BRITISH FANTASY SOCIETY...........................
.........................................................June 25th. 1945
The British Fantasy Society is now three years old, which is ample time for most of us to have forgotten the reasons for its coming into existence. The main reason, of course, is the obvious one, that fans like other human beings are imbued with the herd instinct which tells us subconsciously that advantage and safety lies in an organised body of the largest possible size, and the decision of the governing council of the Science Fiction Association to shut up shop during the war had left British fans without such an organisation.
It may be admitted that at first the decision of the SFA did not greatly affect the workings of fandom as a community. It had done its main work in bringing fans into contact with each other, a continuation of the work commenced by the Science Fiction League, and it left fandom with enough momentum thereby to carry on for years. The fact of fans being in contact with each other gave those who wished a sufficient market for them to pursue the fascinating hobby of amateur publishing, and while the fan-mags were circulating they kept up the contacts, providing what seemed to some fans to be a self-sustaining system for which a society was not necessary. Indeed, for a time the fan-magazines surpassed in number and quality the productions of the pre-war years, thanks chiefly to the enterprise, enthusiasm, and talents of a number of notable fans amongst whom must be mentioned Sam Youd, creator of Fantast, Douglas Webster, who carried on and even improved this best of English fan-mags after Sam was called-up, Harry Turner of Zenith fame, and especially Michael Rosenblum with the long enduring Futurian War Digest, better known as Fido. Some stimulation may perhaps be attributed to the scarcity of professional fantasy, but chiefly it was the good fortune of fandom in possessing these editors-printers-publishers which gave us this brief Golden Age.
It did not last very long. Even under the best conditions the production of a bimonthly magazine the size of Fantast, for instance, is too big a job to be done in spare-time - one of the rarest and most valuable commodities. In war-time the ruthless hand of the National Service Officer intervenes as well, and by the end of '41 Fido was the only magazine appearing with any regularity, and even here the sundry sheets contributed by various fans individually were getting less and less in number. Fan activity was dying out, the slighter contacts of fan and fan were vanishing, and it seemed quite possible that the end of the war would find fantasy enthusiasts in Great Britain as isolated as they were in 1934 -
and with less opportunity to make contacts again. With the primary idea of preventing this happening
Michael Rosenblum sent out the enquiries which eventually lead to the formation of the British Fantasy
Society in June 1942.
It was realised from the start that the BFS during wartime could be no more than a temporary substitute for a proper society. There were so many things against it, the chief being the fact that under wartime conditions fans themselves were mostly in such circumstances that they could devote little or no time to fantasy activities. There was not - at least as far as we knew at the time - anywhere in the country a sufficient concentration of fans in one spot to furnish the officials for a society, so all the deliberations of the Executive Committee and the Advisory Board have had to take place by post, a clumsy, slow, and not very satisfactory method. Great difficulty was encountered when ill-health compelled Jack Gibson to relinquish control of the Library - built up mostly of fantasy sent to Britain by the Science Fiction (British ditto I mean) War Relief Society conducted by John Cunningham (and that Society there should read "Service") - in finding someone who could continue this work. Difficulties of travelling and accomodation made the holding of large-scale conventions almost impossible.
Nevertheless the Society was able to present a number of attractive features. Both professional and amateur American fantasy magazines, given us by certain American fans many of whose names are commemorated in the list of Honorary Members, have been circulated on chain systems in this country to the widest possible audiences, and subsequently passed on to fans in the Forces overseas. The enthusiasm of individuals has enabled small Conventions to be held in various places, with a major effort by our friends of the Cosmos Club last year. From the latter we borrowed their idea of a fantasy magazine made up of the manuscripts of amateur writers typed and bound together and illustrated and circulated on a chain system. A weird section has catered so well for the interests of those particularly devoted to this type of fantasy that it seems likely that it would survive the collapse of the BFS itself. Bibliophiles are connected on another chain. A Directory of fandom has been issued, and various other benefits have been available for those who cared to make use of them. And the present membership of 110 includes many who had not heard of fandom before the war, because the distribution of pre-war fans through the forces has made many contacts with fantasy lovers more than one would have expected.
Reference to the list of members who have subscribed as requested in the previous Bulletin shows, however, that this figure for the the number of members must be reduced to little more than a third, unless procrastination is a major culprit. It would seem that a majority of our members have decided that the BFS is not worth supporting, and the assumption - for we have no direct information to go on - is that they are dissatisfied with the benefits obtained from their membership. They may have reason. Membership of a society such as the BFS is a different form of entertainment to, say, spending
your half-crown on a visit to the cinema, where having paid your money you sit back to a couple
of hours passive doping, it is more like the half-crown a year I spend on joining a bowling club,
for which I get nothing unless I go and play the game.
It is on this basis that the future BFS, the post-war BFS, must be built, on the idea that in becoming a fan and entering the world of fandom you are embarking on a hobby from which you can only get enjoyment in direct proportion to the amount of effort you put in. We all look forward to expanding and making more efficient the Library and its correlated services, and this could be a most useful feature for the member who did not wish for more. But it would be unwise to think that this can ever be the main attraction, it would be foolish for anyone to think that this was the only attraction. If you want to have fun, and incidentally to develop yourself as a human being, there are many more things to be done. Correspond with other fans about subjects of mutual interest - the BFS will help you find correspondents. Publish, or take part in publishing, a fan-magazine - the BFS will give you any help it can. Publish your views in other people's fan-magazines, or try your hand at writing fantasy yourself - The BFS Bulletin may, in future, accept a certain amount of material unrelated to official business, the BFS Beyond wants amateur fantasy, and amateur illustrations, our president, Mr Walter H. Gillings, has offered to give every assistance in his power to the new author attempting the professional f ield. Go meet other fans if such is your desire, the BFS will hold conventions from time to time and publishes the Fan Directory from whence addresses of neighbouring fans may be obtained. Take some position in the BFS yourself - there are never enough volunteers for the work to be done, and you may think of things to be done that no-one is doing now. Organise sections of your own, or join existing sections. Join the NFFF and make contacts with American fans. Whatever fan activity you wish to indulge in the BFS will give you every aid in its power, but if you do not wish to do anything then we cannot help you.
There is the question of the post-war organization of the BFS, and here there is little doubt that the primary aim must be a society based on a powerful group of fans close enough together to provide a unified Executive Council which can meet, discuss, and act speedily and efficiently, and that the chief hope for the location of such a body is London. It will probably be a considerable time before such an object can be attained, for with the war with Japan not yet at its climax and the general hugglemuggle of the nations the future is dubious in the extreme, and we can do little but carry on with the present arrangement as best we can. During the terror and misery of five years of war civilized man has displayed a surprising mental toughness, a toughness demonstrated, and perhaps aided by the tenacious way in which he has clung to the little things, the little escapist pleasures of life. Fantasy fandom is perhaps the least of such little things, but such as it is it has played its part in the past, and will do so in the future.
Or so a journalist would put it. Some weeks ago I received an airmail letter from Signm Eric C. Williams with the CMF, who will be remembered by all SFA members as one of the more active fans in the happy days of peace. It said casually that Eric had noticed the parlous state of the BFS from the financial point of view, mentioned that he was quite out of touch with fandom and fantasy and intended to think as little about it as possible until he comes back, and said "It's five years since I paid anything into fandom, so I look at my credits and I say "£5 means nothing to me but a lot to the BFS" and so I've made out an army money order in your name to that effect."
I suspected a leg-pull. but a few days ago the money order for the amount stated arrived and, frankly, it's shaken me somewhat. One can hardly say "Thanks old boy" and toss the fiver into the general account with no more thought when it represents more than fifty per cent of that account. At the moment I have not had time to communicate with the rest of the Executive Committee concerning the matter and to determine our course of action, but I considered it essential that Eric's generosity should be made known to all members, so that all may join me in expressing our great appreciation.
Below is a list of those members who have paid their subs. for the year commencing June 1st 1945 as requested in the last Bulletin, with special remarks appended as required. If your name does not appear amongst them then you are getting this Bulletin buckshee at the expense of your fellow-fans, and unless you send in a sub of 2/6d toute-suite you will be considered as having resigned from the Society. Good-bye !
The latter remarks do not necessarily apply to fans in the forces, especially those in inaccessible spots. Such cases will be given special consideration to avoid unfairness. Also those who have joined this year and paid 1/- are considered to be entitled to that amount of membership, namely to the end of October this year unless they pay the extra l/6d.
The list is given in the approximate order in which subscriptions were received, with the actual amount in brackets.
C. Ashmore Baker (2/6d); A Bertram Chandler (2/6d); F.C. Brown. (2/6); Norman Lindsay (2/9d); E. Frank Parker (2/9d); Julian Parr (2/6d).; E. C. Tubb (5/-, the extra 2/6d being offered and accepted with thanks as a contribution to help with the above mentioned Forces Members); R.E. Hooker (2/6d); J. W. Banks (2/9); Arthur Hillman (2/6d); J. K. Aiken (2/6d); Dr. G. Robinson (2/6d) (new member No. 112, ''Finisklin" Molden Road, Worcester Park, Surrey,); Dennis Tucker (2/6d); G. Ellis (2/6d); K. Johnson (2/6d); Bob Gibson (2/6d); T. Overton (2/9d); P. Knott (5/-, an extra contribution for which we are duly grateful); H. K. Bulmer (2/6d); M. K. Hanson (2/6d); A Longton (2/6d); John Briston (2/9d); C. R. Forster (2/6d); W. Jordan (2/6d); C. S. Youd (2/6d); D.R.W. Stronge (7/6d - a rather complicated case. L/Cpl.Stronge is standing-in for his brother who is actually the BFS member but who is in the Navy
in the Mediterranean area and, finding that his mail went astray, transferred his rights to brother D.R.W.,
stationed on the Gold Coast; the extra is intended as compensation for what L/Cpl Stronge seems to regard
as skulduggery on the part of himself and brother, but which seems to me to have been a most sensible
arrangement; Walter H. Gillings (2/9d); Jack Gibson (2/6d); A. W. Busby (2/6d); J. M. Rosenblum (2/6d);
Eric Moss (2/6d); Dr. W. A. Gibson (2/6d - per JMR); Harold Gottliffe (2/6d - per JMR); D. R. Smith (2/9d);
R. March (l/9d)(he joined this year so the entrance fee of 1/- is counted part of the sub.) ; and another
new member, per JMR acting as agent, Douglas Slack, River View, E. Looe, Cornwall.
What the customers think
Some of the above subs were accompanied by interesting comments on the Society, and it seems worthwhile to reproduce the essential parts for the general interest. Such a letter column will become a regular feature of the Bulletin if letters continue to be received making comments either on the society and its Bulletin, or things of interest to fandom generally.
Sigmn H. K. Bulmer, CMF, Member No. 21, wrote:- "The question of continued life for the Bulletin rests on the shoulders of those active fans in England who have the time to give to its production. A sound scheme must at once be brought into action to cover the gap caused by the loss of Fido. I feel sure the BFS committee will be capable of handling the emergency. It might pay to ask members to write reasonably regularly reporting anything of interest, with a view to printing verbatim parts of their letters. Knowing fans I don't think you will be deluged with mail, but a steady stream should be ensured.
A regular bulletin is a necessity, of however a small or sketchy nature, some common medium whereby all fans may feel they are in the swim and keeping up to date in the fan world must be provided."
About which all I can say is "Hear hear!"
Gnr P. Knott, CMF, Member No. 30, wrote;- "I personally think, a bit late perhaps, that if the entrance fee to the Society were raised say to 5/- the financial situation would be improved; 'tis not a great sum really, well within most every member's ability to pay (even if in the army), and if members are interested enough to be members surely a light touch in the pocket wouldn't be minded.... The trouble with British Members seems to be general indifference and the fact that most are scattered all over the place and travel is difficult; the first is nearly impossible to overcome, the second has been overcome by the conventions which I might suggest be held regularly at Easter, August, and New Year as they have been before, but with plenty of warning so that chaps can get their time off at the right moment. I suggest that all Convention profits be turned over to the society proper for general use and not for future conventions."
Again I agree with the entire missive!.
Sigmn T. Overton, Member No. 5, wrote:- "2/9d enclosed in reply to your frantic appeal to BFS members
to support the society - it's a wonder the BFS has carried on so long with no yearly membership fee.
Was not 5/-per year set as the maximum under the original rules?....I hope the Bulletin gets out on
time and that all the troubles connected with producing it are overcome. ...How about starting a
personal column in it where members can put in small advertisments and requests, etc? I would suggest
a fee, say of 6d, which would help towards costs."
Alas for the frailness of human hopes! The Bulletin will be at least a month late, the trouble connected with producing it that has not been overcome is the lack of time and energy of the secretary. As for the fee for advertisments, unfortunately the Prospectus promises that these shall be free.
Gnr Bob Gibson, Canadian Army, Member No. 36 wrote apropos of the query in the previous Bulletin concerning jet-propulsion in pre-war fantasy :-"The only pre-war mention I have seen of jet propulsion was in, I think, Scientific American. It pointed out that the basic work on rocket tube outlet design had been done by turbine engineers to get the steam efficiently introduced into the works. It talked somewhat of rockets, but leant more to jet motors, suggesting that if there was a stratosphere layer of air-hydrogen mixture it would itself partly or entirely replace the usual fuel at that height. I don't recall a supercharger in the diagram - seems to me they relied on the shaping, internal of course, of the inlet to provide compression."
A little bit of rockets, a little bit of jet-propulsion, something of V1, and a bit of fantasy, in fact. No-one else has mentioned anything, so it seems to me that science-fiction has done a very poor job over jet-propulsion considering that all the essentials have been right under our noses for so long. Wonder what else we have missed?
Life is very interesting these days now that they are telling us of some of the things that have been done during the war. Pluto f 'rinstance. Who would have thought that you could roll 3" steel piping up on a big drum like so much wire and unwind it again as you wanted it? But I suppose that if you can wind .030 diameter wire up on a 2" diameter spool you can do the same with stuff a hundred times the diameter on a spool a hundred times as big, but I wouldn't have dared make such a comparision before being told of it being done!
An even more fascinating idea, nothing to do with the war, which I first heard of the other day through a reprint of a lecture given to the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, is the heat-pump. Using one of these you can burn coal to make steam to generate power to drive a heat-pump to give several times as much heat to warm a building than if the coal was used directly for that purpose. It's a refrigerator in reverse, you run the same cycle in such a manner as to try to cool a river or something similarly large, using the heat so extracted to heat a building in the usual way. If I remember the facts right Lord Kelvin suggested it in 1854, and it is in use in a number of places, notably for warming a city in Switzerland, - Zurich I think.
All that is now wanted is a heat engine that will work on a small temperature drop, and unlimited power is ours! Almost so, at least, if you try to cool the seas. Easy money for someone !
Duplicating and posting of this Bulletin is the work of Ron Holmes (aided by the wife), to whom deep gratitude should be felt by everyone who is in the least interested in the thing.
No less than four volunteers offered to address the labels - Messrs E. C. Tubb, Julian Parr, Maurice Hanson and Dennis Tucker. After unsuccessfully applying logic to try to determine the most suitable a pin pricked out Dennis Tucker. Many thanks to all who volunteered, and especially to the one selected by Fate.
Preparation, stencilling, and writing of most of the contents, by the old firm of Smith - who is the I whenever I say I instead of using the editorial "we" as I suppose I should. Hence the lateness with which it appears. If it appears. In my present state of weakness, with blisters all over my hands from unsuccessful cranking of car, with remarkably little time anyway, the odds are against it.
Most of the rest of the news is by courtesy of Michael Rosenblum, though I will claim that some of it may have appeared even if the job had been left to me. F'rinstance I knew that Milton Rothman was in Paris, thanks to Dunkelberger 's invaluable FANEWSCARD, which also tells me that he is enjoying himself, though hardly - according to his story - in the conventional way associated with Paris in the minds of people who dwell in and dislike moving from dumps like Hartshill Warwickshire. Another American fan recently moved to Europe is John M. Cunningham, famed as the BS-F WRS chap. The wife of Ron Holmes mentioned above is the lady who we know as Rita James, and they were married in March. Michael Rosenblum was in hospital three weeks, during which time, to his annoyance and regret, he missed meeting one sapper Al Godfrey. Bob Gibson visited him just before his imprisonment during Bob's quick whirl through England when he was moved from Italy to Belgium in order to finish off the war, and gives a picture of Mike's condition in FANEWSCARD which is considerably worse than anything I've been able to get out of the sufferer himself. He is recovered now to a large extent, but is still far from being fit, still over-occupied, with letters falling behind in consequence, for which he apologises profusely to all those affected. He, Ron Lane, George Ellis, and Don Houston spent Whitsun Weekend with Mister and Missus Holmes. By himself he spent a weekend at some place which I can't decipher, but Joyce Fairbairn lives there. Later the latter spent a weekend at Grange Terrace, a rather hectic weekend including attendance at a concert given by massed choirs, a C.O. Reunion, a meeting of the Association of Yorkshire Bookmen (J. B. Priestley and Ralph Strauss amongst those also present), a Labour party social at which JMR had been inveigled into running a quiz (he says inveigled, anyway), a May Day Rally, inspection of the Princess Royal inspecting the GTC, a spiritualist meeting, etcetera.... (remind me never to visit Michael Rosenblum please.) (But your name isn't Joyce Fairbairn.) (But if he does that to someone he likes....?) Peter Knott has gone overseas. So has another Peter 14756848 Sigmn Hawkins P., R. Signals, R.M.A. 77, M.E.F., is his address until further notice. Gus Willmorth may have done so too by the time you read this - only maybe he won't mind so much. .... Someone may be interested to know that John Russell Fearn is still alive, in Blackpool, writing hard, and the tip is to watch Standard publications and John Blade, England's mystery novelist.
Continuation of news.|
Another visit to JMR was one of the BFS's latest acquisitions, Gunner Ron Murch, a Londoner stationed in Breconshire and so nice and handy for visits to Leeds! Even I, moi qui vous parle, D.R. Smith in fact, have not escaped. Edwin Macdonald was stationed conveniently close for a time, close enough to come over and see me one Sunday afternoon just before Easter. Nice of him. Might have.been nicer for him if he had succeeded in parting me from my two Arkham house Lovecraft volumes (to which has since been added Marginalia, Edwin). Easter Sunday he reappeared in the company of Ron Lane, George Ellis and Don Houston. Big book-swop haggle between Ron and Edwin, Don Houston assisting, occupied the time pleasantly (well, it occupied the time) until a rather puzzled-at-what-they-had-come-for DRS escorted them to a 'bus, hotel accomodation having been obtained at Leicester. Being there they visited Roy Johnson on the following day. Ron Lane has recently produced another Gemini which looks a fairly good job, but I haven't had time to read it yet. For a matter of that I haven't had time to read the June Astounding either, and I've had that over a week. A secretary's life is hell.
Just received a letter from Gus Willmorth revealing that he has had his move overseas, but maybe not the one he wanted, being now in Casablanca and expecting to be there for the next six months or so. Address Cpl. R. Willmorth, Unit Personnel Section, 1250th AAF Base Unite, APO 396, c / o Postmaster N.Y.
Also just received another 2/9d - from Bob Chittock stationed in the Middle East after, as he says in his letter, having been round a lot of Europe. Has now come to rest in the desert but fortunately at a camp possessing some of the amenities of civilisation. He hopes the BFS received 100% support (hah!). Worthy of note, incidentally, that the proportion of Services people rallying round has been much greater than that of the civilians.
Mr E.C. Tubb, 7 Randolph Avenue, Maida Vale, London W.9 is anxious to buy back-numbers of fantasy magazines in good condition having - so I understand - lost his collection on accounta blitz.
His need is the greater, but if anyone who so desires cannot sell to him I would like it to be noted that I am in the market myself for Astounding from Oct '39 to Dec. '41, and most any magazine of pre-'34 (and some of '34 itself) vintage. D.R. Smith, 13 Church Road, Hartshill, Nuneaton, Warwks.
Sensational Publicity for Fantasy Magazine !
At the end of a report on the San Francisco Conference in The New Yorker, May 12th. 1945 appeared:- "Next to me sat a girl reporter from, I think, one of the local papers, she was relaxed in front of a still typewriter and was deep in a magazine. I glanced cautiously at the title. It was called FANTASIC ADVENTURES."
If he'd known what I know about Fantastic Adventures he would have exercised even more care in glancing at it. But I thought the thing expired in 1939?
1) Scans of this issue supplied from the SF Foundation collection by Andy Sawyer, OCR & proofreading by Greg Pickersgill.