Jack Williamson, center,  signing autographs outside Nycon 1, the first Worldcon. The worshipful fanboy at the left is me.

Jack Williamson, center, outside Nycon 1, the first Worldcon.
The worshipful fanboy at the left is me.

I did by chance run into Jack Williamson, briefly, at the first-ever Worldcon in 1939, which was in the same summer as New York’s first World’s Fair — and which Donald Wollheim had proposed we New York fans should use as the opportunity to convene a World Science Fiction Convention in the hope that it would attract some foreign fans who would be coming to our city for the Fair anyway. Mark the fact that the original idea had come from a Futurian.

But in the remorseless fan warfare of the period the other guys had more votes than we did, so they took it away from us, and the reason that first actual contact was “briefly” is that seven of us, me included, were unfairly ejected from the actual meeting. “Unfairly” because we were thrown out for something we hadn’t done. Dave Kyle had done it, and he was allowed to stay. As it happened, I then spent the time of the con in the bar next door, where most of the writers wound up anyway, but Jack didn’t happen to be one of them.

However, we Futurians were nothing if not resourceful. On the spot, we created a meeting of our own for the next day and invited all those attending the actual con to come to ours as well. On such short notice the only hall we could secure for our meeting was in remote Brooklyn. A fair number of the fans present managed to get there, but only one of the actual writers.

That one writer, though, was the always adventurous Jack Williamson.

Since he was clearly the star of our meeting I wasn’t lucky enough to have much one-on-one time with him, but we all had a free and easy several hours of chatting, and I think most of those present were glad they had come — although if they had known in advance that the hall we had secured, the only one we could get on short notice, was primarily the headquarters of the local Communist Party, there might have been some qualms.

To be continued. . . .

Related posts:

Jack the Wonderful Williamson: Part 1, Part 3, Part 4

One Comment

  1. Patrick Harris says:

    I have actually met David Kyle; I live in the same town he does and he attends the same church as my fiance. If this is not too tacky a request, I would be delighted to hear any stories of him that you might have, as his own tend to be fairly vague. Based on what I can find online, however, I suspect details would be fascinating indeed.