Earl Kemp in 2007
November 24, 1929 |
|Occupation||Editor, literary critic, publisher|
|Genre||Science fiction, pornography|
Earl Kemp (born November 24, 1929) is an American publisher, science fiction editor, critic, and fan who won a Hugo Award for Best Fanzine in 1961 for Who Killed Science Fiction, a collection of questions and answers with top writers in the field. Kemp also helped found Advent:Publishers, a small publishing house focused on science fiction criticism, history, and bibliography, and served as chairman of the 20th World Science Fiction Convention. During the 1960s and '70s, Kemp was also involved in publishing a number of erotic paperbacks, including an illustrated edition of the Presidential Report of the Commission on Obscenity and Pornography. This publication led to Kemp being sentenced to one year in prison for "conspiracy to mail obscene material," but he served only the federal minimum of three months and one day.
Before Kemp left Arkansas, he discovered pulp fiction. As Kemp once wrote, "There were a number of magazines that struck my fancy for different reasons, among them were titles like Planet Stories, Weird Tales, Spicy Mystery Stories, etc. It was probably my emerging pubescence tilting me toward the spicy parts, but I had always been easy to tilt."
Science fiction editor and fan
In 1952, Kemp attended his first World Science Fiction Convention. As he later said, "It was like walking into a world I had been seeking for a very long time. I felt, instantly, that I was at home at last and among my kind of people."
In 1956 Kemp and other members of the University of Chicago Science Fiction Club founded Advent:Publishers, which publishes science fiction criticism, history, and bibliography. One of their first books was In Search of Wonder, a hardcover collection of the book reviews of Damon Knight. Critics have said the book created the "foundation for all subsequent SF criticism."
Kemp won the Hugo Award for Best Fanzine in 1961 for his publication Who Killed Science Fiction. To create the fanzine, "Earl sent the same five questions to 108 people, the elite of the science fiction world. And he printed the seventy-one responses he received." The fanzine was distributed by the Spectator Amateur Press Society (SAPS), a long-running amateur press association. Kemp's win caused a bit of controversy because some felt that his publication had only a single issue; afterwards the award's eligibility rules for fanzines were changed to prevent single-issue publications from winning. However, Who Killed Science Fiction was actually the first SaFari Annual, part of a series of fanzines Kemp was publishing for SAPS, and the "controversy" was largely based on misunderstanding. In 2006 Kemp published a significant updating of Who Killed Science Fiction as the 29th issue of his current fanzine e*I*. It reprinted the entirety of the original 1961 edition and added considerable new material. In 2011 a book edition of Who Killed Science Fiction was published by The Merry Blacksmith Press.
Kemp also served as chairman of the 20th World Science Fiction Convention. In 1961, he wrote a letter to Isaac Asimov in which he stated that "based on your delightful wit, and frankly your reputation" someone had jokingly suggested that Asimov deliver a pseudo-lecture at the Convention. Kemp stated, "Specifically it should be delivered at the masquerade and should be something on the theme of THE POSITIVE POWER OF POSTERIOR PINCHING. They went on to say that we would, naturally furnish some suitable posteriors for demonstration purposes."  Asimov responded that, "I have no doubt I could give a stimulating talk that would stiffen the manly fiber of every one in the audience. However, I am not yet ready to give an unqualified acquiescence. It does occur to me, now and then, that there is some age at which I ought to gain a kind of minimal dignity suiting my [unintelligible] position in life. Besides the real reason is that I will have to ask the permission of various people who are (or would be) concerned in the matter. If they say 'no', it will be 'no.' Of course, I could be persuaded to do so on very short notice; even after the convention began, if the posteriors in question were of particularly compelling interest. Yours, Asimov." The suggested pseudo-lecture did not occur.
In 1963 Kemp edited The Proceedings: CHICON III, published by Advent:Publishers. The book included transcripts of lectures and panels given during the course of the convention, along with numerous photographs.
Kemp edited a number of science fiction fanzines up until 1965, including Destiny and SaFari. After a 37-year break, Kemp returned to editing fanzines with e*I*, which focuses on his memoirs of the science fiction world and is available online.
Pornography and gay books
During the 1960s and '70s, Kemp was involved in publishing erotic paperbacks through a company, Greenleaf Classics, where he was employed by William Hamling. In an example of détournement, Kemp published an illustrated edition of the Presidential Report of the Commission on Obscenity and Pornography. The book was "replete with the sort of photographs the commission examined." Kemp eventually was sentenced to a one-year prison sentence for distributing the book (as was Hamling). However, both served only the federal minimum of three months and one day. The story of their arrest and prison time was covered in Gay Talese's Thy Neighbor's Wife.
Kemp also was involved in publishing gay-themed books while at Greenleaf, one of the earliest editors to do so, leading novelist Victor J. Banis to call Kemp the "Godfather of gay publishing" (even though, as Banis says, "Earl himself was resolutely heterosexual"). Among the books Kemp edited in the 1960s were Banis's novel The Why Not and a series of gay pulp fiction spy parodies called The Man from C.A.M.P. Banis says once Kemp and Greenleaf proved how much of a market there was for erotic gay fiction, other publishers soon joined in.
Kemp appeared in a late 2007 segment of WIRED Science titled "Peak Water", identified only as "Earl Kemp, Desert Resident," in which he discussed the realities of water supply in his home near Kingman, Arizona.
- The Science Fiction Novel, edited by Earl Kemp, Advent:Publishers, 1959.
- Who Killed Science Fiction, collection of interviews with science fiction writers and others, winner of the 1961 Hugo Award for Best Fanzine.
- The Proceedings: CHICON III, edited by Earl Kemp, Advent:Publishers, 1963.
- The Illustrated Presidential Report of the Commission on Obscenity and Pornography, edited by Earl Kemp, Greenleaf Classics, Inc., 1970.
- Sin-A-Rama: Sleaze Sex Paperbacks of the Sixties edited by Brittany A. Daley, Hedi El Kholti, Earl Kemp, Miriam Linna, and Adam Parfrey. Feral House, 2004. Winner of an Independent Publisher Book Award for Best Pop Culture Book of 2006.
- "The Science-Fiction Book Index" by Earl Kemp in
- The Hugo Awards By Category, World Science Fiction Society, accessed Sept. 21, 2007.
- "An Interview with Earl Kemp of Greenleaf Classics" by Michael Hemmingson, Sin-A-Rama: Sleaze Sex Paperbacks of the Sixties edited by Brittany A. Daley, Hedi El Kholti, Earl Kemp, Miriam Linna, and Adam Parfrey, Feral House, 2004. page 36.
- Freedom of the Press: A Bibliocyclopedia : Ten-year Supplement (1967-1977) by Ralph Edward McCoy, Southern Illinois University Press, 1979, page 163.
- "The Story of Heinlein in Dimension" by Alexei Panshin in Alexei Panshin's The Abyss of Wonder, accessed Sept. 21, 2007.
- "Tales of Imagination and Space Travel: A Capricious Chronology" by Earl Kemp, Earl Kemp fanzine, December 2002.
- "SEXAPHONES, BLUE OINTMENT, AND MOTHERLOVERS" by Earl Kemp, The Unofficial Robert Bloch Website, accessed Sept. 21, 2007.
- "Oh Them Crazy Monkeys: Me, Earl, and Robert Heinlein" by Alexei Panshin in Alexei Panshin's The Abyss of Wonder, accessed Sept. 21, 2007.
- "Notable fanzines of the 1960s" Chapter Five: publications and legendry; also Chapter Eight - worldcons of the 1960s, both accessed Sept. 21, 2007
- The complete text of Who Killed Science Fiction accessed Oct. 1, 2007.
- "We Don't Do That Anymore". Freethoughtblogs.com. 2012-09-09. Retrieved 2015-03-20.
- "One is the loneliest number . . ." by Earl Kemp, e*I*1 accessed Sept. 21, 2007.
- Glyer, Mike (September 3, 2013). "2013 First Fandom Hall of Fame". File 770. Retrieved September 4, 2013.
- Pornography and Sexual Representation: A Reference Guide by Joseph W. Slade, Greenwood Press, 2000, page 119.
- "An Interview with Earl Kemp of Greenleaf Classics" by Michael Hemmingson, Sin-A-Rama: Sleaze Sex Paperbacks of the Sixties edited by Brittany A. Daley, Hedi El Kholti, Earl Kemp, Miriam Linna, and Adam Parfrey. Feral House, 2004. page 36.
- "William Henley Knoles: The Life and Death of Clyde Allison" by Lynn Munroe, e*I*1, Vol. 2 No. 2, April 2003, accessed Sept. 22, 2007.
- Thy Neighbor's Wife by Gay Talese, Dell Publishing, 1981, page 459.
- That Man from C.A.M.P.: Rebel Without a Pause by Victor J. Banis, Fabio Cleto, Haworth Press, 2004, page 329.
- Victor J. Banis biography, Victor J. Banis website, accessed Sept. 22, 2007.
- WIRED Science, "Peak Water"
- The complete text of "Who Killed Science Fiction", winner of the Hugo Award for Best Fanzine.
- Earl Kemp's science fiction fanzines.
- Earl Kemp's personal website.
- "Oh Them Crazy Monkeys: Me, Earl, and Robert Heinlein" by Alexei Panshin. An account of Kemp's