First and Last Fans.
Robert Madle, June 2, 1920 – October 8, 2022.
Robert Madle was the last surviving member of First Fandom, the handful of Fans who got together and, through their correspondence and eventual meetings, created Science Fiction Fandom, the field’s robust fanzine community, Science Fiction Clubs and Science Fiction Conventions.
I personally considered Bob one of my Fannish Fathers. I had no idea who this engaging, interesting person was when I visited his booth at the 1974 Philcon, but his display of pulp magazines and his willingness to spend time passing on Fannish Lore almost immediately converted me from a “Trekkie” to a “Fan” (someone potentially interested in everything and anything the genre might bring forth, not just one aspect of it).
Over the years we corresponded very intermittently – usually on subjects related to the pulp magazines in the field.
During that very first meeting, Bob explained the history of Amazing Stories to me; several years later, when I’d entered the work force, he found, obtained and then sold me the copy of Amazing Stories, Volume 1, Number 1 (April, 1926) that is a centerpiece of my collection of Volume 1 Number 1 SF Magazines.
He proposed naming the Science Fiction Achievement after Hugo Gernsback.
Several years later I served on the SunCon committee (35th World Science Fiction convention), where Bob was the Fan Guest of Honor and I was the manager of the Hugo Awards Banquet.
Bob will be sorely missed. I remain grateful for his insight and the wisdom he passed along to me. I mourn not only the passing of this individual, but also, in many ways, the ending of a Fannish era.
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