The Futurians were a group of science fiction (SF) fans, many of whom became editors and writers as well. The Futurians were based in New York City and were a major force in the development of science fiction writing and science fiction fandom in the years 1937–1945.

Origins of the group

As described in Isaac Asimov's autobiography In Memory Yet Green, the Futurians spun off from the Greater New York Science Fiction Club (headed by Sam Moskowitz, later an influential SF editor and historian) over ideological differences, with the Futurians wishing to take a more overt political stance. Other sources indicate that Donald A. Wollheim was pushing for a more left-wing direction with a goal of leading fandom toward a political ideal, all of which Moskowitz resisted. As a result, Wollheim broke off from the Greater New York group and founded the Futurians in September, 1938.[1][2][3] The fans following Moskowitz reorganized into the Queens Science Fiction Club.

With Frederik Pohl and John Michel c. 1938
Donald A. Wollheim, Frederik Pohl and John Michel in 1938

Frederik Pohl, in his autobiography The Way the Future Was, said that the origin of the Futurians lay with the Science Fiction League founded by Hugo Gernsback in 1934, the local New York City chapter of which was called the "Brooklyn Science Fiction League" or BSFL, headed by G. G. Clark.

Wollheim, John Michel, and Robert A. W. Lowndes were also members of the BSFL. Along with Pohl, the four started calling themselves the "Quadrumvirate". Pohl, commenting about that time, said "we four marched from Brooklyn to the sea, leaving a wide scar of burned out clubs behind us. We changed clubs the way Detroit changes tailfins, every year had a new one, and last year's was junk".

There were several club names during that period, before finally settling on the Futurians. In 1935 there was the "East New York Science Fiction League" (ENYSFL), later the "Independent League for Science Fiction" (ILSF). In 1936 came the International Cosmos Science Club (ICSC), which also involved Will Sykora. Pohl then says that "on reflection 'Cosmos' seemed to take in a bit more territory than was justified, so we changed it to the International Scientific Association (it wasn't International either, but then it also wasn't scientific)". The ISA then was renamed New York Branch-International Scientific Association (NYB-ISA).

In 1937, after a falling-out with Will Sykora and others, the "Quadrumvirate" went on to found the Futurians. Sykora then founded the Queens Science Fiction League with Sam Moskowitz and James V. Taurasi. Later, the QSFL changed into New Fandom. Pohl said the New Fandom and the Futurians were "Addicted to Feuds", that "No CIA nor KGB ever wrestled so valiantly for the soul of an emerging nation as New Fandom and the Futurians did for science fiction".

Most of the group's members also had professional ambitions within science fiction and related fields, and collectively were very effective at achieving this goal, as the roster of members suggests. At one point in the earliest 1940s, approximately half of all the pulp SF and fantasy magazines in the U.S. were being edited by Futurians: Frederik Pohl at the Popular Publications offshoot Fictioneers, Inc. (Astonishing Stories and Super-Science Stories); Robert Lowndes at Columbia Publications, most notably with Science Fiction and Future Fiction (though through the decade to come, Lowndes's responsibilities would expand to other types of fiction magazine in the chain), and Donald Wollheim at the very marginal Albing Publications with the short-lived, micro-budgeted Cosmic Stories and Stirring Science Stories (Wollheim soon moved on to Avon Books; Doë "Leslie Perri" Baumgardt also worked on a romance fiction title for Albing). Most of these projects had small editorial budgets, and relied in part, or occasionally entirely, on contributions from fellow Futurians for their contents.

Political tendencies

At the time the Futurians were formed, Donald Wollheim was strongly attracted by communism and believed that followers of science fiction "should actively work for the realization of the scientific world-state as the only genuine justification for their activities and existence".[4] It was to this end that Wollheim formed the Futurians, and many of its members were in some degree interested in the political applications of science fiction. Members of the Futurians, including Wollheim, Michel, Lowndes, and Cohen briefly became interested in Technocracy, a utopian movement led by Howard Scott, and attended a study course, although they later dismissed Scott as a "crackpot".[5]

Hence the group included supporters of Trotskyism, like Judith Merril and others who would have been deemed far left for the era (Frederik Pohl became a member of the Communist Party in 1936, but later quit in 1939). On the other hand, several members were political moderates or apolitical, and in the case of James Blish arguably right-wing. Damon Knight in The Futurians indicates that Blish at that time felt Fascism was interesting in theory, if repellent as it was then being practised. More solid evidence is that Blish admired the work of Oswald Spengler.

Pohl, in his autobiography, The Way the Future Was, said Wollheim voted for Republican Presidential Candidate Alfred Landon in 1936.

Members included

See also


  1. ^ Kyle, David (December 1997). "SaM – Fan Forever". Mimosa (21): 7–10. Retrieved 24 Apr 2007.
  2. ^ Fancylopedia, Futurians
  3. ^ efanzines.com, FUTURIAN WAR DIGEST
  4. ^ Carr, Terry (1979). Classic Science Fiction: The First Golden Age. Robson Books. ISBN 0-86051-070-0. p. 430
  5. ^ Knight, Damon (1977). The Futurians. John Day. pp. 47–8


  • In Memory Yet Green by Isaac Asimov (1979)
  • The Futurians by Damon Knight (1977)
  • The Way The Future Was by Frederik Pohl (1978)
  • All Our Yesterdays by Harry Warner, Jr. (1969)

External links

1st World Science Fiction Convention

The First World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) was held in the Caravan Hall in New York from July 2 to July 4, 1939, in conjunction with the New York World's Fair, which was themed as "The World of Tomorrow". The convention was later named "Nycon I" by Forrest J Ackerman. The event had 200 participants.

Arthur W. Saha

Arthur William Saha (October 31, 1923 – November 19, 1999) was an American speculative fiction editor and anthologist, closely associated with publisher Donald A. Wollheim.

Cosmic Stories and Stirring Science Stories

Cosmic Stories (also known as Cosmic Science-Fiction) and Stirring Science Stories were two American pulp science fiction magazines that published a total of seven issues in 1941 and 1942. Both Cosmic and Stirring were edited by Donald A. Wollheim and launched by the same publisher, appearing in alternate months. Wollheim had no budget at all for fiction, so he solicited stories from his friends among the Futurians, a group of young science fiction fans including James Blish and C. M. Kornbluth. Isaac Asimov contributed a story, but later insisted on payment after hearing that F. Orlin Tremaine, the editor of the competing science fiction magazine Comet, was irate at the idea of a magazine that might "siphon readership from magazines that paid", and thought that authors who contributed should be blacklisted. Kornbluth was the most prolific contributor, under several pseudonyms; one of his stories, "Thirteen O'Clock", published under the pseudonym "Cecil Corwin", was very successful, and helped to make his reputation in the field. The magazines ceased publication in late 1941, but Wollheim was able to find a publisher for one further issue of Stirring Science Stories in March 1942 before war restrictions forced it to close again.

Other well-known writers who appeared in the two magazines included Damon Knight and David H. Keller. Knight's first published story, "Resilience", appeared in the February 1941 issue of Stirring Stories, but the story was ruined by a misprint in a crucial word in the first sentence. Keller was an established writer in the field, but Wollheim was aware that Keller occasionally donated material to fanzines, and was able to obtain a story from him. The quality of the artwork was variable; it included Elliot Dold's last artwork in the science fiction field, for the cover of the July 1941 issue of Cosmic Stories, and several covers and interior drawings by Hannes Bok, who later became a well-known artist in the field.

Cyril M. Kornbluth

Cyril M. Kornbluth (July 2, 1923 – March 21, 1958) was an American science fiction author and a member of the Futurians. He used a variety of pen-names, including Cecil Corwin, S. D. Gottesman, Edward J. Bellin, Kenneth Falconer, Walter C. Davies, Simon Eisner, Jordan Park, Arthur Cooke, Paul Dennis Lavond, and Scott Mariner. The "M" in Kornbluth's name may have been in tribute to his wife, Mary Byers; Kornbluth's colleague and collaborator Frederik Pohl confirmed Kornbluth's lack of any actual middle name in at least one interview.

Damon Knight

Damon Francis Knight (September 19, 1922 – April 15, 2002) was an American science fiction author, editor and critic. He is the author of "To Serve Man", a 1950 short story adapted for The Twilight Zone. He was married to fellow writer Kate Wilhelm.

Dave Cockrum

David Emmett Cockrum (; November 11, 1943 – November 26, 2006) was an American comics artist known for his co-creation of the new X-Men characters Nightcrawler, Storm, and Colossus. Cockrum was a prolific and inventive costume designer who updated the uniforms of the Legion of Super-Heroes. He did the same for the new X-Men and many of their antagonists in the 1970s and early 1980s.

David Kyle

David A. Kyle (February 14, 1919 – September 18, 2016) was an American science fiction writer and member of science fiction fandom.

Donald A. Wollheim

Donald Allen Wollheim (October 1, 1914 – November 2, 1990) was an American science fiction editor, publisher, writer, and fan. As an author, he published under his own name as well as under pseudonyms, including David Grinnell.A founding member of the Futurians, he was a leading influence on science fiction development and fandom in the 20th-century United States.Ursula K. Le Guin called Wollheim "the tough, reliable editor of Ace Books, in the Late Pulpalignean Era, 1966 and ’67, " which is when he published her first two novels, in an Ace Double.

Frederik Pohl

Frederik George Pohl Jr. (; November 26, 1919 – September 2, 2013) was an American science-fiction writer, editor, and fan, with a career spanning more than 75 years—from his first published work, the 1937 poem "Elegy to a Dead Satellite: Luna", to the 2011 novel All the Lives He Led and articles and essays published in 2012.From about 1959 until 1969, Pohl edited Galaxy and its sister magazine If; the latter won three successive annual Hugo Awards as the year's best professional magazine. His 1977 novel Gateway won four "year's best novel" awards: the Hugo voted by convention participants, the Locus voted by magazine subscribers, the Nebula voted by American science-fiction writers, and the juried academic John W. Campbell Memorial Award. He won the Campbell Memorial Award again for the 1984 collection of novellas Years of the City, one of two repeat winners during the first 40 years. For his 1979 novel Jem, Pohl won a U.S. National Book Award in the one-year category Science Fiction. It was a finalist for three other year's best novel awards. He won four Hugo and three Nebula Awards.The Science Fiction Writers of America named Pohl its 12th recipient of the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award in 1993 and he was inducted by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 1998, its third class of two dead and two living writers.Pohl won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer in 2010, for his blog, "The Way the Future Blogs".

Futurians (band)

The Futurians are a long-running noise rock band from New Zealand. Foxy Digitalis magazine called them the "best punk band on the fucken planet."

Futurians (comics)

The Futurians was a fictional superhero team appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The team was created by Dave Cockrum, and first appeared in 1983 in the ninth of the Marvel Graphic Novels series, then in a three-issue run published by Lodestone Comics.

In 2003, author Clifford Meth revamped the comic as a yet-to-be produced screenplay for IDT Entertainment.

A four-issue mini-series written and drawn by David Miller, with colors by Joe Rubenstein, focused on the character of Avatar and showed some of his history as he returned home to London and fought Morgan Le Fay. It was published in 2010 by David Miller Studios.

Hannes Bok

Hannes Bok, pseudonym for Wayne Francis Woodard (July 2, 1914 – April 11, 1964), was an American artist and illustrator, as well as an amateur astrologer and writer of fantasy fiction and poetry. He painted nearly 150 covers for various science fiction, fantasy, and detective fiction magazines, as well as contributing hundreds of black and white interior illustrations. Bok's work graced the pages of calendars and early fanzines, as well as dust jackets from specialty book publishers like Arkham House, Llewellyn, Shasta Publishers, and Fantasy Press. His paintings achieved a luminous quality through the use of an arduous glazing process, which was learned from his mentor, Maxfield Parrish. Bok shared one of the inaugural 1953 Hugo Awards for science fiction achievement (best Cover Artist).Today, Bok is best known for his cover art which appeared on various pulp and science fiction magazines, such as Weird Tales, Famous Fantastic Mysteries, Other Worlds, Super Science Stories, Imagination, Fantasy Fiction, Planet Stories, If, Castle of Frankenstein and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.

James Blish

James Benjamin Blish (23 May 1921 – 30 July 1975) was an American science fiction and fantasy writer. He is best known for his Cities in Flight novels, and his series of Star Trek novelizations written with his wife, J. A. Lawrence. He is credited with creating the term gas giant to refer to large planetary bodies.

Blish was a member of the Futurians. His first published stories appeared in Super Science Stories and Amazing Stories.

Blish wrote literary criticism of science fiction using the pen-name William Atheling Jr. His other pen names included: Donald Laverty, John MacDougal, and Arthur Lloyd Merlyn.

John B. Michel

John B. Michel (1917–1969) was a science fiction author (sometimes publishing under the name Hugh Raymond) and editor associated with the Futurians, of which he was one of twelve founding members. He was elected Director of the Futurians in 1941. He was widely known for his Left-wing, utopian politics, which came to be known in SF fandom as "Michelism," or the belief that "science-fiction should by nature stand for all forces working for a more unified world, a more Utopian existence, the application of science to human happiness, and a saner outlook on life." Debates over Michelism and its association with Technocracy and Communism were an object of controversy in fanzines in the late 1930s, and its influence can be seen in much science fiction of the period, including Isaac Asimov's Foundation series.Michel was a member of the Young Communist League, and later joined the CPUSA, although he was asked to leave in 1949 for absenteeism.

In the early 1940s, Michel was briefly romantically associated with Judith Merril.

Larry Shaw (editor)

Lawrence Taylor Shaw (9 November 1924–1 April 1985) was a Hugo Award-winning science fiction fan, author, editor and literary agent who usually published as Larry T. Shaw.

Shaw joined a group of science fiction writers known as the Futurians during the early 1940s. From 1948 through the early 1950s, he wrote short fiction before becoming an editor for the magazines If and later Infinity Science Fiction. He published Harlan Ellison's first magazine story "Glowworm" (1955) in Infinity Science Fiction, after Ellison's first sale to EC Comics.

From 1954 to 1955 Shaw edited Rodding and Re-Styling, an automotive sports magazine.After those magazines terminated during 1958, Shaw edited monster movie magazines, automotive magazines and other material until 1963, when he began editing for Irwin Stein's company Lancer Books. He continued working as an editor until 1975, when he began work mainly as a literary agent. He received a Special Hugo Award during 1984 for lifetime achievement as an editor.Shaw was married to science fiction and Spur Award-winning Western fiction author Lee Hoffman from 1956 to 1958. He later married Noreen Kane (1930–2005). Shaw died of cancer on 1 April 1985.

Leslie Perri

Leslie Perri (died 1970) was the pen name of Doris Marie Claire "Doë" Baumgardt, an American science fiction fan, writer, and illustrator. She was a member of the Futurians, the influential science fiction fan club. Through her Futurian connections, she also edited minor romance fiction magazines. Baumgardt was married to two fellow science fiction writers and Futurians, first to Frederik Pohl, later to Richard Wilson. She was also married to Thomas Llewellyn Owens, an American painter. She had two children, Margot Owens, with Owens, and Richard David Wilson with Wilson. She became a reporter and journalist while married to Wilson. Wilson was, at the time, the bureau chief for the Reuters wire service in New York City. He left Reuters and went on to Syracuse University, where he founded a science fiction works collection said to be one of the most important in the world. Her grandson, Dirk Llewellyn van der Meulen, is named for "Dirk Wylie" (Harry Dockweiler) the science fiction poet and member of the Futurians.

Richard Wilson (author)

Richard Wilson (23 September 1920 – 29 March 1987) was an American science fiction writer and fan. He was a member of the Futurians, and was married at one time to Leslie Perri.

His books included the novels The Girls from Planet 5 (1955); 30-Day Wonder (1960); and And Then the Town Took Off (1960); and the collections Those Idiots from Earth (1957) and Time Out for Tomorrow (1962). His short stories included "The Eight Billion" (nominated for a Nebula Award as Best Short Story in 1965); "Mother to the World" (nominated for the Hugo for Best Novelette in 1969 and winner of the Nebula in 1968); and "The Story Writer" (nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novella in 1979).

Wilson also worked in the public relations field as director of the Syracuse University News Bureau from 1964 to 1980. In 1980 he became the University's senior editor before retiring in 1982. He died March 29, 1987.His other major contribution to science fiction and to Syracuse University was in successfully recruiting the donation of papers from many prominent science fiction writers to the University's George Arents Research Library. As part of this effort, Wilson wrote an article entitled "Syracuse University's Science Fiction Collections" for the May 1967 issue of the magazine Worlds of Tomorrow. The collection eventually included manuscripts, galley proofs, magazines, correspondence and art donated by Piers Anthony, Hal Clement, Keith Laumer, Larry Niven, Frederik Pohl and others, including Wilson himself. Initially housed in a warehouse annex, the papers eventually made their way to the climate-controlled top floor of Ernest Stevenson Bird Library on the Syracuse University campus. It has been called the "most important collection of science fiction manuscripts and papers in the world."

Robert A. W. Lowndes

Robert Augustine Ward "Doc" Lowndes (September 4, 1916 – July 14, 1998) was an American science fiction author, editor and fan. He was known best as the editor of Future Science Fiction, Science Fiction, and Science Fiction Quarterly, among many other crime-fiction, western, sports-fiction, and other pulp and digest sized magazines for Columbia Publications. Among the most famous writers he was first to publish at Columbia was mystery writer Edward D. Hoch, who in turn would contribute to Lowndes's fiction magazines as long as he was editing them. Lowndes was a principal member of the Futurians. His first story, "The Outpost at Altark" for Super Science in 1940, was written in collaboration with fellow Futurian Donald A. Wollheim, uncredited.

Science Fiction Quarterly

Science Fiction Quarterly was an American pulp science fiction magazine that was published from 1940 to 1943 and again from 1951 to 1958. Charles Hornig served as editor for the first two issues; Robert A. W. Lowndes edited the remainder. Science Fiction Quarterly was launched by publisher Louis Silberkleit during a boom in science fiction magazines at the end of the 1930s. Silberkleit launched two other science fiction titles (Science Fiction and Future Fiction) at about the same time: all three ceased publication before the end of World War II, falling prey to slow sales and paper shortages. In 1950 and 1951, as the market improved, Silberkleit relaunched Future Fiction and Science Fiction Quarterly. By the time Science Fiction Quarterly ceased publication in 1958, it was the last surviving science fiction pulp.

Science Fiction Quarterly's policy was to reprint a novel in each issue as the lead story, and Silberkleit was able to obtain reprint rights to two early science fiction novels and several of Ray Cummings' books. Both Hornig and Lowndes were given minuscule budgets, and Hornig in particular had trouble finding good material to print. Lowndes did somewhat better, as he was able to call on his friends in the Futurians, a group of aspiring writers that included Isaac Asimov, James Blish, and Donald Wollheim. The second incarnation of the magazine also had a policy of running a lead novel, though in practice the lead stories were often well short of novel length. Among the better-known stories published by the magazine were "Second Dawn", by Arthur C. Clarke; "The Last Question", by Isaac Asimov; and "Common Time", by James Blish.

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