Now that I’m getting marginally better at one-hand typing, I can respond a little better to some of your remarks. In particular there were a ton (relatively speaking) of responses to my piece on the Science Fiction League, and two that I just can’t not reply to.

One is from a woman from Singapore whom I met there in 1985 and who is not named Han May. That, however, is the pen name she attached to her novel, Star Sapphire, which just happens to be the only science-fiction novel ever written by a Singaporean. Grand to hear from you, May. (And the rest of you please note that this blog may not be the most popular ever, but it sure does get to some far-off places.)

The other is from Jeff Berkwits (note also that I’m getting braver about using names), who wants to know something about the other science fiction league, the one that hardly anybody else has heard of.

This was a phenomenon of the early 1950s and it consisted of two young men who had a plan to bring science fiction to television in a big way. The design was to get as many of the field’s top writers into a syndicate (yes, I think they called it the Science Fiction League, disregarding Hugo Gernsback’s prior Wonder Stories club), which would then function sort of the way ASCAP and BMI (if those are unfamiliar to you, Google them) do for writers and composers of popular songs. And to get it off the ground, they had written to all the top sf writers in the New York area inviting them to come to an organization meeting in Fletcher Pratt’s apartment on West 58th Street.

Around 20 writers responded with interest. Around nine of them showed up at Fletcher’s at the appointed hour. The other 11 or so (all this is from memory and the numbers are probably not exact. But close) didn’t come in person. They sent me. At the time I was riding high with my literary agency and doing pretty well with it. I represented a clear majority of the best writers in the field; and all the writers who were my clients asked me what to do, and I said I would handle it.

Unfortunately, there was not a great deal to handle. The two organizers were personable and articulate, but they had very little tangible to offer. Their idea did have some possibilities, and we spent some hours discussing them. But at the end, they had neither on-signing money to offer — and that was essential, since signing would have caused problems for some who already had interest from actual producers — nor the names of any producers who were interested in acquiring rights to any of the assembled writers’ properties. I told them that, as far as I was concerned, if they could get any producer to express interest in working with their syndicate I would be willing to reopen the discussion for my writers, but that never happened,

 
Related post:
Let There Be Fandom: The Science Fiction League

3 Comments

  1. Russ Gray says:

    I spend a significant part of my day typing. When my hands get tired or my carpal tunnel acts up I use some software called Dragon Naturally Speaking. It allows you to dictate into the computer. It takes some getting used to, but it works fairly well. I use the Preferred version; I’ve heard the Professional (i.e., expensive) version isn’t enough better to be worth the money. The newest version is version 10.

    http://www.nuance.com/naturallyspeaking/products/editions/preferred.asp

    By the way I love your blog.

  2. Jeff Berkwits says:

    Thanks so much for taking the time to answer and clear things up. That’s great info to know. I know the show continued to incorporate the SF League name in its credits for some time, but never was entirely sure how it fit into the puzzle. Now I have a much clearer picture. Most appreciated, and belated wishes on your birthday! Here’s to many, many more!

  3. Joan Fong (Han May) says:

    Thanks for remembering me, Fred. I’ve had a good time recently as fans who read the book 20 years back were desperately trying to get a copy to re-read it. Ever since we had lunch and discussed it, nobody else since wrote science fiction in Singapore.

    I love your blog too and all this nostalgia on how science fiction began. The wonder of the present age is that you can buy practically anything that is out of print from online bookstores.

    It upsets me too that since we spoke about Walter M Miller Jr, he went and shot himself. Anne passed away I read somewhere and after a few months he couldn’t stand it, got Terry Bisson to complete his second terrible novel which nobody is crazy about – I have yet to see rave reviews anywhere – and then he killed himself.

    I have about 25 letters of correspondence between Walt and myself which are deeply insightful as to how he thinks of himself and life in general. Do you know what I can do with them? When I die, these will be discarded and lost to posterity.

    Is there any way I can get into the American market? Sorry, this is a tall order which even you can’t solve for me. I need a literary agent.

    Joan Hon (Han May)