30 December 2006

Letter from Erle Melvin Korshak

Dear Locus,

With all the attention given, and rightfully so, to the passing of Arthur Wilson "Bob" Tucker I should like to add the following: Tucker was one of the three greatest, most prominent, most important science-fiction fans of all time; he ranks in that rarefied company with Forry Ackerman and Jack Darrow. I was fortunate to have known all three personally and intimately.

Three? In choosing these three two others could have easily made the cut had we picked the Big 5: Sam Moskowitz and Don Wollheim; indeed, in discussing my top three with several knowledgeable old-timers there were those who would substitute Moskowitz for Darrow and Wollheim for Tucker. I can appreciate their arguments but I still stand fast with Ackerman/Darrow/Tucker.

Instead of a Big 5 how about a Big 10? In that case my list expands to Dave Kyle, Harry Warner, Rusty Hevelin, Jack Speer and Robert Madle. But let us make it a Barker's Dozen and then we stop. Right up there are three fans often though of only as "pros." But they were fans first and foremost: Ray Palmer, Ray Bradbury, and Julie Schwartz.

Living as we do in an Age of Lists perhaps Locus would do well to open the Korshak Baker's Dozen to their readership for suggestions and comments.

--Erle Melvin Korshak


At Sunday, December 31, 2006 12:03:03 PM, David B. Williams said...

First comment: Wouldn't it be great if 95 percent of currrent SF fans recognized the names you mention?

Second comment: This kind of list building is always entertaining, but without some definitions there is real danger of plunging all fandom into war. "Greatest, most prominent, and most important" are not commensurate terms.

Regarding your Big Three, I'd note that while Darrow was prominent in one decade, Ackerman and Tucker were prominent in all decades.

As for others, can we really rate Bradbury, who as a fan published a few undistinguished fanzines and attended some meetings, higher than Willis (just to pull a name out of the ether)?

Look, there, the flickering of guns on the horizon.


At Monday, January 01, 2007 11:58:18 AM, Anonymous said...

These are Big Names indeed. But there is a problem with selection criteria.

One might claim that Ray Bradbury ranks #1, because he first made the transition from Fan to Pro, and then the harder transition from Pro to Immortal Writer as acknowledged by the Mundane world.

Tucker's novels deserve wider recognition, as they are masterpieces. But the mudanes don't know and don't care.

Raymond Arthur Palmer (1910-1977) was, as summarized in Wikipedia: "the influential editor of Amazing Stories from 1938 through 1949, when he left publisher Ziff-Davis to form his own company. Palmer was also a prolific author, publishing stories under many pseudonyms."

His biggest influence on mundanes, however, was probably The Shaver Mystery, "which maintained that the world is dominated by insane inhabitants of the hollow earth." In some alternate world, he could have become richer and more powerful than L. Ron Hubbard. LRH, of course, also qualifies as a Fan who went Pro, and then affected the mundane world, and still does.

Or how about Sir Arthur C. Clarke as a fan turned pro turned world-shaker? The synchronous Communication satellite sounded like sheer sci-fi to the British Patent office, but happened to be valid, and the basis of a trillion dollar industry.

Is Julie Schwartz elevated by the impact of the Superman universe on popular culture?

Is 4e elevated by inventing the term "sci-fi"?

Was Sam Moskowitz (whom my Dad published in paperback) elevated by his serious role in the Hoistory of Science Fiction, qua History?

Or David Kyle via First Fandom?

Or Wollheim via DAW?

There are too many dimensions involved in "making the cut."

Every name mentioned is major, and deserves wider appreciation. I think you just invented a perpetual con panel.


professor Jonathan Vos Post


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