Flickr user Cate came across a collection of old snapshots at a thrift store, and immediately knew there was something special about them - they were from the 14th World Science Fiction Society convention, held in New York in 1956!
See Cate's scan of the photos here:
(Discovered by me via https://boingboing.net/2016/01/02/help-identify-the-science-fict.html - additional text there)
Amazingly, in only a few days quite a lot of names have already been pinned to these photos, with much of the heavy lifting being done by Astrid Anderson Bear and Robert Silverberg themselves!
As of this writing, we have the following identifications:
|Forrest J Ackerman|
Forrest J Ackerman (no period after the J please!) was a fixture of the fan community at the time, a notoriously voracious SF memorabilia collector, and literary agent for Asimov, Bradbury, Hubbard and others. Amazingly, he missed only 2 Worldcons during his lifetime, so I suppose it's hardly surprising to find him in this random collection of photos!
|John W. Campbell|
Jean Carroll - apparently closely involved with fandom at the time, but I'm afraid I don't know much about her and can only find brief references to her in the Journal. Anyone with more info?
|Arthur C. Clarke|
Clarke was the guest of honor at NyCon II (and also won a Hugo for best short that year, for his story "The Star" published in Infinity)
Hal Clement is another name you don't hear very much these days, despite the fact he was inducted as a Hall of Famer back in 1998 - in the day he wrote hard SF, and what I always noticed most was how hard he worked to make his alternative worlds scientifically plausible - no giant mono-ecologies for Hal!
|L. Sprague de Camp|
Frank Dietz is really not someone most people would know of outside of fandom, unfortunately. His presence here is notable, however, because Dietz and George Raybin sued NyCon II chair David Kyle in 1958 in a dispute over funds, which ultimately led to the death of the World Science Fiction Society. He also founded the famous Lunarians society in 1956, and was probably drumming up members
while not on camera! (also, responsible for the (in)famous party in room 770 which lies behind the name of online fanzine File 770 curated by Mike Glyer)
Nick Falasca is another mostly forgotten name. Together with his wife of the time Noreen (who actually seems to be better remembered) he co-chaired the 1955 Worldcon in Cleveland, and later (1958) they also wrote Fandom's Burden, in which they expressed deep dissatisfaction with the WSFS (this seems to be a theme).
David Kyle was the chair of NyCon II in 1956, and was emboiled in scandal over not only funds (see above for the lawsuit) but also for opposition to fans using the balcony overlooking the Hugo Award ceremony, leading to the in-group recognition signal "Dave Kyle says you can't sit here" which really sort of sums up a lot of fandom if you think about it.
Willy Ley got the Hugo for best feature writer in 1956, and was a well known space flight advocate and science writer.
Silverberg was awarded the Hugo for "most promising new author" (now John W. Campbell Award) in 1956, and, well, obviously he was promising indeed!
|E.E. "Doc" Smith|
|J Ben Stark|
Not an author I'm familiar with unfortunately, but it seems he was deeply involved in the development of the genre and particularly criticism - coining terms like Space Opera and the like.
Well, that's it - a snapshot of history as it were! There are still many faces unaccounted for in the photos, so if you're the sort who might be able to identify people head on over and add your voice!
1. This is of course NyCon II, held August 31 – September 3