THE FUTURIANS by Damon Knight


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Here for the first time in connected form is a chapter of sf history that has hitherto been gleanable only in fragments. The Futurians were eventually to furnish most of the major sf writers, editors, and agents of the ""Golden Age"" (the late Forties and Fifties). But in 1938, when Donald A. Wollheim managed to band together a few disgruntled ex-members of other New York fan clubs, the Futurian Science Literary Society was only a gaggle of bright, argumentative kids, most of them marked by some degree of half-baked leftism and all of them full of crusading zeal for--well, who knows what, but it revolved with equal ferocity around the astonishments of science fiction, The Future, and their own ragged camaraderie. The Society scrambled on for ten years, finally splitting into factions which mirrored various ineluctable workings-out of talent and neurosis. But during those years it harbored such people as Pohl, Knight, Judith Merril, James Blish, and the remarkable C. M. Kornbluth--imaginations who among them were to wrench science fiction in directions later taken up by the sf counterculture of the Sixties. Some later gravitated toward security and influence. Some wrestled themselves toward pain and self-destruction while achieving something admirable (Kornbluth) or only a lifetime of mistakes (Wollheim's tormented protÉgÉ John Michel). During the Forties the bulk of the Society wandered through varying communal living arrangements, treated each other to an endless series of newsletters (The Ivory Tower Goetterdaemmerung. The Prime Base Godhelpus) and scatalogical verses, and got through a surprising number of marriages and divorces. This is an irresistible story or set of stories. Yet there is something formless and undecided about the telling. One can only be grateful for Knight's labor of love (and telephone book and tape recorder), but one also senses struggling motives behind it, even at this date. Is he trying to chronicle a historical episode? To disinter a few old bones of contention? To record something elusive and marvelous? Luckily it is the last that one remembers longest.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1977
Publisher: John Day/T. Y. Crowell