On September 18, 1938, Isaac Asimov wrote in his diary: "I attended the first meeting of the Futurians, and boy, did I have a good time." The meeting took place in "a sort of hall which is also a Communist Party headquarters at other times." In attendance were Asimov, Rudolph Castown, Jack Gillespie, Cyril Kornbluth, Walter Kubilis, Herbert Levantman, Robert W. Lowndes, John B. Michel, Frederik Pohl, Jack Rubinson, and Donald A. Wollheim. "After the meeting," Asimov wrote, "we all went down to an ice cream parlor. . . ." The young men splurged on $1.90 worth of "sodas, banana splits, and sandwiches." Every couple of weeks thereafter, the group met in various places, at Jack Gillespie's house or Dick Wilson's house. Seventeen-year-old James Blish attended the third meeting. By the end of the year, there were even women joining The Futurians in their revelry. (1)
Isaac Asimov made his first sale that fall. "On October 21, 1938," he recorded, "Amazing accepted 'Marooned Off Vesta', the third story I wrote." (2) A prodigy perhaps among prodigies, Asimov was among the first of The Futurians to become a professional. Others followed in rapid order.
Isaac Asimov (1919 or 1920-1992)--Author, editor, anthologist, chemist, teacher. First published science fiction: "Marooned Off Vesta" in Amazing Stories, Mar. 1939.
James Blish (1921-1975)--Author, critic, editor. First published science fiction: "Emergency Refueling" in Super Science Stories, Mar. 1940.
Rudolph Castown (1920-1982)--Member of The Futurians. No index entry in The Immortal Storm by Sam Moskowitz or All Our Yesterdays by Harry Warner, Jr.
Jack Gillespie (Dates unknown)--Member of The Futurians and science fiction fan.
Cyril Kornbluth (1923-1958)--Author. First published science fiction: "The Rocket of 1955," in Richard Wilson's fanzine Escape (Aug. 1939).
Walter Kubilis, later Kubilius (1918-1993)--Author. First published science fiction: "Trail's End" in Stirring Science Stories, June 1941.
Herbert Levantman (Dates unknown)--Member of The Futurians and science fiction fan. He is called by this name in The Futurians by Damon Knight. Sam Moskowitz called him Herman Leventman. I did not find records for a Herbert Levantman, but there was a Herman Leventmen (1920-2009), who enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942.
Robert W. Lowndes (1916-1998)--Author, poet, editor. First published science fiction: "Letter: Report on the Plutonian Ambassador" in Wonder Stories, Sept. 1935. Editor: Future Fiction (and variant titles, 1941-1960); Science Fiction (1941); Science Fiction Quarterly (1941-1958); Dynamic Science Fiction (1952-1953); Science Fiction Stories (1953-1960); Magazine of Horror (1963-1971); Famous Science Fiction (1966-1969); Startling Mystery Stories (1966-1971); Bizarre Fantasy Tales (1970-1971). (3)
John B. Michel (1917-1968)--Author, poet, editor, publisher, artist. First published science fiction: "The Menace from Mercury" with Raymond Z. Gallun in Wonder Stories Quarterly, Summer 1932. Editor of various fan magazines, including The Fantasy Amateur.
Frederik Pohl (b. 1919)--Author, poet, editor, literary agent. First published science fiction: "Elegy to a Dead Satellite: Luna," a poem as by Elton Andrews, in Amazing Stories, Oct. 1937. Editor: Astonishing Stories (1940-1941); Super Science Stories (1940-1941); Star Science Fiction (1958); Galaxy (1961-1968); If (1962-1969); Worlds of Tomorrow (1963-1967); International Science Fiction (1967-1968).
Jack Rubinson, aka Jack Robins (Dates unknown)--Member of The Futurians and science fiction fan.
Richard "Dick" Wilson (1920-1987)--Author, editor. First published science fiction: "Murder from Mars" in Astonishing Stories, Apr. 1940.
Donald A. Wollheim (1914-1990)--Author, editor. First published science fiction: "The Man from Ariel" in Wonder Stories, Jan. 1934. Editor: Cosmic Stories (1941); Stirring Science Stories (1941-1942); Avon Fantasy Reader (1947-1952); others. (4)
Note that some of the first published science fiction by these authors was printed in magazines edited by other Futurians.
That's a long list containing a lot of information. The point is that the members of The Futurians made their mark on science fiction, some primarily as authors (Asimov, Blish, Kornbluth), others primarily as editors (Wollheim), and some as both (Lowndes, Pohl). Some were published before forming The Futurians, others shortly afterwards. In any case, by 1940, they were on their way, occupying a place as up-and-coming science fictioneers.
To be concluded . . .
(1) Quotes and other details are from The Futurians by Damon Knight, pp. 16-21.
(2) The story was published in Amazing Stories in March 1939. Quoted in The Futurians p. 19.
(3) These dates are not necessarily inclusive of all years within the dates.
(4) Most of the author's and editor's credits come from the Internet Speculative Fiction Database.
Text copyright 2013 Terence E. Hanley