He brought us Ray Bradbury, and The Ackermansion. He outlived many of the writers whose careers he helped start or who he helped keep in paychecks during dry spells – writers like Robert A. Heinlein, and Theodore Sturgeon, who he helped find jobs writing what was then considered erotica under pen names, so they could make rent. Now, the founding editor-in-chief of Famous Monsters of Filmland has, at the age of 92, taken his own journey across the river. With his departure, only one of the first wave is left with us: his protÃ©gÃ© Ray Bradbury.
If you have a moment this weekend, rent one of the 210 movies Forry appeared in, read one of his stories that can be found in anthologies, or read a story by one of the writers he nurtured. Read some lesbian erotica – Forry was, after all, the author of some of the first critically respectable lesbian novels under the name “Laurajean Ermayne” and was named an “Honorary Lesbian” by the country’s first ever Lesbian Rights organization, Daughters of Bilitis. Watch a Ray Harryhausen or Ed Wood film (he was instrumental in the careers of both men), or a film by Peter Jackson, Tim Burton, John Landis, Steven Spielberg, or a show by Penn and Teller (all of whom he inspired and helped along the way). Go to a fan event – oh, I didn’t mention that Forry organized some of the first science fiction conventions, invented the term “sci-fi,” and won the only Hugo award ever for World’s #1 Science Fiction Fan?
I never got to meet Forry personally. I had the chance on several occasions, and always had more pressing things to do. Now I won’t get it again. I know him through the stories of several friends who grew up under his tutelage, whose careers he nurtured, and whose lives he touched. All of them tell the same story of a man who was too kind ever to make a serious enemy, and who was always nine years old at heart. He treasured his first ever issue of Amazing Stories, and never fell out of love with science fiction, or movies, or life, or his wife, or his friends. Few of us will ever be so lucky to be so well remembered when our time comes.
I’d wish Forry a peaceful rest, but if what I know about him is anywhere near true, then he’s probably sitting on the bank of the River Styx right now, scavenging for a sandal that Odysseus might have left behind, and dreaming of setting up the definitive collection of mythological artifacts for all visitors to the shores of the afterlife. When he does, he’ll sit out in front with a recliner, a good book, and a movie screen. When you walk up, he’ll greet you with a smile and, if you’re not careful, he’ll start telling you a story. You’ll never get away — but then…who would want to?