appearing in letter columns of some of the prozines. In 1940, Wiggins and Lew Martin caused much amazement when they hopped a freight train and rode boxcars for thirty hours from Denver to Chicago to get to the 1940 Worldcon. They succeeded in winning the right to host the 1941 Worldcon, which became the first Denvention.
For an early short biography, see Who's Who in Fandom 1940, page 14
I will do just that, after the break.
Here's the entry in the 1940 "Who's Who in Fandom." Olon made a zine in ’38:
"He has written for Stf Collector."
STF? It’s “Scientifiction,” an archaic term for SF or Sci-Fi.
That “Who’s Who” had some other interesting entries.
The Goebbels of the Technocrats?
Why am I not surprised that he's an Esperantist.
T. (Theodore) Bruce Yerke (1923–1998) was an American science fiction author and editor. A member of "an extensive network of active enthusiasts," he was an early and active member of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, serving as its secretary for many years, and recruited Ray Bradbury as a member.
His unfinished biography, Memoirs of a Superfluous Fan (eventually reprinted in 1991), provides great insight into the early days of science fiction fandom in Los Angeles.
He also occasionally wrote under the name Carlton J. Fassbinder.
"The early days of science fiction fandom in Los Angeles." I don't think anyone will ever pay the subject much attention, unless they can inject the modern day -isms and panics and scowls into the matter, so everyone would know the proper and correct opinion to have going forward.
You may note that he was the first to grab “the Michelist bull by the horns.”
John B. Michel (1917–1969) was a science fiction author (sometimes publishing under the name Hugh Raymond) and editor associated with the Futurians, of which he was one of twelve founding members.
THE TWELVE FUTURIANS
These guys probably wanted to convene their meetings in white robes, but thought better of it.
He was elected director of the Futurians in 1941. He was widely known for his left-wing, utopian politics, which came to be known in science fiction fandom as "Michelism", or the belief that "science-fiction should by nature stand for all forces working for a more unified world, a more Utopian existence, the application of science to human happiness, and a saner outlook on life".
Debates over Michelism and its association with technocracy and communism were an object of controversy in fanzines in the late 1930s, and its influence can be seen in much science fiction of the period, including Isaac Asimov's Foundation series.
Michel was a member of the Young Communist League and later joined the CPUSA, although he was asked to leave in 1949 for absenteeism.
Hah! You'd think they'd keep him around in case he could come in handy later, but no, the guy was a slug.
Anyone else in this list?
It may be jarring today to see the admiration of L. Ron Hubbard, no? But Hubbard was big, and the Scientology episode would split the SF community.
Back to the letters: Russia is totally misunderstood!
Googling turns up his name, but only as the director of some workers. The location turns up this:
The Kramatorsk radiological accident was a radiation accident that happened in Kramatorsk, Ukrainian SSR from 1980 to 1989. In 1989, a small capsule containing highly radioactive caesium-137 was found inside the concrete wall of an apartment building.
The source, originally a part of a radiation level gauge, was lost in the Karansky quarry. The gravel from the quarry was used in construction. The cesium capsule ended up in the concrete panel of Apartment 85 of Building 7 on Gvardeytsiv Kantemirovtsiv Street, between apartments 85 and 52.
Okay, one more.
Wouldn’t be a letters section without Forry chiming in. As for that cover, I found it.
1933. Almost a century ago. Feels familiar, doesn’t it?
Oh, you thought I'd forgotten? I did not.
That'll do. More tomorrow, and don't go trying to find it. All in good time!
BTW, "Go Explore" does go someplace.