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Remembering Jack Speer (1920-2008)

Remembering Jack Speer (1920-2008)

Longtime fan Jack Speer passed away early in the morning June 28, 2008. A member of First Fandom (FF), he was inducted in the FF Hall of Fame in 1995 and was the FGoH (fan guest of honor) at the 2004 Worldcon.

He died as approximately 3 a.m. Saturday morning in his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as discovered by Ruth, his wife of many years.

In the mundane world, John Bristol Speer was a retired lawyer who resided in Albuquerque since 1962; previously, he was a Democrat state representative from the Bend, Washington area during 1959-1961.

Jack was a giant in science fiction fandom, a founding member of N3F, FAPA and the original historian of science fiction fandom.

His 1944 Fancyclopedia has spawned many imitators over the years (including one on this site) and his 1939 book, Up To Now: A History of Science Fiction Fandom, is still used as a reference almost 70 years after first publication thanks to its recently resurrected electronic form on

Fellow science fiction historian Harry Warner credited Jack Speer as “the first to stress [fandom’s] subcultural aspects. Single-handedly, he made fandom’s ayjays something entirely different from the mundane amateur journalism groups.”

During his early prankster days in fandom, Speer was also known by the fannish name, John Bristol (his first and middle name sans surname).

A fandom innovator, he is also credited with being the father of the fanzine mailing comment.

Jack was the second editor of N3F’s The National Fantasy Fan in the 1940s, after founding editor, E. E. Evans.


Please feel free to leave your remembrances of Jack in the comments section at the bottom of this article.

* Special thanks to Robert Lichtman for fact-checking details of Jack Speers’ life.

David Speakman

David Speakman has spent more than two decades as a writer/editor, photographer, graphic designer and manager of creative teams in broadcast, print and the Internet. His education is in journalism, graphic design, organizational communication and law.

One Comment

  1. Jack was a wonderful man. When I was writing the club history, I wrote him about his book, Up To Now — asking how I could obtain a copy. He very graciously sent me an autographed copy, gratis. He will be missed by many.


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