Rightly or wrongly, Forrest J. Ackerman used to bill himself as “Mr. Science Fiction”. He claimed to have coined the expression “SciFi” (which up until the last few years was widely derided by the hard-core science fiction community as being too commercial and unscientific).
He wrote, edited, agented, produced, and collected, collected, collected.
I formed my first opinion of Ackerman when I read about his proposed film adaptation for J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. I was not favorably impressed (and that opinion, I should disclose, was formed decades after the deal fell through anyway).
A lot of fans loved and respected Forrey — he certainly accomplished more than I have, and for that he deserves a lot of recognition. It’s just that there were days when I wished the news media didn’t truck him out as the face of science fiction and fantasy fandom.
But I digress from the. The Associated Press tells us that the remnants of Ackerman’s personal memorabilia collection will be auctioned in April. Proceeds are projected to be around $500,000 and according to his will the money will be divided evenly among his friends.
Of course, even in hard economic times we have recently seen some impressive auctions for science fiction and fantasy collectibles One must wonder if maybe the magic of Ackerman’s touch will raise the value just a little bit beyond the projected value. I’m sure his friends and heirs would appreciate seeing more than $500,000.
But more importantly, what was once arguably the largest collection of science fiction and fantasy memorabilia will soon cease to exist in any form similar to its once legendary state. People will walk away with bits and pieces, but like Humpty Dumpty those pieces will never be put back together again.
Much of the Ackerman collection has already been sold or given away (he took care of that while he was still alive). The gestalt, the whole that was greater than the sum of its parts, has dwindled and soon will vanish completely.
It will be the end of an era, albeit an era that perhaps has passed quietly and gracefully into the night. Before long, it may take a Legolasian sensitivity to detect any remnant of the love for science fiction, imagination, and “what if” that went into that collection.
“High he builded us,” those memorabilia might cry to ears that still can hear. “Long he cherished us. But he is gone. Gone.”
Check out the Profiles In History Web site to stay on top of auction-related news. They are handling the sale.
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