The Way the Future Was by Frederik Pohl, © 1978, Ballantine hardcover, autobiography
It’s funny how books find a person. I used to stop by Fred Pohl’s blog every now and then, and he had the cover of this book up as a permanent header. Then one day Steve Davidson posted something on his blog about SF (or sci-fi, or science fiction, take your pick) fandom and that led me to some other comments which led me back to this book.
I decided I wanted to read it. It wasn’t easy finding a (free) copy, as the local library had one in the catalog but they couldn’t locate it. I was finally able to get it via inter-library loan.
Once in my hands, I read it in a day or so, which is pretty quick for me, being a Slow Reader and all. The book begins with Pohl’s early interest in science fiction, beginning, as it did for so many, with a comic book. Later came the pulps and digest magazines and he was hooked. I know the feeling, I loved the Winston science fiction library books, but it was Astounding Science Fiction that really got me hooked.
Most of the book focuses on Pohl’s memories of becoming a fan, then the creation of fan groups, early efforts at writing, his first job as an editor and his career as SF writer and magazine editor, the latter mostly at Galaxy and If during the 1960’s. I found it all fascinating.
Then as the events in the book approach the time he was writing it (1976), he begins to wander into various editorial asides on such topics as cryogenics, UFOs, politics, handicapped children and other topics that are obviously close to his heart – or were at the time – but were of little interest to this reader. I skimmed the last fifty pages with little feeling that I was missing anything. There is much of interest here for the science fiction fan, but much that strays from what most will want to read.