A Year in Fandom: 1946

The next in our series of posts in support of the 1946 Project at Chicon 8.

What was it like to be a science fiction fan in 1946?

There was a lot of new material to read. With the end of the war, Science fiction and fantasy pulps had proliferated. Classics genre novels from pulps of prior years were issued in book form. Just keeping up was a challenge.

Fan activity was also resurgent. The club scene remained most active in Los Angeles and New York, but fans from other corners also made their voices heard. Several clubs formed prior to the war resumed meeting in 1946, often attracting a mix of old and new members.

The timeline presented here is drawn from a variety of sources. Primary among them is Joe Kennedy’s 1946-1947 Fantasy Review, the second in his series of yearbooks covering the field. Eleven pages were dedicated to the doings of fans.

DateFan event
Jan 1Ten fans gather at Sam Moskowitz’s house in New Jersey, dub themselves the “Null-A Men” and begin planning what would become the First Post-War Eastern Science Fiction Convention.
Jan 10The “Atomic Conference” convenes, sponsored by the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society (LASFS) and attended by 35 local fans and authors. A.E. van Vogt speaks on the application of atomic power.
JanRuss Hodgkins is elected as the new Director of the LASFS.
JanThe article “Ten Cent Ivory Tower” appears in Esquire, a detailed account of the early history of publishing the stories of H.P. Lovecraft.
JanThe National Fantasy Fan reports that the National Fantasy Fan Federation (NFFF or N3F) has 184 members. Walter Dunkelberger is the new President.
Jan 26Leading fan Sgt. Forrest J Ackerman leaves the Army for civilian life.
Jan 26Philip Wylie’s atomic-Armageddon story “Blunder: A Story of the End of the World” appears in Collier’s.
FebJack Speer’s poll in Stefnews reveals that the average fan among his readers reads two pro genre magazines per month, receives ten fanzines per month and writes forty-three letters per month.
FebLeading Philadelphia fan Milton A. Rothman is released from military service. Captain David A. Kyle is discharged from the Air Force.
FebLong-standing UK fan Walter Gillings issues Strange Tales, a short-lived pulp.
Mar 3The First Post-War Science Fiction Convention convenes in Newark, attended by as many as 100 fans and pros. The theme: “Is science catching up to science fiction?” A. Langley Searles, L. Sprague de Camp and Sam Merwin, Jr. speak.
Mar 31Sam Moskowitz reads the first two chapters of “The Immortal Storm” at a meeting of the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society (PSFS). Chapters of this detailed history of early fandom would continue to appear in Fantasy Commentator over the next five years.
AprTurmoil at the LASFS leads to factions and a new constitution.
Apr 6Sixteen mid-west fans attend the First Post-Radar-Contact-With-the-Moon Conference in Chicago.
Apr 21Los Angeles fan Abby Lu Ashley wins on the “Carnival of Cash” radio program and promotes the upcoming World Science Fiction Convention — the “Pacificon” — on the air.
Apr 28Organization meeting of the Eastern Science Fiction Association (ESFA), led by Moskowitz..
MayEdward J. “Ted” Carnell launches the pro pulp New Worlds in the UK.
MayGerry de la Ree’s poll on the future of space flight reveals that 66 of the 67 respondents believe that interplanetary travel will eventually happen. The lone skeptic: Raymond A. Palmer. The average estimated date for the first moon rocket is August 18 1976 — but guesses range from 1948 to 2145.
May 17Prolific early science fiction author Francis Flagg dies.
May 30Los Angeles fan Tigrina (Edythe Eyde) promotes the Pacificon on the national “Queen for a Day” radio broadcast.
Jun 16Quoting Ackerman who cites a letter from William L. Hamling, Jack Speer announces in Stefnews that Raymond A. Palmer is confined to the Dunning Asylum in Chicago due to “a mental crack-up.”
JunThe PSFS establishes a new clubroom at the southeast corner of 56th and Pine Streets, Philadelphia.
The Fourth World Science Fiction Convention — the Pacificon — convenes in Los Angeles. Kennedy writes: “Consensus of opinion was that the affair as a whole was enjoyable if somewhat slowly-paced. It did serve, at any rate, to show that enough cooperation could be obtained for many more Worldcons in the future.”
Jul 27Jack Speer hosts the “Third Seattle Confabulation” at his home. Four fans attend.
AugThe Fantasy Amateur Press Association (FAPA) elects Milton A. Rothman as President, Norman F. Stanley as Vice-President, Art Widner as Secretary-Treasurer and Elmer Perdue as Editor.
Aug 11The Golden Gate Fantasy Society meets at the San Francisco home of Aubrey McDermott, (arguably) founder of the first-ever science fiction fan club in 1929.
Aug 13Seminal science fiction master H.G. Wells dies at his home in London.
AugGerry de la Ree’s fourth “Beowulf” poll reveals that respondent’s favorite authors are A. Merritt (still), H.P. Lovecraft, A.E. van Vogt, John W. Campbell, Jr., L. Sprague de Camp and John Taine. Top fans are Kennedy, Ackerman, Tucker, Speer, Laney, Moskowitz, de la Ree, Dunkleberger, E.E. Evans and Searles.
Sep 8First meeting of the “New Queens Science Fiction League” takes place at the home of William S. Sykora.
SepHarper’s Magazine publishes “Little Superman, What Now?” by William S. Baring-Gould — a revelatory article about science fiction focused on fandom.
SepThe PSFS begins planning for the 1947 Worldcon in Philadelphia, with Milton A, Rothman and Oswald Train leading the effort.
Oct 6The Strangers Club of Boston holds its first post-war meeting.
Oct 17R.W. MacCarthy, secretary of the Pacific Rocket Society, addresses 34 members attending a meeting of the LASFS.
Oct 20William S. Baring-Gould and 28 others attend the October meeting of the Queens SFL. The groups votes to oppose the publication of works by Richard Shaver in Amazing Stories as fact rather than fiction.
Oct 24Prominent science fiction author Otis Adelbert Kline dies at age 55.
Oct 27About 70 fans attend the Philadelphia Conference, revived after a six-year lapse. Attendees include delegations from the ESFA and the Queens Science Fiction League.
NovIn Amazing Stories, Raymond A. Palmer denies that he’s ever been mentally ill. Hamling writes to Fantasy Times describing the Palmer mental breakdown as a hoax. Some remain skeptical. Palmer is promoted to Editor of all Ziff-Davis pulps.
Nov 9About 25 fans and pros gather at “Centracon” in Chicago, including Robert Bloch, E.E. Smith and Cyril Kornbluth. Attendees spend the night at the home of Erle Korshak.
Nov 10The monthly meeting of the PSFS draws 29 fans to hear L. Sprague de Camp’s address on “extra dimensions and various concepts of time travel.”
Dec 1At their meeting, members of the Eastern Science Fiction Association join the protest against Amazing Stories representation of the Shaver stories as fact.
Dec 12The Colorado Science-Fantasy Society re-forms at the home of Roy Hunt in Denver. Thirteen fans attend.
DecThe National Fantasy Fan Federation elects Art Widner as President and Walter A. Coslet as Vice President.
DecThe Minneapolis Fantasy Society re-forms under the leadership of Clifford D. Simak.
Dec 26The LASFS elects E. Everett Evans as Director at their annual Christmas party.
Dec 31Leigh Brackett and Edmond Hamilton are married in Los Angeles. Ray Bradbury serves as “First Man.”

One event to which fans ascribed importance bears further exposition: the September 1946 article in Harper’s Magazine by William S. Baring-Gould titled “Little Superman, What Now?” Baring Gould had been corresponding with fans for some time, reading fanzines, and attending gatherings. Most importantly, he joined the First Post-War Eastern Science Fiction Convention in March as part of his research, and commented on the meeting in his article. This was the most accurate and deep portrayal of organized fandom to have appeared in the mainstream press to that point. We provide the full piece here.

Fans published extensively in 1946. Core members of the community returned from service to find a wide range of fanzines, many with heightened standards for prose, fiction and art. We’ve tabulated the most notable titles, omitting some one-shots and likely missing a number of more obscure publications (especially from VAPA). For these 69 fanzines, we count approximately 316 total issues for the year.

(Titles in bold italic debuted in 1946. Titles followed by Roman numerals provide disambiguation per the Pavlat-Evans Fanzine Index.)

TitleEditor(s)Issues in 1946
The AcolyteLaney, Rimel2
The AlchemistHansen, Martin1
Atres ArtesCheney3
Black FlamesV. Daugherty1
Bloomington News LetterTucker3
B.T. – His MagTucker1
Bulletin of the British Interplanetary Societyunknown
Canadian FandomTaylor3
Cosmic CutsBritish; Tucker2
En GardeAshley3
Falling PetalsFarsaci1
FanW. Daugherty3
FANewscard / FANewsDunkelberger60
Fantasy AdvertiserWillmorth, Squires5
Fantasy CommentatorSearles4
Fantasy ReviewKennedy1
Fantasy Times (II)Taurasi20
Full-Length ArticlesSpeer1
The Grotesque (IV)Christensen4
“I Bequeath”Ackerman1
In Memorian, H.G. WellsAckerman1
Joe’s JottingsKennedy3
The Kay-Mar TraderCarlson1
Le ZombieTucker1
LetheSmith, Riggs3
The Life of the FanRothman1
Milty’s MagRothman1
National Fantasy Fanseveral10
The PhantagraphWollheim2
PSFS NewsTrain5
Matters of OpinionSpeer2
The Reader and CollectorKoenig3
The RiderHevelin9
Science*FictionZissman (Merril)1
The Science Fiction SavantWashington2
The Science Fiction World (II)Tarr2
The ScientifictionistElsner5
Shangri-L’AffairesJoquel, Burbee9
Space Flight… When?de la Ree1
The Star RoverSplawn2
StefNewsSpeer, Hevelin46
Sun Spotsde la Ree2
Sustaining ProgramSpeer4
A Tale of the ‘EvansEvans3
The Time BinderEvans4
Tomorrow in the MarchEvans1
Vadjong (II)Sykora2
The VoiceCrouch2
Voice of the Imagi-NationAckerman2
Without GleeMoro, Rehm4

Stay tuned for more highlights from our exploration of science fiction and fandom in the very busy year of 1946.