This review was first published by Booklist on March 15, 2019.
The Science Fiction Fanzine Reader offers a fascinating look into the culture of early science fiction fandom during its first three decades. Given the cheap and ephemeral nature of these fanzines, this book is the culmination of a remarkable research project by Ortiz (Emshwiller, 2007). He collects dozens of articles, editorials, letters, and commentary written by sf fans between 1930 and 1960, as well as a handful of pieces where fans reflect back on their early days in fandom. It’s an engrossing glimpse into the mindset of sf readers in the middle of the twentieth century. This isn’t a straight history—readers need to have a solid knowledge of the history of science fiction and fandom in order to get the most out of it. The selections don’t seem to be in any order—they’re not grouped by theme or chronologically, which obscures broader patterns within the history of fanzines. Still, this book is for committed historians of the sf genre.