1946 Project Wrap-Up: We Had Fun!

During Chicon 8, First Fandom Experience had the privilege of organizing the 1946 Project. The program track encompassed sixteen panels and presentations:

  • 1946: A Year in the Life of a Fan
  • The Life and Impact of C.L. Moore
  • The Life and Work of A.E. van Vogt and E. Mayne Hull
  • Titus Groan: Genre or Not?
    (Click for a great summary by moderator Dave Hook.)
  • 1940: The First Chicon
  • Undiscovered and Forgotten Gems of 1946
  • Remembering Erle Melvin Korshak
  • Leading Ladies: Women in Fandom in 1946
  • How Did Atomic Weapons Change Science Fiction?
  • The SFF Art and Artists of 1946
  • Extinction and Evolution: The 1946 SFF Book Publishing Boom
  • Science in Science Fiction: The Guesswork of 1946
  • James Kepner and Edythe Eyde:
    Pioneering LGBTQ+ Activism in 1940s Los Angeles Fandom
  • The Likely Hugo Nominees From 1946
  • Ray Bradbury’s Preposterously Productive 1946
  • How the 1946 Pacificon Saved Post-War Worldcons
David Ritter, Peter Balestieri, Jerry Kaufman and Joe Siclari discussing “1946: A Year in the Life of a Fan”

Thanks up front to the First Fandom Experience team, without whom we couldn’t do any of what we do. John L. Coker III and Sam McDonald act as principle historians, supported by Doug Ellis. We’re proud to have been recognized by the Chicon organizers as Heroes of the Convention.

Fan Guests of Honor Joe Siclari and Edie Stern, curators of the remarkable Fanac.org archive, provided invaluable guidance and material in support of the project. Mark Olson, shepherd of Fancyclopedia, worked with us to create a display of fanzines distributed at the 1940 Chicon.

We’d like to thank all of the terrific panelists who lent their expertise and insight to one or more of these sessions:

TrishEMAlec Nevala-LeeJoe Siclari
Peter BalestrieriRich HortonDr. Bradford Lyau
John HertzConnie WillisJohn E. Stith
Helen MontgomeryJerry KaufmanSue Burke
Kate HeffnerDr. Lisa YaszekTom Whitmore
Dr. Jason AukermanCarrie CooperGary K. Wolfe
Doug EllisDave HookTad Daley
Orton OrtweinBrendan DetznerRebecca Campbell
Travis CreasonG. David NordleyHenry Spencer
James L. CambiasMichael HaynesJane Frank

Extra special thanks to Convention Chair Helen Montgomery, Program Division Head Nchanter, Exhibits Division Head Benjamin Levy, and their great teams — for their outstanding collaboration and support.

Also, we offer deep appreciation to Stephen Korshak, the son of Erle Korshak, Fan Guest of Honor (sadly departed prior to the con), and Dean Ziff, nephew of Mark Reinsberg. As high school students, Erle and Mark were the co-organizers of the 1940 Chicon. The presence of their descendants at the panel discussing that first Chicago convention added a moving sense of history.

A last-minute surprise addition to the 1940 Chicon panel was a showing of recovered sections of the assumed-lost film, “The Monsters of the Moon.” A version of this 1930s stop-motion monstrosity was viewed by attendees of the first Chicon. Restored by “Dr. Film” Eric Greyson and hot off the presses, special guests Bruce Lee and Mindy Grayson shared the six-minute space opera with an amused and appreciative audience. (The film is available as part of a collection offered on DrFilm.net.)

Title screen of “Monsters of the Moon,” restored by Eric Grayson.

To inform our program, we published a series of blog posts with historical context on SFF and fandom in 1940:

In addition, we assembled an exhibit representing the den of an active fan from the 1940s, drawn from fans’ published descriptions of the period — perhaps most directly, Bob Tucker’s essay from Le Zombie in June 1940.

A Fan’s Den, c1940s at Chicon 8

The star of the den exhibit was an (almost) functional 1920s A.B. Dick Number 77 Model A mimeograph machine. This particular make and model was common among fan publishers of the day, including Tucker. Also featured were full facsimiles of 1940s fanzines and a collection of reading pulps. The (mostly) working period typewriter and the guestbook tempted some visitors to leave thoughtful messages.

At the show, we introduced a new book: The First Chicon is an excerpt from The Visual History of Science Fiction Fandom, Volume Two: 1940. This slim-but-rich 9×12 softcover includes the key chapters from the full volume that cover the 1940 Chicon in depth. (The book will be available soon for order on this site.)

First but not least, at the Opening Ceremonies David was honored to accept the First Fandom Posthumous Hall of Fame Award on behalf of August Derleth, founder of Arkham House.

We now turn our attention back to our core mission: the completion of The Visual History of Science Fiction Fandom. We hope to have Volume Three out in the first half of next year, with a focus on the very-important year of 1941. The series will (may) conclude with Volume Four, covering 1942 – 1946. Our work on the 1946 Project has already set us up with a rich base of research and material regarding that also-very-important year.

Thanks for all of the great conversations and support at Chicon 8. We had fun!

Spaceways, v2n8, October 1940

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