The Way The Future Blogs
March 13, 2010 9:45 PM   Subscribe

For the last year or so, Frederik Pohl has been quietly blogging.

A behind-the-scenes look at the beginnings of the Golden Age of Sci-Fi, and some of the famous (and not so famous) writers, editors, and magazines he has known. With a side-order of politics, the perils of practical science (bonus: his small part in cryonics), travel, poetry, the art of writing, Hollywood, old age, and the downside of being a long-lived futurist.
posted by Pinback (24 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
Wow, great find! Thanks for this!
posted by mkhall at 10:04 PM on March 13, 2010

Fan-frigging-tastic. Thank you.
posted by smoke at 10:06 PM on March 13, 2010

Wow, he's not dead? Cool. I shall soak this up.

Though recently I learned that Norman Spinrad isn't dead, and that's kind of not going so well.
posted by Artw at 10:08 PM on March 13, 2010

[this is good]

Very very good.
posted by Alnedra at 10:12 PM on March 13, 2010

One of my favorites. Thanks for this!
posted by drhydro at 10:35 PM on March 13, 2010

Many many thanks for bringing this to front page attention, Pinhead. there goes the rest of the day and its not yet 9am :)
posted by infini at 10:50 PM on March 13, 2010

*dies of mortification* that's Pinback... (apologizes profusely on her knees banging forehead on ground)
posted by infini at 10:51 PM on March 13, 2010

Norman Spinrad isn't dead, and that's kind of not going so well.

What? First thing by Spinrad I saw was his discussion of the concept of "3rd world," and it was pretty astute. The people who are ranting about it don't seem to have actually understood what he was saying.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 11:52 PM on March 13, 2010

Thiis so great. I've clicked back as far as Pohl's brief bio of Cyril Kornbluth, one of the great unknowns of American fiction, and hope he has more to say about this man. And I've picked up on his snark toward Robert Mills, editor of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, once the greatest SF (and possibly just F) magazine in print. Anyway, thanks for posting this.
posted by CCBC at 3:13 AM on March 14, 2010

posted by sciurus at 6:19 AM on March 14, 2010

favourited. Bookmarked. Thanks.
posted by marienbad at 6:57 AM on March 14, 2010

Pohl is one of my favourites. He seems to do what I've always thought science fiction should do: Take an idea, or new scientific discovery, throw it a ways into the future and let it play itself out in a story. He's kind of pure that way.

He wrote one book called (I think) "Jem," where he cast the the world as politically aligned by various nations' resources. So you had the peeps (nations with a lot of people), the greasies (oil rich nations), and the fatties (food producers). It was a good read, and as I watch the world go 'round it often makes sense to think of things working that way.

Thanks for that, and many other good books that make ya think, Fred.
posted by Trochanter at 7:18 AM on March 14, 2010

Many years ago I enjoyed his book, The Way the Future Was and I happen to have one of those dog-eared copies (I should see if I can get it autographed too) so I feel pretty excited to get see this again and what he's learned in twenty more years of writing and living science fiction.
posted by wobh at 7:32 AM on March 14, 2010

My favourites of his are - Age of the Pussyfoot and (with CM Kornbluth) The Space Merchants and Wolfbane.

Any advance?
posted by GeorgeBickham at 10:04 AM on March 14, 2010

Great stuff - so much for getting anything done until I've read it all. thanks!
posted by leslies at 11:35 AM on March 14, 2010

Since, being Jewish, Isaac was not going to be allowed to attend any decent medical school, he had no hope of ever putting the letters M.D. after his name.

Ah, so that's why there are no Jewish doctors.
posted by neuron at 1:13 PM on March 14, 2010

neuron, in the 1940's and 1950's when Asimov would have been applying to med school, Jews really truly couldn't get into most med schools. There were formal quotas to keep the numbers artificially low, no matter how good their grades were or how well they tested. (One could draw parallels to the deck-stacking against qualified Asian-Americans in California before the UC system admission rules were finally changed to race-blind a few years ago). Albert Einstein College of Medicine (part of Yeshiva University) and Mt. Sinai Medical School, both located in NYC, were both founded (in 1955 and 1963, respectively) specifically in response to the anti-Jewish discrimination. So sure, there are lots of Jewish doctors today, but there are also lots of female doctors today too, and they had a heck of a time in the 1940's and 1950's too.

In fact, Asimov's undergrad experience was colored by this anti-Jewish discrimination too -- he was denied entrance to the main Columbia University system and was shuffled to their Seth Low Junior College instead, which was the Jews-allowed school:
"Anti-Semitism was common in American education during [Columbia's Nicholas Murray] Butler’s day, and it may be argued that his personal dislike of Jews, and discriminatory policies against them, were no worse than average for that time. Nonetheless, Butler often considered Jews as a whole to be aggressive and vulgar and for many years of his presidency, Columbia had a strict quota limiting the number of Jews who could attend. In 1928, the Board of Trustees authorized the creation of “Seth Low Junior College” in Brooklyn as a way to deal with the number of Jewish (and Italian) applicants. If Columbia College, the university’s prestigious undergraduate school, had already admitted its modest quota of Jews for the year, other Jewish applicants would be shunted to Seth Low. Among Seth Low's alumni were Boston Celtics coach Red Auerbach and noted science fiction writer Isaac Asimov, who wrote of how he ended up at Seth Low.[6] When Seth Low folded in 1938, its remaining students were absorbed into Columbia's undergraduate population as students in the University Extension program (now the School of General Studies); as such, they were only eligible to earn a Bachelor of Science degree rather than a Bachelor of Arts. Asimov graduated in 1939 with a Bachelor of Science."
posted by Asparagirl at 2:52 PM on March 14, 2010 [4 favorites]

This is wonderful—many thanks.
posted by languagehat at 2:52 PM on March 14, 2010

Indeed, this is great. I'm really curious about the mention of Spinrad--is there some sort of controversy associated with him or something?
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:59 PM on March 14, 2010

Pohl's got a nice little obit about about Phil Klass (William Tenn) who was a golden age sci-fi magazine writer who mostly dropped out to be an English professor at Penn State. I took Klass's "Science Fiction as Literature" class in the '80s and about 1/2 of it was his stories about writers like Heinlein, Gold and L. Ron Hubbard. Fun class.
posted by octothorpe at 4:58 PM on March 14, 2010

"Quietly blogging?"

Dunno know about that. Lots of SF folks have known about the blog for a while, and there's been a movement afoot to have Pohl nominated for a Best Fan Writer Hugo this year. But it's certainly true that the blog is a really excellent read, and everyone should stop by and read it.
posted by jscalzi at 6:49 PM on March 14, 2010

they were only eligible to earn a Bachelor of Science degree rather than a Bachelor of Arts.

"Listen, we don't have any more of the garbage available, you're gonna have to be satisfied with the steak."
posted by Jimmy Havok at 8:44 AM on March 15, 2010

Well, 'quietly blogging' in the same sense as those mysterious rumbles and hums in places like Taos and Auckland - if you're immersed in those small places you've probably heard about it, but most outsiders haven't…

(Apologies to the mefites of Auckland; it's a lovely city and not all that small.

Anybody from Taos, NM? No? Good ;-)

posted by Pinback at 5:03 PM on March 15, 2010

Asimov is jewish? Damn, there goes my anti-semitism.

I remember reading the foundation series and the susan calvin robot storys as a teenager and just absolutely loving them. Fondly remembered.
posted by marienbad at 9:48 PM on March 15, 2010

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