In 1959 the late Ted Cogswell started a "fanzine for pros" with the mock-pompous title Publications of the Institute of Twenty-First Century Studies, soon known as PITFCS. (How is that pronounced? Don't ask. But if you insist, Tony Boucher tells you in a limerick.) Its circulation was limited to science fiction writers and editors, and its contents were mostly their letters discussing their own and each other's work.
PITFCS quickly became the place where SF professionals talked to each other about the problems of the field, both literary and economic. The discussions were frank, discerning, insightful, humorous, occasionally a little insulting, and even a bit bawdy. PITFCS was where the pros could let their hair downa running bull session. It lasted only a few yearsCogswell had to give it up in order to write his doctoral dissertation. Then the Science Fiction Writers of America was organized, and SFWA's publications began filling the niche that PITFCS had occupied. PITFCS was short-lived, but has been remembered with joy, and Advent is proud to publish it.
This volume reprints PITFCS from first issue to last, and adds an index which is perhaps more comprehensive than it needs to be. However, we have omitted most of the typos for which Ted Cogswell was famous. (His motto was "PITFCS are never proofread.")
Here are letters and essaysas well as limericks and other versesfrom such science fiction notables as Brian Aldiss, Poul Anderson, Isaac Asimov, James Blish, Algis Budrys, John W. Campbell, Arthur C. Clarke, Avram Davidson, Gordon Dickson, Harlan Ellison, Harry Harrison, Damon Knight, Fritz Leiber, Frederik Pohl, Eric Frank Russell, Kurt Vonnegut, and Don Wollheim.
Amazing and astounding to note, this is not a period piece of only historical interest. Most of the problems discussed in PITFCS are still living issues today. It seems the tensions between writers, editors, and publishers don't change.
The issues of PITFCS form a huge book of some 350,000 words (8½ x 11 inch pages of small type in double column), for the delectation of the general science fiction readership.
"This is a spectacular thing it's like being allowed to sit in as the best writers in SF talk about SF, their craft, themselves and the world at large."