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Ackerman, Forrest J

Entry updated 16 January 2023. Tagged: Author, Editor, Fan.

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(1916-2008) US editor, literary agent and collector, a reader of the sf Magazines from their inception (with a letter published in Science Wonder Quarterly in 1929), an active member of sf Fandom from his early teens; as early as 1932 he served as associate editor of The Time Traveller, often cited as the first Fanzine. Beginning with "A Trip to Mars" (24 May 1941 San Francisco Chronicle), published on the children's page of the Chronicle's Sunday supplement, for many decades he wrote stories and articles prolifically for fan journals – using his own name and a wide variety of elaborate pseudonyms, including Dr Acula, Sylvius Agricola, S F Balboa, Coil Kepac, Jacques DeForest Erman, Alden Lorraine, Spencer Strong, Vespertina Torgosi, Hubert George Wells (cheekily) and Weaver Wright – and becoming known in fan circles as "Mr Science Fiction". Preceding "A Trip to Mars" above, his first professional fiction sale was the collaboration "Earth's Lucky Day" (March/April 1936 Wonder Stories) with Francis Flagg, though in fact Ackerman had only provided an idea which Flagg put into words; he had previously collaborated with C L Moore on "Nymph of Darkness" (April 1935 Fantasy Magazine). His first solo professional sale was the 1946 vt of his Fanzine story "Me and the Mite" (1941 Specula #2) as by Carl F Bark, reprinted as "Micro Man" (1946 New Worlds #2) as by Alden Lorraine.

Ackerman won several awards for his activities, including a Hugo in 1953 for Number One Fan Personality, a Bram Stoker (horror) life achievement award in 1997, and a World Fantasy Award for life achievement in 2002. Some of his more interesting work was assembled in Science Fiction Worlds of Forrest J. Ackerman and Friends (anth 1969; exp vt Expanded Science Fiction Worlds of Forrest J Ackerman & Friends PLUS 2002); other contributors include Robert A W Lowndes, William F Nolan, Theodore Sturgeon and A E van Vogt. Along with a huge assemblage of ephemera connected to Los Angeles and Hollywood (see California), he collected sf books and memorabilia from the very first, publishing in "I Bequeath" (to the Fantasy Foundation) (1946 chap) a bibliography of the first 1300 items, and eventually housing his 300,000-item library, which he called the Fantasy Foundation, in a seventeen-room house in Hollywood, the maintenance of which proved difficult to manage over the years. The library was further celebrated in Souvenir Book of Mr Science Fiction's Fantasy Museum (1978 chap). Disposals of collectable books were made at intervals; and part of the library was auctioned in 1987, grossing over $550,000.

Ackerman was active as an editor for many years, though not deeply influential. Most notably, he edited the Cinema-centred Media Magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland (1958-1983, final issue #191 dated March 1983) from Warren Publishing, for which company he also co-created Vampirella; the related short-lived, sf-film-focused companion magazines Spacemen (1961-1965) and Monster World (1964-1966); the US Perry Rhodan series (1969-1977) – to which he contributed editorials as Forry Rhodan; the first nine issues of FJA's Monsterland (1985-1987), an attempted recreation of Famous Monsters of Filmland which was troubled by editor-publisher disputes (in particular regarding coverage of Splatter Movies, which Ackerman thoroughly disliked); its single-issue companion magazine Monsters and Imagi-Movies; and two further attempted returns to the glory days of Famous Monsters with the short-lived Monsterama (1991) and Wonderama (1993). Nonfiction related to Famous Monsters of Filmland includes Boris Karloff: The Frankenscience Monster (1969) and Mr Monster's Movie Gold (graph 1981), the latter mostly an assembly of rare film stills.

Ackerman's sf anthologies include Best Science Fiction for 1973 (anth 1973), Gosh! Wow! (Sense of Wonder) Science Fiction (anth 1982), The Gernsback Awards, Vol 1: 1926 (anth 1982) and Reel Future (anth 1994) with Jean Marie Stine. Notorious for his punning and use of simplified words – such as signing himself "4e" for "Forry" or "4SJ" for "Forrest J" (see Amazing Forries; Fan Language) – Ackerman is credited with introducing the term Sci Fi in 1954, a coinage of which he was inordinately proud. He acted as literary agent for a number of writers, notably A E van Vogt.

His wife, the translator Wendayne Ackerman, was also a fan. [MJE/JC/DRL]

see also: Collections; Fan Funds; Retro Hugo.

Forrest James Ackerman

born Los Angeles, California: 24 November 1916

died Los Angeles, California: 4 December 2008


  • Micro-Man (no place given: Project Gutenberg, 2010) [story: ebook: first appeared July 1947 Fantasy Book as by Weaver Wright: na/]


works as editor

works as editor: nonfiction


Famous Monsters of Filmland

individual titles as editor: nonfiction

  • Lon of 1000 Faces! (Beverley Hills, California: Morrison Raven-Hill, 1983) [anth: on Lon Chaney: hb/photographic]

about the author


previous versions of this entry

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