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"This slum of literature"

What of the fans?

Journal of Science FictionThe Journal of Science Fiction was published by a fan group based at the University of Chicago. Like many zines, it was short-lived - despite some (now) star-studded issues, it only existed for four short issues. 

I can't vouch for the tone of the first three, as I've not found them yet, but the fourth is a corker. Whether the JSF was established with this particular tone, or if the editors took to the final issue with nihilistic zeal, the content - especially the editorials - is passionate and, er, rather blistering.

The editorial begins with a succinct explanation of the Journal's demise - 'malnutrition, both of material and of readers'. The editors also note that 'if a publication fails to satisfy the needs and desires of its time; it deserves to die'. Thus they sail, with stoic aplumb, into the darkness. But not without burning some bridges behind them with this - timeless, and ever-relevant - rant...

* * *

What of the fans? Those people who have the great collections of science fiction books and magazines, that have over two decades filled the letter departments of the magazines with all types of letters. The views about fans or fandom (as it is generally termed) ranges from one extreme to another. The fans are detestable little maniacs or else precocious intellectual freaks in the opinions of the far larger group of science fiction readers. Truth lies somewhere between these views, although unhappily, many incidents would support the first one. The fans are for the most part aware that the two main concepts about the nature of fandom are (1) fandom qua science fiction and (2) fandom qua fandom. Both camps have their adherents, intelligent and capable as well as stupid people can be found on both sides. Some even find it possible to fence-straddle and others have changed sides depending on the circumstances. Nor has age anything to do with it. Juvenility is not necessarily a disease of the young.

The number of titles of fan magazines published since 1930 is surely on the order of a thousand. Many of them have tried diligently to serve science fiction as best as they could. All praise to them. Far too many others presented material which should never have been put down on paper, much less inflicted on others. And for all those who have made the word fan a synonym for ignominy, stupidity, and absurdity, we leave you with this small token of our affection: We hate your lousy guts! Most likely the intempersta [sic] statement is un-necessary is unnecessary, since stupidity is its own punishment.

Twenty years and a thousand titles, and so little accomplished. Long empty years, wasted on trivialities, filled with incidents that bring shame to those involved. Fandom, so critical of the professional field yet unwilling or unable to take criticism.


"The Time Drawn Near..." by Charles Freudenthal and Edward Wood (The Journal of Science Fiction, Vol 1. No. 4, March 1953)