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Forrest "Forrey" Ackerman, the nearly 92 year old coiner of the term "sci-fi" and honorary lesbian (for his work as "Laurajean Ermayne") is said to be ailing. "He wasn't sounding very strong," Harry Knowles said in an entry on Ain't It Cool News, "It hurt to hear his voice." Ackerman helped to bolster the burgeoning sci-fi community by publishing the inspirational journal, Famous Monsters of Filmland.
He is a publisher, author and literary agent (to Ed Wood, L. Ron Hubbard and Marion Zimmer Bradley, among others.) He named Vampirella and wrote her backstory. He was fluent in Esperanto. He was instrumental in the American publication of German Perry Rhodan, as well as scads of early American magazines, including Scientifilm World, Science Fiction Magazine, Future Fantasia, and The Time Traveller. He wrote numerous short stories, including the shortest short story, comprised of one letter.
As the 1953 winner of a special Hugo Award for "#1 Fan Personality," some of Ackerman's greatest achievements have been as a fan. Attending the first First World Science Fiction convention in 1939, wearing a "futuristicostume," he was the first fan to attend a convention in costume. He has opened his home (first the Ackermansion, now the Ackerminimansion), a veritable cornucopia of sci-fi memorabilia since 1951, sharing his life and many, many stories of working with many of the biggest names in science fiction, in publishing, films and tv with more than 50,000 people.
"I aim at hitting 100 and becoming the George Burns of science fiction," Ackerman has been quoted as saying, but his caretaker reports that "He is home resting comfortably, but his body is starting to shut down and he's sleeping alot now, hes very weak." Everyone who has ever enjoyed any bit of science fiction, from Star Wars fanboys, to the short stories found in rare magazines from the forties owes Ackerman a debt, for his work in the genre, his support of it and his boundless enthusiasm and generosity.
So do your good deed of the day and send him a card at:
4511 Russell Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90027
Photo by Alan Light c. 1990, via Flickr