Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Forrest J Ackerman on Early Science Fiction Authors He Knew

Remember when I said there was more yet of my interview with Forrest J Ackerman to be turned into micro-documentaries?  Well, I didn't have to do much work at all to produce this one.  When I was moving files from my dying hard drives to my new one, I found to my surprise that I'd had one ready to go all this time, but had forgotten about it in the wake of Forry's death.

So I just added a picture of Francis Flagg that I saw recently in the November 1931 issue of Wonder Stories (and used it for cover to cut out a mid-sentence pause), and there we are.


At the time I had 127 correspondents around the world, I was also in correspondence with a number of the early authors, like Jack Williamson and Edgar Rice Burroughs.  And finally, in 1939, at the first World Science Fiction Convention, I met in person authors I had been corresponding with, called Ray Cummings, and, 'course, the fabulous artist Frank R. Paul.

David H. Keller?  He was one of my favorite early authors, and at one time I visited him in his home in Pennsylvania, and I stayed overnight.  And I noticed, at each meal, he was including a handful of different vitamins.  And he said he was attempting to lengthen his life with these.  He did indeed live to a ripe old age.

My wife didn't believe in vitamins.  She said, you eat a healthy diet, and that's sufficient.

Well, Francis Flagg was a well-established name author, but he began to run out of ideas.  And I was overflowing with ideas, but I did not have any stature yet as an author.  So I began supplying plots to Francis Flagg, and he wrote up—the first one was called "Earth's Lucky Day."

Well, I remember at one time, when I was temporarily living in San Francisco, I found that an author of a series of stories called "Tani of Ekkis"—he had the name of Aladra Septama.  And I found that actually, he was a lawyer, Judson W. Reeves, living in—having his office in downtown San Francisco.

So one day, I went to his office and met him, and he took me to lunch afterwards, and out to his home.  And there I was staggered to see the first six issues of Amazing Stories on display.  I had not been aware of it in April 1926 when it began, and I only began collecting it in October.  And to my undying gratitude, Aladra Septama—boy, I—always fascinated by that pseudonym.  I never—I regret I didn't ask him how he created such a name.  But Aladra Septama took the six copies of Amazing Stories that I had missed, and gained by undying gratitude by making me a gift of them.

Winston: I'll bet you still have them, too.

Liz (louder): Do you still have them?

Ackerman: Of course I still have them!  I never threw away a science fiction magazine in my life!

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