PROMINENT LIBERTARIAN, SF FAN, SAMUEL E. KONKIN
Special Investigator tribute article.
[March 1, 2004]
[HollywoodInvestigator.com] On February 23,
2004, Samuel E. Konkin III, prominent libertarian activist, publisher,
and science fiction fan, was found dead of natural causes in his Los Angeles
apartment, age of 56.
Born July 8, 1947, Konkin's
libertarian activism includes the founding of the Movement
of the Libertarian Left, the Agorist
Institute, and Los Angeles's Karl Hess Club.
He was also a leading figure in science fiction fandom, having coined the
term frefan (a libertarian sf fan; frefen for plural), and published his Daily FreFanzine at many sf conventions.
Following below, science
fiction author J. Neil Schulman describes his many decades of friendship with Sam.
Then Woody Bernardi of the
Vegas SF Association (and VegaCon
I ConChair) relates Sam's work in sf fandom.
* SF Author J. Neil Schulman
On the properly Discordian 23rd of February, Samuel Edward Konkin III passed
away to the hereafter, in his apartment in West Los Angeles, California. He was found collapsed in his apartment by his landlord in early afternoon. I got the call from Sam's client, David Silvers of Beverly
Hills Publishing, just before 2:00 PM. I went over to
Sam's apartment, identified his body officially for the police who were
waiting for the LA County Coroner, and thumbed through Sam's organizer
until I found the number for Sam's brother, Alan, in Edmonton Alberta. I left a callback number and when Alan called me a few minutes later, I
told him, and made arrangements for me to act as his proxy in any way necessary
until he comes to L.A.
me that his plans, in accordance with Sam's mother, are to return Sam's
remains to Edmonton where Sam will be buried next to his father, Samuel
Konkin II. Alan will be consulting with Sam's friends here on a "Sam-appropriate"
Los Angeles memorial service, likely in mid March. Also, the next
meeting of the Karl Hess Club, which Sam
founded, will be dedicated to memories of Sam.
There is so
much that I want to say -- have to say -- about Sam that this can only
be a beginning.
Sam may only
have had one biological brother. But he was my brother, also, in
every other sense.
I first met
Sam in 1971 in New York City, at the first libertarian meeting I ever attended,
the New York Libertarian Association, in Gary Greenberg's living room. I had already started a campus libertarian group at the branch of City
University of New York that I was attending. Sam, a believer in the
"libertarian alliance" concept of stringing together libertarian groups,
immediately found this naive 18-year-old worth talking to. We found
out almost immediately that we shared an interest in science fiction (particularly Robert
A. Heinlein) and the works of C.S. Lewis, whose Narnian
chronicles I'd read as a child. Sam was only the second other
person in my life I'd met who had read Heinlein, and the first other person
I'd met who'd read Lewis.
It was Sam who told me that Lewis had written
more than the Narnian children's books, introduced me to Lewis's nonfiction
and adult fiction, and took me to my first meeting of the
C.S. Lewis Society of New York, which we attended together regularly. Sam also took me to my first science fiction convention, Lunacon, in New
York City, and to my first world science fiction convention, Torcon, in
Toronto, in 1973, and to my first meeting of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy
Society (LASFS). We joined the just- formed C.S.
Lewis Society of Southern California together in 1975, and Sam
and I each served on its governing council for a number of terms.
a few long letters I'd written at age 16 for my high-school underground
newspaper, Sam was my first publisher. He published my first fiction
and my first articles in his magazine, New Libertarian Notes. He
took me to lectures where I met Murray Rothbard, and introduced me to the
writings of Ludwig von Mises. Sam's seminal writings on counter-economics became the deep background of my first novel, Alongside
Night, which is dedicated to him. He's also on the dedication
page of my short story collection, Nasty,
Brutish, and Short Stories.
Sam took me
to my first libertarian conference at Hunter College in New York City,
where I first met Robert
And Sam and
I tooled around New York City, searching out "underground gourmet"
restaurants, and always (on the first day when possible) catching the latest
Woody Allen movie or the latest James Bond movie. He also ate many
of my mom's home-cooked meals at my parents' apartment of the West Side
of Manhattan. Sam was a speaker at both of the CounterCon conferences
I organized in 1974 and 1975.
We left New
York together to come out to the promised land, Southern California. Our automobile journey west with two other libertarians (Bob "Kedar" Cohen
and Andy Thornton), in July and August 1975, took us to the Rivercon science
fiction in St. Louis and to the home of science fiction magazine publisher Richard
E. Geis in Portland, OR, before we arrived in Los Angeles on
August 10, 1975, where we spent our first night sleeping on the apartment
floor of Dana
Rohrabacher, Sam's libertarian mentor, and now U.S. Congressman
from Orange County, CA.
I just got
off the phone with Congressman
Rohrabacher, who remembers Sam fondly, and spoke fondly of his
genius and imagination.
us to Chris Schaefer, who managed an apartment complex in Long Beach. This
became the AnarchoVillage (named after Sam's recent six-floor walk-up apartment
on East 11th Street in NYC which he'd dubbed the AnarchoSlum) and we lived
two apartments away from each other until 1984. Many, many days were
spent collating, folding, stapling, and mailing out magazines (many with
articles of mine) with eating and drinking afterwards. When I was
broke in those day's, Sam was always happy to pick up the check and lay
a "meal ob" on me.
A few years
later I returned the favor when I set Sam up in an apartment he dubbed
the AnarchoVilla, on Overland Avenue in Culver City. That apartment
was production central for my book publishing. Sam was the production
backbone and book designer for every book that came out from Pulpless.com,
and a talented graphic artist for many of the covers.
I would not
be who I am, what I am, or where I am if it were not for Sam. With
rare exception, I would not have met my current friends, including a long
list of prominent authors. If I had succeeded in becoming a writer,
I would not have written any of the books I've written. I would be
living an unrecognizable life in an alternate universe. I know lots
of other writers who can make the same statement.
One of my last
extended conversations with Sam was my using knowledge, logic, and vocabulary
I learned from Sam to
challenge his premise that there was no reason to consider the existence
of God. At the end of that conversation, Sam was left without
challenges and said that he thought I'd made a comprehensive case. If my case was correct, then Sam already knows it.
that debate whenever Sam and I find ourselves on the same side of that
Great Divide ... and wherever that might be, as before, I am confident
there will be plenty of dark beer to lubricate the philosophy.
* SF Fan Woody Bernardi writes...
fan & Mac user Samuel Edward Konkin III was discovered in his apartment
on the morning of February 23, 2004, having collapsed in the shower. Death presumed to have been by natural causes.
and Worldcons, which have representatives in Great Britain, Europe and
even Austalia, have nothing on VegaCon
I now has a representative in a whole other realm. Sam is the
Publications Director of VegaCon
I (following the LSFS motto, death is NOT going to release him!).
returned to Los Angeles after a couple of years in Las Vegas, Sam was a
an active member of the Vegas SF Association (VSFA) and recent member of
SNAFFU (The Southern Nevada Area Fantasy Fiction Union). As a longtime
resident of Los Angeles, Konkin attended the LSFS scores of times over
the past 30 years, and was a longtime member of LosCon. Sam attended
every LosCon through the 1970s and 1980s.
To know Sam
was not necessarily to love him, however, it CAN be said that to know him
was most certainly to excite much passion. Sam has left many friends
behind, but he was never one to leave you wondering where you stood with
him. There are those with whom he clashed. Although he made
a living as a typesetting and layout professional, he was most proud of
his Fan publishing credentials. In this regard, he would certainly
agree that even bad publicity is good publicity.
Sam has been
in Fandom since attending St LouisCon in 1969, co-chaired by Las Vegas's
own Joyce Worley. St LouisCon was Sam's first SF Con and he went
on to become well known by scores of Fans across the country. Sam
was a diehard anarchist Libertarian, he considered those who join the Libertarian
Party to be "sellouts" to the cause. In 1969, the Libertarian
Party was formed at a political convention in St. Louis, MO, during the
same weekend as St LouisCon. Sam traveled to St. Louis from NYC to attend
this seminal event in Libertarian Politics and took advantage of the opportunity
to attend the WorldCon (and he was hooked).
Sam went on
to attend cons accross the country and even made it to a WorldCon or two
in Europe, he was originally from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. In his
20s he went to NYC for Graduate School and also attended a school in Madison,
WI. Sam was a founding member of the SF Club at NYU and participated
in other NYC Fan Clubs.
his ish 101 times weekly over a two year period in the 1970s. New
Libertarian Weekly attracted much attention due in part to its uniquely
regular publication schedule and in part to its hard hitting policy of
giving voice to all factions within the Libertarian movement. Its
slogan, "Everyone appearing in this publication disagrees", celebrated
Weekly contained much news about such SF notables as Robert
A. Heinlein and other material of interest to SF Fans. In fact entire issues were devoted to SF as a way to influence the culture
in a Libertarian direction, in the tradition of Orwell, Bradbury and Huxley.
Sam has also
pubbed his fanish, Daily FreFanzine, designed
to compete with the official daily organ of the given Con. Sam pubbed
Daily FreFanzine each day of every con he attended since its inception
at the El Paso Westercon.
behind a brother in Edmonton and his son, Samuel Konkin IV, in addition
to those in his chosen Fan and Libertarian families.
are being planned for the L.A. area.
* Charles Curley writes...
Charles Curley [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Tuesday, March 02, 2004
Subject: Re: [LeftLibertarian]
Samuel E. Konkin
On Tue, Mar 02, 2004 at 02:21:49AM
-0500, Thomas M. Sipos wrote:
> Tribute article at: http://www.hollywoodinvestigator.com/2004/konkin.htm
Generally a good article. My thanks
to both authors.
One erratum popped out: "In 1969,
the Libertarian Party was formed at
a political convention in St.
Louis, MO, during the same weekend as St
LouisCon." As many readers here
know, it was the Society for
Individual Liberty (SIL, now
part of ISIL) which was founded in
1969. The LP came later. More
important than the organization, that
split marks the split between
the conservatives and libertarians, and
marks the libertarian movement
as a separate movement, distingusihed
by the non-agression principle.
This is in Mr. Bernardi's section, so
I'll chalk it up to a fan trying
to remember too much obscure history.
Copyright 2004 by the respective
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