Friday, December 31, 2010

April 10, 1935 (15 and 4 months)

Asimov jumps ahead in his book (In Memory Yet Green) to April 10, 1935, "one of the few exact dates I remember for the period before I was 18.") (It was at age 18 that he started keeping a diary.

He'd ever traveled into Manhattan (from Brooklyn his home) by himself, and he didn't do it this day, either. His father came with him, but waited outside the school building.

Asimov recounts that he made a very poor impression. He was "too eager, too talkative,too nervous, too lacking in poise and self assurance, too obviously immature."

He was interviewed by only one man, apparently, and despite his transcript grades he was rejected. However, he was only rejected for Collumbia College. Columbia University was a huge establishment of which Columbia College, "the elite undergrauate school" was only a part.

The interviewer therefore suggested that he apply to Seth Low Junior Colllege, located in Brooklyn - "another undergraduate college of Columbia University and ...by no means elite." One had to be 16 to enter (as one did for Columbia College) and the student body was mainly Jewish with a smattering of Italians.

After the interview, he and his father went to see a movie, Richelieu, witj George Arliss, Edward Arnold, and Ceasar Romero. In this movie, Richelieu was the hero, which Asimov had some difficulty getting used to as he'd read The Three Musketeers where Richelieu was the villain.

They also stopped in at a museum - which one he doesn't remember - and saw Albert Einstein, though they did not speak to him. (And Asimov remembers the date because of this event, not because it was the day he interviewed for Columbia College.)

___________________
ENCYCLOPEDIA ASIMOVA IS UPDATED ON TUESDAYS AND THURSDAYS
_______________
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR OTHER KINDLE BLOGS:
* Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
* Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
* Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
* Rush Limbaugh Report

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

January 2, 1935

On January 2, 1935, Isaac Asimov turned 15. By this time, he was 5 feet 9 inches tall, and he would grow no taller. At age 15 he was skinny, weighing no more than 125 pounds.

It was at age 15 that he started to shave, twice a week at first, and was in "the full flower" of his acne (which he would continue to have until his early 20s).

At this point, he still worked full time in his parent's candy store when not in school, and so all his thoughts were of graduating high school, not of girls.

He was going to graduate high school 3 years early, and was already wondering which college he should enter. It had to be a college in New York City, for he would have to continue to work at the candy store.

He thought of City College, which was tuition -free, and anyone living in the city could enter it if his grades were good enough.

Although he appliwed to City College and was accepted, he was not happy about it. Most of the student body was Jewish. So was aAsimov, although non-practicing, and he knew that medical schools hardly ever accepted a graduate of City College...and he wanted to go to medical school. ("At least, my father was intent on my behalf.")

The most prestigious college in New York City was Columbia College, and gradusates of Columbia College usually had no problem getting into medical school.

Although Asimov didn't expect to ever have the tuition money to be able to afford Columbia, he applied nevertheless. Good grades were not enough however, he'd also have to go to an interview in order to be accepted.

TO BE CONTINUED




Bibliography
In Memory Tey Green, The Autobiography of Isaac Asimov, 1920-1954. Avon, 1979

___________________
ENCYCLOPEDIA ASIMOVA IS UPDATED ON TUESDAY AND THURSDAY
_______________
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR OTHER KINDLE BLOGS:
* Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
* Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
* Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
* Rush Limbaugh Report

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Damon Knight on Isaac Asimov's writing

Isaac Asimov didn't care much for critics, so his friendship with Damon Knight must have been strained when you consider what Knight wrote about his work in a variety of review columns (the exact magazine in which it appeared is not specified).
Fourteen years ago, shortly after Isaac Asimov's first story appeared, he got a fan letter from a callow 18-year old in Hood River, Oregon. Not to keep you in suspense, the fan was me.

Time passed, I grew older very slowly, grew an invisible moustache and shaved it off, learned to stay awar from dry red wine and recovered somewhat from my enthusiasm for Ross Rocklynne and Edgar Rice Burroughs. But I still yield to nobody as an Asimov fan. Among writers of the purest and most difficult kind of science fiction, the serious "what if" story, I think he's approached by nobody but Jeinlein. His robot stories put an end forever to the misbegotten series of clanking Adam Links that had infested science fiction for twenty years; his "Nightfall" is matchless of its kind, and I could name half a dozen others.

But as a writer of twice-told tales, I think Asimov is as dull as anybody. That's why I've been waiting, long and impatiently, for The Caves of Steel, because I wanted to praise Asimov, and because, if I reviewed Pebble in the Sky, The Stars, Like Dust, Foundation and Empire, The Currents of Space or Second Foundation, I couldn't.

To be continued.

Bibliography
In Search of Wonder, 2nd edition, revised and enlarged, Damon Knight, 1956, 1967

___________________
ENCYCLOPEDIA ASIMOVA IS UPDATED ON MONDAY, WEDNESDAY AND FRIDAY
_______________
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR OTHER KINDLE BLOGS:
* Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
* Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
* Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
* Rush Limbaugh Report

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Yikes!


So sorry, folks, I thought I'd queued up plenty of posts to run through December, and I see I just imagined it all.

Regular posts will start again tomorrow, Monday Dec 13.

Thanks for your patience!



___________________
ENCYCLOPEDIA ASIMOVA IS UPDATED ON MONDAY, WEDNESDAY AND FRIDAY
_______________

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR OTHER KINDLE BLOGS:
* Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
* Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
* Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
* Rush Limbaugh Report

Monday, November 29, 2010

Who is Fred Pohl?

From Wikipedia (just to start out with. What Asimov has to say about one of his best friends will be covered in future entries.)

Frederik George Pohl, Jr. (born November 26, 1919) is an American science fiction writer, editor and fan, with a career spanning over seventy years. He won the National Book Award in 1980 for his novel Jem. Other well-known novels include The Space Merchants (written with Cyril M. Kornbluth) and Gateway.

From about 1959 until 1969, Pohl edited Galaxy magazine and its sister magazine if, winning the Hugo Award for if three years in a row. His writing also won him four Hugos and multiple Nebula Awards. He became a Nebula Grand Master in 1993.

Pohl won the 2010 Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer, based on his writing on his blog, "The Way the Future Blogs".

Early life and family
Pohl is the son of Frederik George Pohl (a salesman) and Anna Jane Pohl. Pohl Sr. held a number of jobs, and the Pohls lived in such wide-flung locations as Texas, California, New Mexico and the Panama Canal Zone. The family settled in Brooklyn when Pohl was around seven.

He attended the prestigious Brooklyn Tech high school, but due to the Great Depression, Pohl dropped out of school at the age of 14 to work. It was not until 2009 that he was awarded an honorary diploma from Brooklyn Tech.[2]

While a teenager, he co-founded the New York–based Futurians fan group, and began lifelong friendships with Donald Wollheim, Isaac Asimov, and others who would become important writers and editors.

During 1936, Pohl joined the Young Communist League because of its stands in favor of unions and against racial prejudice, Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. He became president of the local Flatbush III Branch of the YCL in Brooklyn. Pohl has said that after the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of 1939, the party line changed and he could no longer support it, at which point he left.

During World War II, Pohl served in the U.S. Army from April 1943 until November 1945, rising to sergeant as an air corps weatherman. After training in Illinois, Oklahoma, and Colorado, he primarily was stationed in Italy.

Pohl has been married five times. His first wife, Leslie Perri, was another Futurian; they were married in August 1940 but divorced in 1944. He then married Dorothy LesTina in Paris in August 1945 while both were serving in Europe; the marriage ended in 1947. During 1948, he married Judith Merril; they divorced in 1952. From 1953–1983 he was married to Carol M. Ulf Stanton, with whom he collaborated on several books. Since 1984, he has been married to science fiction expert and academic Elizabeth Anne Hull, PhD.

He fathered five children: Ann (m. Walter Weary), Karen (m. Robert Dixon), Frederik III (deceased), Frederik IV and Kathy.[3] Grandchildren include writer Emily Pohl-Weary.

Since 1984, he has lived in Palatine, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. He was previously a resident of Red Bank, New Jersey.

Career
Pohl began writing in the late 1930s, using pseudonyms for most of his early works: Pohl's first published piece was a poem, "Elegy to a Dead Planet: Luna," in the October, 1937 issue of Amazing Stories credited to "Elton Andrews."[4][5]

From 1939 to 1943, Pohl was the editor of two pulp magazines - Astonishing Stories and Super Science Stories. Stories by Pohl often appeared in these magazines, but never under his own name. Work written in collaboration with Cyril M. Kornbluth was credited to S.D. Gottesman or Scott Mariner; other collaborative work (with any combination of Kornbluth, Dirk Wylie or Robert A.W. Lownes) was credited to Paul Dennis Lavond. For Pohl's solo work, stories were credited to James MacCreigh (or, for one story only, Warren F. Howard.)

In his autobiography, Pohl says that he stopped editing the two magazines at roughly the time of the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. Works by "Gottesman," "Lavond," and "MacCreigh" continued to appear in various SF pulp magazines throughout the 1940s.

Pohl started a career as a literary agent in 1937, but it was a sideline for him until after WWII, when he began doing it full time. He ended up "representing more than half the successful writers in science fiction" — for a short time, he was the only agent Isaac Asimov ever had — though his agenting business went bankrupt in the early 1950s.

Pohl began publishing material under his own name in the early 1950s. He collaborated with friend and fellow Futurian Cyril M. Kornbluth, co-authoring a number of short stories and several novels, including a dystopian satire of a world ruled by the advertising agencies, The Space Merchants.

Though the pen-names of "Gottesman", "Lavond" and "MacCreigh" were retired by the early 1950s, Pohl still occasionally used pseudonyms even after he began to publish work under his real name. These occasional pseudonyms, all of which date from the early 1950s to the early 1960s, included Charles Satterfield, Paul Flehr, Ernst Mason, Jordan Park (two collaborative novels with Kornbluth) and Edson McCann (one collaborative novel with Lester del Rey).

From the late 1950s until 1969, Pohl served as editor of Galaxy and if magazines, taking over at some point from the ailing H. L. Gold. Under his leadership, if won the Hugo Award for Best Professional Magazine for 1966, 1967 and 1968. Pohl hired Judy-Lynn del Rey as his assistant editor at Galaxy and if.

In the mid-1970s, Pohl acquired and edited novels for Bantam Books, published as "Frederik Pohl Selections"; the most notable were Samuel R. Delany's Dhalgren and Joanna Russ's The Female Man. Also in the 1970s, Pohl reemerged as a novel writer in his own right, with books such as Man Plus and the Heechee series. He won back-to-back Nebula awards with Man Plus in 1976 and Gateway, the first Heechee novel, in 1977. Gateway also won the 1978 Hugo Award for Best Novel. Two of his stories have also earned him Hugo awards: "The Meeting" (with Kornbluth) tied in 1973 and "Fermi and Frost" won in 1986. Another notable late novel is Jem (1980), winner of the National Book Award. Pohl continues to write and had a new story, "Generations", published in September 2005. A novel begun by Arthur C. Clarke called The Last Theorem was finished by Pohl and published on August 5, 2008.

His works include not only science fiction but also articles for Playboy and Family Circle and nonfiction books. For a time, he was the official authority for the Encyclopædia Britannica on the subject of Emperor Tiberius. (He wrote a book on the subject of Tiberius, as "Ernst Mason".)

A number of his short stories are notable for a satirical look at consumerism and advertising in the 1950s and 1960s: "The Wizards of Pung's Corners," where flashy, over-complex military hardware proved useless against farmers with shotguns, and "The Tunnel Under the World," where an entire community of seeming-humans is held captive by advertising researchers. ("The Wizards.." was freely translated into Chinese and then freely translated back into English as "The Wizard-Masters of Peng-Shi Angle" in the first edition of Pohlstars (1984)).

He was a frequent guest on Long John Nebel's radio show, from the 1950s to the early 1970s, and an international lecturer.

Pohl was the eighth President of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, taking office in 1974.

He is a member of the all-male literary banqueting club the Trap Door Spiders, which served as the basis of Isaac Asimov's fictional group of mystery solvers the Black Widowers.

Pohl received the second Eaton Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by the University of California, Riverside.

Pohl's work has been an influence on a wide variety of other science fiction writers, some of whom appear in the 2010 anthology, Gateways: Original New Stories Inspired by Frederik Pohl, edited by Elizabeth Anne Hull.



___________________
ENCYCLOPEDIA ASIMOVA IS UPDATED ON MONDAY, WEDNESDAY AND FRIDAY
_______________
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR OTHER KINDLE BLOGS:
* Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
* Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
* Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
* Rush Limbaugh Report

Friday, November 26, 2010

Who is John Campbell?

In any writing Asimov did that mentioned his past, John Campbell looms large. Campbell only bought one of Asimov's first several stories (Fred Pohl bought most of them) but it was Campbell whom Asimov kept trying to impress with his writing, and it was Campbell who published his most long-lived creations - "Nightfall" and the Foundation series, and who, according to Asimov, came up with the three laws of robotics.

Here's his bio from Wikipedia:
John Wood Campbell, Jr. (June 8, 1910 – July 11, 1971) was an influential figure in American science fiction. As editor of Astounding Science Fiction (later called Analog Science Fiction and Fact), from late 1937 until his death, he is generally credited with shaping the so-called Golden Age of Science Fiction.

Isaac Asimov called Campbell "the most powerful force in science fiction ever, and for the first ten years of his editorship he dominated the field completely."

As a writer, Campbell published super-science space opera under his own name and moody, less pulpish stories as Don A. Stuart. However, he stopped writing fiction after he became editor of Astounding.

Biography
Campbell was born in Newark, New Jersey in 1910. His father was a cold, impersonal, and unaffectionate electrical engineer. His mother, Dorothy (née Strahern) was warm but changeable of character and had an identical twin who visited them often and who disliked young John. John was unable to tell them apart and was frequently coldly rebuffed by the person he took to be his mother.

Campbell attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he befriended Norbert Wiener, one of the godfathers of computers. He began writing science fiction at age 18 and quickly sold his first stories. By the time he was 21 he was a well-known pulp writer but had been dismissed by MIT: he had failed German. He then spent one year at Duke University, from which he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in physics in 1932.

He married Dona Stewart in 1931, and they were divorced in 1949. He married Margaret (Peg) Winter in 1950. He spent most of his life in New Jersey and died at home.

Writing career
Campbell's first published story, "When the Atoms Failed," appeared in the January 1930 issue of Amazing Stories when he was 19; he had had a previous story, "Invaders from the Infinite", accepted by Amazing's editor, T. O'Conor Sloane, but Sloane had lost the manuscript. Campbell's early fiction included a space opera series based on three characters, Arcot, Morey and Wade, and another series with lead characters Penton and Blake.

This early work established Campbell's reputation as a writer of space adventure; and when he began in 1934 to publish stories with a different tone, he used a pseudonym derived from his wife's maiden name.

From 1930 until the later part of that decade, Campbell was prolific and successful under both names. Three significant stories published under the pseudonym are "Twilight" (Astounding, November 1934). "Night" (Astounding, October 1935), and "Who Goes There?" (Astounding, August 1938). "Who Goes There?", about a group of Antarctic researchers who discover a crashed alien vessel, complete with a malevolent shape-changing occupant, was filmed as The Thing from Another World (1951) and The Thing (1982). "Who Goes There?" published when Campbell was only 28, was his last significant piece of fiction.

John held the Amateur Radio Callsign W2ZGU, and wrote many articles on Electronics and Radio for a wide range of magazines.

Influence
In late 1937, F. Orlin Tremaine hired Campbell as the editor of Astounding. Campbell was not given full authority for Astounding until May 1938, but had been responsible for buying stories somewhat earlier. He began to make changes almost immediately, instigating a "mutant" label for unusual stories, and in March 1938 changing the title of the magazine from Astounding Stories to Astounding Science-Fiction.

Lester del Rey's first story, in March 1938, was an early find for Campbell, and in 1939, he published such an extraordinary group of new writers for the first time that the period is generally regarded as the beginning of the "Golden Age of Science Fiction," and the July 1939 issue in particular. The July issue contained A. E. van Vogt's first story, "Black Destroyer," and Asimov's early story "Trends"; August brought Robert A. Heinlein's first story, "Life-Line", and the next month Theodore Sturgeon's first story appeared.

Also in 1939, Campbell started the fantasy magazine Unknown (later Unknown Worlds). Although Unknown was canceled after only four years, a victim of wartime paper shortages, the magazine's editorial direction was significant in the evolution of modern fantasy.

Campbell is widely considered to be the single most important and influential editor in the early history of science fiction. The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction wrote: "More than any other individual, he helped to shape modern sf." After 1950, new magazines such as Galaxy and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction moved in different directions and developed talented new writers who were not directly influenced by him. Campbell often suggested story ideas to writers (including, famously, "Write me a creature that thinks as well as a man, or better than a man, but not like a man"), and sometimes asked for stories to match cover paintings he had already bought.

Asimov said of Campbell's influence on the field: "By his own example and by his instruction and by his undeviating and persisting insistence, he forced first Astounding and then all science fiction into his mold. He abandoned the earlier orientation of the field. He demolished the stock characters who had filled it; eradicated the penny-dreadful plots; extirpated the Sunday-supplement science. In a phrase, he blotted out the purple of pulp. Instead, he demanded that science-fiction writers understand science and understand people, a hard requirement that many of the established writers of the 1930s could not meet. Campbell did not compromise because of that: those who could not meet his requirements could not sell to him, and the carnage was as great as it had been in Hollywood a decade before, while silent movies had given way to the talkies."

The most famous example of the type of speculative but plausible science fiction that Campbell demanded from his writers is "Deadline," a short story by Cleve Cartmill that appeared during the wartime year of 1944, a year before the detonation of the first atomic bomb. As Ben Bova, Campbell's successor as editor at Analog, wrote, it "described the basic facts of how to build an atomic bomb. Cartmill and ... Campbell worked together on the story, drawing their scientific information from papers published in the technical journals before the war. To them, the mechanics of constructing a uranium-fission bomb seemed perfectly obvious." The FBI descended on Campbell's office after the story appeared in print and demanded that the issue be removed from the newsstands. Campbell convinced them that by removing the magazine "the FBI would be advertising to everyone that such a project existed and was aimed at developing nuclear weapons" and the demand was dropped.

Campbell was also responsible for the grim and controversial ending of Tom Godwin's famous short story "The Cold Equations". Writer Joe Green recounted that Campbell had "three times sent 'Cold Equations' back to Godwin, before he got the version he wanted.... Godwin kept coming up with ingenious ways to save the girl! Since the strength of this deservedly classic story lies in the fact the life of one young woman must be sacrificed to save the lives of many, it simply would not have the same impact if she had lived."

Editorials and opinions
Campbell was well known for the opinionated editorials in each issue of the magazine, wherein he would sometimes put forth quite preposterous hypotheses, perhaps intended to generate story ideas. An anthology of these editorials was published in 1966.

Slavery
Green wrote that Campbell "enjoyed taking the 'devil's advocate' position in almost any area, willing to defend even viewpoints with which he disagreed if that led to a livelier debate." As an example, he wrote, Campbell "pointed out that the much-maligned 'peculiar institution' of slavery in the American South had in fact provided the blacks brought there with a higher standard of living than they had in Africa.... I suspected, from comments by Asimov, among others — and some Analog editorials I had read — that John held some racist views, at least in regard to blacks." Finally, however, Green agreed with Campbell that "rapidly increasing mechanization after 1850 would have soon rendered slavery obsolete anyhow. It would have been better for the USA to endure it a few more years than suffer the truly horrendous costs of the Civil War."

In a June, 1961, editorial called "Civil War Centennial," Campbell argued that slavery had been a dominant form of human relationships for most of history and that the present was unusual in that anti-slavery cultures dominated the planet. He wrote, "It's my bet that the South would have been integrated by 1910. The job would have been done — and done right — half a century sooner, with vastly less human misery, and with almost no bloodshed.... The only way slavery has ever been ended, anywhere, is by introducing industry.... If a man is a skilled and competent machinist — if the lathes work well under his hands — the industrial management will be forced, to remain in business, to accept that fact, whether the man be black, white, purple, or polka-dotted."

Smoking
Campbell was a heavy smoker throughout his life and was seldom seen without his customary cigarette holder. In the Analog of September, 1964, nine months after the Surgeon General's first major warning about the dangers of cigarette smoking had been issued on January 11, Campbell ran an editorial, "A Counterblaste to Tobacco" named after the similarly named anti-smoking book by James I of England. In it, he stated that the connection to lung cancer was "esoteric" and referred to "a barely determinable possible correlation between cigarette smoking and cancer." He claimed that tobacco's calming effects led to more effective thinking.

Pseudoscience and fringe politics
In the 1950s, Campbell developed strong interests in alternative theories that began to isolate him from some of his own writers. He wrote favorably about such things as the "Dean drive", a device that supposedly produced thrust in violation of Newton's third law, and the "Hieronymus machine", which could supposedly amplify psi powers. He published many stories about telepathy and other psionic abilities.[22][23][24]

In 1949, Campbell also became interested in Dianetics. He wrote of L. Ron Hubbard's initial article in Astounding that "It is, I assure you in full and absolute sincerity, one of the most important articles ever published." He also claimed to have successfully used dianetic techniques himself.

Asimov wrote: "A number of writers wrote pseudoscientific stuff to ensure sales to Campbell, but the best writers retreated, I among them...." Elsewhere Asimov went on to further explain, "Campbell championed far-out ideas.... He pained very many of the men he had trained (including me) in doing so, but felt it was his duty to stir up the minds of his readers and force curiosity right out to the border lines. He began a series of editorials ... in which he championed a social point of view that could sometimes be described as far right (he expressed sympathy for George Wallace in the 1968 national election, for instance), although few right-wingers would subscribe to some of his opinions, for example his new-age theories of psi powers. There was bitter opposition to this from many."

In the eyes of others
Damon Knight described Campbell as a "portly, bristled-haired blond man with a challenging stare." "Six-foot-one, with hawklike features, he presented a formidable appearance," said Sam Moskowitz. "He was a tall, large man with light hair, a beaky nose, a wide face with thin lips, and with a cigarette in a holder forever clamped between his teeth," wrote Asimov.

Asimov said that Campbell was "talkative, opinionated, quicksilver-minded, overbearing. Talking to him meant listening to a monologue...." Knight agreed: "Campbell's lecture-room manner was so unpleasant to me that I was unwilling to face it. Campbell talked a good deal more than he listened, and he liked to say outrageous things."

British novelist and critic Kingsley Amis dismissed Campbell brusquely: "I might just add as a sociological note that the editor of Astounding, himself a deviant figure of marked ferocity, seems to think he has invented a psi machine."

British SF novelist Michael Moorcock, as part of his "Starship Stormtroopers" editorial, would claim Campbell's Stories and its writers were "wild-eyed paternalists to a man, fierce anti-socialists" with "[stories] full of crew-cut wisecracking, cigar-chewing, competent guys (like Campbell's image of himself)", who had success because their "work reflected the deep-seated conservatism of the majority of their readers, who saw a Bolshevik menace in every union meeting". He viewed Campbell as turning the magazine into a vessel for right-wing politics, "by the early 1950's... a crypto-fascist deeply philistine magazine pretending to intellectualism and offering idealistic kids an 'alternative' that was, of course, no alternative at all".

SF writer Alfred Bester, an editor of Holiday Magazine and a sophisticated Manhattanite, recounted at some length his "one demented meeting" with Campbell, a man he imagined from afar to be "a combination of Bertrand Russell and Ernest Rutherford." The first thing Campbell said to him was that Freud was dead, destroyed by the new discovery of Dianetics, which, he predicted, would win L. Ron Hubbard the Nobel Peace Prize. Campbell ordered the bemused Bester to "think back. Clear yourself. Remember! You can remember when your mother tried to abort you with a button hook. You've never stopped hating her for it." Bester commented: "It reinforced my private opinion that a majority of the science-fiction crowd, despite their brilliance, were missing their marbles."

Campbell died in 1971 at the age of 61 in Mountainside, New Jersey. At the time of his sudden death after 34 years at the helm of Analog, Campbell's quirky personality and eccentric editorial demands had alienated a number of his most illustrious writers to the point that they no longer submitted works to him.

Asimov's final word on Campbell was that "in the last twenty years of his life, he was only a diminishing shadow of what he had once been." Even Heinlein, perhaps Campbell's most important discovery, and a "fast friend," eventually tired of Campbell.


___________________
ENCYCLOPEDIA ASIMOVA IS UPDATED ON MONDAY, WEDNESDAY AND FRIDAY
_______________
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR OTHER KINDLE BLOGS:
* Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
* Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
* Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
* Rush Limbaugh Report

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Introducing Encyclopedia Asimova: The Website

In one of Isaac Asimov's many Black Widower short stories, he has his writer character, Manny Rubin, tell a story about Isaac Asimov. Asimov, says Rubin, carries an encyclopedia with him to parties. When someone brings up a subject he says, "Speaking of concrete, the Encyclopedia Britannica has a very nice article about it. It's only 350 pages away from their article on me." And then he shows them the article on himself.

Asimov is spoofing his ego in this story, but that's where the idea of the web version of the Encyclopedia Asimova came from. It will be an encyclopedia entirely centered around Asimov. So, the definition of Physics will be "a subject Asimov wrote about in this book and that essay." The defiintion of Astronomy will be "a subject Asimov wrote about in this essay and these books." And so on.

In between the alphabetical entries are brief exhortations to "Educate yourself" with links to non-fiction books by Asimov on a variety of subjects. (Some of these books are out of print, and you can pick them up for a penny. Of course, you then have to pay $3.99 for postage.)

CHeck it out at: http://volcanoseven.com/EncyclopediaAsimova/index.html
___________________
ENCYCLOPEDIA ASIMOVA IS UPDATED ON MONDAY, WEDNESDAY AND FRIDAY
_______________
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR OTHER KINDLE BLOGS:
* Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
* Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
* Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
* Rush Limbaugh Report

Monday, November 22, 2010

Lost Asimov: "Masks" and "Big Game"

On February 3, 1941, the day John Campbell accepted his story, "Liar" (a positronic robot story), Asimov set to work on "Masks," another attempt to get into Unknown.

"I wrote a short one, called "Masks," (1,500 words) "and heaven only knows what it was aobut, for I don't." Campbell rejected it, and "it is gone, it no longer exists."

After three years, Asimov was doing well as a writer - he'd just written "Nightfall" - which made the cover of Astounding.

At this point, John Campbell started a new feature in Astounding called Probability Zero, a department of short-shortd , 500 to 1000 words, which were to be in the nature of plausible and entertaining Munchausen-like lies. He was specifically hoping new writers would try their hand at these, but wanted to see the pot with stories from established writers first.

Asimov wrote "Big Game", and submitted it to Campbell on November 234, 1941. Campbell rejected it. He writes,"I wish I could remember what "Big Game" was about, for I thought enough of it to submit it to try sunitting it to Colliers magazine (an over-awing slick) in 1944, and it was of course rejected.



___________________
ENCYCLOPEDIA ASIMOVA IS UPDATED ON MONDAY, WEDNESDAY AND FRIDAY
_______________
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR OTHER KINDLE BLOGS:
* Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
* Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
* Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
* Rush Limbaugh Report

Friday, November 19, 2010

Lost Asimov: "The Brothers" and "The Oak"

"August [1939] was even worse", wrote Asimov in his afterword to "The Secret Sense" in The Early Asimov, in discussing his early story writing and the world situation.

"All Europe rang with the hideous possibility of war, and on Sept 1, WWII began with the German invasion of Poland. I could do nothing during the crisis but listen to the radio. It was not till September 11 that I couldsettle down long enough to start another story, "The Brothers."

"The Brothers" was science fiction, and all I remember is that it was about two brothers, a good one and an evil one, and a scientific invention that one or the other was constructing. ... It too was never placed and no longer exists."

Asimov wrote another story which he submitted to Campbell, which was accepted, and a couple more that were rejected. Then, he tried to get into Unknown again.

"It was about time that I made another stab at Unknown, and I did so with a story called "The Oak," which, as I recall, was something about an oak tree that served as an oracle and delivered ambiguous statements. I sumbitted it to Campbell on July 16, 1940 and it was promptly rejected.

One of the bad things about writing for Unknown was that the magazine was one of a kind. If Unknown rejected a story, there was no place else to submit it. It was possible to try Weird Tales, a magazine that was older than any science fiction magazine, but it dealth with old-fashioned, creaky horror tales and paid very little to boot. I wasn't really interested in trying to get into them. (And besides, they rejected both "Life Before Birth" and "The Oak" when I submitted them.)

___________________
ENCYCLOPEDIA ASIMOVA IS UPDATED ON MONDAY, WEDNESDAY AND FRIDAY
_______________
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR OTHER KINDLE BLOGS:
* Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
* Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
* Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
* Rush Limbaugh Report

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Lost Asimov: "The Decline and Fall" and "Life Before Birth"

"In February 1939" writes Asimov, "I wrote a story called "The Decline and Fall."

It was rejected by Campbell as well as the other SF magazines of the day.

"It no longer exists and I remember nothing about it."

One would think that the title would provide a clue. "The Decline and Fall" certainly sounds like the "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," so perhaps an early version of what were to become the Foundation stories?

After this failure, Asimov did have a success (after a lot of rewriting) with what would become entitled "Black Friar of the Frame", which he does recognize as a precursor to the Foundation series.

As for "Life Before Birth":
In 1939,Street & Smith began the publication of a new magazine, Unknown, with John Campbell as editor.

Unknown caught my fancy at once. It featured stories of what are now called "adult fantasy," and the writing seemed to my 19-year-old self to be even more advanced and literate than Astounding. Of course I wanted desperately to place a story in this new and wonderful magazine.

"Life Before Birth" was an attempt in this direction, but aside from the mere fact that it was a fantasy, I remember nothing more about it. ... It never placed anywhere and no longer exists."

.



___________________
ENCYCLOPEDIA ASIMOVA IS UPDATED ON MONDAY, WEDNESDAY AND FRIDAY

_______________
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR OTHER KINDLE BLOGS:
* Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
* Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
* Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
* Rush Limbaugh Report

Monday, November 15, 2010

Lost Asimov: "The Weapon", "Paths of Destiny", "Knossos in its Glory"

John Campbell was not the first editor to buy an Asimov story, that was Fred Pohl of Astonishing Stories with "The Callistan Menace." However, Raymond Palmer of Amazing, was the first to publish an Asimov story, "Marooned Off Vesta." He received $64 for it.

"Marooned off Vesta" appeared in the March 1939 issue of Amazing Stories, "The Callistan Menace" appeared in the April 1940 Astonishing Stories.

Asimov's third published story was "Ring around the Sun," published in Future Fiction in March, 1940.

In August 1938, Asimov was finishing his third year of college, and was trying, without success, to get into medical school. He was 17.

"The next three stories took not one month, as had the previous three, but three months. And all were clearly well below the limits of salability even in the most permissive market. They were "The Weapon," "Paths of Destiny" and "Knossos in its Glory." Campbell rejected each one in short order....

All three stories are now gone forever. I remember nothing at all two of them, but "Knossos in its Glory" was an ambitious attempt to retell the Theseus myth in science fiction terms. The minotaur was an extraterrestrial who had landed in ancient Crete with only the kindliest of intentions, and I remember writing terribly stilted prose in an attempt to make my Cretans sound as I imagined characters in Homer ought to sound." [Asimov describes the story this way in The Early Asimov, and uses the exact same paragraph to describe it in In Memory Yet Green.



___________________
ENCYCLOPEDIA ASIMOVA IS UPDATED ON MONDAY, WEDNESDAY AND FRIDAY
_______________
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR OTHER KINDLE BLOGS:
* Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
* Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
* Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
* Rush Limbaugh Report

Friday, November 12, 2010

Lost Asimov: The Irrational Planet

Asimov next wrote "Stoway" and brought that to Campbell. It was rejected, but he then submitted it to other magazines, while working on a new story. A year later, it was accepted by his friend Fred Pohl for publication in the 2nd issue of Astonishing magazine. [Truth to tell, as I read The Early Asimov, it seemed that it was really Fred Pohl who kept Asimov afloat during his early years of writing, but I'll develop that theory in a later entry in this encyclopeida.]

The third story Asimov wrote for publication was "Marooned off Vesta." Before submitting it to Campbell, he also wrote "The Irrational Planet" and "Ring Around the Sun."

Feeling "The Irrational Planet" to be weak, he never submitted it to Campbell. He submitted it to Thrilling Wonder Stories, who rejected it. There rejection letter was so pleasant, though, that he ended up sumitting it to Campbell, then to five other magazines, all of whom rejected it.

"I don't even remember the plot, except that I'm pretty certain that the planet of the title was Earth itself."

___________________
ENCYCLOPEDIA ASIMOVA IS UPDATED ON MONDAY, WEDNESDAY AND FRIDAY
_______________
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR OTHER KINDLE BLOGS:
* Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
* Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
* Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
* Rush Limbaugh Report

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Lost Asimov: Cosmic Corkscrew

Isaac Asimov discusses his story "Cosmic Corkscew" in his anthology The Early Asimov.

Asimov began to dabble in writing when he was 11 years old. At age 14 he took a writing class in which his teacher was not supportive. Fortunately this spurred Asimov to greater effort rather than causing him to give up.

Asimov writes:
It was not until May 29, 1937 (according to a date I once jotted down-though that was before I began my diary, so I won't swear to it), that the vague thought occurred to me that I ought to write something for professional publication, something that would be paid for! Naturally it would have to be a science fiction story, for I had been an avid science fiction fan since 1929 and I recognized no other form of literature as in any way worthy of my efforts.

The story I composed for the purpose, the first story I ever wrote with a view to becoming a 'writer,' was entitled "Cosmic Corkscrew."

He wrote only a few pages before he lost interest...the prospect of having to write for others more difficult than when he was just writing stories to please himself.

A year later, in May, 1938, Astounding Science Fiction, changed its publication schedule from the third Wednesday of the month to the fourth Friday. Asimov worked in his father's candy/newstand, and was unaware of the change in publication date. He actually went down to the offices of Astounding Science Fiction to find out what was going on - and found to his relief that it hadn't ceased publication, just pub date.

But he was fired witn newfound enthusiasm to finish the story, and did so.

On June 21, 1938, he returned to Astounding Science Fiction with the story and asked to see John Campbell, the editor. Campbell, only 28 at the time, and just off his own successful writing career, saw him, took his story to read, and they talked for over an hour.

Two days later, Asimov received the rejected story, which gave him full reasons for the rejection. "He didn't like the slow beginning, the suicide at the end." He also didn't like the first person narration , the stiff dialog, and the length, 9,000 words...too long for a short story, too short for a novelette.

Asimov put the manuscript of "Cosmic Corkscrew" into a drawer and went on to write new stories. Eventually, the manuscript vanished, and is presumed destroyed.

The plot according to Asimov
In ["Cosmic Corkscrew"] I viewed time as a helix (that is, something like a bed spring.) Someone could cut across from one turn directly to the next, thus moving into the future by some exact interval but being incapable of traveling one day less into the future. My protagonist made the cut across time and found the Earth deserted. ALl animal life was gone; yet there was every sign that life had existed until very shortly before-and no indication at all of what had brough about the disappearance. It was told in the first person from a lunatic asylum, because the narrator had, of course, been placed in a madhouse after he returned and tried to tell his tale.

___________________
ENCYCLOPEDIA ASIMOVA IS UPDATED ON MONDAY, WEDNESDAY AND FRIDAY
_______________
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR OTHER KINDLE BLOGS:
* Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
* Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
* Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
* Rush Limbaugh Report

Monday, November 8, 2010

Lost Asimov, A Summary

I bought The Early Asimov (several years ago) from a used book store via mail.

I expected to find every single one of Asimov's early stories (that had been published) presented in chronological order.

Not so. All I received were those stories of Asimov that had never been published in other anthologies.

That annoyed me no end. But, I know it was a financial decision - a dedicated Asimov fan would thus have to set out and buy all these other anthologies in which the missing stories appeared, thus increasing the profits of the publishers and of Asimov (and later, of his estate.)

Then, many years after The Early Asimov had been published, Asimov Gold was published. And this one claimed to publish every Asimov story ever written. I looked at it with much excitement, therefore...but no. The claim was a base canard. It should have presented every Asimov story chronologically, it did not. Those stories that appeared in The Early Asimov were not included. (Or if they were, they sure weren't done chronologically.

Now that used bookstores are all online, it's possible to assemble quite a large collection of Asimova for only a little outlay (for most of the books). Sadly, what you normally buy are de-accessioned library books. They cost 1 penny, and the postage is $3.99. (At least, that's how I formed by collection of Asimov's Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction essay anthologies.)

In The Early Asimov, Asimov shares the titles of the 11 "missing" Asimov stories - stories he wrote that were not published and are now irretrievably lost.

1.Cosmic Corkscrew (9,000 words)
2. This Irrational Planet (3,000 words)
3. The Weapon (4,000 words)
4. Paths of Destiny (6,000 words)
5. Knossod in its Glory (6,000 words)
6. The Decline and Fall (6,000 words)
7. Life Before Birth (6,000 words)
8. The Brothers (6,000 words)
9. The Oak (6,000 words)
10. Masks (1,500 words)
11. Big Game (1,000 words)

I'll share the history behind these stories in my next entry.

___________________
ENCYCLOPEDIA ASIMOVA IS UPDATED ON MONDAY, WEDNESDAY AND FRIDAY
_______________
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR OTHER KINDLE BLOGS:
* Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
* Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
* Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
* Rush Limbaugh Report

Friday, November 5, 2010

The History of the Futurians Will Continue...

As soon as I can find my book, The Futurians, written by Damon Knight. It's funny, I made it all the way from my old home in Yorktown, VA to my new home in Cheyenne, Wyoming with it safely placed where I could lay my hands on it... now that I'm in Cheyenne and unpacking all my boxes of books into my bookcases, I can't find it.

I had been following Knight's story about Asimov up until the first convention that Asimov attended that the rest of the Futurians weren't allowed to, and then segued from Knight's book to Asimov's autobiography to fill in all the gaps Knight had left out.

Now that the convention is taken care of, I want to return to Knight's book and continue chronologically... whcih I will do as soon as I can find it.

In the meantime, I'll share information on Asimov's early stories. That'll be coming up in my next entry in.... Encyclopedia Asimova.

Encyclopedia Asimova is updated every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Immortal Storm pt 13

Asimov continues describing his experience at the first Science Fiiction Convention, on pg 245 of his biography.
In the afternoon we saw the motion picture Metropolis, a silent movie that had been made in 1926. I thought it was awful.

Afterwards there were speeches by the various editors. Weisinger, as a part of his statement, said, "I didn't know you fellows were so sincere!" and that made Time magazine, which ran two columns on the convention in its next issue.

The various notables in the audience were introduced to the general membership, and at about 7 pm John Clark called out, "How about Asimov?"

There was shouting and I stood up in pleased confusion. I made my way toward the stage and I remember receiving a healthy shove forward by a grinning John Campbell as I passed.

Leslie Perri made gestures and faces at me as I passed, but I didn't know what she meant. Later, she told me with exasperation that she had meant I ought to make a stirring appeal on behalf of the Futurian exiles-but that had never occurred to me. I just blushed prettily, thanked the audience for their applause, and referred to myself in an agony of insincerity as the "worst science-fiction writer unlynched."

Shortly thereafter it was time to go home, and I left.

According to my diary, "I had a simply marvelous time."

The next Futurian meeting, on July 4, had many outsiders as guests, since there were a number still in town though the convention had ended. It was a chance for the exiles to have a microconvention of their own. I met David A. Kyle for the first time at that meeting.
___________________
ENCYCLOPEDIA ASIMOVA IS UPDATED ON MONDAY, WEDNESDAY AND FRIDAY
_______________
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR OTHER KINDLE BLOGS:
* Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
* Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
* Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
* Rush Limbaugh Report

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Immortal Storm, Pt 12

Asimov continues describing the first science fiction convention he attended, on pg 244 of In Memory Yet Green

The morning was an informal session where everyone introduced themselves to each other. I met Frank R. Paul, the famous science fiction illustrator, who was guest of honor. I also met such authors as Ross Rocklynne, Nelson S. Bond, Manly Wade Wellman, Harl Vincent, and John D. Clark. (Some I met only that one time and never again. Some became lifelong friendsa. It's impossible to tell in advance how it will turn out.)

There were some well-known fans such as Forry Ackerman, Jack Darrow, and Milt rothman. I met Mort Weisinger, the editor of Thrilling Wonder Stories, who had rejected everything of mine he had seen, but whom I had never met before.

Also present were people I had already met, such as [John] Campbell, [Charles] Hornig, [L. Sprague] de Camp and [Jack] Williamson.

At lunchtime I went out and joined the Futurians. They did not berate me for my treason. Rather, they considered me a spy in the enemy's camp, though what good it did them to have a spy, I couldn't say. I told them everything that had happened, then went back in. Leslie Parri, which was the name under which Pohl's girlfriend worked as a writer/illustrator, went in with me.

TO BE CONTINUED

___________________
ENCYCLOPEDIA ASIMOVA IS UPDATED ON MONDAY, WEDNESDAY AND FRIDAY
_______________
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR OTHER KINDLE BLOGS:
* Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
* Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
* Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
* Rush Limbaugh Report

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Immortal Storm, pt 11

Asimov continues on pg 244 of In Memory Yet Green

I did not know whether this exclusion principle included me. At the time of the Futurian revolt, I was not yet a member, and Sam Moskowitz did not know me. He had seen me during my visit to the Queens Scoence Fiction League the month before, but I had been there as a writer and I was anything but a disruptive influence.

Still, solidarity was solidarity, and it was my intention to stay with the Futurians. I arrived at 10L00 AM and found them in an Automat across the street from the meeting house. All were present but Fred Pohl, who was late because of some dental problems.

Finally, we decided to make the attempt, crossed the street, walked up the steps, and there facing us was the burly Sam Moskowitz (whom to this day I wouldn't dream of crossing, and with whom I have been good friends for a long time) and a number of cohorts.

It was useless to try to fight, really, and the Futurians turned and left and remained for the rest of the day across the street. I, however, continued walking up the steps, determined to adopt the role of author rather than fan. No one tried to stop me. I just walked in.

For a moment I hesitated, feeling I ought to join my friends in exile--but I couldn't. The hall was full. I saw Campbell there and others whom I eithert knew or suspected to be persons of condequence, and I could not resist. I stayed at the convention (and I have suffered pangs of guilt over this ever since.)

TO BE CONTINUED

___________________
ENCYCLOPEDIA ASIMOVA IS UPDATED ON MONDAY, WEDNESDAY AND FRIDAY

_______________
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR OTHER KINDLE BLOGS:
* Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
* Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
* Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
* Rush Limbaugh Report

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Immortal Storm, pt 10

Asimov receives his B.S. degree and continues to receive rejections (including the stories he’d given to Hornig.

Almost immediately after the publication of “Trends” (a story in which the general populace is against space flight”,) his third published story, “something even more exciting took place-a special kind of science fiction meeting.

The idea was Sam Moskowitz’s, the Sam Moskowitz who was one of those against whom the Futurians had revolted—a tall, round-faced serious fellow, whose most noticeable characteristics were a loud voice and an encyclopediac knowledge of science fiction.

Most of the science fiction clubs in the United States were made up of impoverished teen-agers. Sometimes, members from one club visited another city as guests of a club there, making the trip in jalopies or a bus. It occurred to Sam to organize a “World Convention,” that *all science fiction fans from everywhere in the world (if they had the time and money) could attend.

“The First World Science Fiction Convention” took place on Sunday, July 2, 1939, in a hall on 59th street between Park Avenue and Madison Avenue. I had heard about the planned convention from the Futurians who, of course, wanted to attend. Moskowitz, along with the others who were organizing the convention, felt, however, that the Futurians planned only to disrupt the convention, and it was their intention to exclude them and prevent them from entering.

___________________
ENCYCLOPEDIA ASIMOVA IS UPDATED ON MONDAY, WEDNESDAY AND FRIDAY_______________

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR OTHER KINDLE BLOGS:
* Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
* Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
* Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
* Rush Limbaugh Report

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Immortal Storm pt 9

I also met (writes Asimov) Eric Frank Russell, an English writer whose novel Sinister Barriers had been featured in the first issue of a new magazine, Unknown Fantasy Fiction. That first issue had appeared on February 1, 1939. It was a sister magazine to Astounding and was also edited by Campbell.

Unknown was a magazine the like of which had never appeared before. It contained adult fantasy, some humorous, some terrifying, all well written and most thought-provoking. Campbell had conceived of it precisely as a vehicle for Sinister Barriers, which he bought for the excellent story it was, even though he felt that it did not quite come under the classification of science fiction.

Russell was tall, long-faced, somewhat withdrawn, and I found myself rather abashed in his presence.

Otto Binder was there, too. He was the active half of a team that included his brother, Earl. They wrote under the pseudonym of Eando (E. and O.) Binder. In the late 1930s he was the most prolific of the science-fiction writers, but he rarely appeared in Astounding. He was about ten years older than I was, frank , boyish and genial. In the January 1939 Amazing he had published “I, Robot,” a short story about a sympathetic and noble robot that had made a great impression on me.

I was most excited, though, at meeting Jack Williamson for the first time. He was stoop-shouldered, very quiet and, apparently, shy, but it was clear he had a golden heart.

It was an exciting day-the first I spent with fellow writers as well as with fellow fans. And I was *treated as a writer than as a fan. The Sykora group ignored my association with the Futurians and did not order me out-as they might have done were I simply a fan.

___________________
ENCYCLOPEDIA ASIMOVA IS UPDATED ON MONDAY, WEDNESDAY AND FRIDAY
______________
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR OTHER KINDLE BLOGS:
* Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
* Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
* Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
* Rush Limbaugh Report

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Immortal Storm pt 8

Asimov spends several pages telling about the viscitudes of his writing. After his first sale, "Marooned Off Vest," he kep getting rejections, in particular from John Campbell.

He continues his history of The Futurians on pg 225.
My monthly visits with the Futurians did not cheer me either. One and all, the Futurians had writing ambitions, and one and all had been writing. Almost all of them were going to make it in time; but they had not yet done so.

My own sale was the first, and I had been gleeful over it-a tactical error. Furthermore, most of the Futurians were high school dropouts and I was forging steadily ahead toward my degrees-another tactical error. At any rate, my happy relationship with them faded a bit.

Fredrik Pohl, aspiring writer and agent, was his clost friend in the Futurians.

A bit later, Asimov visited the rival sf club:
[After talking about more rejections] I had tried to reach Hornig of Science Fiction, and he had written to say that he was attending a meeting of the Queens Science Fiction League on May 7, and if I were to attend also, we might meet. This was the organization I might have joined the previous September, had I not been headed off by the Futurian splitaway.

I attended and met Hornig for the first time. He was dark-complexioned, needed a shave, and was a fellow-sufferer of acne. I seized the occasion to hand him two stories, "The Decline and Fall" and "Knossos in its Glory."

To be continued...

___________________
ENCYCLOPEDIA ASIMOVA IS UPDATED ON MONDAY, WEDNESDAY AND FRIDAY

_______________
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR OTHER KINDLE BLOGS:
* Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
* Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
* Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
* Rush Limbaugh Report

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Immortal Storm pt 7

Asimov continues:

I attended almost every meeting of the Futurians thereafter, for a year or so. on Sunday, October 2, I was there and "had more fun than last time." After the heavy work of parliamentarian discussion, we relaxed by playing ping pong.

The third meeting, on October 16, was a disappointment. It was in Manhattan's far north, at 109th street. This was new territory to me and I managed to get lost. Some of the members were missing and contentiousness was setting in again, for Wollheim and Michel had already discovered after two meetings that the Futurians were not ideal and they wanted to re-organize. I myself had learned how to be contentious too, for as I said in my diary, "I opposed it like hell."

The Futurians were the occasion for my first argument with [John] Campbell. During my fourth visit to him, on September 28, I was, of course, filled to overflowing with the glories of the meeting and told him all about it and about the Futurian philosophy as expounded by Wollheim, the most articulate of the Futurians.

That was when I found out that Campbell was (my diary says) "a hidebound conservative." I argued with him but "was afraid to extend myself for fear of antagonizing him."

I went away distressed. The meeting had begun most promisingly, for he had said, "Hello, Mr. Asimov," and had shaken my hand as though he was meting an equal -- and then I went and argued with him.

___________________
ENCYCLOPEDIA ASIMOVA IS UPDATED ON MONDAY, WEDNESDAY AND FRIDAY

_______________
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR OTHER KINDLE BLOGS:
* Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
* Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
* Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
* Rush Limbaugh Report

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Immortal Storm part 6

"Fortunately", Asimov wrote in his autobiography, "the meeting was on a Sunday afternoon, the slowest time of the week (no afternoon papers), so I obtained my mother's permission to desert the store and sent off a postcard accepting the invitation. [There was a great deal of postcard correspondence in those days since postcards cost only a penny.]

On Sunday, September 18, 1938, I traveled to the meeting place and, for the first time, took part in any grouping of science-fiction fans."

(The next part of Asimov's diary is the same that was reproduced in Damon Knight's book, The Futurians. I reproduce it again:

On September 18, 1938, Asimov wrote in his diary:

I attended the first meeting of the Futurians, and boy, did I have a good time. Attending likewise were such famous fans as Don A. Wollman (sic), John Michel, Frederik Pohl, Doc Lowndes. Dick Wilson was also there, but did not join the club as he is not a socially minded fan. Jack Rubinson was also there, aaltogether there were twelve, including Wildon and myself. We enjoyed a three-hour session of strict parliamentary discipline,- you know, motions and amendments, and votes and objections etc. Next time we will proceed to business of speeches, debate, etc. Dues are 10 cents a month, with a 25 cent initiation fee, which I paid, of course. I also spent a nickel on a chance, but I lost.

They held the meeting in a sort of hall which is also a Communist Party headquarters at other times. We have an organ which is called the Science Fiction Advance, and comes out once every two months. It was put out by another club previously [the CPASF], which has now broken up, and I have the first two copies. I intend to write for [the magazine], but hesitate to put my name to violently radical and probably atheistical articles, so I am wondering if they will allow me to write under a pseudonym.

After the meeting we all went down to an ice cream parlor where they bought $1.90 worth of sodas, banana splits and sandwiches. I didn't get anything thugh. There I had an uproarious time with Wollheim [sic, and the correct spelling], who has taken a liking to me.
_______________
Subscribe to our other blogs on Kindle:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
Rush Limbaugh Report

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Immortal Storm, pt 5

The Futurians, Asimov writes, were, perhaps, the most remarkable science fiction club that ever existed. Among the group that formed it or later joined fo rlonger or shorter periods after its formation were people who in later life were extremely important to science fiction as writers or editors or both. They included Frederik Phol, Donald A. Wollheim, Cyril Kornbluth, Robert W. Lowndes, Richard Wilson, Damon Knight and James Blish, for instance.

It included me too, for that matter, for the September 15 postcard was from Fred Pohl and I was invited to attend the first meeting of the new club at a place in Brooklyn on the following Sunday.

I was delighted. I knew mothing of the split up, nothing of the existence of the two factions or of the nature of either. I naturally thought that I was being invited to the club that Rubinson had mentioned and that its meeting in Brooklyn, rather than Queens, was a lucky break that made it easier to reach.

Once I learned of the split, much later on, I did not, you understand, feel either cheated or hoodwinked. As a matter of fact, had I known of the issues involved, I would, of my own accord, have joined with the Futurian group, the members of which have been, by and large, among the most intelligent (if sometimes erratic) people I have ever known, and the surviving members of which are still all my friends.

TO BE CONTINUED

_______________
Subscribe to our other blogs on Kindle:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
Rush Limbaugh Report

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Immortal Storm pt 4

Asimov continues, in his autobiography, In Memory Yet Green:

The Greater New York Science Fiction Club, concerning which Rubinson had written me, was suffering from this contentiousness. There was one faction, led by a fan named Will Sykora, along with James Taurasi and sam Moskowitz himself, that wished to confine the activities of the club to science fiction, without any admixture of politics.

Another group, one to which Rubinson apparently belonged, felt that the world situation was such that it made no sense to imagine science fiction as existing in a vacuum, it could not remain above the strife.

Rememberthat 1938 was a hectic and fearful year in Europe. In March, Hitler had taken over Austria without a fight... In the months following, Hitler, facing a fearful and hesitant France and Grat Britain, demanded the border sections of Czechoslovakia...

By September the demand had brought Europe to the brink of war. Peace was saved only by the craven surrender of Great Britain and France to Germany at Munich...

With that in mind, the group to which Rubinson belonged wanted to use science fiction as a way of fighting fascism, and it was almost impossible to do this in those days without making use of Marxist rhetoric, so that these activists were accused of being Communists by the opposition.

In between the postcard I received on the 12th and the one I received on the 15th, the final split took place. The Sykora group renamed itself the Queens Science Fiction Fan Club, while the activists called themselves the "Futurian Science Literary Society," a name that was quickly shortened to Futurians.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Immortal Storm, pt 3

Isaac Asimov continues to write about the Futurians, pg 209 of part 1 of his autobiography.

Let me refer you instead to something else [Asimov writes]. Back in 1954, Sam Moskowitz, one of the most active of the fans of the 1930s (and a dear friend of mine for many years), recalled those days and wrote a book the subtitle of which was "A History of Science Fiction Famdom." It dealt with the period from 1935 to 1938 chiefly, and yet Sam found enough to say to fill a closely printed book of 250 pages.

In that book, endlessly and (forgive me, Sam) unreadably detailed, are all the feuds and quarrels of the period among people known only to themselves, over issues unexplainable to others. The title Sam gave the book, without any intent of satire at all, I believe, was The Immortal Storm.

Science fiction writer L. Sprague de Camp (another dear friend of mine) has, in this connection, developed a theory of human contentiousness that I rather like. He points out that in the long history of human groups in the food-hunting stage, a multiplying tribe was alwats in danger. A group o 50 could not cover any more ground than a group of 25 could, and would not find any more food. Therefore, the 50 might starve where the 25 would not.

If the 50 were full of loving kindness and brotherly affection and could not bear to break up, they would bein serious trouble. If they were contentious individuals who tended to split up, each smaller group, staking out a territory of its own, might survive. Hence contentiousness had survival value and flourished, and still exists among mankind despite the fact that ever since agriculture became the most important activity of man, cooperation, and not contentiousness has been required.

Sprague says that if the contentiousness of small groups is to be studied seriously, no better start could be made than to ead and study...The Immortal Storm.

And let me emphasize that, despite the contentiousness, the fans learned to love each other somehow and friendships were formed that not all the viccitudes of the decades could break. There is, to a science fiction fan, no stronger bond that can exist than that which is coveered by the phrase "fellow fan."
_______________
Subscribe to our other blogs on Kindle:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
Rush Limbaugh Report

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Immortal Storm, pt 2

Isaac Asimov continues to write about the Futurians, pg 209 of part 1 of his autobiography.
Though science-fiction clubs were small, they were contentious. The membership tended to consist of intelligent, articulate, argumentative, short-tempered, and opinionated young men (plus a few women) who git into tremendous power struggles.

You might wonder how power struggles can possibly arise in small clubs devoted to something a arcane as science fiction, and I wonder too--but it happens. There are arguments over what happened to the other 35 cents in the treasury, who is to run the fanzine, and other equally momentous problems. I believe there were even arguments as to how best to “control fandom” or, on a lesser scale, the world.

When the arguments overflowed the possibilities of word-of-mouth, letters flew from fanzine to fanzine-long, articulate, venomous, libelous letters, which often degenerated into threats of lawsuit that never materialized) (largely because no lawsuit could ever result in substantial damages when no one being sued was worth more than $1.65, clothes, pocket change, blood chemicals and all.)

Naturally, it didn’t take a club long to split up into two clubs, with each then proceeding to put out competing fanzines. The main task of each fanzine was to vilify the other group with an intensity and a linguistic fluency that Hitler might have studied with profit.

This may sound as though I’m exaggerating a bit, but, honestly, I’m not. If anything I lack the words (competent writer though I am) to describe the intensity of the tempests brewed in the microscopic teapots of science fiction fandom.

Okay - tomorrow we'll get to Sykora!
_______________
Subscribe to our other blogs on Kindle:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
Rush Limbaugh Report

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Asimov Photo Gallery: Ouvres Young and Old






_______________
Subscribe to our other blogs on Kindle:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
Rush Limbaugh Report

The Immortal Storm

Isaac Asimov joined the Futurians in 1938. But the first fanclub had started in 1935...and the history of first fandom from 1935 to 1938 is told in Sam Moskowitz's book The Immortal Storm.

Isaac Asimov writes about his joining the Futurians in his autobiography, In Memory Yet Green.

For nine years I had been reading science fiction...I knew there were other readers, because I read their letters in the magazines, but I knew no other readers personally.

What I did not know was that here and there, groups of science-fiction readers were forming clubs of one sort or another snd even publishing little periodically (usually on primitive mimeograph devices) called "fan magazines" or "fanzines" for short. ...

Then, on August 2, 1938, I received a postcard from Jack Rubinson, who had been at Boys High with me and who had been in my graduating class. He too was a science-fiction reader. He had read my letter in Astounding, and he wanted to begin a correspondence.

I was willing, and on September 6, 1938, he sent me a large envelope containing the first fanzines I ever saw. My judgement, according to my diary, was that they were "fairly interesting."

...

On September 12 came the next step. I received a card from Rubinson telling me of the club he belonged to - the Greater New York Science Fiction Club, which met periodically in Queens.

...

I got my invitation to attend a meeting. The invitation arrived on September 15, 1938, but in between something had happened at that club that I knew nothing of. Let me explain.

[We'll continue this on Sept 27, 2010 - it'll introduce William Sykora, Sam Moskowitz, et al.]

_______________
Subscribe to our other blogs on Kindle:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
Rush Limbaugh Report

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Asimov and the Futurians pt 14

Damon Knight, in his book, The Futurians, next mentions Asimov on pg 37.

At the meeting of March 26, 1939, the minutes show that a visitor, Robert G. Thompson, was commissioned to make an offer of unity to the Queens Science Fiction League, with a joint meeting of the two clubs to be held at a time and place of the QSFL's choosing. At the same meeting, Pohl discussed his plans for an organization called the Futurian Federation of the World, and Asimov offered to pay dues of 25 cents every time he sold a story.

At the April 9 meeting, Kornbluth reported that he had attended the latest QSFL meeting and in Thompson's absence had made the unity offer, which had been rejected without discussion by the director, James V. Taurasi. The Futurians were indignant about this, and voted to censure the three leaders of the QSFL, [William] Sykora, [Sam Moskowitz] and Taurasi.

At this meeting a question was asked about the club's attitude toward the forthcoming World Science Fiction Convention in New York. Wollheim took the chair to reply, "outlining the underhanded and dishonest actions of William Sykora in this regard as well as the dishonorable acts of the editors of the professional magazines." He went on to say that the club had no official attitude toward the convention, and that Wollheim's original committee had withdrawn uin order to avoid damaging fandom by holding two conflicting conventions.

_______________
Subscribe to our other blogs on Kindle:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure HuntersRush Limbaugh Report

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Asimov and the Futurians, pt 13

At the meeting on Feb 26, 1939, according to the Science Fiction News Letter:
The "Things to Come" suite and other recorded fantastic music was played for the edification of members' asthetic sides. Not scheduled were playing same pieces backward & taking of Asimov on thrilling rocket-ride, blindfolded, with eggbeater, clanking spoons, spacial sound effects. Mr. A was also successdully levitated*, after involved, highly complicated ritual.

The Futurians' method of levitating someone was to get him to lie down on a couch or floor, telling him that after a short time he would rise, "untouched by human hands." Then they just left him there; when he got tired of this he would get up, and the Futurians would say, "See?"

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Asimov and the Futurians, pt 12

The Futurians met again on December 26, 1938. Apparently it was discovered at the last moment that the meeting room at 182 Bergen Street was not available. Asimov wrote in his diary:

The meeting there did not materialize, and we all trooped over to Michel's house. It's a nice one, and I had simply a devil of a time. I smoked two cigarettes. * Doc Lowndes came over. He's here for Christmas. There was the largest gathering of the year, I think, about fifteen to twenty, of which several I had never seen before, including two girls. They raided the icebox, and I cleaned out a nut dish.

This aparently marks the first appearance of women in the Futurian Society - probably Doris Baumgardt and her friend Rosalind Cohen. Pohl remembers that the Futurian Society was the first fan organization he knew of that had any women at all in it, but the proportion was never large. Wollheim says that years later, whenever he and his wife Elsie were in a restaurant and saw a large party with only one or two women in it, they'd tell each other, "There's a typical Futurian bunch."

*Reading this passage to me [Damon Knight] in 1975, Asimov said, "Good lord! I would have offered myself up to slow torture as a guarantee that I had never smoked a cigarette. Gee, that's a shocking thing. There's such a thiung as going too far in a diary."

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Asimov and the Futurians pt 11

From The Futurians, by Damon Knight

The fifth meeting, on November 13, apparently was held in the Flatbush YCL hall again. I [Knight] take this account from from Dick Wilson's Science Fiction News Letter, Nov 26, 1938:
The Futurian Society's meeting of November 13, featured a debate between Donald A. Wollheim and Isaac Asimov, with Mr. Wollheim resolving that the Martians, who landed in New Jersey on Hallowe'en eve, should replace homo sapiens as inhabitants of Earth.

Said he: "On October 30, 1938, Orson Welles broadcast "The War of the Worlds" which had half America gibbering in terror, believing that horrible Martians, equipped with heat rays & invulnerability, were laying waste Jersey & New York. Later, coming to its senses, the US reassured itself, calling the Martians figments of Mr. Welles' imagination."

"This is not so," said Mr. Wollheim. "It is more likely that Mr. Welles is a figment of the Martian's imaginations. As a matter of fact, the people of Mars, having lived so many eons longer than Tellurians, naturally have powers denied us. They knew the state the American mind was in, what with war scares and all, and foresaw just what would happen when "The War of the Worlds", which they also knew about, was broadcast. They took advantage of this, landing their spaceships at Grover's Mill while the panic was at its height. (This is borne out by the many people who saw them land.) They immediatelty went into hiding and are now waiting for the excitement to die down so they can emerge and take over the world."

Mr. Wollheim then gave many reasons for the adviseability of such an action. Mr. Asimov then spoke, and tho interrupted by raucous voices crying, "What about the Martians?" made no mention of them, dwelling on the development of the Cro-Magnon and the tortures of the Inquisition. One may readily see that Mr. Wollhaim won by a mile.

Asimov's diary mentions this debate but does not say who won, or even which side he took. The diary [Asimov's diary] continues:

...Besides that, I got elected to the executive council. I had a few games of ping pong, and also practiced a bit of the piano, working out very painstakingly the first three lines of the "Internationale."

When I arrived at the meeting place, no one was there, but soon Wollheim showed up and we dropped in at Pohl's place. His private room is cluttered with maps, Russia and Spain, pictures, Marx, Lenin, Engels, Stalin, Browder [Earl Browder, head of the American Communist Party] and poems. He's a darn good poet.

The next scheduled meeting was sold out, but the Futurians met again on December 26.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Asimov and the Futurians pt 10

On Saturday, a day when "Papa is sick, the cat is sick, and Minnie had her tooth pulled," Asimov went to Rubinson's home and agreed to buy his entire magazine collection for $2.50. He signed a contract to that effect and made a down payment of 50 cents. "Mama put up a devil of a kick when she saw them, but I'll get the Amazings and Wonders yet."

The fifth meeting, on November 13, apparently was held in the Flatbush YCL hall again. I [Damon Knight] take this account from Dick Wilson's Science Fiction News Letter, November 26, 1938:
The Futurian Society's meeting of Nov 13 featured a debate between Donald A. Wollheim & Isaac Asimov, with Mr. Wollheim resolving that the martians, who landed in New Jersey on Halloween eve, should replace homo sapiens as inhabitants of Earth.

Will continue the story of this meeting tomorrow.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Asimov and the Futurians pt 9

From The Futurians, by Damon Knight:

The fourth meeting was at Dick Wilson's house in Richmond Hill, Long Island, and again Asimov got lost, but by walking fast made it on time. ("Of cuorse, in those days walking wasn't dangerous," he commented.")

Wilson, a tall, spade-jawed young man, had a soft, almost purring voice. In his fan journalissm he could be cutting, but in person he was gentle.
You should see the collection Wilson got. About a hundred fifty science fiction magazines all the way back to the large-sizers, maybe even more, plus Weird Tales, Argosys, Doc Savages, etc., and also over two hundred science fiction novels. [In 1938???? I didn't think SF novels started until the 1950s. Ed.]

Jack Rubinson says he has a lot of back numbers he's anxious to get rid of, and that they are in good condition. He says he'll sell them two cents apiece, but I don't know if he's serious. I'll be down Saturday night to look them over. I told him about Amazing*.

*"I had just sold my first story," Asimov said. "On October 21, 1938, Amazing accepted Marooned Off Vesta," the third story I wrote. So that my fourth meeting of the Futurians was the first one I attended as a professional. And I told them, of course."

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Asimov and the Futurians pt 8

The third Futurian meeting was held at Jack Gillespie's home near Fort Tryon Park, the highest point in Manhattan. Asimov got out at the wrong subway exit and had to go down "a series of precipices and steps."
Pohl wasn't there for some obscure reason. [James] Blish, Michel and Wollheim, who were there, want to break up the Futurians and organize it on a much wider basis, including all sorts of persons with a Futurian mind, whatever that is, and taking all the politics out of it. I opposed it like hell, but got nowhere. The meeting broke up about 5:45, and I went home with Kubilis, who is a 6-foot-6 guy.

Walter Kubilis (later Kubiius) who appears seldom in this chronicle, is a gentle, soft-spoken Lithuanian-American. Nobody I talked to had anything but good to say of him. Pohl, for instance, calls him a really sweet person-a decent, intelligent human being.

James Blish, then 17, lived with his mother in New Jersey, he attended Futurian meetings for a year or so, then went to college and was seen infrequently until 1944.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Asimov and the Futurians pt 7

According to Damon Knight in The Futurians:

The Futurians were apparently not much impressed by Asimov at this time. Pohl remembers him as small, skinny and pimpled, and says that his conversation did not sparkle; he seemed to have absorned a lot of information without thinking much about it. Wollheim says that later on, when he came to visit the Futurians, he often had to be ejected because he was noisy.

"After about half an hour we couldn't take him. Diry [Harry Dockweiler] and myself, or Dick Wilson and Bob Lowndes would simply take him and heave him through the door. We couldn't stand him, you know. You can't really offend Ike, he always came back.*

Knight then said in a footnote:

Asimov does not remember this, and thinks it is not the sort of thing he would be likely to forget. He does remember a time when he brought his sister Minnie over and the Futurians, for a joke, pulled her inside and closed the door, leaving Asimov in the hall. "I got very panicky," he told me. "I had some vague notion that they might do something to her, and I'd never be able to explain it to my parents. And I remember banging at the door very hard, and finally they let me in."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Asimov on the Futurians, pt 6

According to Damon Knight, in his book The Futurians (1977):

The club's account book lists the following as charter members:

John B. Michel
Donald A Wollheim
Rudolph Castown
Robert W Lowndes
Frederik Pohl
Jack Rubinson
Walter Kubilis
Jack Gillespie
Isaac Asimov
Cyril Kornbluth
Herbert Levantman

All but the last two paid their application fee, 25 cents, "in full."

Dues were 25 cents a month for employed members, 10 cents for unemployed. In 1938 and early 1939, only Michel, Kubilis and Wilson were employed. [Surely, Asimov was employed also, at his parent's candy store!]

At the beginning of October, the club treasury showed a balance of $1.50.

On October 2, after recording that "Papa has a tooth ache," Asimov wrote:
I went off to the second meeting of the Futurians. I think there was only one person missing from last week. I had even more fun than last time, and we discussed, argued and objected for about two hours, with the features being the discussion of the three science fiction magazines. Then we all started playing ping pong. Lowndes and I teamed up and played doubles matches, and more than held our own with the rest, winning about four and losing three. After initial awkwardness I performed amazingly, considering that I had not held a racquet in almost two years.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Asimov and the Futurians pt 5

On September 18, 1938, Asimov wrote in his diary:

I attended the first meeting of the Futurians, and boy, did I have a good time. Attending likewise were such famous fans as Don A. Wollman (sic), John Michel, Frederik Pohl, Doc Lowndes. Dick Wilson was also there, but did not join the club as he is not a socially minded fan. Jack Rubinson was also there, aaltogether there were twelve, including Wildon and myself. We enjoyed a three-hour session of strict parliamentary discipline,- you know, motions and amendments, and votes and objections etc. Next time we will proceed to business of speeches, debate, etc. Dues are 10 cents a month, with a 25 cent initiation fee, which I paid, of course. I also spent a nickel on a chance, but I lost.

They held the meeting in a sort of hall which is also a Communist Party headquarters at other times. We have an organ which is called the Science Fiction Advance, and comes out once every two months. It was put out by another club previously [the CPASF], which has now broken up, and I have the first two copies. I intend to write for [the magazine], but hesitate to put my name to violently radical and probably atheistical articles, so I am wondering if they will allow me to write under a pseudonym.

After the meeting we all went down to an ice cream parlor where they bought $1.90 worth of sodas, banana splits and sandwiches. I didn't get anything thugh. There I had an uproarious time with Wollheim [sic, and the correct spelling], who has taken a liking to me.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Asimov on The Futurians Pt 4

On September 15, 1938, Asimov wrote in his diary:

I received a postcar this morning from a Frederik Pohl, who informs me that Jack Rubsinson asked him to invite me to a meeting of the Futurians at 730 Nostrand, next Sunday at 2 pm. .. I have decided to consent and accept the invitation, after having consulted with Mama and received her OK, and immediately sent off a postcard to that effect. If the meeting turns out to be very interesting I'll join up.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Asimov on The Futurians, pt 3

Pg 26 of The Futurians, by Damon Kinight.

On September 6, 1938, a Tuesday, described as clear and cool, Asimov wrote:

When the mailman arrived this morning he bore with him a thick envelope which I felt sure was Thrilling Wonder semding me my story back; however it turned out only a letter from Jack Rubinson; it was so heavy he had to spend four cents mailing it.


Rubinson (later Robins) was a science fiction fan who had belonged to the ISA [International Scientific Association] and who remained in the Futirians orbit for a few years. He was heavy and slow, and frequently opened conversations by asking, "Is it true that...?"

...He had enclosed three copies of a page-long fan magazine. They were fairly interesting. He also gave me a few other fanmags I might obtain; also an offer to start a correspondence with an English fellow. I sent back a 4-and-a-half page answer.


To be continued

Friday, August 13, 2010

Asimov in The Futurians Pt 2

Knight continues:

When Asimov came to see me in New York in the fall of 1975, he brought with him a black-bound record book, his diary for 1938. It was in that year (when he was 17) that he began to keep a diary, he has kept it ever since, and there are now 38 volumes on his shelf.

But whereas nowadays it's only a literary diary," he said, "in 1938 it contained full details of every baseball game, full details of the Munich crisis, every day, what was happening, what speeches were made, how much money my father pulled in in that week, and so on. And also science fiction, because in 1938 I was just beginning to write science fiction, my first submission was on June 21, 1938, and after that I always put down where I sent stories and when I got rejections, and so on."

Asimov described the first meeting of the Futurians in his diary, and I'll share it here tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Asimov in The Futurians, pt 1

Science fiction author ("To Serve Man") and critic Damon Knight wrote a book about The Futurians, a science fiction fanclub in the early 1940s, part of First Fandom, of which Isaac Asimov was a part.

I'll share here some of the things Knight has to share about Asimov.

pg 25
Isaac Asimov was born in 1920 in Petrovichi, Russia. He was brought to this country by his parents three years later and became a naturalized citizen in 1928. The Asimovs owned a candy store in Brooklyn where the whole family labored. From early childhood Asimov learned to eat quickly so that he could get back to the store and somebody else could come home. To this day he has not been able to break the habit, and in any dinner gathering he is always the first to finish.


This is the beginning of Chapter 2 of the book The Futurians, in which Knight describes its formation, with the help of Asimov's recollections as he was present at the first meeting.

Members of the Futurians included:
Donald Wollheim
John B. Michel
Frederik Pohl
Robert Lowndes
Cyril Kornbluth
Richard Wilson
Doris Baumgardt
Rosalind Cohen
Harry Dockweiler (Dirk Wylie)
James Blish

On a more professional footing

I apologize to my readers for the haphazard nature of this blog in the last few months... I've been busy preparing to move and now moving, so haven't been able to keep up with it.

However, now that I'm getting some paid subscriptions via Kindle, it's time to pull my socks up and get to work!

So I'll be posting at least 3 times a week in this blog from now on.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Asimov's Autobiography

Isaac Asimov's autobiography was published in two volumes.

In Memory Yet Green (1920-1954)
In Joy Still Felt (1954 - 1978)

Each of these volumes was well over 800 pages. Why did Asimov choose to break up the volumes in the year 1954.

Well, it was in 1954 that he turned 35. As he says in the intro to Volume 2:

I had reached mid-life, for I was approachimg my 35th year, halfway to three-score and ten. (Asimov was an atheist, but for some reason the fact that the bible said people should live to age 70 weighed upon him.

[From The Phrase Finder: The span of a life. In the days that this was coined that was considered to be seventy years.

Origin

Threescore used to be used for sixty, in the way that we still use a dozen for twelve, and (occasionally) score for twenty. It has long since died out in that usage but is still remembered in this phrase.]


I had reached what seemed to be the peak of possible--and it wasn't enough.

In my professional career as a chemist, I had finally achieved professorial status, but my position was very low-paying and I didn't see that I could possibly advance either in renumeration or reputation very much beyond the point I had reached.

In my professional career as a writer, I had become a first-rank science fiction writer as early as 1941, but even after more than a decade of constant success both in magazine short stories and and in hard-cover novels, my earnings as a writer were moderate, and I didn't see any possibility of increasing them further, or of gaining any reputation outside the constricted boundaries of science fiction.

I had, in short, reached a blank wall, a dead in.

And yet I managed to overleap the blank wall and burrow through the dead end and to reach both an income and a reputation which to me, in 1954, would have been inconceivable. The story of how I I did this is contained in this second volume...