FUTURIAN WAR DIGEST

In the wake of 2008's CYTRICON V, having reacquired my enthusiasm for fannish projects, I decided that I should do my bit and put the full run of a significant UK fanzine online. Once I had decided to do so, the choice was an obvious one: J.Michael Rosenblum's FUTURIAN WAR DIGEST.

Over the months the project took, I tried for the most part to approximate the layout of the original mimeoed pages, but I wasn't slavish about this. Obvious typoes were usually corrected, but a few new ones were doubtless also introduced here and there. No attempt was made to correct grammatical errors and infelicities.The text is presented here as it was written.

As a lead in to each issue I wrote a short bit about what was happening in the month leading up to that issue to give it some historical context. This covered primarily world affairs rather than fannish ones since you should be able to get all the fannish context you need by reading THEN, my history of SF fandom in the UK. I was sparing with footnotes but there were a few at the end of those issues where I felt they were warranted.

Thanks are due to several people, as acknowledged in notes accompanying the relevant issues, but in particular to Greg Pickersgill who not only suppled scans of the issues I was missing but who also OCRed and proofread a substantial portion of the entire run.

Below are links to every issue, and also to the fan bios that Rosenblum ran in many issues. Some of these were written by him, some by the person in question, and they are of varying degrees of usefulness but these quick links are provided for those who might wish to research a particular old fan.

...................... Rob Hansen.

Issue 1. (Vol. 1, No.1) - October 1940
Issue 2. (Vol. 1, No.2) - November 1940
Issue 3. (Vol. 1, No.3) - December 1940
Issue 4. (Vol. 1, No.4) - January 1941
Issue 5. (Vol. 1, No.5) - February 1941
Issue 6. (Vol. 1, No.6) - March 1941
Issue 7. (Vol. 1, No.7) - April 1941
Issue 8. (Vol. 1, No.8) - May 1941
Issue 9. (Vol. 1, No.9) - June 1941
Issue 10. (Vol. 1, No.10) - July 1941
Issue 11. (Vol. 1, No.11) - August 1941
Issue 12. (Vol. 1, No.12) - September 1941
Issue 13. (Vol. 2, No.1) - October 1941
Issue 14. (Vol. 2, No.2) - November 1941
Issue 15. (Vol. 2, No.3) - December 1941
Issue 16. (Vol. 2, No.4) - January 1942
Issue 17. (Vol. 2, No.5) - February 1942
Issue 18. (Vol. 2, No.6) - March 1942
Issue 19. (Vol. 2, No.7) - April 1942
Issue 20. (Vol. 2, No.8) - May 1942
Issue 21. (Vol. 2, No.9) - July 1942
Issue 22. (Vol. 2, No.10) - August 1942
Issue 23. (Vol. 3, No.1) - October 1942
Issue 24. (Vol. 3, No.2) - November 1942
Issue 25. (Vol. 3, No.3) - January 1943
Issue 26. (Vol. 3, No.4) - February1943
Issue 27. (Vol. 3, No.5) - April 1943
Issue 28. (Vol. 3, No.6) - May 1943
Issue 29. (Vol. 3, No.7) - July 1943
Issue 30. (Vol. 3, No.8) - August 1943
Issue 31. (Vol. 4, No.1) - October 1943
Issue 32. (Vol. 4, No.2) - December 1943
Issue 33. (Vol. 4, No.3) - February 1944
Issue 34. (Vol. 4, No.4) - April 1944
Issue 35. (Vol. 4, No.5) - June 1944
Issue 36. (Vol. 4, No.6) - August 1944
Issue 37. (Vol. 5, No.1) - October 1944
Issue 38. (Vol. 5, No.2) - December 1944
Issue 39. (Vol. 5, No.3) - March 1945
Carnell, Ted
Craig, John C.
Cunningham, John M.
Doughty, Don J. (inc. photo)
Forster, Roland (inc. photo)
Gardiner, Derek (inc. photo)
Gibson, Bob (inc. photo)
Gibson, Jack
Gibson, Jack (photo only)
Gibson, Dr. W.Arthur
Gibson, Dr. W.Arthur (photo only)
Hanson, Maurice K.
Johnson, Roy Rowland (inc. photo)
Lewis, Bert (inc. photo)
MacDonald, Edwin
Medhurst, Richard G.
Miles, Alan H.
Rathbone, James P.
Rennison, John Edward
Tucker, Dennis (inc. photo)
Webster, Douglas W.L.
Williams, Arthur P. (inc. photo)
Wilmorth, Norman 'Gus'
Youd, Christopher Samuel
I'm sure some of you reading this have questions about this project, so here are a few answers:

Who was J.Michael Rosenblum?

John Michael Rosenblum was one of Britain's first generation of fans. Active in Leeds fandom from the mid-1930s, he attended the first ever SF convention, which was held in that city in 1937. During the war, he was a registered Conscientious Objector and was put to work toiling on a farm during the day and fire-watching during the German night-time raids on British cities. Mike published fanzines in the 1930s, '40s, and '50s, and was a regular at British conventions into the 1970s. He passed away in 1978.

Weren't the Futurians a famous New York fan group?

Yes, they were, but Mike Rosenblum coined the term. Here's the relevant bit from THEN:
...in June 1938...Rosenblum launched the first issue of his fanzine, THE FUTURIAN. Rosenblum thought this was a good name, but he wasn't the only one. In New York the Michelists were looking for a new name, and they liked it too. On 18th September 1938 they renamed themselves the Futurian Science Literary Society, a title that usage eventually abbreviated to 'The Futurians', and had as members some who would go on to become the biggest names in SF. However, it was 1945 before they admitted they had lifted the name from Rosenblum's fanzine. His response, in FAPA, was uncharacteristically sarcastic:
"I must thank the Futurian Society of New York for their wonderful magnanimity in allowing other people to use the word they so neatly appropriated unto themselves. And seeing as we were never asked what we meant by the term 'Futurian' it might be considered presumptious for the New Yorkers to define it as they wish. However, I am grateful for the acknowledgement of the purloining of the term, an acknowledgement some seven years overdue. It is interesting to note that I possess a letter, written when the term was adopted, by DAW stating that 'Futurian came just when it was needed, and so was appropriated'; and one from Pohl which says that the New York people thought of the term before we did and had adopted it before they knew we were using it. Amusing, eh no?"
So why FUTURIAN WAR DIGEST?

Two reasons: 1) I have always had a fascination for the home front of World War II, and 2) it's the next major British newszine that needs to be made available online. What do I mean by that last? Well, the current newszine, Dave Langford's ANSIBLE, and all its back issues have been available online for ages; Dave and his merry band of helpers then put every issue of Peter Roberts' 1970s newszine CHECKPOINT online; which in turn inspired Greg Pickersgill and his merry band of helpers to put every issue of Ron Bennett's 1950s/60s newszine SKYRACK online. With a little help getting hold of the half-dozen issues I'm missing, the magic of OCR and corrective editing of the text it produces, I think I can tackle this one. However, while newszines are basically the newspapers of SF fandom FWD wasn't just a newszine. During WWII it was pretty much the glue that held British fandom together. As I wrote in THEN:
Despite spending all day toiling in the fields for next to nothing, Mike Rosenblum was still to be largely responsible for keeping British fandom alive during the war years. Having had difficulty maintaining the quality of THE FUTURIAN, Rosenblum had folded it with its eighth issue, in the spring. In June he launched PSEUDO-FUTURIAN, a single-sheeter that saw four issues, but it was the fanzine's next incarnation that would prove to be the most important.

FUTURIAN WAR DIGEST (FWD for short, or 'Fido' as it was nicknamed) which, according to its masthead, incorporated PSEUDO-FUTURIAN and WAR DIGEST, made its debut in October 1940. The first issue carried this statement of policy:

"We have a twofold duty; (a) to give news of and to fandom, (b) to keep burning those bright mental constellations possessed by all fans. Both of these will be done to the best of our ability."
FWD lasted for thirty-nine issues, its demise coming in March 1945. This would be an impressive publishing record for a fanzine in any era but in the conditions existing during the war it was nothing short of phenomenal and its example inspired other British fans to continue with some semblance of fanzine production. Looking back on that period from our vantage point in the present its almost impossible to appreciate the magnitude of Rosenblum's achievement under conditions of immense personal and national hardship. With the huge wartime paper drives sucking up vast quantities of material and enemy raids destroying as much (for instance, six million books were lost during the fire-blitz on London of 29th December 1940) supplies were almost impossible to come by, yet somehow he managed. In this he was aided by the American fans, organised by Ackerman, who shipped over unwanted paper which often had stuff already printed on one side, such as the covers of US fanzines like VoM, and were obviously from print over-runs. Many fans issued small magazines that went out either bound with FWD or as riders to it (these were nicknamed, inevitably, 'Fido's Litter'). Estimates of the number of fanzines issued with FWD vary but it has been estimated that twenty-one fans distributed over a hundred and seventeen issues of their fanzines this way, some of them admittedly no more than single sheets.

Over the course of its life, a large number of other fanzines were distributed with FWD, usually stapled together with it. These have been listed in the introduction to each issue. There was a tradition at the time of giving these and some other fanzines affectionate nicknames, and they were sometimes refered to only by those names which be confusing for a modern reader. Below is a list of the more prominent of these:
Connie = COSMOS
Dinah = DAWN SHADOWS
Fay = FANTAST
Fido = FUTURIAN WAR DIGEST
Imp - INTERPLANETARY NEWS
Les Tart = THE GENTLEST ART
Mite = THE MIGHTY ATOM
Sally = SATELLITE
Stan = SCIENCE FANTASY FAN