Robert Bloch’s Pocket History of Science Fiction Fandom

Robert Bloch’s Pocket History of Science Fiction Fandom

The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, March 1954. Cover by Mel Hunter

I’ve spent the last few days putting my book collection in order, and yesterday I came across this, the first sf magazine I ever purchased: the March 1964 issue of F&SF, from a little shop in the town of Port Credit, Ontario.

J.G. Ballard, Kit Reed, Oscar Wilde, Avram Davidson’s haunting little story “Sacheverell” — pretty heady stuff for a precocious ten-year-old. But what had the greatest impact, looking backward from 2022, was Robert Bloch’s article “The Conventional Approach” — a pocket history of science fiction fandom. I was already nursing an ambition to write, specifically to write sf, and here was what looked like an invitation to a subculture of like-minded enthusiasts and maybe even a roadmap to a career.

A few more years would pass before I attended a convention or sold a piece of fiction to a professional market, but that little digest-magazine article had pretty profound consequences for me. What I eventually found by way of that subculture was, yes, a career, including a Hugo Award for my novel Spin, but also enduring friendships, two marriages and one long-term relationship, visits to Europe and Asia I would probably not otherwise have undertaken, and a more colourful and varied life than my 10-year-old self could have reasonably imagined.

All that, bought for 40 cents on a wintry Saturday in rural Ontario. Your money went further in those days, I guess.

Robert Charles Wilson is the author of the Hugo Award-winning Spin and many other books. His last piece for Black Gate was The Eclectic 1965 Ace Catalog. This article originally appeared on Facebook. Reproduced with permission.

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Adrian Simmons

I attended my first sci-fi convention in 2002, but really didn’t make it a habit until 2006. There is lot to be said for fandom, I’ve enjoyed it quite a bit.

There is also a lot to be said for that Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction cover. Sobering!

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