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Editorial - March 2010
by Gordon Van Gelder

THE ANNUAL World Fantasy Convention is an event I try never to miss. I also try never to bore all of you with convention reports, but this year's WFC had several events I think are worth sharing.

The greatest event of all took only an hour—it was a panel discussing F&SF's sixtieth anniversary. The hour proved to be too short and we wound up talking mostly about our magazine's first thirty years. Dick Lupoff drew on his years of friendship with the Bouchers and with Annette Pelz (McComas) to tell everyone about such things as the 1949 launch party for F&SF, where Basil Rathbone drew upon his immense thespic skills and spoke mellifluously for some time, earning a rousing ovation…after which everyone turned to their tablemates, only to discover that no one had actually made sense of what Mr. Rathbone said. (It was suggested that the great actor might have had a drink or two beforehand.)

We also spoke at length of cofounding editor J. Francis McComas, about whom few people seem to know much—even folks who'd met him, like Ron Goulart and Bob Silverberg, had little to offer. Fortunately, I've been in touch recently with a woman named Maria Alonzo who happens to be McComas's grandniece. She has been tracking down this lost relative of hers and her path took her to F&SF, and she has some pieces of the puzzle that was his life. I hope to bring you soon a short article by her about "Mick."

The other panelists included Nancy Etchemendy, who would have contributed more had we been able to discuss the '80s and '90s at greater length, and Grania Davis, who had wonderful anecdotes about life in the early '60s, when her husband Avram Davidson edited F&SF from his home in Mexico for $25 a month. (That's five times your current editor's salary, in case you're wondering.) The days before faxes, email, IMs, and FedEx might seem unreal to some readers, but Grania remembered for us what it was like to wait hours to use the one phone in town so Avram could call in corrections to the home offices of Mercury Press. Support Your Local Postal Worker Day was the most important holiday in her life back then.

Audience members included a writer who had made his first sale to F&SF in 1964 and another who made his first sale in 2006. And perhaps there were people in the audience whose work will be appearing here in 2011 or beyond.

Speaking of which, the weekend was one in which this editor felt the hands of time click forward. There were a couple of young men and women who claimed to be the adult versions of children I've known during my editorial career, but I was not deceived by such impossibilities (not even when they offered convincing remarks like, "I'm as tall as you now"). I was, however, tickled by the woman who, on meeting me, asked if my father had been an editor also. It seems that she had submitted stories to the editor of F&SF a decade ago and in her mind's eye, its editor was a graybearded veteran, so I couldn't possibly be the same person. It still astounds me to think that I've held the reins here for more than an eighth of a century.

Assistant Editor John Joseph Adams made it known that after his own term of eight years as "the Slush God," he's moving on to take the helm of a new Webzine called Lightspeed. These bigger bimonthly issues we're publishing now still aren't large enough to hold all the gratitude I feel for John and his invaluable contributions to F&SF over the years. I'm eager to see what he does with his own magazine and I wish him Godspeed with Lightspeed.

As usual, there was plenty of fretting about print and the future of the printed word, but after sitting through the awards ceremony, and then afterward listening to the judges describe the judging process, I came away from the weekend thinking that the literature of the fantastic is in pretty good shape overall. Reading through a big stack of submissions on the flight home only deepened my conviction. Stick around to see what I found in that pile.


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