Richard E. Geis, 1927-2013

cover to SFR #39; I think the artist is Alicia Austin

Over on Trufen, Andrew Porter reported Richard E. Geis' had died last month, on February 4th.  Geis was an important figure in science fiction fanzine fandom, especially in the 1960's and 1970's.  He was also an important figure in my own life, even if we never met.

I cut my fannish eyeteeth on Dick Geis' artificial vagina.  (Now there's a sentence you won't see written very often!)

Geis' SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW (aka, at times, as THE ALIEN CRITIC), in 1968, was the first "real" fanzine I'd seen.  (I'd seen a few samples of comics fanzines prior, mostly ad-based.)  It was an eye-opener.  Not just for the discussion and *ahem* vigorous dialogues about science fiction, but because he was the first person I'd encountered in my entire life who was willing to write openly and un-self-censored about sexual matters like masturbation (including with the aforementioned artificial vagina) and writing porn for a living.

(No, literally, at age 16, he was the first person I'd seen do that, and he did it in a public forum.  Get back on my lawn, kids, and I'll tell you how desperate teenagers were in the 1950's and 60's for ANY kind of sexual facts or information, and how unavailable it was.  But you won't believe me.)

That openness has been a big influence on my own life and writings.  I'm nowhere near as open and uninhibited at the typewriter as Geis was, but I'm open enough to occasionally make people uncomfortable.  Overall, I think that's a good thing.

I'll quote part of  Porter's Trufen post regarding Geis.:
"Richard E. Geis was one of the finest fan writers and fanzine
publishers SF fandom ever produced. His own writings, primarily in
his schizophrenic "Alter-Ego" editorial role in his numerous
fanzines, which were notoriously wont to change their names in mid-
publication, are famous in the field. They gained him numerous Hugo
Award nominations and many wins. His fanzines, which became focal
point fanzines attracting numerous contributions from the finest
writers, professional and fannish, and artists, also gained him
numerous Hugo nominations and wins.

"Geis was a Fan Writer Hugo nominee in 1970 and 1971, and every year
from 1973 to 1986, winning Best Fan Writer Hugos in 1982 and 1983.
His fanzines were Hugo nominees from 1968 to 1971, and 1974 to 1983.
His "Science Fiction Review" won the Fanzine Hugo in 1969, 1970, 1977
and 1979. "The Alien Critic" won the Fanzine Hugo in 1974 (tied with
Andrew Porter's "Algol"), and in 1975. Altogether, he received 30
nominations for the Hugo award, winning eight times."
The Wikipedia entry for Richard Geis is here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Back in the late seventies/early eighties I wrote some book reviews for Dick Geis' "Science Fiction Review" fanzine. Also wrote a regular column that critiqued short stories from "The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction." He really came across as a decent guy in our occasional correspondence.

I just ran across his obituary today and read your comments. Couldn't agree more about his importance to SF fandom.

I'd say RIP, but don't think Geis would approve, so I'll just bid him fare-thee-well.

Russell E.