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PROMINENT LIBERTARIAN, SF FAN, SAMUEL E. KONKIN III DIES

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 writes...

 

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.

Alan tells 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.

Other than 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 LeFevre.

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.

Dana introduced 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.

We'll resume 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...

 

Longtime sci-fi 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.

Westercons and Worldcons, which have representatives in Great Britain, Europe and even Austalia, have nothing on VegaCon I. 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!).

Having recently 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.

Sam pubbed 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 this practice.

New Libertarian 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.

Sam leaves behind a brother in Edmonton and his son, Samuel Konkin IV, in addition to those in his chosen Fan and Libertarian families.

Memorial Services are being planned for the L.A. area.

 

* Charles Curley writes...

 

Charles Curley [mailto:charlescurley@charlescurley.com] 
Sent: Tuesday, March 02, 2004 12:38 PM
To: LeftLibertarian@yahoogroups.com
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.

 

Some of Konkin's writings may be found in New Libertarian Manifesto and Agorist Class Theory. Also see our profile of Samuel E. Konkin's Karl Hess Club, and J. Neil Schulman's views on God.

Copyright 2004 by the respective contributors.

 

 

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