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Name: Worldcon (Nycon I)
Dates: July 2-4 1939
Location: New York City
Type: fan-run
Focus: Science Fiction
Organization: New Fandom
Founder: New Fandom
Founding Date: 1939
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Worldcon 1939, the first ever World Science Fiction Convention, was held in New York. It was considered a success, but a long-running feud between the convention committee (New Fandom) and the Futurians caused six Futurians to be kicked out on the first day. (See The Great Exclusion Act.) Much discussion of the first Worldcon in zines was more concerned with the feud than the actual con events.

Frank R. Paul was the Guest of Honor. Forrest J Ackerman and Morojo attended in "futuricostume". There was a softball game played by fans that continued as a tradition for a few more cons before fizzling out.

Sam Moskowitz named a number of professional publications that had shown support for the convention, including Thrilling Wonder Stories, Astounding Science-Fiction, Amazing Stories, Weird Tales, Marvel Science Stories and Science Fiction. The Argosy also placed an ad in the con program for a special edition containing reprints of some of their stories. He also thanked the Queens Science Fiction League and the Los Angeles Science Fiction League for their support.[1] (Moskowitz was also a member of the QSFL.)


The first Worldcon was retroactively named "Nycon I". At the time it was simply named "World Science Fiction Convention"; see Fancyclopedia. Nycon I was held during the 1939 New York World's Fair, and a number of sources have claimed that the World's Fair is the true source of the convention's name.[2]

From File 770:

From its origin in 1939, the Worldcon was as global as the World Series; indeed the name came about through association with the New York World’s Fair rather than any intention to create a truly international convention.[3]


There are fantasy enthusiasts here from every part of the country. California, Texas, Indiana, Washington, New York, New Jersey, New England, and even Canada. And we really have, in every sense, a representative body. We have virtually every American science-fiction and fantasy editor, most of the fantasy authors.of note, the famous "inner circle" of fans, a fine group of science-fiction readers, and a welcome assembly of friends whom we shall try to convert.

The science-fiction reader is really a curious specimen. He is a type characteristic to science fiction and science fiction alone. No other brand of literature knows his counterpart. Where, and in what type of fiction have you a group of readers, so enthusiastic, so interested, that they will travel thousands of miles to attend a gathering of this sort? What other brand of fiction has, even in the wildest imaginings dreamed of having a Western Story convention, a Detective Story convention, a Love Story convention? It just isn't done! Why science-fiction? That's hard to answer. It seems that there is something that shines through the mess of pulp printed, hack written, mass produced science-fiction that brands it as "different," that gives forth an atmosphere typically its own, and as habit producing as the strongest drug. Whatever it may be, we may live happy in the thought that there, are a few hundred thousand "nuts" in the world, in every way just like us.

From chairman Sam Moskowitz's welcome speech (printed in New Fandom's special convention issue, page 13)


Forrest J Ackerman

Bidding the famed Finlay "auf wieders[illegible] the Esperanto equivalent, the septet, reduced to a sextet on the way as Ross Rocklynne dropped out to meet Julius Schwartz as Per a previous engagement - the sextet returned to Erisman's office where Goodman got out the Paul canvas-cover for the first Dynamic & "distributed" it to all 6! Followed a ferocious fracas, such as I have seldom seen in scientifandom; a fierce struggle for possesseon (Paul surely would have been flattered, I thot) which turned six civilized stfans into a pack of half a dozen dawn-men, six snarling primeval apes (even Morojo?..Ed.) scrapping for ownership of the prized picture. All screamed suggestions but none gave ear, & each had a reason why he or she alone was particularly entitled. Finally a lot was drawn, from which Rad won the the much-discussed Paul. It just Ghus to show you—!

Forrest J Ackerman writing as Juan de los Gringos (New Fandom issue 6 page 23, January 1940)

...After the eats all congregated outside. A copy of "In Your Teeth Gentlemen" somehow mysteriously found its way into Moskowitz's hands. Sam proceeded to read it aloud to all, while Taurasi tore h rhair [sic] & Sykora fumed, ’’Throw it in the gutter where it Belongs!” (the pamplet, not Taurasi’s hair.)


Well, the World Science Fiction Convention definitely convinced any douting Easterners & others fact that Morojo exists; whilst semi-skeptical Pacificoast pilgrimagers et al were rewarded with irefutable evidence of the actuality of "Leslie" Perri Pohl (even if her real first name is Doris). Whilst surprise revelation was the "Jno A Bristol" exposé. Your reporter was present when the J & the RAM learned JAB's allsame Jack F Speer! Both were visibly abasht. Payoff was that Juffus wore a nameplate delcaring his duo-identity all around Caravan Hall (WSFC meeting-place) & neither Acky, Bob Madle, nor anyone else, to my knowledge, noticed. It was only when Speer registerd "Bristol" at a hotel that 4e found out.

Writing as "Weaver Wright": Things I Never Knew Til Now in Spaceways #8, pg. 6. Oct. 1939.

Leslie Perri

Leslie Perri wasn't among the six Futurians who were kicked out on the first day, but her future husband Frederik Pohl was. Perri joined the other Futurians in a mini-con of "exiles" and printed a zine on the group's behalf that was distributed on the final day. (See In Your Teeth "Gentlemen".) She later gave a report for the Fantasy Fictioneer, writing in-character as an outsider observing the Futurians and New Fandom during Nycon.

Upon arriving one discovered eight... extremely long-faced individuals encamped,in various postures [in front of the Convention Hall]. It took delicate stepping to avoid their carcasses as well as their wails and bewailing. (we are biased and are prepared to discourse lengthly on the fact that they were justified -author.)

A. Pohl...cold eyed and disapproving,kicking his heels against stone steps and smoking with philosophic calm. Beaming with occasional approval on his own darling Perri scooting thither and yon with the righteous fire of indignation in her carefully accentuated almond eyes.

Leslie Perri: A Lady Sees the Convention. Fantasy Fictioneer #2 pg. 2. (January 1940)

Perri describes Donald A. Wollheim as "sour" and furious at Will Sykora. Cyril Kornbluth "waved his paws in glee at the the thought of devouring a Moskowitz steak or a Taurasi limb or a Sykora rump...." John B. Michel and Robert A. W. Lowndes seemed tired, while Jack Gillespie had "an eager little sneer for those in power in the hall upstairs". Dick Wilson and Perri were the most active in "converting" passers-by and lobbying for the Futurians. Kornbluth and Dirk Wylie both drank, and David A. Kyle was "quiet and convincing and very very earnest" with an eye after Wylie's supply of alcohol. (Perri, Wylie, Wilson and Kyle had not been barred from the con themselves, but they joined the six outcasts out of solidarity.)

The second page of Perri's report made brief mention of Forrest J Ackerman's green cape and Morojo's red satin "futuricostume", and then began to deliver backhanded compliments to Sykora, Moskowitz and Taurasi, ending with an invitation to Taurasi in particular: "The way that man can siddle up and down aisles in the pursuit of trouble.... Mr. Taurasi how about a date in a nice dark little alley? I'll bring my big brother,you bring the boys...."

Dick Wilson

Dick Wilson, one of the non-barred Futurians, was present for the first day but later joined the others in "exile".

Wilson reported that he watched the con's screening of Metropolis, but couldn't enjoy it fully because Isaac Asimov was delivering "wisecrax at 20-second intervals". Many people agreed with Leslie Perri that the Exclusion Act was unfair, but none were able to convince "the Unholy 3" (Moskowitz et al.). Wilson verified other eyewitness accounts that David A. Kyle stood up to give a short speech on science fiction and then switched to a plea for his fellow Futurians to be admitted, which Chairman Sykora dismissed.[4]

Jack Robins

Jack Robins was another Futurian who made it into the convention hall.

THE FIFTH was held in New York in 1939. The executive committee of New Fandom dominated. This was the first Convention not to include a democratic discussion period on the agenda. It was the first to bar any fans. It was also the first to have a "popular science" lecture.



1. No fans should be banned

2. No Science Lectures


1. A democratic FORUM period (with discussion free to everybody)should be on the order of business.

2. There should be a discussion on the WAR, what it means to us and what we fans ought to do about it.

Jack Robins in Looking Ahead #1 pg. 2 (March 1940)

Jack Speer

...At 6:15 I rang [Il Duce of Flushing Flats James V. Taurasi] out of bed, greeting him with "You eel Doochay of Flushing Flats? My name Hoy Ping Pong. Where's the convention?" .....He was still woozy from getting to bed at 3AM, when he asked if Bristol had come. I replied that, it being his birthday, he had to stay in DC till noon.... Then off to Sykora's, to find that bold gentleman had risen early to continue mimeoing When Jimmy, [Millie Taurasi], and I found the convention hall doorway, among those who had already arrived were 4SJ and Morojo, about whose costumes you've no doubt heard palenty.

Tho you may have, it's probably you haven't heard they originally hoped, if quite a few Angelenos could attend, to be able to engage a private railway car, fix it up like a rocketship and come to NY with word that the Men from Mars had arrived, thus getting all sorts of publicity for the WSFC, science-fiction, and fandom generally.... [Ackerman] wore the monad of Technocracy on front of one shoulder of his costume, and a five-pointed star on the other. Hornig also carried the Esperanto star....

When I returned from the Penn Station... the Philly boys appeared and gave me a much-needed hang, remarking the while that the first fight had already started, and, "We've got to get up there and pound some sense into Jimmy and Will".... As it turned out, since the two Triumvirs wanting to exclude the Quadrumvirate won out, and Wollheim & Co weren't present, it was nearly the last fight, the only other time when dissension flared openly being when an upstate New York fan [David Kyle] rose at the conclusion of the eulogies, and onto the end of a not very Michelistic speech on the purpose of science-fiction clipped a request for a vote on letting the Reds in. Oily Will fumbled over it....

It was really pitiful how Michel, Wollheim, Gillespie, Lowndes, and one or two others (Futurians Wilson, Perri, et al were admitted on good behavior hung around outside all the first day, talking to those who came out; they never got beyond the foyer of the Convention hall. Naturally, I talked to those of both sides, but didn't attend the Futurian confab which was held the third day, as I wanted to get all there was to get out of the convention.... The Futurians had better beware of sweeping statements about suppression of all sociological matter; the LA Technocratic pub "We Have a Rendezvous"... was put on sale by the Convention with the other pubs.....At first "The Warning" was passed about under cover, with the words, "Have you seen this against the will of Committee?" but apparently the Triumvirs soon found out all there was to know; Der Fuehrer of the Newark Swamps [Sam Moskowitz] told me Kyle was the author, as did others, but in my opinion it smells to High Chez-Foo of Michel-Wolheim. It was signed, as you know, by an "Association". Fortunately, in addition to the general tone, the cheap Wigginsish capitalizating of whole sentences and the yellow paper proclaimed the booklet for what it was. It is filled to the ears with half-truths, one-sided statements, and bald inaccuracies. If the dessenters had ammunition like that ready, what might they have planned to do if they were admitted to the Hall?... Concerning Dale Hart, who almost walked out when the motion to admit the Wolheimists wasn't recognized, it was said, "It's his own fault, coming a week early and letting the Futurians stuff him full of propaganda"....

Jack Speer: Speer's Scribblings. Cosmic Tales Vol. 2 #1, pp. 36-39, 42. Summer 1939.

Despite Speer's belief right after the con that all the Futurians had been in on "A Warning", it was generally accepted later that David Kyle had been the only one responsible. There was a second set of Michelistic booklets that Michel and Pohl had printed off to distribute, but they were unaware of Kyle's plans.

More and more it came to me, as matters progressed, that this, counting out the under-cover dissension, was in general the way a convention should be run.... If, as the IPO indicated, the average fan of 1938 was 18 years old, then he's 19 now. ghu, men, in no time at all we'll be growed up--and we'll be wanting--I already want--a fandom we won't have to apologize for to adult friends. The field should be broad enuf to include controversial discussions, but [they should be kept in separate compartments]. A long step in the direction of a more adult fandom was the Convention, important enuf to be reported in Time (even if the report was in the characteristic Time manner)....

Speer only managed to get about 30 copies of his fannish history Up to Now ready to sell, and most of them did. He reported that Sam Moskowitz said he'd already found two hundred mistakes, while Forrest J Ackerman expounded on several in more detail. Will Sykora publicly rebuked him over the history at the Monday banquet, and Julius Schwartz "hit the ceiling" when he read the first part. Robert A. W. Lowndes, however, had sent him a nice card, Ackerman had complimented his range of knowledge, and Louis Kuslan called it "superb".

Before the convention, Speer had created an alternate identity as a fan named John A. Bristol, and he wanted to create a stir with the revelation that it was him. He complained that Hyman Tiger wouldn't let him get close enough to the register to sign himself as John Bristol Speer. When he finally managed to show his nametag off, with "John Bristol" handwritten before Speer, he was disappointed by the reaction, except from Robert A. Madle, who "raised a bit more fuss" and Forrest J Ackerman, who "actually was astounded by the revelation".

During one of the intermissions, Taurasi carried on a rather unreasonable argument, via loudspeaker, with the adamant Campbell, also via ls, re return of Dold. Tho we personally would like to have Dold back.... I missed the speeches by the Mikado of long Island City [Sykora] and the Newark Neanderthal [Moskowitz], and the astronomical film, and just got in in time for the auction....

There was a baseball game; Speer noted that Milton A. Rothman, Forrest J Ackerman, Morojo, Dale Hart, Dick Wilson and others were all absent, and said most people assumed they were with the Futurians, especially Ackerman and Morojo, who'd promised to meet Ray Bradbury at the game.

Much good natured banter re "dictators" and "Il Duce of Flushing Flats".... The curse of N'Yagogghua on Baltadonis for outbidding me on that back cover painting..... After all present the third day had autographed the corner post of Taurasi's porch, Reinsberg wanted to take it home with him for a souvenir.... SaM makes a top-flight auctioneer, but he sounds as if his heart were breaking everytime he says, "Sold, for fifteen cents...."


Sometimes people claim that the pulp series „Captain Future“ was invented by Leo Margulies on Worldcon I, but that is just a rumour and not correct. Indeed, the series had been devised and drafted by him - together with Mort Weisinger - much earlier that year: A concept prospectus had been finished by end of June 1939[5], and the convention just came in handy for announcing the new characters.


  1. ^ Sam Moskowitz's welcome speech (printed in New Fandom's special convention issue, page 13)
  2. ^ "the first World SF Convention or Worldcon in New York in 1939 (although it actually took its name from the holding in that year of the World's Fair in New York)." Fandom, Archived version, The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (Accessed 28 January 2024).
  3. ^ The World in Worldcon, File 770, 15 December 2021.
  4. ^ Dick Wilson in Escape #2 pg. 3. (August 1939)
  5. ^ Starlog 115, Feb. 1987, p. 16: „The Once and Future Captain“ (Will Murray)