Fanorama by Walt Willis
In the autumn of 1952, while still in his teens, editor/publisher Peter Hamilton launched NEBULA Science Fiction, Scotland's first (and still only) professional science fiction magazine. From the beginning, NEBULA carried Walt Willis' column, which at first was called "The Electric Fan." Walt changed its name to "Fanorama" after, mysteriously, skipping the thirteenth issue. A savvy editor, Hamilton catered to fandom in a big way—besides "Fanorama," NEBULA also carried "scientifilm" reviews by Forry Ackerman, book reviews by Ken Slater, and a lively letter column. Hamilton was also no slouch when it came to selecting stories for the magazine. NEBULA carried the first published work of Bob Silverberg, Bob Shaw and Brian Aldiss.
Production of NEBULA was obviously done "on the cheap," as the printer credit changed frequently throughout the run. Some of the copies in my set are in better shape than others, which partly accounts for some of the variability of print quality; but mostly it's due to what might be considered the professional equivalent of mimeo problems: broken type, irregular print density, offset, etc. For greater readability they're 25% larger than in their original appearance, which, I hope, helps to mitigate these irregularities.
I have no idea how many people discovered and entered fandom as a result of "Fanorama"; Walt acknowledges that the late Ethel Lindsay was one such recruit (see page 45). When I first announced this collection, I solicited introductions from anyone whose fannish origins could be traced to Walt's columns. Only one person responded, Darroll Pardoe, who wrote:
Most of the artwork in this collection is by the late Arthur Thomson (ATom), all taken from NEBULA, where Arthur's artwork was featured extensively. He illustrated many stories, provided spot cartoons, and did 23 of its 41 bacovers. Arthur wasn't the only artist coming out of fandom to contribute to NEBULA: the headings for "The Electric Fan" and the earlier "Fanorama" columns were done by Alan Hunter. Other fan artists who appeared in its pages were Terry Jeeves, Eddie Jones and Harry Turner.
NEBULA folded in June 1959, but that wasn't the end of "Fanorama." When I asked Walt later that year to contribute to the first annish of my own first fanzine, PSI-PHI, he sent me a column that had been orphaned with NEBULA's demise; it also appears here. Walt revived "Fanorama" in 1964 and produced four more installments for Pete Weston's ZENITH. Those columns also appear in this collection. In addition, I've included a letter from Beryl Henley Mercer that provides context for Walt's final column.
And now, Himself....
Print edition of Fanorama published November 1998.
Copies of the print edition of Fanorama are available from Robert Lichtman
For more information on Nebula, including contents
Jim also has an archive of Ken Slater's book review columns from Nebula.
Last revised: 29 November, 2009
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