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.