This publisher’s note was originally prepared for the print version of the magazine*
Seventy-eight years and a few months ago, nearly 200 fans from across the United States, Canada and overseas, gathered in a hall in New York city and gavelled themselves into history with the official opening of the first World Science Fiction Convention (NyCon 1).
Storied names were in attendance – Sam Moskowitz, David Kyle, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Forrest Ackerman, Morojo, James V. Taurisi, Frederik Pohl, John W. Campbell, Mort Weisinger, Ray Palmer, Robert Madle, Otto Binder, Frank R. Paul, Erle Korshak, Jack Williamson. Ray Cummings, Edmond Hamilton, Charles Schneeman, Milton Rothman, Julius Unger, Langely Searles, Manly Wade Wellman.
They brought with them their “fan mags” – Up To Now, Le Zombie, Stf and Nonsense and their professional publications – Astounding, Marvel, Startling, Fantastic Adventures, Dynamic, Wonder and Amazing.
A year prior during the First National Science Fiction convention in Philadelphia, the professional magazines had pledged their support (to one degree or another) to the planned World event; Weisinger promised regular coverage through the SFL column in Wonder and Campbell promised to run announcements through the Brass Tacks letter column in Astounding.
Despite several hours of review of various fan histories, I can find no similar promises of support offered or extended by Amazing Stories.
It has taken nearly three generations of Fans to correct that oversight, that correction taking the form of this Special Edition of Amazing Stories, distributed exclusively through the 74th World Science Fiction Convention, MidAmeriCon II.
That first Worldcon was born of controversy, the object of a tug-of-war between two leading fan organizations, the Futurians (Wollheim, Asimov, Kyle, Pohl, others) and New Fandom (Moskowitz, Taurisi, Sykora, others); the details are well told in David A. Kyle’s The Great Exclusion Act of 1939 (available online) and will not be reviewed here except to note the outcome:
Nearly every prominent member of those two feuding Fan groups would go on to make untold contributions to the field of science fiction as fans, professionals and frequently as both.
Their differences were reconciled to one degree or another, sufficient to allow Fandom to not only endure, to not only thrive, but to have an impact on the world that is far out of proportion to its numbers, though not out of proportion to its ambitions.
Science Fiction and its Fans dared to dream that their literature could not only envision a better future, but could help turn that vision of a better future into reality. Not just through the application of technological advances, but also through the application of societal advances.
The early science fiction fans, outcasts all, imagined a world in which there would be no outcasts; a world that actively embraced new experiences, one that sought to encourage and support creativity and experimentation. A world that would be open to difference.
Despite their warts and flaws, the essence of what those fans were after survives and thrives to this day. It is reflected in Fandom’s desire to expand its accessibility, its efforts to reach out and engage with under-represented groups, its willingness to change and its willingness to stick to its values in the face of adversity.
Without deliberate intent, Fandom’s culture of openness and acceptance, its innate creativity and love of play, its very special secret – that a childish sense of wonder need not be sacrificed on the altar of maturity – have seeped into the mainstream.
We’ve “come a long way, baby” since 1939. It has taken three quarters of a century to drag the rest of the world, kicking and screaming and not all that sure what’s happened to it, into the future with us.
Fandom did it because Fans are the explorers of the infinite and the seekers of tomorrow, because Fans are the ones who know that the future can always be a better place because, together, we can make it so.
Our job is not yet finished, nor will it ever be. The future is ever before us. Here’s to the future! – and hoping that Fandom continues to seek the infinite in its exploration of tomorrow!
*ADDENDUM TO THE EDITORIAL
Unfortunately, our plans to distribute a print edition of this magazine at the 2016 Worldcon fell afoul of family illness.
The presentation of this special edition at Worldcon was intended to accomplish a number of things: to test our unique distribution system, to showcase our capabilities, to find advertisers and to put Amazing Stories on the map as a professional publication, to introduce Fandom to a good handful of new authors and to generate some support for the difficult jobs ahead.
We’ve had to scale back on those plans, but please make no mistake: while Amazing Stories may be treading water for the nonce, we are all still committed to returning the magazine to regular – print – publication.
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