I finished Frederik
's 1975 memoir The Way the Future Was
, which I got from Baen's 10-books-for-$40-USD Pohl bundle
, and it was excellent.
In between the usual anecdotes about growing up in New York during the Depression and being one of the early SF founding fans etc., Pohl's had the rare experience of being both an aspiring amateur and a paid professional writer, as well as a magazine editor and a literary agent, which is kind of like a hat trick of publishing industry involvement.
He's got some great insight (still relevant to today's amateur aspiring professional writers, I should think), on how the needs and expectations of all those three jobs vary, and how he tried to make them intersect maybe a little more than they would have otherwise.
Also, he's got some great publishing industry stories, from the apparently awesome rejection slips from the now-defunct sf magazine Wonder
*, to John W. Campbell's tips on how to get Robert A. Heinlein to write a story for his magazine†.
Plus he wrote advertising copy to promote books and such for many years (which explains the thoroughly satirical bent of some of the stories in the Best of Frederik Pohl
collection I've also been reading) and he has some really funny anecdotes about coming up with winning sales-copy‡.
Highly recommended for sheer entertainment value regardless, but especially so if you have any interest in science fiction fandom/publishing history and/or the mechanics of how writers/editors/literary agents and the publishing industry interact. Plus it's got examples of Pohl's own early Vogon-esque poetry.
I don't know if this is the only volume of autobiography that Pohl wrote, but I'd gladly pay for another. And I think he won the fan writer Hugo last year for his blog, which I'll have to check out now.
Baen's e-book edition has this minor weird thing where the footnotes are placed after the paragraph in which they're footnoted, which is perfectly readable, but within tables for some inexplicable reason, which is slightly less readable, especially when the footnoted matter (e.g., the Vogon-esque poetry doesn't fit into one "page" on the Kindle's display).
* Came with a checklist of about 30 things that had gone wrong with your story in the editor's eyes, with the appropriate stuff checked off, e.g.
( ) Plot stale
( ) Errors in science
( ) Material offensive to moral standards
and lots more. And, to take the sting out of it, there was a jolly little "translation" of a "Chinese rejection slip." ("Your honorable contribution is so breathtakingly excellent that we do not dare publish it, since it would set a standard no other writer would be able to reach."
† "The trouble with Bob Heinlein is that he doesn't need to write. When I want a story from him, the first thing I have to do is think up something he would like to have, like a swimming pool. The second thing is to sell him on the idea of having it. The third thing is to convince him he should write a story to get the money to pay for it, instead of building it himself."
‡ Free examples for a coffee-table artbook on huntable wildlife:
… so I wrote up a dozen or so sample appeals for postcard testing and we sent out thousand-piece mailings to test them out. I tried all the angles I could think of—
The book is beautiful and will impress your friends. . . .
With this book you will be better able to kill, crush, mutilate and destroy these beloved game beasts. . . .
This book will teach your children the secrets of wildcraft and keep them from turning into perverts and drug addicts. . . .