The National Fantasy Fan Federation: A Brief History

By Jon D. Swartz

In the beginning of science fiction fandom in the United States in the late 1920s and early 1930s, fans contacted and kept in touch with each other mainly by means of the letter columns in the professional magazines, later known in fandom as promags and still later as prozines. This process formally began with the appearance of readers’ letters in the “Discussions” column of Amazing Stories in the late 1920s, although some fans had communicated with each other earlier via letters to the fantasy magazine Weird Tales, which began publication in 1923. This pioneering pulp magazine, though emphasizing fantasy and supernatural stories, was a training ground for science fiction writers and even published some SF stories over the years. Weird Tales exists even today, although in a somewhat different form.

In these letter columns, readers commented upon and compared their favorite – and not-so-favorite – stories, authors, artists, SF clubs, other fans, and so forth. This fan communication via letters to the prozines continues in various forms even today. In the 1920s-1930s, however, such correspondence also led to the formation of local science fiction clubs, the publication of amateur magazines and newsletters (later called fanmags, and still later fanzines), and the organization of local, regional, and even national conventions. Some of these early clubs were sponsored by the SF prozines. Moreover, out of these clubs came a new generation of SF writers, artists, editors, critics, agents, and at least one publisher (Donald A. Wollheim).

In 1941 science fiction fan (and neophyte SF artist/author and member of The Futurians of New York) Damon Knight suggested that it was time for a national organization of science fiction and fantasy fans: “I sincerely believe that a successful national fantasy association is possible, that it could offer a needed service to every fan, and that it could be established today.” The N3F was organized by elements of The Stranger Club of Boston, Massachusetts, stimulated by Knight’s article “Unite – Or Fie!” Knight was respected in SF fandom at the time, being a member of the Futurians and known throughout the country. He subsequently became famous in the genre as a critic, editor, and teacher of SF/fantasy. Fans responded to his suggestion, and The National Fantasy Fan Federation (later abbreviated both NFFF and N3F) was the result with 64 charter members. Other prime movers in founding this national science fiction club were Art Widner and Louis Russell Chauvenet. The latter was the fan credited with creating the term “fanzine” as the accepted term for fan magazines instead of “fanmags” which had been the previously accepted term. Knight soon lost interest in the national club project, and left the subsequent development of the club to Widner, Chauvenet, and others.

Prominent N3F Members

Forrest J. Ackerman [1916- ] – Forry Ackerman has been widely recognized during his life as an SF/F/H fan, and received the Hugo Award in 1952 as the Number One Fan Personality. His philanthropic contributions to SF fandom are legendary. He is also credited with creating many of the fan terms (Fan Speak) currently in use. At one time he had one of the world’s most complete SF collections (and was known as a completist collector), which he housed in the Ackermansion and several garages. Recipient of many fan awards, in 2002 he received a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement. He is a member of First Fandom, and at the time of this writing (2005) was the only person in the N3F who held lifetime member status.

Martha Beck [1929-2002] – Martha E. Manos Beck was a longtime Indiana science fiction fan who collected SF beginning in 1949. She was also an artist and a musician. She married Henry Cabot Beck, Sr. in 1949, and they had two children. Henry and Martha settled in Gary, Indiana and became associated with members of Chicago fandom. They retired to Payson, Arizona in 1992. Very popular, Martha was Fan Guest of Honor at several conventions, a member of N3F and First Fandom, among other groups, and was the Official Hostess at the 1962 ChiCon (for the N3F).

Redd Boggs [1921-1996] – Boggs was a BNF of the 1940s and 1950s who is credited with raising the levels of fan writing and fanzine production by his examples in these areas. Dean Walter (Redd) Boggs edited the Fantasy Annual of 1948. His fanzine Skyhook published both fannish and critical material, including the early criticism of James Blish. Boggs’ main form of writing was the personal essay. He was a prominent member of N3F in the 1940s, once contributing 50-some manuscripts to the club’s Manuscript Bureau. He joined FAPA in 1947, and that became his main outlet for writing. Boggs’ personal fanzine, Spirochete, lasted for 76 issues. He was a close friend of Jim Harmon and contributed articles to Harmon’s Radiohero fanzine). He was married to fellow SF fan Gretchen Schwenn until her death. Boggs was also a member of First Fandom. His obituary appeared in the June 1996 issue (No. 425) of Locus.

Joanne Burger [19xx- ] – Once wrote a fanzine review column for TNFF, edited the zine in the late 1970s, and also published it during the 1970s.

K. Martin Carlson [1904-19xx] – Martin (Kaymar) Carlson was a leader in N3F for many years, establishing and personally funding the early Kaymar Awards. He was at various times the club’s president, vice-president, secretary/treasurer, director, and historian. He published the Kaymar Trader, and wrote the NFFF Trader column in The Fan. He won the Kaymar Award, named in his honor, in 1984.

G. M. Carr [1907-2005] – Gertrude M. Carr, a Seattle, Washington SF fan, at one time was a member of several organizations, including SAPS, FAPA, WAPA, BSFA, TLMA, TAFF, N’APA, The Nameless Ones, and the N3F. She discovered fandom in 1949, and during her life edited/published the fanzines The Cry of the Nameless, Carrzine, and Sinisterra. She sold one SF story (via Forry Ackerman), but has stated she doesn’t recall when, where, or even if it was ever published. She lived in Bremerton, Washington until her death in 2005, and was a member of First Fandom. Her APA activity continued until 2003.

Louis Russell Chauvenet (Russ) [1920-2003] – Charlottesville, Virginia SF fan who in October 1940 suggested that amateur science fiction publications, then called fanmags or fanags, be called fanzines. He is also credited with creating the term prozine. He was one of the founders of N3F, and at one time in 1944 was – along with Samuel J. (Sam) Russell – the only member of the club in good standing. When he died in 2003 he was also a member of First Fandom.

Howard Devore [1925- 2005] – Longtime SF fan who, with Donald Franson, produced several editions of their book on SF/fantasy awards, the latest (Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards) published by Advent in 1998. He won a Kaymar Award in 1985. Until 2005 he was the Election Results Teller and fanzine mailer for N3F, and also a member of First Fandom. He is scheduled to be the FGoH at the 2006 Worldcon, and was on the ballot for a Neffer Award in 2005. He was also nominated for the First Fandom Hall of Fame in 2005. “Big-hearted” Howard tried to resign his N3F membership in March of 2005, but some of the club’s members offered to pay his dues if he would keep his membership. Devore once stated of himself: “Am considered a huckster, 1st class.”

Walter Dunkelberger [19xx- ] – President of the club in the mid-1940s. He held other positions in the club also, including editor of The Fan in the mid-1940s. His photograph appears on page 177 of Warner’s All Our Yesterdays.

E. E. Evans [1893-1958] – Science fiction writer Edward Everett Evans initially made his reputation as a member of SF fandom, later in life became a SF writer, and late in life was termed “The Grand Old Man” of the field. As a fan he helped form the N3F, and to put on the first Westercon. For years he was active in FAPA and LASFS. He published/edited the fanzine The Time-Binder in the 1940s, and several one-shot fannish publications such as What is S-F Fandom (1944) for N3F. A compilation of his fantasy tales, Food for Demons, was published by Fantasy House as chapbook #2 in Ken Kreuger’s Fantasy Reader series in 1975 — with brief encomiums by some of Evans’ friends and colleagues including Ray Bradbury, A. E. van Vogt, and E. E. Smith (this oblong chapbook was originally published in Mexico in Spanish as Los Cuentos Fantastica in 1971). The Big Heart Award, founded by Forrest J. Ackerman to honor outstanding service and generosity to the SF field and for “typifying the spirit of SF writer Evans” is named in his honor.

Donald Franson [1916-2002] – Longtime SF fan who wrote (with Howard DeVore) several editions of their A History of the Hugo, Nebula and International Fantasy Awards, the latest edition with a slightly different title (Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards) in 1998 and published by Advent. Franson also wrote A Key to the Terminology of Science Fiction Fandom (1962) and Some Facts About Science Fiction Fandom (19xx). Donald Lewis Franson was active in the N3F and LASFS for years. He was also a member of the Professor Challenger Society and the Interplanetary Exploration Society. At one time or another, he was an N3F directorate member, president, club historian, and editor of a fanzine that he sent to N3F members, The Trash Barrel. He was co-coordinator of the club’s New Fanzine Appreciation Society in the late 1970s. In both 1995 and 1998 he won N3F’s President’s Award (later renamed The Franson Award in his honor), and in 1966 he received the club’s Kaymar Award. In his honor the September 2002 issue of The Fan was a “Don Franson Memorial Issue.”

David H. Keller, M.D. (19xx-19xx) was a physician and psychiatrist, and a former life member, whose book, The Sign of the Burning Heart, was published by N3F in 1948)

Damon Knight [1922-2002] – After high school Knight, an aspiring artist, was educated at the Oregon WPA Art Center (1940-1941). He was married twice before he married author Kate Wilhelm in 1963. Knight was a free-lance writer and illustrator, editor, and critic for almost all of his life, and was the founding president of the Science Fiction Writers of America and the founding editor of the Science Fiction Writers of America Bulletin (serving from July 1965 until June 1967). With James Blish and Judith Merril he also founded the Milford Science Fiction Writers’ Conference in 1956 (and, for over twenty years, directed the Conferences), and he later participated in founding the Clarion SF Writers’ Workshop (1968). He began his editing career in 1943 with Popular Publication, worked for a while for a literary agency, then returned to Popular Publications and assisted Ejler Jakobsson at Super Science Stories. He left in 1950 to become editor of Worlds Beyond, which was cancelled after only three issues. Knight wrote for television, including Captain Video and His Video Rangers [in 1952], and returned to editing in 1958 [on the SF magazine If: Worlds of Science Fiction ], leaving in 1959.

Knight has also published under the pseudonyms Donald Laverty (with James Blish), Ritter Conway, and Stuart Fleming. First SF publication: “Resilience” in Stirring Science Stories (February, 1941); First novel: Hell’s Pavement (Lion, 1955) [later titled Analogue Men]; First collection: Far Out (Simon & Schuster, 1961). Awards in SF genre: Hugo (Critic), 1956; Pilgrim, 1975; Jupiter (Short Story) for “I See You” in 1977; GoH, World SF Convention, 1980 (Noreascon Two); SFWA Grand Master, 1994; Retro Hugo (Short Story) for “To Serve Man” in 2001 (story originally published in 1950); other awards, including posthumous induction into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 2003 and having the SWFA Grand Master Award named after him. In 1977 Knight wrote The Futurians, a tell-all book about his early days in New York with the SF club that had as its members many subsequent SF greats. Knight was known at the time of his death primarily as a critic, translator, and editor of anthologies. Some of his anthologies were among the best ever produced, and included the Orbit series of original anthologies (beginning 1966) [credited with establishing the original publication of short SF in books rather than magazines], the Nebula Award series (beginning 1965), A Century of Science Fiction (1962), First Flight (1963), A Century of Great Short Science Fiction Novels (1964), 13 French Science-Fiction Stories (1965), One Hundred Years of Science Fiction (1968), The Golden Road (1974), and The Clarion Awards (1984). His In Search of Wonder (1956; rev. ed., 1967), an award-winning collection of essays/book reviews, is a critical yet constructive study of the field. Other related non-fiction works include Charles Fort, Prophet of the Unexplained (1970) and Creating Short Fiction (1981/revised edition in 1997). Knight also edited Turning Points: Essays on the Art of Science Fiction (1977). Early novels were The People Maker (1959) [later titled A For Anything], Masters of Evolution (1959), Beyond the Barrier (1964), The Rithian Terror (1965), and Mind Switch (1965) [later titled The Other Foot].
The Best of Damon Knight, with an introduction by Barry Malzberg, appeared in 1976. The November 1976 issue of F&SF (#306) was a special Damon Knight issue, with a bibliography of Knight’s work up to that time by Vincent Miranda and an appreciation by Theodore Sturgeon. NESFA published Better Than One (1980), a book of stories and poems with wife Kate Wilhelm, honoring their appearance as guests of honor at the 1980 Worldcon, and Late Knight Edition (NESFA Press, 1985), a book honoring his GoH appearance at Boskone 22. Other Knight books were the novels CV (1985), a sequel, The Observers (1989), A Reasonable World (1991), and Why Do Birds? (1992); and the short story collection One Side Laughing (1991). A more recent novel by Knight is Humpty Dumpty: An Oval (1996). A new edition of Nebula Awards One, edited by Knight and originally published in 1966, appeared in 2001 [dust jacket art by Frank R. Paul]. A small chapbook, Faking Out the Reader, was published in 1991 by Pulphouse; and his final book, Will the Real Hieronyumus Bosche Please Stand Up?, is available on the Internet. Knight is credited with founding both the N3F and the SFWA.

Jacqueling Lichtenberg [1942- ] – Current member of N3F, now residing in Chandler, Arizona. She won the N3F President’s Award (Franson Award) and the Kaymar Award, both in 2001. She has published several works of SF, beginning with “Operation High Time” for Worlds of If in 1969. Many of her stories, including several of her novels, deal with cross-species relationships. Her most popular novels are in her “Sime/Gen” and “Molt Brothers” sequences.

Russ Manning [1929- 1982] – Manning joined the N3F in the Fall of 1947, and contributed fan art to The National Fantasy Fan. He worked as a comic book artist for the Dell-Western comic books of the 1950s-1960s, including Magnus, Robot Fighter. He is known today for his Tarzan work. He took over the Tarzan comic book in the mid-1960s, returning the character to the look and feel of an earlier day. ERB, Inc. was so impressed with his work on the comic book that they gave him the daily Tarzan newspaper strip in 1967 and the Sunday page the following year. He gave up the daily strip in 1973 and the Sunday strip a few years later. He also drew a series of Tarzan graphic novels for the European market. In the late 1970s he was chosen to draw the Star Wars comic strip, but ill health forced him to give up the new feature after working on it for only a relatively short time.

Sam Moskowitz [1920-1997] – The science fiction genre’s unofficial chronicler and historian, Samuel Moskowitz was a fan of the genre almost his entire life. He wrote/edited many books in the field, including The Immortal Storm, a history of early SF fandom. From 1953 to 1955 he taught the first college-level course in science fiction at CCNY. He was married in 1958 to Dr. Christine Haycock, a surgeon. He was a member of First Fandom, and First Fandom presents the Sam Moskowitz Achievement Award, named after him, at each year’s Worldcon. After his death, appreciations for Moskowitz were published in the June 1997 issue (#437) of Locus. His wife is still a member of N3F.

Bruce Pelz [19xx-200x] – Once was club Activity Head for fanzines.

Arthur R. Rapp [1924-2005] – Art Rapp was a prominent SF fan in the 1940s-1950s, at one time belonging to N3F, FAPA, SAPS, YF, and MSFS. He edited/published several one-shots/fanzines such as Spacewarp (that later merged with Ray Nelson’s Universe), Mindwarp, and The Michifan. Rapp married Nancy Share, a prominent female fan, in 1961, and they moved to Bloomburg, PA. The 100th issue of Spacewarp appeared in 1972, and the last issue (#204) in the late 1990s. Until his death in 2005 Rapp was a member of First Fandom and resided in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania.

E. E. (Doc) Smith – (life member)

Jack Speer [1920- ] – Long-time SF fan who is credited with writing the first history of SF fandom, Up To Now: A History of Science Fiction Fandom in the 1930s (1939). This brief early history of fandom was reprinted by Acturus Press (Brooklyn, NY) in 1994. During his early prankster days in fandom, Speer was also known as John Bristol. A fandom innovator, he is also credited with being the father of the fanzine mailing comment. John Bristol Speer is a retired lawyer who has resided in Albuquerque, New Mexico since 1962; he was a state representative during 1959-1961. Speer was editor of The National Fantasy Fan in the mid-1940s. A current member of First Fandom, he was inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame in 1995. He was FGoH at the 2004 Worldcon.

Rick Sneary [1927- 200x] – Richard (Rick) Sneary was an early SF fan who was physically handicapped, but nevertheless able to contribute much to fandom. At one time he belonged to a number of SF/fantasy organizations including N3F, SFI, ISFCC, FAPA, SAPS, and OS, holding office in most of them (president of N3F in the early 1950s). He also helped to start Young Fandom and The Outlanders. He was famous in fandom for his quote: “It is a proud and lonely thing to be a fan.” During 1948 Sneary was Chairman of N3F’s Board of Directors. His picture appears in Warner’s A Wealth of Fable.

Janine Stinson [19xx- ] – First winner of a Neffy Award as outstanding fan of the year (2005). Florida resident Stinson is a former editor of both Tightbeam and The National Fantasy Fan (early 2000s), and she has won both the club’s President’s (Franson) Award in 2003 and Kaymar Award in 2000.

Dale Tarr [19xx-19xx] – Former president of N3F and one of the founders of the Cincinnati Fantasy Group, he attended Chicon I in 1940, and was active in fanzines of the 1940s. His fanzines included The Science Fiction World in the 1940s, and he wrote “CFG History” in 1957. He was also one of the co-founders of First Fandom in 1958. Tarr’s hobbies included mathematics and politics. His photograph (with a group of others) appears in Harry Warner’s All Our Yesterdays. He was interviewed by Lloyd Biggle, Jr., for SFOHA; the interview took place in Bea Mahaffey’s apartment, Cincinnati, 4/11/80. [Technical: The interview was made with a small recorder using its built in microphone. Tarr’s voice booms occasionally as he moves closer to the mike. Occasional background noise distracts briefly. Tape noises are insignificant. This is a rather rambling discussion but clear throughout, and excepts might be useful for public playing where the subject is apt. Contents: Dale Tarr is a long-time Cincinnati fan, and he has been active in fandom since the 1930s. There are detailed discussions of early fan meetings and world conventions, as well as the origins of First Fandom and of Ohio fan groups and conventions. There is mention of well-known fans as well as writers Cyril Kornbluth, Charles Tanner, Nelson Bond, and E.E. “Doc” Smith in connection with their attendance at conventions or fan activities. There is detailed discussion of writer Ross Rocklynne, who for a time resided in Cincinnati. Note: Side A ends abruptly. Tarr had almost reached the end of what he wanted to say, and it was decided not to continue on Side B.]

Wilson Tucker [1914 – ] – Arthur Wilson (Bob) Tucker was an early SF fan, and stayed active in fandom for many years, publishing his own fanzines: The Planetoid, 1932; The Bloomington News Letter/Science Fiction Newsletter, D’Journal, and Le Zombie, 1938-1975 [the latter still available in 2005 on the Internet as e-Zombie]; Fantasy and Weird Fiction, 1938-1939; Yearbook of Science, Fanewscard, Fanzine Yearbook, 1941-1948. In 1966 he published his Neo-Fan’s Guide to SF Fandom. He was president of the National Fantasy Fan Federation in 1942-1943, and founded the fabled SPWSSTFM. Never a full-time writer, Tucker worked as a motion picture projectionist, electrician, reporter, and editor while writing SF and mysteries part-time. Known in fandom as Bob Tucker, his other pseudonyms were Hoy Ping Pong and Sanford Vaid. During 1955-1957 he and Robert Bloch, a close friend, edited six issues of the Gnome Press newsletter. First SF publication: “Interstellar Way-Station” in Super Science Novels Magazine (May, 1941); First SF book: Prison Planet (Pegasus, Summer 1947) [15 cent paperback booklet published as Space Trails, The Magazine of the Future]; First SF novel: The City in the Sea (Rinehart, 1951/DJ by Richard Powers); First collection: The Science Fiction Sub-Treasury (Rinehart, 1954) [reissued in wrappers as Time: X]. Awards in SF genre: Hugo (Best Fan Writer), 1970; The Bob Bloch Black Block Award, 1970; John W. Campbell, Jr. Memorial Award (Special) for The Year of the Quiet Sun, 1976; Skylark Award, 1986; FGoH, World SF Convention, 1967; Toastmaster, World SF Convention, 1976; First Fandom Hall of Fame, 1985; E. E. Smith Memorial Award, 1986; SFWA Author Emeritus, 1996; Science Fiction & Fantasy Hall of Fame Inductee, 2003; other awards, including being commissioned a Kentucky Colonel in 1993 and a Retro Hugo in 2004 for Best Fan Writer of 1954. Tucker’s other SF/fantasy books include The Lincoln Hunters (1958), The Long Loud Silence (1952) [SFBC edition had DJ art by Richard Powers], The Time Masters (1953), Wild Talent (1954), Time Bomb (1955), To the Tombaugh Station (1960) [Ace Double Novel bound with Poul Anderson’s Earthman, Go Home!], The Warlock (1967), This Witch (1971) [a suspense novel featuring a woman who can see into the future], Ice and Iron (1974), Resurrection Days (1981), and The Best of Wilson Tucker (1982). Three in Time was published by White Wolf in 1997, containing Tucker’s The Year of the Quiet Sun (as well as Chad Oliver’s The Winds of Time and Poul Anderson’s There Will Be Time). Several of his mystery novels also had SF elements. In his first mystery, the recursive novel The Chinese Doll (Rinehart, 1946), Tucker mentioned not only fandom and fanzines, but also began his practice of naming his fictional characters after living SF personalities (“Tuckerisms”). He was profiled in the August 1954 issue of New Worlds, and interviewed in Speaking of Science Fiction: The Paul Walker Interviews (1978). The Really Incompleat Bob Tucker, a one-shot fanzine containing some of his fanzine writings from the years 1942 through 1971 (with an introduction by Robert Bloch) was published in 1974 to help raise money to send Tucker to the 1975 Worldcon in Australia. In 1991 his work was featured in consecutive issues of BAE (#’s 17 & 18). Tucker was interviewed in issue #7 of Lan’s Lantern (1977), and issue #46 of the fanzine (November 1997) was “A Bob Tucker Special,” with the entire contents devoted to Tucker’s life and work. In 2001 members of The Dawn Patrol held a “Tucker Tribute” in honor of Tucker and his wife Fern. The February 2004 issue of the fanzine SF Commentary 79 was a tribute to Tucker’s seven decades as a fan and pro.

Susan Van Schuyver [19xx- ] – A longtime member of N3F, Susan has been club Directorate Chair, President, and Bureau Head for Birthdays, Teaching SF, and Round Robins. She was a recipient of the club’s Kaymar Award in 1998. Professionally, she is an academic administrator at a community college. Susan reported in 2005 that, in addition to being a SF fan and reader, she also likes poetry and cats.

Keith Walker [19xx- ] – British fan who was a member of N3F in the 19xxs. He edited/published several fanzines in England, and compiled The Fanzindex, an index to all fanzines published in England prior to the last quarter of 1974.

Harry Warner, Jr. [1922-2003] – Warner was a well-known Maryland SF fan, known in fannish circles as “The Hermit of Hagerstown.” He began reading SF prozines in the mid-1930s, and published his first LOC in ASF in 1936. He started publishing fanzines in late in 1936. His first zine was Spaceways, which lasted four years. Then he published Horizons for many years, beginning in 1939. He was an indefatigable letter-writter, and also Warner wrote two books about fandom, All Our Yesterdays (1969) and A Wealth of Fable (1976) [expanded version won the Hugo Award for Best Nonfiction Book in 1993]. Warner has won several fannish awards, including the E. E. Evans Memorial Award in 1969. He was a member of First Fandom, and was inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame in 1995. A member of N3F, he was on the Board of Directors in the 1940s and won a Kaymar Award in 1978. He also won two Hugos for his fan writing, two FAAN awards for his LoCs, and the E. E. Evans Memorial Award in 1969. He was a lifelong bachelor. His obituary was published in the May 2003 Locus.

Art Widner [19xx- ] – Arthur L. Widner, Jr. is credited with organizing the first SF fan club in Boston (The Stranger Club) in 1940. Arthur L. Widner is currently (2005) a member of First Fandom. In the early days of SF fandom, he published the clubzine Fanfare, put on the first proto-Boskones, and helped the N3F get started. He also invented the first SF board game, Interplanetary. In 1979 he resurrected his former genzine, Yhos, as a genzine. He was the winner of the 1991 DUFF for a trip to Australia and New Zealand and won the Big Heart Award in 1989.

Donald A. Wollheim [1914-1990] was educated at NYU (BA, 1935) and married Elsie Balter in 1943. They had one daughter, Betsy. Wollhein was an early SF fan, and one of the founding member of the famous New York Futurians. While a fan Donald Allen Wollheim produced several fan magazines, including his most famous one, The Phantagraph (from 1935 to 1946). He wrote under several pseudonyms, including Arthur Cooke, Verne Gordon, Braxton Wells, Graham Conway, and Lawrence Woods, but most frequently as David Grinnell and Martin Pearson. Donald Allen Wollheim is credited with editing the first book of reprint SF, The Pocket Book of Science Fiction (1943), and the first collection of SF novels, Portable Novels of Science (Viking, 1945). Awards in SF genre: Hugo (Publisher), 1964; Worldcon Special Convention Award (for “the fan who has done everything”), 1975; First Fandom Hall of Fame, 1975; Milford, 1980; World Fantasy Award (Special Award-Professional), 1981, (Special Convention Award), 1986; Golden Lion, 1983; British Fantasy Award (Special Award), 1984 [with wife Elsie]; Forry, 1987; GoH, World SF Convention, 1988 (Nolacon II); other awards, including posthumous induction in 2002 into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. His editing career began in 1941 with the low-budget, short-lived SF magazines Cosmic Stories and Stirring Science Stories. He later was on the editorial staff of Avon Publishing, and while there edited several titles, including Avon Fantasy Readers (1947-1952), Avon Science-Fiction Readers (1951-1952), The Girl With the Hungry Eyes (1949) [original anthology edited anonymously], and Out Of This World Adventures (1950) [a two-issue pulp magazine with colored comic book inserts]. He edited other books in the 1940s and 1950s, including Every Boy’s Book of Science-Fiction, an anthology that included suggested readings for young readers (Frederick Fell, 1951). After leaving Avon, he became editor-in-chief of Ace Books, and served as the publisher’s SF editor for nearly 20 years. In 1967 he was promoted to vice-president. During this period he is credited with introducing the Ace Doubles format and discovering many new SF writers, including Philip K. Dick and Ursula K. Le Guin. In 1971 he left Ace Books and established DAW Books, the first major publisher specializing exclusively in SF and fantasy. At DAW he introduced other new writers (including C. J. Cherryh) and edited his “Best of the Year” anthology series, at that time one of the longest running in the field. Wollheim’s personal and insightful vision of SF, The Universe Makers, was published in 1972. Interviews with Wollheim appeared in the February and May 1980 issues (#34 and #35) of Richard Geis’ Science Fiction Review and in the June 1985 issue of Robert A. Collins’ Fantasy Review (#80). The Men from Ariel, a collection of Wollheim’s short fiction (with DJ art by Michael Whelan), was published by NESFA in 1982 [in conjunction with Wollheim’s appearance as Professional GoH at Boskone 19]; and Up There and Other Strange Directions, a Worldcon souvenir short story collection, was published by NESFA in 1988. Wollheim’s short story, “Mimic,” originally published in 1942, was the basis for the 1997 film of the same name. Obituaries appeared in the December 1990 issues of both Locus and the Science Fiction Chronicle. His daughter now runs DAW Publications.

Selected Criticism of the N3F over the Years

In the January 26, 1943 issue of his fanzine Ray [only 2 issues were published], Donald A. Wollheim, editor and publisher, argued for the creation of a new national fan organization to replace the N3F, which he characterized as under the control of its then president, E. Everett Evans. Wollheim, who was a member of N3F, termed Evans a “dictator.”

Lin Carter ended his June 1967 article, “The N3F and Others,” in Worlds of If on the N3F and other fan clubs with the advice that anyone who joined N3F should only stay in the club for a year or so. Why? Because after the first rush of materials, letters, etc., the club has little to offer.

In the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction by Clute & Nicholls, they state: “The National Fantasy Fan Federation, formed in the USA 1941, the brain-child of Damon Knight. After a succession of short-lived and factional US fan associations in the 1930s, the N3F proved a stable and enduring national organization. However, despite its long existence, it has maintained only a very low level of membership and activity and has contributed little to sf or fandom. It continues to publish The National Fantasy Fan, a newsletter which first appeared under the title Bonfire in 1941.” [signed PR/Peter Roberts, obviously not a current or former N3F member, or one who knows much about the club]

The August 1961 issue of TNFF had a brief article entitled “NFFF, What’s Wrong?” that included a history of past troubles that N3F has conquered.

Entry in Rich Brown’s online dictionary, though written by me and Ruth Davidson, contains some of Brown’s minor criticisms of the club.

A Hoax Involving the N3F

At the Pacificon (1946/originally intended to be held in 1942) a table in the Hucksters’ Room someone set up a table dedicated to anti-N3F propaganda. On the table were mimeographed copies of the club’s constitution, overprinted with swastikas. Apparently President Dunkelberger received a fake telegram, while at the con, alleging the dissolution of the N3F. [See page 260 of Warner’s All Our Yesterdays for story of hoax.]

Index of N3F Publications

Over the years N3F has been involved in many publications, some entirely published by the N3F and others “sponsored” in some way by the N3F. These publications included at least one hardcover book (David H. Keller’s 1948 “utopian fantasy” [four loosely connected tales in the style of James Branch Cabell] The Sign of the Burning Hart: A Tale of Arcadia). Other club publications over the years have included:

  1. Bonfire [fanzine that preceded The National Fantasy Fan for 4-5 years/began in 1941] Name conceived by the first president, Louis Russell Chauvenet (who was totally deaf), came from the phrase “Bulletin of the National Fan Federation.”
  2. Name of club zine changed to The National Fantasy Fan (abbreviated as TNFF) after the December 1944 issue.
  3. Tightbeam (currently LoCs, formerly fan fiction)
  4. Ghu’s Lexicon (on order)
  5. Hannes Bok Sketchbook Folio (date?) & Hannes Bok Illustration Index (1970)/see #15 [Bok was pseudonym of SF fan/artist Wayne Woodard] N3F member will send me a copy of this.
  6. NFFF Rosters, Yearbooks, pamphlets, etc.
  7. What is Science Fiction Fandom? [with contributions from Al Ashley, Donald Wollheim, Harry Warner, Jr., Bob Tucker, Forrest J Ackerman, and Milton A. Rothman]
  8. An Index of the Works of Various Fantasy Authors (1947-1948) by Darrell C. Richardson (compiler). Distributed to N3F members/an index to Strange Tales was included.
  9. An Index of Various Fantasy Publications, 1947-1948, compiled by Darrell C. Richardson, no pagination, distributed to members of N3F (supported by N3F?).
  10. Geep! The Book of the National Fantasy Fan Federation by Rose Secrest (1987)
  11. A series of NFFF “Fandbooks” which included Donald Franson’s “A Key to the Terminology of Science- Fiction Fandom” (Fandbook No. 1), “The Amateur Press Associations in S-F Fandom” (Fandbook No. 2) by Robert Lichtman, and “Some Historical Facts About S-F Fandom” by Donald Franson (Fandbook No. 3) [all published around 1962]. No. 3 is divided into sections on International Fantasy Awards, Hugo Awards, TAFF Elections/Crossings, Worldcons, Westercons, ESFA Open Meetings, Lunacons, Officers of N3F, Important Fan Awards.
  12. Postways (6 issues), a fanzine edited by Bob Johnson and Later by Doug Fisher, was sponsored or published by the N3F? L. W. Currey had a set for sale at $15.00.
  13. The National Fantasy Fan Comic Section (Ray C. Higgs/late 1948 one-shot)
  14. In February of 1986, an early N3F Cookbook was titled Neffer a Bad Batch, and in 2005 a new cookbook was planned and published by president Ruth R. Davidson and other members, and is to be called Neffer Again a Bad Batch, Still Neffer a Bad Batch, or Neffer a Bad Batch II (or perhaps Neffer an Unhealthy Batch). The original cookbook had the same printed format as The Fan and Tightbeam and ran twenty pages (covers included) and consisted of six legal-size sheets. It was divided into three categories: “Punch . . .”, “. . . & Cookies”, and “. . . & Cakes & Stuff”. Lola Andrew, the club’s secretary at the time. The four pages in the middle of the publication consisted of a description of N3F and an application blank, and the pages were not numbered. Ruthie has sent me a copy. Here it is, now available in .PDF. Neffer A Bad Batch [Publication of the second cookbook was delayed to 2006.]
  15. The National Fantasy Fan Federation Presents A Portfolio of Illustrations by Virgil Finlay – First Series – Reprint Edition Copyright 1946 for the N.F.F.F. Reproduced from Famous Fantastic Mysteries Magazine”. Contents include 6 Vintage Finlay Prints, unbound (suitable for framing).
  16. The N3F Roster of Membership (Janie Lamb & Donald Franson), date?
  17. Brooks, Ned & Don Martin. Hannes Bok Illustration Index, 1970. [An index of the published artwork of Bok/ published for N3F/Third revised edition, 1994]
  18. Franson, Donald. Science Fiction Title Changes, 1966. [N3F?/covered SF books published under 2 or more titles/printed by offset/originally published by the N3F, compiled in 1965 by Michael Viggiano & Donald Franson/47 pages, offset/$1.00]
  19. Collector’s Bulletin (published in the mid-1960s by the N3F’s Collector’s Bureau/edited by Ned Brooks and published by Phillip Harrell)
  20. Geep! (collection of fannish writing printed by Harlo Press, Detroit, MI). Included fiction, poetry, articles/contributors included Rose Secrest, the editor; Jack Robbins, George Phillies, Ron A. Nyren, Stacey Potts, etc.)
  21. The club had Manuscript Bureau in the 1940s-1950s, and Redd Boggs contributed some 50 items to it. [Need more on this bureau]
  22. Yesterday and Today (1974 club publication, published by Joanne Burger, edited by Sheryl Birkhead, with contributions from Stan Woolston, Harry Warner, Jr., Frank Balazs, Donn Brazier, Don D’Ammassa, and Reed Andrus)
  23. The N3F Collector (at least 3 issues produced in the mid-1970s/issue #3 contained the 1st part of an index to Unknown/Unknown Worlds/editor was Eric Jamborsky/sub was $1.00 for 4 issues)
  24. Freebie ’78 (Special Publication) was handed out at the WorldCon in 1978.
  25. Fancyclopedia (N3F is given credit by rich brown for the 1st edition of this publication.
  26.  N.F.F.F. History by Eva Firestone was available in 1961, covering the club up to January 1946 (Vol. 5, No. 1).
  27. Neffers Guide to Fanzines by Donald Franson (a separate pub or a column in The Fan?) At one time there were several different regular columns in each issue of The Fan (e.g., Fanzine Review Column, “Hodge-Podge” column by Alma Hill covering recent SF news, “FIJAGDH” by Johnny Lee (?), Writer of the Month, etc.)
  28. What is SF Fandom? (Martin Carlson?)
  29. United or Fie (Carlson?) [Carlson was selling these two booklets, both of which were advertised in The National Fantasy Fan in the late 1970s]
  30. WELCOME FAN was a publication distributed to all new members of the N3F in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It contained articles about the N3F by Donald A. Wollheim, Art Widner, Ralph Holland, Milton A. Rothman, and Al Ashley.

N3F has also sponsored various fan, semi-professional, and professional publications, such as Postwarp, devoted to letters — and edited in succession by Rapp, Bob Johnson, Doug Fisher, and Higgs — and the Philcon Memory Book [1947?]; and reprinted others. In 1944 N3F, in collaboration with the fanzine Le Zombie (edited by Bob Tucker), published the 1944 Fanzine Yearbook, “a catalog of amateur magazines published by the fantasy fan journalists” and in 1950 N3F and The Fantasy Foundation co-sponsored a Fan Directory, edited by Leonard Moffatt. At least one publication, A Spacewoman Speaks, was written by an N3F president (under the pseudonym of Rolf Telano/real name Ralph Merridette Holland, described on the Internet as a paranormal enthusiast). Understanding Publishing was publisher of A Spacewoman Speaks in 1960.

WELCOM PRESENTS SCIENTI-FAN&WEIRD MAG INDEX, Compiled and originated by John Nitka, Noted New York City Fan and Collector. Edited Originally by Julius Unger, Brooklyn Magazine Dealer and Publisher. Originally Published by Joseph Kennedy, Dover, N. J., Fan, and Fan Publisher. Sam Moskowitz Contributed Assistance… . Nitka, John. Book Description: N.p.: Reprinted by “Welcom” Service-NFFF; Gordon M. Kull-“Welcom” Publisher, n.d. [circa 1948]. Large octavo, pp. [1-5] [6: blank] (unpaginated), mimeographed from typewritten copy on three sheets of legal-size paper stock, stapled. Checklist of thirty-six science fiction and fantasy magazines recording issues published through 1947 and, in a few cases, the first few months of 1948. Details regarding the apparent earlier publication of this checklist by Joseph Kennedy are not known to us at present. Not in Pavlat and Evans, Fanzine Index (1965).

Brief Bios of Some Former N3F Members Who Made Significant Contributions to Science Fiction/SF Fandom

Forrest J. Ackerman, Redd Boggs, Jack L. Chalker, Roy Tackett, Wilson (“Bob”) Tucker, Donald Franson, G. M. Carr, Buck Coulson, Russ Manning, Norm Metcalf, Ed Wood, Will Sykora, Rick Sneary, Susan Johnson, Lynn Hoffman (?), Kemp, Bjo Trimble, Bruce Pelz, Janine Stinson, Art Widner, Louis Russell Chauvenet, Damon Knight, Donald A. Wollheim, etc.

The 1948 Fantasy Annual

Edited by Redd Boggs and published by F. J. Ackerman, this 12-page publication contained a description of N3F’s activities during 1948 by Rick Sneary, Chairman of N3F’s Board of Directors. The description included the club’s various projects that were completed during the year, its new officers, new constitution, etc.

One fan ashamed of his membership in N3F

Ralph Merridette Holland was born in Youngstown on August 29, 1899, and lived there until his family moved to Akron in 1914. He received an engineering degree, worked “in the plant” at the Akron Beacon Journal, and later worked for B. G. Goodrich. He spent the last 40 years of his life in Cuyahoga Falls, and had been employed by Vaughn Machnery Company there. He published his own fanzine, The Science-Fiction Review, and had written a book featuring a fantasy character called Ghu. He adopted the alter ego of Rolf Telano because he was interested in paranormal phenomenon and knew his interest in SF would cast doubt on anything he presented as fact in the paranormal field. As Rolf Telano he wrote A Spacewoman Speaks. At one time Holland was president of N3F.

The N3F Amateur Short Story Contest is mentioned, with winners listed from 1990-1992, in Reginald’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Awards, Third Edition, 1993.

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