Working in the Archives: Researching Fred Patten, furries, and counter-culture media at UC RiversidePosted by Brandyjlewis on Sun 20 Feb 2022 - 10:11
Located at the University of California's Riverside campus is the Eaton Collection of Science Fiction & Fantasy, a world-renowned archive of books, film, fanzines, and ephemera documenting and evoking the history of sci-fi and fantasy fan culture. Originally formed in 1969, when collector and physician Dr. J. Lloyd Eaton donated his library consisting of "about 7,500 hardback editions of science fiction, fantasy and horror from the Nineteenth to the mid-Twentieth centuries", the Eaton is considered one-of-the-world's largest collections of papers and documents entangled with its subjects. While much of the collection remains to be processed - COVID-19 notably limiting work since early 2020 - both students and staff see the archive as a hidden treasure, with the collection holding such things as first-editions of Dracula, Frankenstein, and Fahrenheit 451.
Fred Patten was born in Los Angeles, California on December 11, 1940. By the time he was ten years old, he'd become interested in science fiction and had started to collect SF books and magazines. From 1958 to 1963 he attended UCLA, where he graduated with a master's degree in Library Science. During his university years, he discovered science fiction fandom, joined the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society (LASFS), and started to write for fanzines.
In the 1970s, Fred became a partner in a bookstore in Long Beach, and also developed an interest in manga and anime from Japan. In 1977, along with Mark Merlino and others, Fred was one of the founding members of North America's first anime fan club, the Cartoon/Fantasy Organization. Partially through the C/FO, he and Mark expanded their mutual interest in animals in cartoons and science-fiction, which was a major step in the early evolution of furry fandom. A lot people aren't aware that in North America, both anime and furry fandoms share an originating root!
There is a balding man with glasses, standing in the corner, cradling a book against his stomach, reading. You saw him a lot. At the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society meeting hall, the APA collation room, in the library, at science fiction conventions in function rooms and room parties, at San Diego Comic Con in the Rowrbrazzle contributor parties, at furry parties.
His name is Fred Patten, and was in no way the passive participant he seemed. With a partner he opened a book shop in Long Beach, California that not only carried SF and Fantasy books, but comics from all over the world. He reviewed SF and Fantasy literature for fan and professional publications. His apartment was literally wall-to-wall books. He collected SF/F art, storing paintings in his bed frame. I don't think anyone knew where he slept... or if he did.
The winners and runners-up (in descending preference) are…
First off, let me engage in an act of self-disclosure: I recently finished writing Furry Nation, a personal history of the birth and growth of our community and its treatment at the hands of entertainment and news media that will be published in the fall by Cleis Press. I interviewed numerous furs for the book, unknown and well-known, Fred included.
I found myself concerned it would be a conflict of interest for me to opine on Fred’s work, with the temptation to belittle it in comparison to my own. However I was happy to find Fred’s book unique in its own right. It is a work of scholarship I could never hope to duplicate. In fact, I wish it had been published a year or two earlier; it would have been an immense help to me in writing about furry conventions worldwide, a topic not covered in great detail in my own non-fiction work.
Furry conventions from A to Z
Furry Fandom Conventions begins with a brief overview of the various kinds of furry gatherings and a succinct timeline of the fandom’s origin and spread. Even though the timespan covered is in the book’s title, the conventions themselves are described not chronologically but alphabetically, from the first “Abando” convention in Brazil in 2008 (with 15 attendees), to the last “ZonieCon”, held in in Tucson, Arizona in 2001 (57). The decision to alphabetize makes perfect sense: if you’re curious about say, Further Confusion, it makes it a lot easier to trace its history in one place rather than flip through the entire book looking for each year’s summary.
Edited by Furry Fandom's most beloved Eagle, Fred Patten, An Anthropomorphic Century reprints stories ranging from 1909 to 2008, including the talents of Peter S. Beagle, Philip K. Dick, Michael H. Payne, Phil Geusz, Renee Carter Hall, and more… including myself.
Starting with "Tobermory" by Saki in 1909, Fred does an excellent job putting these stories in a historical and social context. Around the midpoint, however, the historical context begins to soften just a little. The stories are excellent, but not all are milestones, so I would have enjoyed a bit more perspective in what was going on in the real world when they saw print.
Fred may have decided to let the newer stories stand on their own rather than distracting readers from the work themselves. Perhaps this was a good decision; the collection puts on no airs that of a textbook, after all – but Fred Patten is an expert historian of two fandoms (the other being anime). I couldn't imagine a person better suited to bringing external context to these stories.
Disclaimer: I have a story in this anthology. I'll address that story last.
I read this back in 2006; it was a present from a friend who I swapped books with. I had forgotten that I had a detailed review of the stories on Bookcrossing.com.
I'm sharing old news, sure, but the book's still available in many formats and you'll enjoy it.
It makes me smile thinking how in 2006, I didn't know any of these Furries, and thanks to the Furry Writers' Guild I know many of them. At least virtually so.
- Living Together: Furries and Humans
- Living Apart: Alternate Furry Worlds
- Living Within: Transformation
Furry fiction is replete with references to its characters' ears, tails, paws, and how they notice scent in the world around them. While adding to a story's atmosphere, in many cases the characters could, with minor modifications, be written as humans. In The Furry Future, editor Fred Patten wanted to depart from cursory furriness.
This is an anthology of short stories more firmly rooted in science-fiction, not fantasy, in which the existence of its furry characters tries to be relevant to its stories.
What Happens Next: An Anthology of Sequels is a collection of short stories by 11 authors, assembled and edited together by Fred Patten. The theme? Each work is an expansion upon story universes that the authors have previously established.
If you're not familiar with the writers or their worlds, don't worry; each story is pretty self-contained. You're not going to feel like you're being left out; Fred provides an introduction to each, explaining the settings and contexts to new readers. Altogether it's about 430 pages long, and was published in July 2013 by FurPlanet, ISBN 9781614501169. The cover art is by Sara Miles, and each story is accompanied by at least one illustration, from a variety of artists.
This review was heavily re-written after listening to episode 4 of the Fangs and Fonts podcast.
Flayrah's accomplished reviewer Fred Patten has been invited to contribute to cartoon historian Jerry Beck's revitalized blog, Cartoon Research. He's since reviewed his own history, along with that of Osamu Tezuka, Astro Boy and Atomcat, and described how home video created anime fandom (including a brief mention of Mark Merlino and the C/FO).
Beck co-founded Cartoon Brew nine years ago, but was 'bought out' last month by co-editor Amid Amidi, who plans to "evolve the site while retaining its candid and authoritative voice". The move was discussed at Deadline Hollywood and Toon Zone; FLIP has a brief interview.
Already Among Us: An Anthropomorphic Anthology (Kindle), compiled by Fred Patten, is a collection of 14 science-fiction and fantasy stories from outside our fandom, focussing on humanity's interactions with intelligent animals (or animal-like aliens).
Fred introduces each story to put them into context, and the book's font is large and easy to read. The layout, however, could have benefited from having the authors and story titles printed along the tops of the pages. Without them, it's much harder to pick up where you left off, without using a bookmark.
The stories can be divided into two distinct time periods. Six were written between 1942-1962 (the tail end of SF's golden age); the rest are from 1991-2006. I was surprised that there was nothing from SF's new wave/experimental period in the 60s and 70s.
The Ursa Major Awards have been running since 2001, and one of the more difficult categories to vote in has been "Best Anthropomorphic Short Fiction", due to the works being scattered across various fanzines, magazines, con books and web pages. So I'm very glad that Fred Patten has edited together The Ursa Major Awards anthology: a tenth anniversary celebration, published by FurPlanet (2012), allowing us to read eleven stories from across the fandom collected under one cover. (341 p., ISBN 9781614500520)
The original idea was to print the winning short story from each year of the Awards, but because Kyell Gold has won the popular vote consecutively from 2006 to 2011, this felt a little unbalanced towards the other contributors, so only three of his works appear here. (It skips In between from 2008 and Bridges from 2010.)
To pad out the book a little more, three Ursa-nominated stories were also included. Most of the works are about 20-30 pages in length, with occasional illustrations from artists such as Synnabar, John Cooner and Vicki Wyman. The gentle, moonlit cover art was done by Blotch.
Unlike many of the other anthologies produced primarily for the furry fandom, Already Among Us draws on works by authors in the larger arena of science fiction, from the 1940s through the 2000s. The only "furry" author represented is Michael Payne--and with a story of his that appeared in Asimov's Science Fiction. While Already Among Us may have a little trouble getting beyond the furry audience, this isn't a problem with the story selection.
Already Among Us: An Anthropomorphic Anthology
Edited by Fred Patten. Cover art by Roz Gibson.
Legion Publishing, June 2012. Hardback $18.99+$5 s&h, trade paperback $9.99+$5 s&h (389 pages); Kindle $8.99.
Compare: dronon's review of Already Among Us.
Edited by Fred Patten
Cover art by Teagan Gavet and Tess Garman
Trade paperback, 339 pages
FurPlanet Productions, June 2012
The Ursas are a popular vote; any fan can nominate a work in one of several categories, as well as vote on the final ballot. The Ursas started in 2001, organized by longtime fan and editor Fred Patten, who's also the editor of this volume (as well as a frequent reviewer on Flayrah).
Many of the stories feature illustrations from their original publication; all are introduced by Patten.