Geeky Fun - Visiting Uncle Forry

Forrest J Ackerman in 2006, about two years before I met him. Photo by A. Light

One of the best geeky fun days I had was visiting Forrest J Ackerman’s home. Dear Forry left us five years ago, but he was a key figure of science fiction and fantasy for many decades as an editor, a collector, a writer and speaker. He’s credited for coining the term “sci-fi” in the 60s but in response many authors (including Harlan Ellison) made a point of rejecting that term as degrading and instead promoted “speculative fiction.” Uncle Forry was once the agent for Ed Wood and he embraced the glorious schlock of the sff B-movies. Talk about geek heaven, his home was more of a museum, filled with movie props and treasures. Models and masks of monsters and spaceships occupied every corner. My favorite was a framed short story submission by Stephen King when he was so young he didn’t call himself “Stephen.”

But for someone so enamored of dramatic displays, it’s hard to live to be 92 without drama in your own life. Forry had more than his share. His wife died from an injury sustained in a mugging on a European vacation. He had endless financial problems that appeared to be solved when he won a large six-figure business lawsuit. But then the judgment was never paid, as he explained to me. He ended up losing his mansion and downsizing into a Hollywood cottage, cramming in as much of his memorabilia as possible, floor to ceiling. He had a few books and magazines and buttons for sale and I bought what I could at the time to help support him. He was much thinner a year or two after the photo by A. Light above, but he continued to love meeting people and sharing his delight in his wonderfully geeky world.

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