Futurians

(1) The Late 30s New York Club

Members of the Futurian Society, a very influential New York City fan club, particularly when you consider that it never had more than about 20 members. Founded in 1938, it was a strong force in fandom during the period known as Second Fandom (see Numbered Fandoms), under the leadership of Donald A. Wollheim and John B. Michel. Again considering its small membership base, a surprising proportional number of them went on to distinguished sf professional careers during the genreā€™s formative years; they included Isaac Asimov, James Blish, Virginia Kidd (Blish), Robert A.W. Lowndes, Damon Knight, Cyril Kornbluth, Judith Merril, Frederik Pohl and Larry Shaw.

Michel was also a member of the Young Communist League, introduced them all to Marxism, induced a few others to join, and joined the party himself when he got old enough. The Futurians spent a good deal of their time in the fanzines they published and fan gatherings they attended attempting to drag the rest of fandom into their activist (and mostly communist) political camp. Although communism was idealized and considered forward-looking and avant garde in the 1930s, and the Futurians were a strong, organized, force, fandom as a whole refused to be politicized and reacted strongly against their efforts. In fact, it did so with such a virulence that the Second Fandom era was characterized primarily by its political feuding. The Michelist manifesto is laid out in his 1937 speech "Mutation or Death!".

Damon Knight wrote an excellent memoir, The Futurians which is well worth reading.

The Futurians effectively collapsed into internal feuding around 1945 with the "X Document".

There was also a Futurian Science-Literary Society of New York which seems to have been a more SF-oriented and somewhat larger group sponsored by the Futurians.

from Fancyclopedia 2 ca. 1959
Meaning, roughly, people who concern themselves with what is to come.

Various fan groups have held this title; one in Sydney NSW Australia (organized November 1939 and revived 1947), another in Los Angeles in the summer of 1945, and a third in San Francisco which is described under Bay Area.

But the most important fan group called the Futurians was that which existed in New York 1937-45. It should be noted that none of these Futurian Societies have any connection with one another, tho Michel wound up in San Francisco where, years later, he was tracked down by Sherlockian Karen Anderson; and the Los Angeles group moved en masse to New York to join the Futurians there just in time to have the East Coast crew shot from under them by the X Document split.

The Futurians of New York were a group of whom the central figures were Wollheim, Lowndes, Pohl and Michel; others thought of as belonging to the group were Cy Kornbluth, Harry Dockweiler, Chet Cohen, Dan Burford, Jack Rubinson, Dave Kyle, Dick Wilson, Isaac Asimov, Walt Kubilus, leslie perri, Larry Shaw, Jim Blish, Judy Merril, and damon knight — probably the highest number of pro-crashers ever affiliated with any fan club. Tho a Futurian Science-Literary Society of New York was formed in September 1938 after the GNYSFL breakup the Futurians were not really a formally-organized group.

The Futurians presented a peculiar differentness in whatever sphere of fan activity they engaged in, being, with some exceptions in each case, Bohemian in social practices, radical in politics, Anti-Sykora in fan feuds, Michelistic in fannish whitherings, inclined fanarchistically with regard to general fan organization, and given to vers libre in poetry, eroticism in literature, and decadence in all forms of art. They took part as a bloc in the Progressive and Constitutional parties of FAPA, and this and their later actions when VAPA was formed led to a feeling that they were trying to rule or ruin these groups.

The Futurians, originally called Wollheimists, emerged upon the breakup of the ISA, and were the dominant faction in Second Fandom. With Pohl's attempt (1939) to form a Futurian Federation of the World, "Futurian" became a common word for the type of stfnist we have described, just as "Insurgent" came to mean many others than the LA people.

In 1940 Wollheim as General Secretary formed a Futurian League to register as Futurians their friends and allies outside New York. For this organization DAW defined as a Futurian one who thru SF rises to vision a greater world, a greater future for the whole of mankind, and wishes to utilize his idealistic convictions for aid in a generally cooperative and diverse movement for the betterment of the world along democratic, impersonal, and unselfish lines.

After the Quadrumvirs resigned from FAPA office, they became less active, but lived in various slanshacks, and many graduated in time from authors' agents to editorships of some of the 1941-43 flood of proz. There they put quite a lot of their personalities into their magazines, and were noted for the number of Futurians appearing in Futurian-edited prozines.

In early 1945 the Futurians made a comeback bid in fandom with the organization of VAPA, and it was alleged by the indignant that the Little Interregnum caused by resignation of the Futurian FAPA officers was an attempt to scuttle the older group. But later in the year came the X Document uproar, and therewith the end of the old Futurians.

In mid-1958 another Futurian Society of New York was formed as "a refuge for the ribald, irreverent, booze-swilling segments of NY fandom", with recruits from other areas. At the PhilCo of that year a group banquet was thrown and at the end of December a Fanarcon at the Nunnery gathered about 50 adherents for a three-day confabulation. Such folk as Dick & Pat Ellington, Bill Donaho, Art Saha, Dan Curran, Martha Cohen, Larry Shaw, Randy Garrett, Dick Eney, John Magnus, Ted & Sylvia White, Algis Budrys, Dave Kyle, 2N Falasca, and other carefree funloving faaans are pillars of the society.

See also: Futurian Houses.

from Fancyclopedia 1 ca. 1944
A group of New York fans, of whom Wollheim, Lowndes, and Pohl, and Michel have been the central figures. Others thot of as belonging to the group are Cyril Kornbluth, Harry Dockweiler, Chet Cohen, Dan Burford, Jack Rubinson, David A Kyle, Dick Wilson, Isaac Asimov, Herman Leventman, Walter Kubilius, and leslie perri.

The Futurians present a peculiar differentness in whatever spheres of fan activity they engage in, being, with some exceptions in each case, Bohemian in social practices, Marxistic in politics, anti-Sykora in fan feuds, Michelistic in fannish whitherings, inclined fanarchistically with regard to general fan organization, given to vers libre in poetry, eroticism in literature, and decadence in all forms of art, and having taken part as a bloc in the Progressive and Constitutional parties of the FAPA.

They emerged upon the breakup of the ISA, and were the dominant faction in the Second Fandom, when they were called Wollheimists. When the GNYSFL broke up, they formed the FSNY, in mid-September 1938. With Pohl's Futurian Federation of the World, the term "Futurians" became a common word for that type of stefnist. After the Quadrumvirs resigned from FAPA office, they became less active, but lived in various science fiction houses, and many graduated in time from authors' agents to editor ships of some of the new pros, where they put quite a lot of their personalities into their magazines, and were noted for the number of Futurian authors appearing in Futurian-edited magazines.

See Futurian Science-Literary Society of New York for more.

(2) The Late 50s New York Club

In mid-1958 the (Second) Futurian Society of New York was created as a refuge from the rest of New York fandom, and included fans such as Dick Lupoff, Larry Shaw, Noreen Shaw, Lin Carter, Ted White and Sylvia White. But by the early 60s, it had attracted a so-called "B" membership, the 'B' standing for, according to Dick Lupoff, "Bohemians, beatniks, or just plain bums. They weren't fans. For the most part they weren't even sf readers. They knew little and cared less about science fiction, fandom, fanzines, conventions, or anything else which makes the foundation of fannish comradeship."

The 'B' membership burgeoned in the club, which resulted in Futurians club becoming, in effect, two different organizations: those interested in science fiction and fandom, and those interested in a free party twice a month. The breaking point came at a late October Sunday afternoon meeting in 1960 at the Lupoff's apartment in Manhattan. The dozen science fiction fans present retreated into a bedroom, while, as Lupoff remembered, "the B' membership had the living room to themselves, filthying the rug, doing their best to ruin the furniture, and mistreating our collection of books, magazines, and rare and valuable comic books"

This ended fannish participation int he Second Futurians and it did not survive past the end of 1960. The fans went on to create the Fanoclasts.

(3) The Australian Clubs

It was Donald Wollheim who suggested that the term "Futurian" be included in the name of a proposed Australian club that was formed in 1939 as the Futurian Society of Sydney. There were later to be a Futurian Society of Melbourne, North Shore Futurian Society, and a Futurian Society of Canberra.

In Australia, in the lead-up to Aussiecon 4 (held in 2010), there seemed to be two groups of fans calling themselves Sydney Futurians. However, the newer group had named itself after the older group, and in The Futurian Society of Sydney 1939-1998 reporting the 59th Anniversary Meeting of that club, it is clear that the newer group was known to the older group.

(4) A List of All the Clubs

See also:

None of these had any formal connection to the original Futurians, but, confusingly, the members of those early Australian clubs were also called Futurians, as were the members of the club in San Francisco, the Golden Gate Futurian Society.