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NUMBERED FANDOMS:
Jack Speer gave us an unparalleled fanhistorical tool when he articulated his essential theory of Numbered Fandoms in "Up to Now" at the end of the 1930's, which he revised for the first Fancyclopedia (1944). This gave us an outline of the first three numbered fandoms and their interregna or "transitions".
      Bob Silverberg was next, updating the theory as far as Sixth Fandom in his column in QUANDRY in 1952.
      Dick Eney, in FanCy II, updated the notions to 1959 sensibilities.
      There have been a number of articles over the years by Ted White, rich brown and Arnie Katz, among others, attempting to update and/or refine upon these originals. Even those participants who've likened it to medieval disputes over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin have nonetheless hauled it out, from time to time, dusted it off and discussed it all yet again.
      This, consequently, despite its length, is but the briefest kind of thumb-nail sketch.
      A numbered fandom is essentially a fannish era with distinct characteristics and a strong identifiable focus. In earlier expositions of the theory, this would usually be exemplified by a particular fanzine; as a result, sometime in the '60s, the notion took hold that each numbered fandom had its own "focal point" fanzine which exemplified that fandom-- to such an extent that being on the fringes of fandom was in part defined by not being a recipient of the zine. Speer identified specific fanzines with First and Third Fandoms, Silverbob did the same for Fifth and Sixth Fandoms. Eney did not identify any specific fanzine title in tacking on what he identified as the "false" Seventh (the Sixth Transition) and a later period as the real Seventh Fandom.

      However, as the focal-point idea has taken hold, the gaps have been filled.
      A transition or interregnum is a period when a given numbered fandom begins to come apart for one reason or another and fandom finds itself looking for a new focus or focal point.
      Eofandom: 1930-33. In his first exposition of the notion, Speer apparently started First Fandom a bit on the late side; rather than back up and start all over, he simply named the preceding period (in which fandom was a star just beginning to coalesce anyway) "Eofandom". Keep in mind that the first all- stf prozine had been published only four years prior to the beginning of this period, and it took a while for fans to take advantage of the fact that it printed complete addresses in its lettercolumns, so they could contact other enthusiasts nearby and bein to correspond with those who lived far away. The first fanzine, THE COMET, was published during this period; letterhacking was a major activity. Strange new air-breathing lifeforms were said to have crawled off the bottom of the sea and up onto the land where they immediately began to suck life from the varied plants abounding there.
      First Fandom: 1933-36. The emphasis was on serious science and serious discussion of science fiction, news of what was forthcoming in the scientific world as well as sf books and prozines, interviews with authors and the like. The focal point fanzine was FANTASY MAGAZINE--it had the clear advantage in being a printed journal among a lot of hectographed publications.
      First Interregnum: late 1936 - Oct. 1937. FANTASY MAGAZINE began its decline, Gernbackian "ideal" (that reading sf should lead to an interest, and possibly a career, in science) was dumped in favor of considering sf for its own sake or, as in some quarters, a turn away from the professional field to begin a more intense consideration of individual fan personalities.
      Second Fandom: Oct. 1937 - Oct. 1938. The increasing emphasis on fan personalities and de-emphasis of sf-related talk brought discussions of politics to the fore, and as a rather dominant group included a bunch of young Communists (John Michel, Donald A. Wollheim, whom their enemies _and_ followers called variously "Michelists," "Willheimists" and "Futurians"), this led to unparalleled feuding until virtually all of fandom was effectively at war. No focal point fanzine was named for this era by Speer, Silverberg or Eney; I have heard Olin F. Wiggins' SCIENCE FICTION FAN suggested, but I am not able to verify how many, _if_ any, of its issues may have been published during this 13-month period. Then too, as Wiggins lived in Denver, it's hard to see how he or his fanzine could have been "central" to a fandom that was so patently focused on the doings of the New York Futurians. Perhaps it was confused with Futurian Dick Wilson's SCIENCE FICTION NEWS LETTER, which was published on a frequent basis at or near the right period.
      Second Transition: From the 1938 conference in Philadelphia through the second Worldcon in Chicago in 1940. The Barbarian Invasion, a heavy influx of new fans, led to the emergence of New Fandom and a reemphasis on heavy interest in sf. Feuding continued to manifest itself, taking on such forms as the Exclusion Act at the 1939 New York (World) convention which barred a number of Michelists from attending.
      Third Fandom: Sept. 1940 - early 1944. The focal point fanzine of third fandom was Harry Warner Jr.'s SPACEWAYS. You won't discover this from reading his books of fanhistory-- _All Our Yesterdays_ and _A Wealth of Fable_--or from the collected "All Our Yesterdays" columns he used to write, because Harry doesn't subscribe to the notion of numbered fandoms or focal point fanzines. (Nonetheless, "all" of his fanhistorical works are highly recommended.) But SPACEWAYS was both frequent enough and influential enough, and he had an advantage not dissimilar from that which had been held by FANTASY MAGAZINE; namely, in Harry's case, he had found a real bargain in a used mimeograph while most of his contemporaries were still using hectographs. The hectograph, being a carbon process, has a limit on legible copies that effectively limits publication to about 50 and surely no more than 100 readable copies and is a painstaking one-page-at-a-time process to boot; the practical limit on mimeography, which Warner never had to come near, is in the tens of thousands. This let Warner set the example by simply not allowing people to feud in his fanzine. There was much talk of fandom "maturing" as warring factions mended bridges; the FAPA Brain Trust came into being, as did the more intellectual Vanguard Amateur Press Association, and some effort was being made to establish a national fan organization.
      Third Interregnum: Early to late 1944. Wartime shortages, older fans entering the war effort, thinning of the blood of the FAPA Brain Trust, power struggles in VAPA and an influx of new blood brought an end to Third Fandom and produced this "little" transition.
      Fourth Fandom: Late 1944 - Philcon I (1947). Silverberg and Eney agree that Fourth Fandom took place mostly in the long letter columns published in minuscule type in the back pages of TWS, SS and PLANET STORIES--due partly to a new influx of fans and wartime paper shortages that affected fan publishing. For those who need a fanzine focal point, Joe Kennedy's VAMPIRE has been suggested; it was clearly the "place to be" and, although a quarterly, it published yearbooks in 1944 and 1945 that doled out the most meaningful egoboo during the period--plus, of course, Kennedy was among the more active fans in those letter columns. There was considerable ill-feeling expressed against the Shaver Mystery by fans of this period, but fandom never got organized or effective enough to Force The Issue; Forry Ackerman urged fans to boycott AMAZING but was purchasing three copies of each issue to keep his collection complete, and editor Ray Palmer recognized the expediency of placating fandom and managed for the most part to do so by instituting a column of fan news and fanzine reviews in AMAZING called "The Club House" written by Rog Phillips.
      Although there's no Fourth Interregnum listed, it's worth noting that by the time of the Pacificon in 1945--the first world convention since the 1941 Denvention--Laney's ACOLYTE and the Burbee-edited SHANGRI-L'AFFAIRS topped the fanzine polls. The Insurgency had not yet come to a boil but everything it would need to do so was already in place.
      Fifth Fandom: 1947 PhilCon I - mid-1950. Laney stopped publishing ACOLYTE, the LASFS relieved Charles Burbee of his editorial duties on SHANGRI-L'AFFAIRS (they didn't like the fact that he poked fun at their more sober-sided members, or that he would publish "outside" material rather than put off deadlines when LASFS members failed to come up with promised material on time). They both "retired" to FAPA, where they began to refine their insurgency in WILD HAIR and numerous one-shots—-Laney with his memoirs (which he pronounced ME- moirs), "Ah, Sweet Idiocy," Burbee with a series of satires that made his previous editorials seem mild. In the vacuum created in general fanzine fandom, Art Rapp's SPACEWARP became the focal point for Fifth Fandom; it had some serious material, namely Redd Boggs' "File 13" column, but it was mixed with Rapp's humorous stories of Morgan Botts, the stf-fan inventor, and his creation (with Outlanders Ed Cox and Rick Sneary) of the fannish and funloving religion revolving around the worship of Roscoe, the mighty beaver. When Rapp reentered the Army as a bomb went off on his front lawn and the Korean Conflict was getting started, he more or less formally aligned himself with the insurgents by having Burbee and Laney publish the 49th and 50th issues of SPACEWARP. Rapp was also instrumental in the formation of FAPA's first successful long-time rival apa, the Spectator Amateur Press Society, or SAPS. (Both FAPA and SAPS are still going concerns.)
      If there was an interregnum between Fifth and Sixth, it had to be a brief one, since in early '51 SPACEWARP became a quarterly SAPSzine with limited general circulation while a relative newcomer named newcomer named Lee Hoffman started publishing a monthly fanzine called QUANDRY.
      Sixth Fandom: Early 1951 through (at least) May 1953. Lee Hoffman modestly began publishing QUANDRY (a mispelling of "quandary"); after just a few months, she picked up a column by Fourth Fandom's Joe Kennedy, Redd Boggs' SPACEWARP column "File 13" and a brilliant new fan columnist from Belfast, North Ireland named Walter A. Willis who wrote "The Harp That Once Or Twice". The rest, as they say in the cliches, is History. Early on, Q inspired or was inspired by other relatively new fanzines like Willis's SLANT, Shelby Vick's CONFUSION, Max Keasler's FAN VARIETY/OPUS; . A serious sf "boom" was under way, with dozens of magazine titles on the stands, so while sf was sometimes discussed, the emphasis during Sixth Fandom was on fans, fandom, humor, and mutual appreciation of things like Walt Kelley's Pogo, Roger Price's philosophy of "avoidism" and Stephen Potter's oneupsmanship. Willis and Bob Shaw wrote and publish the Pilgrim's Progress of trufandom, THE ENCHANTED DUPLICATOR. The humor of Sixth Fandom was gentler (or more inclusive) than the satires of Burbee and Laney, and so was known as Serious Constructive Insurgentism. The first successful fund to bring a fan from overseas to attend a US convention brought Willis to the Chicon; he produced two con reports, a fictional one written before the event ("Willis Discovers America"), published in fanzines that supported the Fund, and a long over-the-shoulder account that was first serialized in his "Harp" column and was eventually published as "The Harp Stateside."
      Seventh Transition: May 1953 - ? Here's where things start to get sticky as different theories begin to hop about. In the Hollowe'en '52 issue of QUANDRY, Bob Silverberg had devoted his column to updating Jack Speer's numbered fandoms theory. Bob's piece was flawed in two important ways. First, he speculated that Sixth Fandom (QUANDRY et al.) was beginning to collapse—- Max Keasler and ShelVy had gafiated, LeeH was talking of cutting back the pace--and so maybe (he said) Sixth was on the way out and a group of promising new fans would become Seventh Fandom. Second, for whatever reason, he never mentioned the concept of transitions; possibly Speer didn't get around to putting them in until his FANCYCLOPEDIA and Bob was working from the earlier piece. Whatever the reason, any relatively new fans reading Silverberg's column might reasonably come away beleiving that whenever a numbered fandom died, another group was inevitably to be found standing on the sidelines waiting to pick up the banner. The upshot of it all was that when, several months later, the final Q showed up with black borders around the cover, announcing its own demise, the Silverberg piece became both prophecy and challenge. Harlan Ellison called a group of young fans together in his apartment in Cleveland and they picked up the challenge: They went on to MidWestCon to announced that "7th fandom" had arrived. This subsequently become known as "False Seventh Fandom" or even the Sixth Transition, Harlan and his friends were villified--not by anyone in Sixth Fandom that I'm aware of, more like people who were Harlan's contemporaries who felt they'd been left out and didn't have sense enough to simply proclaim themselves part of it. Harlan left fandom after declaring that 7th Fandn had been "kneed in the groin" by mad dogs, which many people found funny because of its anatomic impossibility. Out of spite, no doubt, Harlan went on to become perhaps the finest writer ever to come out of science fiction. Other theorists have come along to say that the false 7th Fandom was the Sixth Interegnum, and then that the real Seventh Fandom didn't happen until perhaps early 1956, when FANAC got started. Other theorists say Seventh Fandom's focal point was Joel Nydahl's VEGA, and it "handed off" the focalpointhood to the first incarnation of Dick Geis's PSYCHOTIC. Ted White theorized that Sixth Fandom "didn't" end with Q-—Q handed off to VEGA which handed off to PSY. So the "real" Seventh Fandom could be Harlan & friends, it could start with VEGA, it could start with SFR, or it could start with FANAC. Putting it yet another way, FANAC could be the focal point of Seventh, Eighth, Ninth Fandom or even 10th Fandom.
      The point is this: Up to Sixth Fandom, the tool works as a kind of fan historical shorthand; mention any of the first six "fandoms" and most fans conversant with the general theory will have a pretty good idea of what you mean. But once Seventh Fandom is brought in, you have to explain which Seventh Fandom you mean--at which point it ceases to be shorthand. (rb)


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