Saturday, December 06, 2008

Forrest J. Ackerman RIP

Forry Ackerman the father of 'Sci-Fi' and Famous Monsters of Movieland died yesterday. When I learned this I said to a friend wow I thought he had passed away years ago. At least he had as a pop culture icon of fantasy, sci-fi and movie monsterdom. He was relagatedto occasional apperances in cheesy B sci fi and monster movies, which he loved, while the fickel world of pop culture popularity replaced him with George Lucas, Stephen Spielberg, Harry Potter and Tolkien.
One thing I learned from this LA Times obituary bio was that he was a closet lesbian. Which makes alot of sense, Hollywood where he grew up was always a kinky place and science fiction was place where homosexuality was one of the speculative fictions.
And the science fiction community known as 'fandom' was always a fringe community, begining in its earliest days as pulp fiction, it was based on readers and writers who cooresponded with each other, in doing so they linked to other fringe groups, and movements, some of them in their embryonic forms; feminism, occultists, conspiracy theorists, socialists,beatniks, hippies, homosexuals, etc. etc. It was not limited to the United States. Fandom was populated by the original geeks and nerds who read wild tales of imaginary worlds. In doing so they helped create the counter culture of the fifties and sixties. And in LA they created links between sci fi and libertarian politics as well as the feminist, homosexual and occult community. And no one was more of a geek than Forry.

By his late teens, he had mastered Esperanto, the invented international language. In 1929, he founded the Boys Scientifiction Club. In 1932, he joined a group of other young fans in launching the Time Traveler, which is considered the first fan magazine devoted exclusively to science fiction and for which Ackerman was "contributing editor." Ackerman also joined with other local fans in starting a chapter of the Science Fiction Society -- meetings were held in Clifton's Cafeteria in downtown L.A. -- and as editor of the group's fan publication Imagination!, he published in 1938 a young Ray Bradbury's first short story. During World War II, Ackerman edited a military newspaper published at Ft. MacArthur in San Pedro. After the war, he worked as a literary agent. His agency represented scores of science-fiction writers, including L. Ron Hubbard, Isaac Asimov, A.E. van Vogt, H.L. Gold, Ray Cummings and Hugo Gernsback. In 1954, Ackerman coined the term that would become part of the popular lexicon -- a term said to make some fans cringe. My wife and I were listening to the radio, and when someone said 'hi-fi' the word 'sci-fi' suddenly hit me," Ackerman explained to The Times in 1982. "If my interest had been soap operas, I guess it would have been 'cry-fi,' or James Bond, 'spy-fi.' " At the time, Ackerman already was well-known among science-fiction and horror aficionados for his massive collection. After a couple from Texas showed up on his doorstep in 1951 asking to view the collection, Ackerman began opening up his home for regular, informal tours on Saturdays. Over the years, thousands of people made the pilgrimage to the Ackermansion. He also wrote what has been reported to be the first lesbian science-fiction story ever published, "World of Loneliness." And under the pen name Laurajean Ermayne, he wrote lesbian romances in the late 1940s for the lesbian magazine Vice Versa.





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2 comments:

Bill Chapman said...

Not many people know that the late Forrest Ackerman was a speaker of Esperanto and advocated its wider use. I'm glad thart fact got a mention here.

For me Esperanto has a revolutionary role in bringing ordinary people of different nations together.

eugene plawiuk said...

Esparanto is one of those subcultures I refered to. It was embraced by sci-fo fans as well as internationalists and anarchists.