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Forry Ackerman Dead At 92 83

Posted by kdawson
from the famous-monsters-wave-bye-bye dept.
rrohbeck was one of several readers to note the passing of Forrest J. Ackerman at the age of 92. Ackerman, who coined the term sci-fi in 1954, has been called the 'world's biggest fan.' Over a long career he acted as literary agent for Isaac Asimov, A.E. van Vogt, Hugo Gernsback, and L. Ron Hubbard; he published Ray Bradbury's first short story in a fan magazine in 1938. Ackerman wrote over 2,000 articles and short stories, including, oddly enough, lesbian fiction in the 1940s. In recent years, mounting health bills forced him to sell his home, the 'Ackermansion,' and most of the 300,000 items of memorabilia it stored.
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Forry Ackerman Dead At 92

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  • to what is thoughts were on the evolution of scifi?

    if anyone has a perspective on that, this man certainly does

    RIP

  • L Ron? (Score:5, Funny)

    by bluephone (200451) <{gro.snortceletnrub} {ta} {yerg}> on Saturday December 06, 2008 @03:32PM (#26014587) Homepage Journal
    So we can blame him for giving Hubbard his start? Not something I'd brag about. ;)
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      So we can blame him for giving Hubbard his start? Not something I'd brag about. ;)

      Lord Xenu looks down at you with disgust.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Lord Xenu looks down at you with disgust.

        That's a $15,000 fine if I'm not mistaken. And you have to spend an hour with Tom Cruise.

      • by pentalive (449155)

        No, Lord Xenu is the the Scientology devil so he would be delighted in the comment.

    • by Lazyrust (1101059)
      Beware of the Xenudians coming for you for that comment, with Tom at the front of the pack.
    • Re:L Ron? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by rrohbeck (944847) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @04:04PM (#26014795)

      So we can blame him for giving Hubbard his start? Not something I'd brag about. ;)

      That was before Dianetics and Scientology. Hubbard was just a sci-fi author back then, before he found he could get rich by other means.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Unlike all of those who found they could get rich writing science fiction...

      • but Scientology's foundational mythology is based on Hubbard's sci-fi works. i'm sure by now most people have heard of Xenu, the galactic dictator who scientologists believe flew billions of people to Earth on DC-8s [wikipedia.org], stacked them around volcanoes, and blew them up with H-bombs [wikipedia.org]. well ever heard of Battlefield Earth [wikipedia.org]?

        he doesn't even seem like that great of a sci-fi author. i mean, DC-8s? really? that's the best design he could come up with for an intergalactic ship?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Shatrat (855151)
          I picked up some of his books when I was younger and hadn't heard of Scientology yet.
          He is easily the worst writer I have ever had the misfortune to read a published novel from.
          In the novel I tried to read the hero saves the world from the energy crisis by making a carburetor which splits water into hydrogen and oxygen which is then burned by a V8 cadillac.
          In L. Ron's house, they do not obey the laws of thermodynamics.
        • Re:L Ron? (Score:4, Funny)

          by commodoresloat (172735) * on Saturday December 06, 2008 @06:08PM (#26015467)

          he doesn't even seem like that great of a sci-fi author. i mean, DC-8s? really? that's the best design he could come up with for an intergalactic ship?

          He was going to use DC-10s but he was worried because of the cargo door problem.

        • by puto (533470)
          Hey you, We cross paths on the odd occasion on slashdot. Hubbard was more of a pulp writer than a true sci-fi writer. He was more of a cross of a romance novelist and a fantasy author and a guy just looking to pay the bills. The reality is that he wrote scientology as a joke, and people chose to think it was not.
      • by jgrahn (181062)

        So we can blame him for giving Hubbard his start? Not something I'd brag about. ;)

        That was before Dianetics and Scientology. Hubbard was just a sci-fi author back then, before he found he could get rich by other means.

        The only reason we're talking about Hubbard is ignorance. We don't know enough about what Ackerman really ought to be remembered for. I know him mostly as an anthology editor.

      • Apparently he even wrote in one of his story something like "in the 21st century the easiest way to make a fortune is to create a new religion..."

        so we should thank F.A. for giving us access to the warning ;-)

        • by rrohbeck (944847)

          Yeah, I've been thinking of setting up a church myself. Imagine: No more taxes and sheeple that will donate to you :)
          I think the Perl Monks are up to something. Would a high priest in the Church of Perl be tax exempt? I'd qualify.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by scatteredsun (981481)
      And wrote a freakin awesome book, Battlefield Earth. WHICH HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH SCIENTOLOGY (and very little to do with that POS movie)!!! I don't blame Hubbard for dianetics, he just wanted to make some cash. "who's more of a fool, the fool, or the fool that follow him?"
    • Re:L Ron? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ushering05401 (1086795) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @04:40PM (#26014985) Journal

      If you want to hear about Hubbard's real start check out the book Strange Angel.

      http://www.amazon.com/Strange-Angel-Otherworldly-Scientist-Whiteside/dp/0156031795/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1228595734&sr=1-1 [amazon.com]

      Parsons not only invented the first feesible JATO propulsion (the foundation for the JPL), but showed Hubbard the roadmap for getting what he wanted through occult organizations before falling prey to his own system.

      The book provides insight into early sci-fi fans as well, as Parsons would give presentations to sci-fi fan clubs about his reasearch during the period that no one respectable would talk to him.

      I believe Ackerman makes an appearance in the bio, and I am sure several other sci-fi authors do as well... I just don't recall which ones ATM.

      Anyhow, RIP Ackerman... Yet another legend that I will never meet in this life.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I knew Forry and he had a massive affect on science fiction, fantasy and horror as well as literature. He was a sweet guy and if you managed to accomplish 10% of what he did in his life you'd be a giant in the industry. He was the original eccentric and loved puns. One of his favorite saying was he'd read every last word of every book in his massive library. He literally turned to the end of every book as he got them and read the last word just so he could say that. He read most of them he just liked to be

      • by 3Cats (113616)

        Lo about 1999 or 2000 a group of us fans went on the tour of his house in L.A. Sat in his living room on the floor and listened to him tell us stories, wandered up and down stairs and all around the house looking and a veritable treasure trove of Sci-Fi memorabilia, paintings, props, brickabrack and the books- gods... the sheer number of books! Even got to scrabble around under the house in the "graveyard" or whatever he called it, just a dirt cellar really, but full of ghouls,zombies, eerie stuff and gods

  • link? (Score:5, Funny)

    by langelgjm (860756) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @03:37PM (#26014629) Journal

    lesbian fiction in the 1940s.

    Um, link?

  • with Ackermann's Function [wikipedia.org], which some of us might remember from some computer-sciency/math course.

    A(m,n) = {
    n+1 if m=0
    A(m-1,1) if m&gt;0 and n&gt;0
    A(m-1, A(m, n-1)) if m&gt;0 and n&gt;0
    }

    ("Its value grows rapidly, even for small inputs. For example A(4,2) contains 19,729 decimal digits.")

    • Ahh yes, second semester. Before I read the wikipedia article I thought the whole purpose of the Ackermann function was to blow up the call stack :)

      Its sister assignment was to code an implementation of horner's rule using no multiplication and bit-shifting. Another bitch was to code a program which printed arbitrary-length factorials using only arrays and without using datatypes like BigInteger. Speaking of BigInteger, the class was called "scientific programming" but the language used was Java!
  • He wrote lesbian porn in the 40s. Thats gotta be major points right there.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Kandenshi (832555)

      Hey now, I've never read any of his "lesbian fiction" but it's *possible* it's not porn.
      It might be unlikely for this case sure, but there are more than a few non-pornographic romance stories out there about two (or more!) women falling in love.

      These stories might feature graphic sex, or subtle references to sex having happened, or no sex at all. ... That said, if you find the stories, gzip them up and upload them to some file host like rapidshare/megaupload please? =P I'd like to test my hypothesis that t

  • ...Ackerman wrote over 2,000 articles and short stories, including, oddly enough, lesbian fiction in the 1940s...

  • Not very surprising to the Slashdot crowd.

    Our fond attachment to lesbians is very well known. [penny-arcade.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward

    He must be an American or live in America. I see he had to sell off his assets to pay for health care.

    • by westlake (615356) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @05:50PM (#26015361)
      He must be an American or live in America. I see he had to sell off his assets to pay for health care.

      Forrest Ackerman needed 24-hour home care and as late as 2003 was still engaged in a long, debilitating, and expensive lawsuit against a former business partner. Welcome to his planet [latimes.com] [Jan 06,2003]

  • ...in 5 4 3 2 1.

    Slashdotters won't know what to make of this. Do they focus on the geeky, or focus on the boobies?

  • Ackerman was always known as a big-hearted, genuinely decent guy in addition to being a huge science fiction/fantasy fan. Stories of the parties, comings and goings and general happy weirdness at his house were legend.

    He'll be missed.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ChrisMaple (607946)

      Ackerman was always known as a big-hearted, genuinely decent guy

      Sorry, I've heard otherwise, where he used the power of a big studio to obtain memorabilia for his own collection that was being cared for by the impoverished artist who created it.

      • Do forgive me, but I do not believe that, other than in Hollywood blockbusters and US presidentiale election propaganda, people are either all good, Yoda-like, or all bad. Forry, who used to give paraphernalia (he gave me too) with the combination "4E" (pronounced by Americans "Forry"), was in my opinion a mostly decent and very cordial fellow fan. I met him at the World Science Fiction Convention in The Hague, Netherlands, in 1990, and we must have talked for at least half an hour, during which he managed
        • there was an obnoxious Aussie fan, who managed to attract, by his vulgarity, drunkenness and hate-loaded speech mannerism, the unanimous detestation of the attendees

          Wow, Mark Latham on tour!
          (Australian political in-joke for the very few)

    • Ackerman was always known as a big-hearted, genuinely decent guy in addition to being a huge science fiction/fantasy fan. Stories of the parties, comings and goings and general happy weirdness at his house were legend.

      He'll be missed.

      Ditto. He was an icon of the science fiction/horror genre. I'll miss him.

  • no joke. american healthcare industry would take everything except your soul to treat a mere sneeze.
    • by alvinrod (889928)

      From TFA:

      "Famous Monsters of Filmland ceased publication in 1983, but returned a decade later with Ray Ferry as publisher and Ackerman as editor. Ackerman, however, reportedly had a falling out with Ferry and left the magazine. Years of litigation followed. In 2000, after a civil trial, Ackerman won a trademark infringement and breach-of-contract lawsuit against Ferry, though he said a year later that he had not yet collected a penny of the judgment.

      In recent decades, according to a 2003 Times story, Ackerm

  • And this "lesbian fiction" is found where today?
  • The first link in the summary refers to him as Forrest J. Ackerman, and that's wrong. There is no period after the J as you can see in the Wikipedia article. [wikipedia.org] Yes, I know that Wikipedia isn't always right, but it is this time. I was fortunate to have met him a few times, and hear him speak, and 4E always insisted on having his name spelled correctly. If you want to abbreviate, 4SJ will be just fine, ThankYouVeryMuch.
  • by westlake (615356) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @10:35PM (#26017007)
    To make a living in pulp fiction you needed to be both versatile and productive.
    Think a penny a word.
    A quarter cent a word for anything that might be difficult or impossible to sell over the counter.
    Payment on publication, at least in theory.*
    Still, you had a realistic chance of placing your stories somewhere.
    If you were sufficiently talented and adroit, you might chance submitting a story with strong sexual themes to a magazine like The New Yorker.
    But not every writer is destined to reach such heights.

    * - If you were being paid on acceptance, you were writing for the Saturday Evening Post, your stories were in production by MGM, and ground was being broken for your new house in Conneticut.

  • Esperanto (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rleibman (622895) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @03:06AM (#26018231) Homepage
    Sad, sad, sad. I met him a couple of times at Esperanto gatherings (the Zamenhof banquet in Berkley) and he was always a welcome and witty character.
    • by sootman (158191)

      Regarding the 1960s movie Incubus with William Shatner, which was the first American movie to be done entirely in Esperanto:

      Incubus is "the movie-watching event of a lifetime" according to Forrest J. Ackerman, the man whom Ray Bradbury called "the most important fan/collector/human being in the history of science-fantasy fiction." Mr. Ackerman, winner of 6 Hugo awards, also said, "There are perhaps a baker's dozen of lost films of the fantastic that imagi-movie fans thirst to see: London After Midnight, Mys

  • by jman.org (953199)
    Another one bites the dust. We just lost Ursula K. Leguin last month, Robert Asprin this past May, Arthur C. Clarke in March. No more chances to chat with them at cons anymore!

    The term "sci-fi" was an alliterative way of honoring Hugo Gernsback, one of the early SF editors, who was also very much into radio and coined the term "Hi-Fi". Forry was trying to come up with a catchy title, and he did.

    Most TruFen - hard-core science fiction enthusiasts - would pronounce it "Skiffy", though.

    See 'ya on th

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