Messy files art - public domain

 

Thank you for bearing with us. It’s a little hard to believe that it’s been over three months since Fred died. As you might imagine, we’ve had much to do since then.

Elizabeth Anne Hull and Frederik Pohl

Elizabeth Anne Hull and Frederik Pohl

The blog team — which is to say Betty, Cathy, Dick and Leah — have been regrouping, sorting and pondering where to go from here.

Fred will remain a very real part of this blog for some time to come.

Going through his files, Leah found literally hundreds of pieces of writing that he intended for the blog. Some of them were old articles — written with a typewriter on paper — that he meant to give new life here. Others were written on purpose for the blog, but were never posted.

We’d like to give you a look behind the scenes of “The Way the Future Blogs,” so you can see how that happened, and how Fred will still live in his blog.

When his editor Jim Frenkel coaxed Fred to start a blog (“like that new young guy”), Fred was nearly 90 years old. He’d started his writing life on manual typewriters. He adapted to computers, but slowly. Although he had a lifelong fascination with science and technology, Fred, like a surprising number of science-fiction writers, was a late adopter for his personal use.

Right up until the exigencies of collaborating with Arthur C. Clarke on The Last Theorem demanded a switch to a more modern word processor, Fred was still using the antiquated WordStar with Dick’s expert legacy support to get contemporary computers to run it. Up till then, Fred resisted e-mail as well as new software, not to mention the web.

Collaborating with someone in Sri Lanka changed all that, and Fred finally embraced 21st-century connectivity … to a point.

He didn’t want to learn about all the bells and whistles of blogging, and since he had the use of only one hand, his typing wasn’t internet-ready. That’s where Leah came in. A professional journalist and blogger, she took on the task of blogifying Fred.

We settled on a system: Fred would write a blog post and e-mail it to Leah. She’d copyedit, fact check, format it for WordPress, add links and images and post it. At least, that’s how it was supposed to work.

Filing, even in the dead-tree days, was never Fred’s forté. He’d write things and then lose them in his computer. He rarely used folders, putting everything — blog posts, fiction, correspondence, et al. — in “My Documents.” He’d allow Microsoft Word to name his files and then forget their filenames.

Once Fred wrote something, he was done with it, and he went on to think about the next thing. Sometimes he wrote blog posts but never passed them along. Did he think they needed further polishing? Did he forget about them? Did he think he had sent them when he actually hadn’t? We’ll never know.

Fred found the process of attaching files and emailing them tedious, so he’d save them up in batches, and later get Cathy to email them in bulk. Sometimes she couldn’t find files because they had different filenames than Fred had told her. Cathy’s resourceful at searching, but some documents she never found. Sometimes Dick was called upon to use specialized tools to retrieve files Fred had lost or accidentally deleted.

Since Fred’s death, Leah’s been combing through his computer and sorting the files, a process that required opening and reading every single one. Along with published and unpublished fiction, insertions for an expanded version of Fred’s biography, The Way the Future Was, and the material Fred had written for its forthcoming sequel, she found many unposted blog entries, and those will start being posted here soon.

In the last months before he died, Fred and Leah went through his trunk files, work he’d written years ago — some previously published and some not. He set aside a big stack of articles that he wanted to share on the blog. Since they’re on paper and must be scanned, OCRed and edited, getting them online will take a while, but you’ll see those here, too.

Meanwhile, Betty’s decided to get back into writing for this blog, so you’ll see regular posts from her, as well. Leah will continue editing and blogifying and may weigh in from time to time. Dick will be behind the scenes making sure all our computers stay online and running, and Cathy will keep everybody in communication. So the gang’s all here, even — virtually — Fred.

We hope you’ll keep reading!

The blog team

19 Comments

  1. Mike Weasner says:

    Many thanks for continuing Fred’s blog!

  2. Soh Kam Yung says:

    Thank you for the update.

    I’m glad to know that this blog will still live on as Fred Pohl’s previous posts were great and I expect you will find yet more gems in his material.

  3. Mark Hall says:

    Thanks for the update and explanation. I’m looking forward to the blogs. This is new to me so I’ll have to learn as I go along.
    Mark

  4. Librariandoa says:

    I’ve enjoyed Fred’s blog and all of his writing immensely. I’m glad you will continue to share his thoughts and ideas with us.

  5. Julia Jones says:

    I’ll be glad to keep reading, and thank you for making it possible.

  6. Chris McKitterick says:

    So glad to hear that you’re continuing the blog!

  7. Karl Berry says:

    Thanks for continuing Fred’s post-earth existence, everyone. Like so many others, he was a part of my reading life since its beginning. Leaves such a hole, even without ever meeting him personally. Take care.

  8. David Scrimshaw says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for doing this.

  9. Steven Rainey says:

    To Cathy and the Blog Team:

    Thank you for continuing Fred’s blog. I have followed it fairly regularly over the past 4 years, as I can truly say that many of my life choices have been inspired by reading “The Way the Future Was”, “Gateway” and “The Best of Frederik Pohl” anthology after my mother brought home autographed copies of these three volumes from a teachers’ conference she attended in Austin, TX (or one of the major Texas cities, I don’t truly recall which) when I was a high schooler way back in the late 1970s. It took me a little longer to read “The Space Merchants” all the way through, because the future it presented was much darker than the space operas that I was reading at the time depicted. However, once I managed it, it had even more impact on my views by opening my eyes to a broader perspective on our society than the ones that I had been exposed to at the time. Now, like yourself, I have followed an academic career, one that has led me to actually visit some of the places mentioned in some of Fred’s novels (Brazil, for instance–I married a Brazilian, no less!…:-). Who knows, perhaps even those choices were inspired by Fred, since he planted a little seed in my subconcious…I think he would have appreciated the futurist humor to be found in that admission…:-)

    So, please keep up your labors, as I think they are important ones, which reading all of the obits from his fans, journalists and his colleagues made so abundantly clear. Cheers from a professional geographer (I think of Fred as a geographer of the future, and of the mind, as well as a pretty good lay geographer, too!)

  10. hamish says:

    still here and still reading . . .

  11. Chuk says:

    Thanks to everyone for all their work on this blog, it has been a great look into an inspiring life & career.

  12. Steven Rainey says:

    Well, I have more than a little egg on my face, as I am not as good at remembering names as I would like. When I said that I followed Betty’s choice of careers, I did not mention her by name, in a post addressed to “Cathy and the Blog Team”. I hope Betty will forgive me on this omission. All the best, and I will definitely be one of the ongoing readers of the blog, and sometime contributors to the comments section for as long as you wish to keep it going, which I hope rivals Fred’s own career in its length and breadth…:-)

  13. John Armstrong says:

    I’m in for as long as you folks want to post -

  14. Mike Goldberg says:

    Wow! I’m glad there is more to come. Thanks for all your hard work!

  15. Eric H. says:

    Of COURSE, I will be here to read what is posted. Thank you ALL very much for continuing this look into Fred’s extraordinary mind.

  16. Kevin B. Landreneau says:

    Excellent news! I am happy to see that this blog will continue.
    On a side note, I received a message from Fred 5/6/2010, in response to my request that he post something about Clifford Simak. If it is somewhere in the pile, I would love to see it posted here.

  17. Eric M. says:

    Great news, please continue!

  18. [BLOG] Some Monday links | A Bit More Detail says:

    […] honoured late science fiction writer Frederik Pohl’s blog The Way the Future Blogs will, I have learned, continue after its founders death as new unpublished material gets […]

  19. Barbara Bengels says:

    Betty, I’m so glad that you told me about these!