Earlier this month I visited the old homestead in Ohio, and during that time visited the nearby town of Yellow Springs, which I have started calling “The Hippie Village That Time Forgot.” It’s a delightful place, and they have a wonderful new and used book store called Dark Star.
I ended up buying a copy of “In Memory Yet Green,” Isaac Asimov’s entertaining 1979 autobiography. As a young man in 1938 Brooklyn, he started writing science-fiction stories and submitting them to magazines like Astounding Tales. He also entered the world of science-fiction fandom, which was then in its infancy. His hilarious, and tragic, description of what he found will resonate with anyone who’s ever done anything, either cultural or political, in a group:
“Though science-fiction clubs were small, they were contentious. The membership tended to consist of intelligent, articulate, argumentative, short-tempered, and opinionated young men (plus a few women) who got into tremendous power struggles.
You might wonder how power struggles can possibly arise in small clubs devoted to something as arcane as science fiction, and I wonder, too – but it happens. There are arguments over what happened to the thirty-five cents in the treasury, who is to run the fanzine, and other equally momentous problems. I believe there were even arguments as to how best to “control fandom” or, on a lesser scale, the world.”
Of course, now it is 2014, and the dream of “controlling fandom” has migrated to the corporate boardroom. Progress!