Erle Korshak

(October 29, 1923 – August 25, 2021)

Erle Korshak

We are immensely sad to announce that Erle Korshak, one of our Guests of Honor, passed away on August 25, 2021.

When we were choosing our Guests of Honor in 2020, our Bid Chairs, Helen Montgomery and Dave McCarty, both felt strongly that Erle should be one of the GoHs. “Erle was instrumental in bringing the Worldcon to Chicago for the first time in 1940, and because of that, we are here today planning for the 8th Chicago Worldcon,” said Helen, who is now the Chair for Chicon 8. We were so happy to be able to call and ask him to join us. Erle was so excited to be our Guest of Honor, and told us so in every conversation we had with him since then.

Our plans to honor Erle will not change. We will continue to plan to celebrate his amazing life and his contributions to fandom, from the early days of Worldcon to starting Shasta Publishing to his career as an attorney and his love of art which he passed on to his children.

Erle lived an incredibly full life, right up to the end. We will miss him greatly, but are so glad that he knew how much he meant to us.

On behalf of the staff and members of Chicon 8, we extend our condolences to Erle’s family and friends.

Erle Korshak first stumbled on science fiction when an issue of Astounding crossed his path in August 1934. Five years later, he created Moonstruck Press to compile a bibliography of every fantasy book published to that time. He also became one of the driving forces, along with Mark Reinsberg and Bob Tucker, behind the second World Science Fiction Convention, Chicon, held in Chicago from September 1-2, 1940, exactly 82 years before Chicon 8. Erle served as the secretary of the convention and, when Reinsberg fell ill, took the role of acting chairman. By making sure that Worldcon became an annual event, Erle helped create the fannish culture we celebrate every year at Worldcon.

Following World War II, Korshak, his Moonstruck partner Ted Dikty, and Reinsberg formed Shasta:Publishers to release Everett F. Bleiler’s The Checklist of Fantastic Literature. Over the next ten years, Shasta published collections by L. Sprague de Camp, Murray Leinster, Robert Heinlein, and other early science fiction authors. After Shasta went out of business, Erle dropped out of organized fandom for three decades before starting to attend conventions again in the late 1980s. In 2009, he revived Shasta as Shasta-Phoenix to publish classic SF art. He was inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame in 1996.

You can read the first half of our interview with Erle in Progress Report 1. The second half will be coming out in Progress Report 2, Fall 2021.

On April 27, 2021 as part of the Fanac Fan History project, Chicon 8 Guests of Honor Joe Siclari and Edie Stern conducted an interview with Chicon 8 Guest of Honor Erle Korshak.Please enjoy this look at the history of Worldcon and the first Chicon.

Erle on Fancyclopedia
The Korshak Collection