THE WAY THE FUTURE WAS: A Memoir by Frederik Pohl


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Pohl's life ought to be an autobiographer's dream. Like many sci-fi writers, he became hooked on the stuff during a Depression childhood. By the age of 17, he was not only a member of the remarkable sci-fi Cosa Nostra known as the Futurian Society, but also a self-constituted literary agent, promoting his friends' and his own stories to John W. Campbell at Astounding. At 19 he talked himself into the editorship of two Popular Publications pulps, each budgeted at something less than $500 an issue. By the time of his Catch-22 wartime service, he had mastered such tricks of the editorial trade as recycled art-work and heads-I-win-tails-you-lose payment rates; gone through one marriage of an eventual four; and--after the Hitler-Stalin pact--burnt his bridges with the Flatbush branch of the Young Communist League. Over the next couple of decades he perfected his three-hat act (writer, editor, agent) while becoming involved in every major sci-fi development from the Milford Workshops to the ""original"" anthology. All this should make splendid reading--but one only fitfully recognizes the co-author of that glorious and prophetic satire The Space Merchants, the spirited successor to Horace Gold at Galaxy, or the disciplined artist of last year's Gateway. The writing veers madly between the finished and the slapdash (""The thing about Horace was that he was a dynamite editor. . .""), and toward the end the organizing principle becomes what occurs to Pohl next. Still, though better chunks of Pohl biography may be found in the Aldiss-Harrison Hell's Cartographers and The Early Pohl, fans will want The Way the Future Was in full.

Pub Date: Aug. 21st, 1978
Publisher: Ballantine