Old fandom – flotsam and jetsam

When you write creative nonfiction, citing your sources isn’t generally something you do. It does happen, certainly, but those citations tend to be in the backs of the books or in footnotes, sort of tangential. At least, so I’ve discovered thus far. I could be wrong, and some nice commenter could show up and slap me in the face to inform me of how wrong I am, but in the books I’ve read – yes, even the ostensible histories – most of the time you don’t have some long bibiliography done in perfect MLA or APA format.

Let me tell you, it’s liberating.

But at the same time I still feel like something’s lacking. I certainly don’t miss having to attribute every line to someone (as I had to in high school and undergrad) but then again I find fascinating stuff in my sources. There’s something about the character of these primary source documents that really changes how you look at them, quirky little asides and so on that alter perception.

This is especially true when some of my primary sources are so much fun. For example, the last section I submitted for class was on the 1939 WorldCon and the conventions leading up to it. Let me tell you, these were exciting times. These conventions were the birth of cons, and they really show both how the more things change, the more things remain the same.

The First Five were more like glorified club meetings than actual conventions. The only difference was that they involved people from out of state and a professional presence. Other than that, they seemed to involve a lot of rule-making and passing of motions (SF clubs back in the 30s were big on Passing of Motions and Seeming Important.)

And a lot of infighting.

A lot. of infighting.

I’m not going to go into too much detail here, but I will give some links to the primary sources I’m using to reconstruct these events, so you can peruse them on your own.

First, has a lot of great short articles, namely a list of conventions. These entries are pretty incomplete. I got a lot more of my information from these fanzines covering the first Worldcon, Nycon 1. The second link on that page has a more detailed summary of the first conventions in it.

For a little more information on Third Eastern, it’s best to look at it from the perspective of
Michelism, since that’s really what defined that particular con. The speech Wollhiem gave for Michel is available here. It is delightfully bombastic and wonderfully serious, with a real sense of dire emergency and an air of urgency surrounding it. Fandom was serious business, ladies and gentlemen.

Now, for the first Worldcon, the very best source is the aforementioned fanzine index, but also this official souvenir booklet. The earlier Fandom Wank link to the bit about the Exclusion act (This one!) is honestly the best source for information on that debacle.

Hopefully I’ll be able to make a more substantial entry on the early cons once I get more research done! It’s a long hard road.


In other news! I’m hoping to have more time to devote to this blog soon – right now I don’t due to classes. This summer though, I should be able to go 100%! You can expect more fun entries soon.

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