THEN: Reviews and Comments
Quotations from letters of comment on the original four-volume fanzine version of Then are marked ¶.
February/March 2017: Then, after featuring on the longlist for the Nonfiction category of the BSFA Awards in January, has made it through to the final BSFA Awards ballot. It is also on the final ballot for the Fanzine Activity Achievement Awards, Special Issue category.
Brian Aldiss: “Your fascinating and secret history of Britfandom was eagerly devoured. You are doing us all a service.” ¶
Amazing Stories (Steve Davidson, 2 September 2016): “... wonderful, fantastic, marvelous and outstanding job of presentation [...] David Langfords Ansible Editions has turned out a wonderful publication and Rob Hansen has deftly filled a hole in an important chapter of science fiction fandom with this book.”
Bear Alley (Steve Holland, 6 September 2016): “I’ve just started reading Rob Hansen’s massive history of British science fiction fandom, Then, and finding it fascinating.” (And he adds some further research into “the first death in British fandom”.)
Arthur C. Clarke: “I’m stunned by the research that’s gone into it! It was full of information which I had never known, or had completely forgotten.” ¶
John Clute: “I think the reason people, like myself, fail in our researching of authors to make proper use of fan material is twofold: 1) ignorance; and 2) the very obvious difficulties in actually obtaining, and then understanding the significance of, a very large number of productions, variously produced, and written sometimes in a language partially coded (wittingly or not) against outsiders. What you’ve done in Then is to open paths, light beacons. More must be done.” ¶
File 770 (Mike Glyer, 10 September 2016): “Its an epic piece of work. Whats more, its alive in the current conversation, and consulted by people who care about fanhistory.”
From the Heart of Europe (Nicholas Whyte, 9 April 2017): “This was an absolutely fascinating read, covering the history of sf fandom in the U.K. from its earliest beginnings in great detail. I’ll hope to get my act together sufficiently to write a proper review of it; I was particularly interested in the important role played by fans in Belfast both before and after the Second World War, and of course it is interesting to read of the origins of people who we now know as venerable beings (including of course the late Peter Weston). I’m sure this will win the [BSFA] award, and deservedly so.”
William Gibson: “Then was great. God only knows why I enjoy reading fan history, but I do. Did as a teenager, even, with Fancyclopedia II. Like, roots, man, I dunno.” ¶
Colin Greenland: “Much of what you’re documenting goes straight over my head – 19 out of 20 names mean nothing to me, but the twentieth.... Suddenly I’m on the inside, astonished to see familiar people transformed into unrecognisable previous selves – noting the busy caperings of Moorcock and Platt and Priest, Lang Jones and Grahams Charnock and Hall, and their ambiguous historical relationship with Ken Bulmer and Ted Tubb and John Phillifent, reveals a lot about fandom as the matrix for New Wave SF.” ¶
Charles Platt: “... you have somehow assembled every detail of what actually happened, and here it all is, supplied to me out of nowhere, as if Big Brother was watching me and had suddenly decided to send me a transcript of my file. Your research is excellent, your objectivity is impeccable.” ¶ More from Charles at Rob Hansen’s THEN page.
Mark Plummer (Banana Wings 64, November 2016): “It’s fortunate that Rob started his researches when he did, because in the Eighties and Nineties many founding fathers and mothers of British fandom were still with us, whereas now I don’t think there are any living fans in this country who were participants before the Fifties and there are precious few from even those days. So Then is informed by first-hand testimony, albeit backed by contemporary documentation and filtered through a knowledgeable perspective.
“Is it worth getting a copy if you have the previous iteration or indeed when the text is online? And what if you’re just not interested in fanhistory? Well, obviously that’s up to you, but this new edition is significantly enhanced and has the benefit of several years’ more research and correction. If your interest only extends as far as the mother literature and doesn’t encompass its associated subculture then there’s still much here that explains why British science fiction was the way it was. [...]
“It was a good thing when Rob wrote the original version, and now it’s better, and if you have any interest in the history of the community of which you’re a part I think it’s pretty much essential.”
Fortean Times (Bob Rickard, October 2017): “Few of this tribe are more qualified than Rob to write this priceless social history of the fans who laid the groundwork for such pervasive genres as SF and fantasy movies, RPG gaming, ‘what if’ speculations and other sorts of futurism. / He details the lives and interactions of several hundred of the UK’s leading fans, their literary output ... and boy, could most of them write! Here are early glimpses of Arthur C. Clarke, John Wyndham, Fred Brown, Christopher Priest, Charles Eric Maine, William Temple, Ted Carnell, Bob Shaw and so many others ...”
Martin Morse Wooster (The New York Review of Science Fiction #339, March 2017 [dated November 2016]): “Rob Hansens Then is a pioneering work that substantially adds to our knowledge of British sf fandom.”