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.

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