One Hundred Years of Robert Bloch

Apr 3, 2017 by

Born one-hundred years ago on April 5, 1917, Robert Bloch is best remembered for his novel PSYCHO,  which became the basis for Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film of the same name. The author of more than 200 stories, nearly thirty novels, and a large number of non-fiction articles, screenplays, and teleplays, Bloch got his start as a writing professional in the pulp magazines that are celebrated each summer at PulpFest.

Born in Chicago, Bloch was a precocious child who developed an early interest in vaudeville and theater, as well as storytelling and reading. According to his autobiography, ONCE AROUND THE BLOCH:

Sometime late in the summer of 1927 the family, accompanied by my father’s sister, entered Chicago’s Northwestern Railroad Station to entrain for a suburban destination. Where we were going eludes memory, and it’s not important. What matters is that we passed the huge magazine stand in the terminal.

Here literally hundreds of periodicals — including the then-popular weekly and monthly “pulp” magazines — were ranked in gaudy array. Row after row of garish covers caught the eye; comparatively respectable offerings like ARGOSY, BLUE BOOK, ALL-STORY, and ADVENTURE competed for attention with scores of titles featuring romance, mystery, detective stories, westerns, and every variety of sports. There were even pulps devoted exclusively to railroad yarns, pirates, and WWI air combat. I stared at them, fascinated by this abundance of riches.

It was then that Aunt Lil, with her usual generosity, offered to buy me a magazine to read during the train journey. Scanning titles and covers, I stood poised in delicious indecision. Here was a mustached member of the French Foreign Legion battling a bearded Arab armed with a wicked-looking scimitar . . . beside it, an Indian chief preparing to discharge a flaming arrow at an ambushed wagon train . . . directly overhead, a helpless maiden struggling in the clutches of a gigantic gorilla whose glaring red eyes indicated his zooreastic intentions. Salivating, I surveyed this feast of literature. For a dime I could devour the exploits of a master detective; fifteen cents whould satisfy my appetite for mutiny on the high seas; twenty cents might gorge me with a huge helping of Secret Service operatives foiling the hellish Huns who presumably had substituted a bomb for the torch held by the Statue of Liberty.

But in the face of these attractions, what more might be offered for an entire quarter?

That price was imprinted on the cover of a magazine featuring a cloaked, bearded, evil-looking man confronting a recumbent, half-naked girl clad in Oriental garb against a background of Egyptian hieroglyphs. The featured story was “The Bride of Osiris,” by one Otis Adelbert Kline.

Snatching the magazine from the rack, I paged through it quickly, noting such promising titles as “Satan’s Fiddle,” “Creeping Shadows,” “The Phantom Photoplay” and “The Man with a Thousand Legs.”

That did it. “This is the one I want,” I said.

And it was thus that I was introduced to a magazine which changed my life, my very first copy of WEIRD TALES. . . .

What my parents thought of my taste remains unclear to me. Although they seemed uninterested in reading my favorite magazine they offered no objections to cover illustrations of damsels in various stages of distress and undress, and continued to supply me with quarters for monthly issues. . . . to me personally WEIRD TALES became a sort of non-theological BOOK OF REVELATION. What it revealed was that fantastic fiction was not necessarily the work of long-deceased authors like Poe, Hawthorne or de Maupassant; its prose and poetry were not entombed in pages from the past. Death was alive and well and living in Chicago.

By far the most horrifying concept, and to me the most convincing, was an account of ghouls feasting in their burrows below the cemeteries and subways of modern Boston. The story, “Pickman’s Model,” was credited to one H. P. Lovecraft, and I made a mental note to remember both the title and the name of the author. . . . By cutting down on my consumption of carbohydrates, borrowing streetcar passes and confining motion picture attendance to nights when tickets were ten or fifteen cents, I managed to keep the necessary quarter in reserve for the next issue of WEIRD TALES. . . . my addiction to the work of H. P. Lovecraft increased. . . . A Lovecraft junkie, I was hungry for more highs. What could I do?

As it has so frequently during a long lifetime, sheer stupidity came to my rescue. I sat down and . . . scrawled out a letter to Mr. Lovecraft care of the magazine. Identifying myself as an ardent fan (and a brash, presumptuous teenage idiot), I inquired if he might inform me as to where I could locate some of his stories presently out of print.

Thus began a friendship between the young Bloch and “The Old Gentleman.”

I had become a regular correspondent . . . a member of what was later styled the Lovecraft Circle — a group of friends and fans, many of whom were themselves writers or aspired to be. . . . Quite early in our correspondence HPL suggested I might be interested in trying my own hand at writing with an eye to publication. . . . And since Lovecraft’s suggestion generously included his willingness to inspect my efforts, what more did I need. . . . I trained my sights on the most obvious and visible target, WEIRD TALES. Instead of bombarding them with contributions, I took careful aim before shooting off a story in their direction. . . . Why a battle-scarred veteran of longtime literary warfare would notice the feeble dud I delivered remains a mystery to this very day. But in July, 1934, less than a month after graduating from high school, I received a letter of acceptance for my story. . . . I had suddenly and almost miraculously become a professional writer, a contributor for the very magazine which published the work of my favorite author and present pen pal. . . .

By the end of 1935, Robert Bloch began to sell on a frequent and regular basis to WEIRD TALES. Between that first 1934 sale and the demise of the publication in 1954, he sold nearly seventy stories to “The Unique Magazine.” Having started his career as a mimic of his Lovecraft, his writing gradually took on more psychological overtones and often a sense of humor. He began to branch out in 1939, selling fiction to AMAZING STORIES, STRANGE STORIES, and UNKNOWN. The forties found him contributing to DETECTIVE TALES, DIME MYSTERY MAGAZINE, FANTASTIC ADVENTURES, MAMMOTH DETECTIVE, NEW DETECTIVE, SUPER SCIENCE STORIES, THRILLING MYSTERY, and others. His best-known story of this period, “Yours Truly – Jack the Ripper” — published in the July 1943 WEIRD TALES — led to an assignment writing scripts for a radio program called STAY TUNED FOR TERROR.

It was also during the 1940s that Robert Bloch became a regular attendee of science fiction conventions. In 1948, he was invited to be the professional guest of honor for the World Science Fiction Convention, held in Toronto, the first truly international event of its kind. In 1954, at the San Francisco Worldcon, he met Samuel Peeples, a longtime pulp fan and Hollywood writer. It was this friendship that led to Bloch venturing to Hollywood, where Peeples helped him land an assignment with the television show LOCK-UP. Bloch was soon writing for other series, including ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS, THRILLER, TRUE, and WHISPERING SMITH. In later years, he would contribute to THE GIRL FROM U.N.C.L.E., I SPY, NIGHT GALLERY, STAR TREK, TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE, and others. Bloch would also write the screenplays for THE CABINET OF CALIGARI, THE NIGHT WALKER, THE SKULL, THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD, and other films. He died on September 23, 1994 in Los Angeles, California.

PulpFest 2017 will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Robert Bloch’s birth with several special presentations. On Thursday, July 27, author Chet Williamson will read from his novel, Robert Bloch’s PSYCHO: SANITARIUM. Mr. Williamson was the guest of honor at PulpFest 2015. Garyn Roberts — who engaged in an extensive correspondence with Robert Bloch — will discuss the author and his works on Friday, July 28. Professor Roberts — who is working on a Robert Bloch biography — will be sharing rare and landmark material from throughout the author’s life. Garyn was honored with our Munsey Award in 2013.

There will be two other Bloch presentations on Friday evening. First, Michael Croteau, creator of Philip José Farmer’s Official Home Page and one of the founders of both FarmerCon and Meteor House, will do a short presentation on Robert Bloch’s relationship with Grand Master of Science Fiction Philip José Farmer. To close the evening, the Narada Radio Company and PULP-POURRI THEATRE will present a mock radio drama of Bloch’s “Return to the Sabbath,” originally published in the July 1938 WEIRD TALES. PULP-POURRI THEATRE is an all-new audio drama anthology series that has its origins in vintage pulp fiction, but presents its stories in the modern way. Pete Lutz is the company’s producer-director. You can sample their work online or via iTunes.

The convention will take place from Thursday evening, July 27, through Sunday afternoon, July 30, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry, just nineteen miles north of the exciting city of Pittsburgh. You can book your room directly through the PulpFest website. Just click the “Book a Room for 2017” link on our home page or call 1-800-222-8733. Be sure to mention PulpFest in order to receive the convention rate.

Start making your plans now to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of PSYCHO author Robert Bloch at the “pop culture center of the universe” called PulpFest 2017.

(Released in 1960, Alfred Hitchcock’s PSYCHO is considered to be a masterpiece of suspense. This classic film was based on Robert Bloch’s novel of the same name, originally published in 1959 by Simon and Schuster. Hitchcock’s film was nominated for four academy awards and helped its author to achieve fame and fortune, largely through his work in television and motion pictures.

Robert Bloch — who got his start as a writing professional working for the pulps — first discovered the rough-paper magazines through the August 1927 issue of WEIRD TALES, featuring front cover art by Hugh Rankin. A newspaper illustrator, Rankin began working for WEIRD TALES in 1927, doing the vast majority of the magazine’s interior illustrations during the late twenties and all of its covers, beginning with the July 1927 number. He continued as the pulp’s sole cover artist through the February 1931 issue. Afterward, he began sharing the cover with such artists as C. C. Senf, J. Allen St. John, and Margaret Brundage. Rankin continued to paint covers for WEIRD TALES into 1936.

Bloch’s fourth published story — “The Shambler from the Stars” — was not only dedicated to his writing mentor, H. P. Lovecraft, but also featured “The Old Gentleman” as an important character. Published in the September 1935 issue of WEIRD TALES and featuring cover art by Margaret Brundage, the story concerns a would-be writer who obtains a copy of an occult volume known as DE VERMIS MYSTERIIS. He takes the forbidden volume to a Providence-based mystic who, in his excitement, calls down an invisible, vampiric monster. Bloch’s tale would lead Lovecraft to write “The Haunter of the Dark,” published in the December 1936 WEIRD TALES. It was dedicated to Robert Bloch and featured a character named “Robert Blake.”

Following a write-up in the Milwaukee papers in 1935, the new author was invited to join The Milwaukee Fictioneers. A professional writers’ group, its membership also included pulp writers Fredric Brown, Ralph Milne Farley, Lawrence Keating, Ray Palmer, and Stanley G. Weinbaum. Soon after assuming the editorship of AMAZING STORIES in 1938, Palmer would publish Robert Bloch’s first science fiction story,“Secret of the Observatory.” Bloch would author a substantial number of stories for Palmer’s AMAZING STORIES, FANTASTIC ADVENTURES, and OTHER WORLDS SCIENCE STORIES, including “It’s a Small World,” the cover story for the March 1944 AMAZING, featuring artwork by J. Allen St. John.

Although PSYCHO is certainly Robert Bloch’s most famous novel, his first book-length work, THE SCARF — originally published in 1947 by Dial Press — is considered by many critics to be his best work. According to Cullen Gallagher, “It tells the story of a writer . . . who uses real women as models for his characters. But as soon as he is done writing the story, he is compelled to murder them, and always the same way: with the maroon scarf he has had since childhood.” One of the finest editions of THE SCARF is Avon’s 1952 paperback reprint of the work, featuring a beautiful cover by Charles Binger.)

THE PULPSTER — Call for submissions

Sep 12, 2016 by

It may seem as if PulpFest 2016 is barely over, but it’s not too early for us to start thinking about PulpFest 2017 and the next issue of THE PULPSTER.

The Pulpster logoEditor Bill Lampkin is looking for a variety of articles on the pulps, and the writers, editors, and illustrators who worked on them. If you have an idea, he’d like to hear about it. You can contact him at bill@pulpfest.com.

Next summer’s issue, #26, will debut at PulpFest 2017, but the magazine must be edited and assembled before the convention. Deadline for submissions is May 1, 2017, but early submissions are encouraged. Our theme for 2017 will be “Hardboiled Dicks, Dangerous Dames, and a Few Psychos,” but any pulp-related article is welcome.

If you’re interested in advertising in THE PULPSTER, please write to PulpFest marketing and programming director Mike Chomko at mike@pulpfest.com. Mike can provide pricing. For publication sizes and specifications, please refer to the detailed advertising information at THE PULPSTER‘s website.

Looking for a copy of the 2016 issue? Mike Chomko, Books has THE PULPSTER #25 available for $10 each, plus $3 postage within the United States.

Cover of THE PULPSTER, No. 25The issue features a cover article tracing 90 years of AMAZING STORIES written by editors Hugo Gernsback, Howard Browne, Joseph Wrzos, Barry N. Malzberg, Ted White, Elinor Mazor, and Patrick L. Price; a study of Philip José Farmer’s stories published in AMAZING, by Art Sippo; J. Randolph Cox and Walker Martin recall two long-running pulps, DETECTIVE STORY MAGAZINE and WESTERN STORY MAGAZINE respectively; David Earle has an article about African-American fictioneers in the pulps, which is paired with a short story by Michael Bittner that originally appeared in HARLEM STORIES; David Smith offers tips to help you plan ahead to ensure your pulp collection is properly taken care of after you’re gone; and Bill Lampkin looks at two of Street & Smith’s second-string hero pulps, THE WHISPERER and THE SKIPPER. Rounding out the issue are Final Chapters, an annual column noting the passing of those involved with the pulps, written by Tony Davis; and columns by publisher Mike Chomko and editor Bill Lampkin.

In addition to #25, you can also order back issues of THE PULPSTER through Mike Chomko, Books. Copies of THE PULPSTER #5, 6, and 23 are available. Issues 5 and 6 cost $10 each, plus $3 postage within the United States. Number 23 is $7, plus $3 postage within the United States. All other issues of THE PULPSTER are out of print. Reduced postage is available on orders for multiple books. These prices are good only in the United States. Buyers from other countries must inquire about shipping charges before ordering. Mike will accept payments made via check or money order or through Paypal. Please write to him at mike@pulpfest.com or 2217 W. Fairview Street, Allentown, PA 18104-6542 for further instructions. Quantities of most issues are very limited.

(THE PULPSTER #25 features a cover by Harold W. McCauley originally for AMAZING STORIES, August 1942. Copies are quickly disappearing. Write to Mike Chomko, Books at mike@pulpfest.com to learn how you can order the issue.)

Friday at PulpFest

Jul 22, 2016 by

Amazing Stories 47-09PulpFest 2016 enters it second day, following a successful night of dealer set-up, early registration, early-bird shopping, and a full slate of exciting programming. If you missed our first day, there’s still plenty of action to come.

From 9 to 10 AM today, the dealers’ room will be open only to dealers for set-up. All visitors will also be able to register for the convention this morning — beginning at 9 PM — and at any time during regular dealers’ room hours. Three-day memberships will be available at the door for $40. Single day memberships will be available for $20 for Friday or Saturday and $10 for Sunday. Children who are fifteen and younger and accompanied by a parent, will be admitted free of charge. To help things move smoothly, please bring along a completed registration form. You can download a copy by clicking here. Paper forms will also be available at the door. Those who have prepaid for their memberships, will also be able to pick up their registration packets at our door. Please visit our registration page for further details.

For those visiting PulpFest for the day, you can also use the Chestnut Street Garage for parking. Rates vary based on time, but at this writing, $14 will get you a day’s parking. Additional parking is available at the Convention Center underground garage. Again, rates are time-based and, at this writing, $14 will get you parking for 12 hours with no in and out privileges. Click here for a more detailed look at parking near the Hyatt Regency. Alternately, if you don’t mind walking a few blocks, there are many inexpensive options. Click here for an interactive parking map of Columbus and search near 350 North High Street.

The dealers’ room will open to all at 10 AM and will remain open until 4:45 PM. Located in Battelle South exhibition hall on the third floor of the Greater Columbus Convention Center, our dealers’ room will feature exhibitors selling and trading pulp magazines and related materials, digests, vintage paperbacks, men’s adventure and true crime magazines, first-edition hardcovers, series books, dime novels, original art, Big Little Books, B-movies, serials and related paper collectibles, old-time-radio shows, and Golden and Silver Age as well as pulp-related comic books and games. That’s why PulpFest is known as the “pop culture center of the universe!”

Western Story 1932-09-03Our afternoon programming will start at 1 PM with our New Fictioneers readings. Our evening programming will begin shortly before 7 PM as PulpFest chairman Jack Cullers offers an official welcome to all attendees. Friday night’s programming will include our FarmerCon XI presentation which will feature a panel of writers who will discuss their collaborations with Grand Master of Science Fiction Philip José FarmerPulpFest favorite David Saunders starts off our celebration of the 120th anniversary of the first pulp magazine with “The Artists Who Make ARGOSY — 120 Years of Sensational Pulp Art;” our salute to the 90th anniversary of the first science fiction magazine continues when Joseph Coluccio, president of the Pittsburgh Area Fantasy and Science Fiction Club, explores the history of AMAZING STORIES during the pulp era; closing out the evening will be pulp historian Laurie Powers with a look at “LOVE STORY MAGAZINE and the Romance Pulp Phenomenon” and author and pop culture scholar Will Murray examining “WESTERN STORY MAGAZINE and the Evolution of the Pulp Western,” both part of PulpFest‘s remembrance of “A Century of the Specialty Pulp.”

You can find additional details about these and all of our presentations by clicking the 2016 Schedule Button found at the top of our home page. Each event on the schedule is linked to a post that provides further information on that event. Just click on the event’s title. All of our programming events will take place in the Union Rooms on the second floor of the Hyatt Regency. Watch for the “panels” banner and you’re there.

If you are not from the Columbus area and have yet to book your room for this year’s PulpFest, you can try calling 1-888-421-1442 to reach the Hyatt Regency. Perhaps there has been a cancellation. Alternately, you can search for a room at tripadvisor  or a similar website to find a hotel near the convention. Other sites include www.columbusconventions.com/thearea.phpcourtesy of the Greater Columbus Convention Center, and the Experience Columbus lodging page at http://www.experiencecolumbus.com/stay

PulpFest 2016 will continue on Saturday and Sunday. It concludes at 2 PM on Sunday, July 24. Please join us in the Columbus, Ohio Arena district at the Hyatt Regency hotel and the city’s spacious convention center for “Summer’s AMAZING Pulp Con!” You’ll have a FANTASTIC time!

(Artist Malcolm Smith‘s cover painting for the September 1947 issue of  AMAZING STORIES illustrated Edmond Hamilton’s “The Star Kings,” one of the author’s finest space operas. Smith’s first cover for AMAZING was the January 1942 number. He also contributed covers and illustrations to FANTASTIC ADVENTURES and Ziff-Davis’s MAMMOTH line of pulp magazines.

Walter M. Baumhofer — best remembered for his classic covers that appeared on DOC SAVAGE MAGAZINE — was one of many great artists whose work — including the September 3, 1932 issue — graced the front covers to Street & Smith’s WESTERN STORY MAGAZINE.)

PulpFest 2016 Begins Today

Jul 21, 2016 by

Skipper 37-01PulpFest 2016 will begin this afternoon at 4 PM, as our dealers begin to erect their displays for “Summer’s AMAZING Pulp Con!” All members — dealers included — will be able to register for the convention from 4 to 8 PM, right outside our dealers’ room in Battelle South, located across from the Regency Ballroom’s foyer in the Greater Columbus Convention Center. Everyone can pick up their registration packets at this time. To help things move smoothly, please bring along a completed registration form. You can download a copy by clicking here or the link found on our registration page.

There will be free early-bird shopping in the dealers’ room from 6 to 9 PM for loyal attendees who help to defray the convention’s costs by staying three nights at our host hotel. The cost is $30 for those who stay elsewhere. Our full programming slate for the evening will begin shortly after 9 PM with a look at The Skipper and The Whisperer, two pulp superheroes that debuted eighty years back in 1936. Our presenter will be Will Murray, author of “The All-New Wild Adventures of Doc Savage and Tarzan” and a noted expert on the pulps and pulp history.

PulpFest will also be celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of science fiction author H. G. Wells with a presentation by Garyn G. Roberts, winner of the 2013 Munsey Award. Professor Roberts has written extensively about the pulps, both professionally and as a fan. His work, THE PRENTICE HALL ANTHOLOGY OF SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY, a college level textbook, is notable for the attention paid to the pulp magazines.

You can find additional details about these and all of our presentations by clicking the 2016 Schedule Button found at the top of our home page. Each event on the schedule is linked to a post that provides further information on that event. Just click on the event’s title.

When our programming is over, PulpFest members are welcome to socialize together in the Hyatt Regency’s Big Bar on 2. Buy a round for your table and talk about the magazines we love and collect. “What’s your favorite Doc Savage adventure? How many people died in ‘Death Reign of the Vampire King?’ Did Joan Randall have a thing for Gragg the Robot? Remember when Conan bit off that vulture’s head in ‘A Witch Shall Be Born?’ How the hell do you say Cthulhu? And what about Tsathoggua? Do you pronounce that with a lisp? Why does the Phantom Detective wear a top hat? Who the hell is Pinky Jenkins?” These are just some of the mysteries you might clear up with your pals — old and new — at PulpFest 2016.

If you are not from the Columbus area and have yet to book your room for this year’s PulpFest, you can try calling 1-888-421-1442 to reach the Hyatt Regency. Perhaps there has been a cancellation. Alternately, you can search for a room at tripadvisor  or a similar website to find a hotel near the convention. Other sites include www.columbusconventions.com/thearea.phpcourtesy of the Greater Columbus Convention Center, and the Experience Columbus lodging page at http://www.experiencecolumbus.com/stay

For those of you who have not yet registered for PulpFest 2016, Thursday evening will be an ideal time to do so. Four-day memberships will be available for $40. There will be no single-day memberships available for Thursday only. Children who are fifteen and younger and accompanied by a parent, will be admitted free of charge. Please visit our registration page for further details. Members will also be able to register for the convention on Friday morning, beginning at 9 PM, and at any time during regular dealers’ room hours. Single day memberships will be available for $20 for Friday or Saturday and $10 for Sunday.

From 4 PM to 11 PM on Thursday, the dealers’ room will be open for exhibitors to set up their displays. At this point, we urge all of our dealers to take full advantage of our generous load-in and set-up period. Since our dealers’ room will be located in the Greater Columbus Convention Center, unloading and loading for those selling at the convention will be at the center’s loading dock.

Amazing ad-1926To reach the convention center’s loading dock, go north on High Street until you come to Warren Street.  Turn right on Warren and follow it to Summit Street. Summit becomes 3rd Street.  Stay on this street and pass the exit to I-670.  As soon as you pass the exit, you will see a sign that reads, “Right lane ends.” At this sign there is a ramp that goes off to the right.  Take this ramp and it curls around to the docks. The convention plans to have people there to help dealers unload.  After unloading, follow the ramp away from the dock and it takes you to the Chestnut Street garage area.

Remember that we’ll also be offering early-bird shopping in the dealers’ room from 6 to 9 PM on Thursday evening, an extra three hours of selling opportunities to people who are ready to buy!

Although the focus of PulpFest is pulp magazines and related materials, digests, vintage paperbacks, men’s adventure and true crime magazines, first-edition hardcovers, series books, dime novels, original art, Big Little Books, B-movies, serials and related paper collectibles, old-time-radio shows, and Golden and Silver Age as well as pulp-related comic books and games are also allowed.

(The first issue of THE SKIPPER went on sale with a December 1936 cover date. The magazine’s lead character, Captain John Fury — the Skipper — was a variant of Doc Savage. The series was written by Laurence Donovan, under the house name Wallace Brooker. Front cover art — including the second issue, dated January 1937 — was by  Lawrence Donner Toney, During the 1930s and 1940s, Toney painted covers for CLUES, COMPLETE STORIES, WESTERN STORY MAGAZINE, WILD WEST WEEKLY, and other pulps, all published by Street & Smith.

The fiction of Herbert George Wells played a prominent role in the early years of AMAZING STORIES. Along with Ray Cummings, Edgar Allan Poe, and Jules Verne, Wells is mentioned in the advertising copy for the first issue of the new science fiction magazine. The ad ran in the April 1926 issue of RADIO NEWS.

During his three years as editor and publisher of the first science-fiction magazine, Hugo Gernsback turned to Wells’ fictional output for nearly thirty stories, reprinting such classics as “The First Men in the Moon,” “The Time Machine,” and “The War of the Worlds” in his flagship title and its companions.

Both H. G. Wells and The Skipper — along with The Whisperer — will be profiled during PulpFest’s opening night programming, scheduled to begin at 9:10 PM this evening. We hope to see you in Columbus for “Summer’s AMAZING Pulp Con!)

PulpFest 2016 Primer

Jul 19, 2016 by

2016 Post CardPulpFest 2016 will begin on Thursday, July 21, at 4 PM, as our dealers begin to erect their displays for “Summer’s AMAZING Pulp Con!” All members will be able to register for the convention from 4 to 8 PM, right outside our dealers’ room. There will be early-bird shopping in the dealers’ room from 6 to 9 PM for loyal attendees who help to defray the convention’s costs by staying three nights at our host hotel. The cost is $30 for those who stay elsewhere. Our full programming slate for the evening will begin around 9 PM with a look at The Skipper and The Whisperer, two pulp superheroes that debuted eighty years back in 1936. PulpFest will also be celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of science fiction author H. G. Wells with a presentation by Garyn G. Roberts, winner of the 2013 Munsey Award. When our programming is over, PulpFest members are welcome to socialize together in the Hyatt Regency’s Big Bar on 2. Talk “Pulps in the Pub!

If you have not yet booked a room for your stay, call 1-888-421-1442 to reach the Hyatt Regency. Perhaps there has been a cancellation. Please book a room for three nights and register now for PulpFest 2016! If you can’t find a room at the Hyatt Regency Columbus, you’ll find a list of area hotels courtesy of the Greater Columbus Convention Center at www.columbusconventions.com/thearea.phpAlternately, you can search for a room at tripadvisor or a similar website to find a hotel near the convention. Thanks so much to everyone who has reserved a room at our host hotel. By staying at the Hyatt Regency, you’ve helped to ensure the convention’s success.

As mentioned above, early registration for the general membership will take place on Thursday, beginning at 4 PM, right outside the dealers’ room in the Battelle South exhibition hall on the third floor of the Greater Columbus Convention Center. All members, dealers included, can pick up their registration packets at this time. To help things move smoothly, please bring along a completed registration form. You can download a copy by clicking here. Look for the SHOP banner to find our dealers’ room.

For those of you who have not yet registered for PulpFest 2016, Thursday evening will be an ideal time to do so. Four-day memberships will be available for $40. There will be no single-day memberships available for Thursday only. Children who are fifteen and younger and accompanied by a parent, will be admitted free of charge. Please visit our registration page for further details. Members will also be able to register for the convention on Friday morning, beginning at 9 PM, and at any time during regular dealers’ room hours. Single day memberships will be available for $20 for Friday or Saturday and $10 for Sunday.

Please note that advance registrations are no longer available. Our Paypal page was shut down around 10 PM on Monday night.

Wells War of the Worlds film posterFrom 4 PM to 11 PM on Thursday, the dealers’ room will be open for exhibitors to set up their displays. At this point, we urge all of our dealers to take full advantage of our generous load-in and set-up period. Since our dealers’ room will be located in the Greater Columbus Convention Center, unloading and loading for those selling at the convention will be at the center’s loading dock.

To reach the convention center’s loading dock, go north on High Street until you come to Warren Street.  Turn right on Warren and follow it to Summit Street. Summit becomes 3rd Street.  Stay on this street and pass the exit to I-670.  As soon as you pass the exit, you will see a sign that reads, “Right lane ends.” At this sign there is a ramp that goes off to the right.  Take this ramp and it curls around to the docks. The convention plans to have people there to help dealers unload.  After unloading, follow the ramp away from the dock and it takes you to the Chestnut Street garage area.

Remember that we’ll also be offering early-bird shopping in the dealers’ room from 6 to 9 PM on Thursday evening, an extra three hours of selling opportunities to people who are ready to buy!

Although the focus of PulpFest is pulp magazines and related materials, digests, vintage paperbacks, men’s adventure and true crime magazines, first-edition hardcovers, series books, dime novels, original art, Big Little Books, B-movies, serials and related paper collectibles, old-time-radio shows, and Golden and Silver Age as well as pulp-related comic books and games are also allowed.

Amazing Stories 47-06From 9 to 10 AM on Friday, July 22, the dealers’ room will be open only to dealers for set-up. It will open to all at 10 AM and remain open until 4:45 PM. Our afternoon programming will start at 1 PM with the first of our New Fictioneers readings. Our evening programming will begin shortly before 7 PM as PulpFest chairman Jack Cullers offers an official welcome to all attendees. Friday night’s programming will include our FarmerCon XI presentation which will feature a panel of writers who will discuss their collaborations with Grand Master of Science Fiction Philip José FarmerPulpFest favorite David Saunders starts off our celebration of the 120th anniversary of the first pulp magazine with “The Artists Who Make ARGOSY — 120 Years of Sensational Pulp Art;” our salute to the 90th anniversary of the first science fiction magazine continues when Joseph Coluccio, president of the Pittsburgh Area Fantasy and Science Fiction Club, explores the history of AMAZING STORIES during the pulp era; closing out the evening will be pulp historian Laurie Powers with a look at “LOVE STORY MAGAZINE and the Romance Pulp Phenomenon” and author and pop culture scholar Will Murray examining “WESTERN STORY MAGAZINE and the Evolution of the Pulp Western,” both part of PulpFest‘s remembrance of “A Century of the Specialty Pulp.”

On Saturday, July 23, the PulpFest dealers’ room will be open from 10 AM to 4:45 PM. This should allow plenty of time for people to prepare for people to prepare for our Saturday Night Dinner at Dick’s Last Resort, located at 343 North Front Street, just a few minutes’ walk from the Hyatt Regency Columbus in the Arena District. If you don’t plan to attend PulpFest‘s group meal, there are plenty of other restaurants close to the hotel. You’ll find a guide to the many fine downtown restaurants by clicking here.

Our Saturday afternoon programming will start at 1 PM with our New Fictioneers readings. Afterward, Ron Fortier will moderate a New Pulp Fiction Panel on “Writing Hero Pulp.” It will be followed by a presentation on Anthony Tollin’s Sanctum Books featuring Mr. Tollin and Doc Savage author Will Murray.

Eldritch Horror

For pulp fans who like games, gaming fans who like pulps, or just people who like to have fun, PulpFest 2016 will be organizing a gaming track. Many of the themes found in the world of modern games resonate from the pulps and the stories published in those magazines. The PulpFest 2016 gaming track will begin at 10 AM on Saturday and last until 10 PM or thereabouts. All games will be set up in the Clark Room, located on the second floor of the Hyatt Regency. The only requirements to play games at PulpFest 2016 are a PulpFest membership, your imagination, and a desire to have a good time. So if you enjoy pulps and you enjoy games, PulpFest will be the place to be.

Saturday evening’s events will include the PulpFest 2016 Business Meeting. Two lucky PulpFest members who prepay for their membership, book a room for three nights at our host hotel, and choose to attend our business meeting will receive free memberships to PulpFest 2017. The 2016 Munsey Award — presented for service to the pulp community — will also be awarded on Saturday evening.

Argosy 43-01Other programming on Saturday night will include Our Guest of Honor presentation, featuring science fiction author and pulp fan Ted White. The editor emeritus of AMAZING STORIES, Mr. White will speak about his career, AMAZING STORIES, science fiction fandom, the pulps, and much, much more from 7:30 to 8:15 in the Union Rooms on the second floor of the Hyatt Regency. Pulp collector and scholar Doug Ellis — the co-founder of the Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention — will also be on hand with a presentation on 120 Years of THE ARGOSY — The World’s First Pulp Magazine. Our evening will conclude with the annual PulpFest Saturday Night Auction.

Any member of PulpFest 2016 can submit items to the auction. Your PulpFest badge number will be used as your auction bidder and/or seller number. We will begin taking consignments for the auction when our dealers’ room opens at 10 AM. Barry will be accepting material for our auction near the entrance to the PulpFest dealers’ room. The sooner you submit your consignment to our auction coordinator, Barry Traylor, the more likely that it will be included in our auction. All auction lots must be submitted to Barry prior to 2 PM on Saturday, July 23.

All lots submitted must have a minimum value of $20. All lots that do not receive a bid of $20 or more will be passed. If you plan to offer an auction lot with a reserve price, your reserve must be $50 or more. No lots with a reserve price of less than $50 will be accepted. PulpFest reserves the right to reject any auction material that is unlikely to meet our minimum bid or reserve price standards as well as our content standards. The convention charges sellers 10% of the selling price for anything sold in the auction. For additional information, please click on the auction link on our programming schedule.

For additional details on all of our afternoon and evening programming events, please click the 2016 Schedule button located just below the banner on our home page for further details. Each entry is linked to a post that provides further information on that event. Just click on the event’s title.

On Sunday, July 24, the dealers’ room will be open to all members from 10 AM to 2 PM as our dealers pack up. If you are coming just for the day, please be aware that buying and selling opportunities may be limited. Admission to the convention for Sunday only will be $10, the cost of our annual program book, THE PULPSTER.

We are hoping that this year’s con will be our biggest and best yet. For some time, we’ve been receiving registrations every day, many from people who have never attended PulpFest before. If you’ve been thinking about attending, but have yet to pull the trigger, please book a room without delay. You can try calling 1-888-421-1442 to reach the Hyatt Regency. Perhaps there has been a cancellation. Alternately, you can search for a room at tripadvisor  or a similar website to find a hotel near the convention. You can also try looking for a room at the Experience Columbus lodging page at http://www.experiencecolumbus.com/stay. You’ll also find a list of area hotels at www.columbusconventions.com/thearea.phpcourtesy of the Greater Columbus Convention Center

Ganymede CityThe Hyatt Regency is located at 350 North High Street in downtown Columbus, Ohio. The hotel is south of I-670, just 15-20 minutes from Columbus International Airport. In the heart of the active Arena District, the Hyatt Regency is just a few minutes’ walk from the trendy Short North Arts District. There are shops and restaurants galore right outside the hotel’s entrance. Click here for map & directions.

For those who will be staying at the Hyatt Regency during the convention, parking is free at the Chestnut Street Garage, one block south of the hotel. The garage is connected to the hotel via an enclosed and covered walkway. For those visiting PulpFest for the day, you can also use the Chestnut Street Garage for parking. Rates vary based on time, but at this writing, $14 will get you a day’s parking. Additional parking is available at the Convention Center underground garage. Again, rates are time-based and, at this writing, $14 will get you parking for 12 hours with no in and out privileges. Click here for a more detailed look at parking near the Hyatt Regency. Alternately, if you don’t mind walking a few blocks, there are many inexpensive options. Click here for an interactive parking map of Columbus and search near 350 North High Street.

For those attendees who would like to ship their purchases to their homes, the Hyatt Regency offers a paid shipping service for its guests. Please inquire at the hotel’s front desk to learn more about this service.

The entire PulpFest 2016 organizing committee – Mike Chomko, Jack and Sally Cullers, Bill Lampkin, Barry Traylor, and Chuck Welch – is looking forward to seeing all of you. Have a safe trip to Columbus for “Summer’s AMAZING Pulp Con.”

(Most of our promotional materials for PulpFest 2016 featured Frank R. Paul’s cover art from the August 1927 issue of AMAZING STORIES, illustrating H. G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds.”

Pulp magazines are not the only collectible that you’ll find at PulpFest. Although there will be thousands of pulp magazines for sale at the convention, other things will be available as well. Perhaps you’ll even find some of the artwork used to publicize George Pal’s THE WAR OF THE WORLDS, released in 1953. Unfortunately, the creator of the publicity art is not known.

In 1938, Ziff-Davis took over AMAZING STORIES and Ray Palmer became the magazine’s editor. Toward the end of his editorial reign, Palmer started “The Shaver Mystery,” a hoax involving an evil race that causes all of mankind’s problems from their home in underground caverns.  The June 1947 issue featuring cover art by Robert Gibson Jones was a special “Shaver Mystery” issue.

By popular demand, one of the PulpFest gaming tables will be running ELDRITCH HORROR, a board game featuring a band of investigators battling entities from the Cthulhu Mythos. From game designers Corey Konieczka  and Nikki Valens, it is published by Fantasy Flight Games and features cover art by Anders Finer.

One of the events that PulpFest will be saluting in 2016 will be the 120th anniversary of the first pulp magazine, THE ARGOSY. Originally founded by Frank A. Munsey in 1882 as a children’s weekly, it was converted to an all-fiction pulp magazine with its December 1896 number. During its long history, it was merged with other pulps, sold to Popular Publications, converted to a bedsheet magazine, and later, to a men’s adventure magazine. ARGOSY for January 1943 — with cover art by Peter Stevens — was one of the magazine’s last issues in the large pulp format. With its September 1943 issue, Popular Publications converted ARGOSY to a slick magazine.

It might not be quite as hospitable as beautiful downtown Columbus, Ohio, but according to pioneering science fiction illustrator Frank R. Paul, the city of Gatos on Ganymede — Jupiter’s largest moon — seemed to be a pretty hopping place! “Gatos, crater city of Ganymede is built at the magnetic pole, and  uses the magnetism of the planet for power, heat, light. Its people — tiger-like — are masters of its animal world, and ride giant lizards.” Frank Paul imagined life on Ganymede for the back cover to AMAZING STORIES for February 1942. This year, PulpFest will celebrate the 90th anniversary of the debut of AMAZING, the first continuing science fiction magazine.)

Highlights from THE PULPSTER

Jul 6, 2016 by

Cover of THE PULPSTER, No. 25THE PULPSTER returns with an AMAZING 25th issue at PulpFest 2016. As usual, it’s packed with a variety of interesting articles pertaining to the pulp magazines.

The centerpiece of the issue is “90 years of AMAZING STORIES,” a collection of essays on the history and legacy of the first all-science-fiction pulp magazine written by many of its editors, including founder Hugo Gernsback, Howard Browne, Joseph Wrzos (Joe Ross), Barry N. Malzberg, PulpFest 2016 Guest of Honor Ted White, Elinor Mavor, and Patrick L. Price.

Dr. Art Sippo looks at the AMAZING STORIES of Philip José Farmer, who had four tales published in the digest during the 1960s and ’70s. FarmerCon XI takes place alongside PulpFest.

On a topic every pulp collector should pay attention to but often ignores, David W. Smith explains how planning ahead can ensure that your pulp collecting efforts won’t be squandered after you’re gone.

J. Randolph Cox, the 2014 Munsey Award winner, celebrates the 100th anniversary of DETECTIVE STORY MAGAZINE; while THE PULPSTER‘s editor, Bill Lampkin, marks 80 years since THE WHISPERER and THE SKIPPER took Street & Smith’s hero pulps in a new direction.

David M. Earle examines HARLEM STORIES, Wallace Thurman, and African-American writers in the pulp magazines. Alongside, Michael Bittner’s short story, “No Greater Love,” from HARLEM STORIES appears in its entirety.

Walker Martin hits the lonesome trail with an article about collecting the long-running pulp WESTERN STORY MAGAZINE.

In the Departments section, rounding out the issue, are columns by Editor Lampkin, Publisher Michael Chomko, and Final Chapters, in which Tony Davis remembers those of the pulp community who have recently passed away.

A longstanding tradition cherished by attendees of summer pulp cons, THE PULPSTER #25 will be released at PulpFest 2016. Every member — including supporting members — of PulpFest will receive a complimentary copy of THE PULPSTER. Following the convention, a limited number of copies of the program book will be available for purchase through Mike Chomko, Books. Please write to Mike — who also serves as the marketing and programming director for PulpFest — at mike@pulpfest.com or 2217 W. Fairview St., Allentown, PA 18104-6542 to reserve your copy.

You can also order back issues of THE PULPSTER through Mike Chomko, Books. Please write to Mike at mike@pulpfest.com to learn about availability.

For questions about submissions to THE PULPSTER or comments about the issue, please write to Bill Lampkin at bill@pulpfest.com. For any questions about advertising in THE PULPSTER, back issues, or ordering issue #25 of THE PULPSTER, please write to Mike Chomko at mike@pulpfest.com.

Gaming at PulpFest 2016

Jun 24, 2016 by

Infinite CityPulpFest was founded on the premise that the pulps had a profound effect on American popular culture, reverberating through a wide variety of mediums — comic books, movies, paperbacks and genre fiction, television, men’s adventure magazines, radio drama, and even video and role-playing games. The summertime destination for fans and collectors of vintage popular fiction, art, and related materials, PulpFest seeks to honor the pulps by drawing attention to the many ways such magazines have inspired writers, artists, film directors, software developers, and other creators over the decades.

Science fiction has likewise played a strong role in the development of American popular culture. Introduced to pulp readers through the scientific romances found in the Munsey magazines and other general fiction pulps, science fiction became its own genre when Hugo Gernsback premiered AMAZING STORIES — the first continuing science fiction magazine — in the spring of 1926. AMAZING and the pulps that followed it — WONDER STORIES, ASTOUNDING STORIES, STARTLING STORIES, among others — served to inspire the worlds of STAR TREK, STAR WARS, BABYLON 5, Steampunk, and other expressions of contemporary popular culture including role-playing games and board games.

PulpFest introduced a gaming track to its programming schedule in 2015. Many of the themes found in the world of modern games resonate from the pulps and the stories published in those magazines. There are games based on Conan, the Cthulhu Mythos, space operas such as Doc Smith’s Lensman series, westerns, mysteries and, of course, pulp heroes.

This year, in honor of the ninetieth anniversary of the debut of AMAZING STORIES, PulpFest will have an array of role-playing games and board games set in the science fiction genre. Game players will be able to explore other worlds and adventure in outer space.

We will have two tables running Pathfinder RPG games. Although these games have a fantasy setting, the Pathfinder world that we’ll be exploring is one where the impact of science fiction is felt.  Expect aliens with blasters and dimensional gates, as well as orcs and dragons. The Columbus chapter of the Ohio Pathfinder Society will be managing our Pathfinder games.

Ohio’s Rogue Cthulhu group will be running Cthulhu Mythos adventures that are set in modern times and in the future.  Stride across alien worlds and face eldritch horrors, fly in star ships to battle alien races such as the Mi-Go, and stand against entities from other worlds using science. The mythos developed in the pulps by H. P. Lovecraft and other writers — Robert Bloch, Robert E. Howard, Henry Kuttner, and Frank Belknap Long, and so on — has inspired a wide range of both role-playing and board games. Rogue Cthulhu will be managing a variety of games to thrill and enjoy.

The Fellowship of the White Star will be running role-playing games at two tables.  The Fellowship adventures are set on the earth of the early twentieth century. Intrepid adventurers battle everything from mad scientists trying to conquer the world to invading aliens to creatures of darkness.  Join them as they strive to keep their families and countries safe from dark science.

PulpFest 2016 will also be featuring a number of board games.  One table will be running and teaching a number of games that can be played in an hour or two.  We’ll have ALIEN FRONTIERS, CHRONONAUTS, DESTINATION NEPTUNEINFINITE CITYMEGAMANIOLOGY, and others.  By popular demand, another table will be running ELDRITCH HORROR, a board game featuring a band of investigators battling entities from the Cthulhu Mythos.

Come out to PulpFest 2016 where you can explore our substantial dealers’ room and find exciting pulp fiction and books to read. Then stop by our game room where you can save Earth from aliens, explore new planets circling far-flung stars, or seek out ancient artifacts and knowledge.  You’ll learn how to play a variety of new games and “boldly go where no man has gone before.” As of June 21, the Hyatt Regency Columbus has a small number of rooms available for July 21 through July 23. Please see our post “There Are Rooms at the Hyatt!

At www.columbusconventions.com/thearea.php, you’ll find a list of area hotels courtesy of the Greater Columbus Convention Center. Alternately, you can search for a room at tripadvisor or a similar website to find a hotel near the convention. Thanks so much to everyone who has reserved a room at our host hotel. By staying at the Hyatt Regency, you’ve helped to ensure the convention’s success.

(The PulpFest 2016 gaming track will begin at 10 AM on Saturday, July 23, and last until 10 PM or thereabouts. All games will take place in the Clark Room, located on the second floor of the Hyatt Regency. Watch for the PulpFest PLAY banner outside the entrance to our game room. There will be eight tables set up where a variety of board games, card games, and role-playing games will be presented. PulpFest is also working with several gaming companies to provide prizes for our game-playing members.

The box art for INFINITE CITY — a board game designed by Brent Keith and published by Alderac Entertainment Group — is by Charles J. Urbach.)

Our Guest of Honor — Ted White

Jun 20, 2016 by

Amazing Stories 26-04In the spring of 1926, publisher Hugo Gernsback introduced AMAZING STORIES, the first continuing science fiction magazine. Within months, the new specialty magazine was selling over 100,000 copies per issue. Gernsback had tapped a vein of wonder, shared by lonely individuals prone to “imaginative flights of fancy.” Next would come AMAZING STORIES ANNUAL, published in the summer of 1927 and featuring Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “The Mastermind of Mars.”AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY followed in the winter of 1928. Then, in the August 1928 number of AMAZING STORIES, Gernsback introduced his readers to E. E. “Doc” Smith’s “The Skylark of Space” and Philip Francis Nowlan’s “Armageddon—2419 AD,” featuring Anthony “Buck” Rogers. These two space operas would help color science fiction for well over a decade.

Although Gernsback would lose control of his magazine in 1929, the founding of AMAZING STORIES signaled the separation of science fiction into its own category.  Before long, AMAZING was joined by other science fiction pulps, including Gernsback’s own WONDER STORIES and Clayton’s ASTOUNDING STORIES OF SUPER-SCIENCEIt was in the latter magazine — retitled ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION — that the genre would enter its golden age, under the guidance of editor John W. Campbell. Decades later, AMAZING STORIES likewise attained a golden age, thanks to the heroic efforts of editor Ted White.

In his May 1969 editorial for AMAZING, White likened the development of the New Wave in science fiction to the 1960s revolution in rock music and the emergence of heavy metal and acid rock. He pointed out that this music was able to coexist beside the more melodic rhythms of the Beach Boys and others. He also recognized that heavy rock was drawing upon its roots, in rhythm and blues, to express its new voice.

White saw no reason why science fiction should not follow the same pattern. Not only could all forms of science fiction exist side by side — the traditional alongside the modern — but the modern had itself developed from science fiction’s roots. By publishing both forms of science fiction in AMAZING, White could make it possible for the old and the new to influence each other.

Ted White strove to attract good fiction and new writers to the magazines. However, because he was paying the lowest rates in the field, he knew he wouldn’t have first shot at the best fiction around, but he might have a chance at some of the best experimental fiction, which had no ready market elsewhere, and thereby attract those writers who didn’t otherwise click with the establishment. Piers Anthony, Richard A. Lupoff, Barry N. Malzberg, David R. Bunch, R. A. Lafferty, Alexei Panshin, Christopher Priest, James Tiptree, Jr., Avram Davidson, Philip José Farmer, Gordon Eklund, Robert Silverberg, George Alec Effinger, F. M. Busby, Jack Dann,George Zebrowski, Thomas Monteleone, John Shirley, and others all found a home in Ted White’s AMAZING. They were joined by some of science fiction’s most exciting artists: Jeff Jones, Mike Kaluta, John Pederson, Jr., Joe Staton, Doug Chaffee, Vaughn Bode, Dan Adkins,  and most significantly Mike Hinge.

Fantasy & SF 2014-03-04PulpFest is very pleased to welcome as its 2016 Guest of Honor, author, editor, musician, and science-fiction and pulp fan Ted White. Winner of the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer in 1968 and nominated as Best Professional Editor or for Best Professional Magazine throughout most of the seventies, Mr. White will speak about his career, AMAZING STORIES, science fiction fandom, the pulps, and much, much more on Saturday evening, July 23, from 7:30 to 8:15 in the Union Rooms on the second floor of the Hyatt Regency.

We look forward to seeing you at “Summer’s AMAZING Pulp Con” from July 21 through July 24 at the beautiful Hyatt Regency and the city’s spacious convention center in the exciting Arena District of Columbus, Ohio. Please join us as editor emeritus Ted White helps PulpFest celebrate ninety years of AMAZING STORIES! Remember that the Hyatt Regency Columbus is sold out of rooms for July 21 through July 23. At www.columbusconventions.com/thearea.php, you’ll find a list of area hotels courtesy of the Greater Columbus Convention Center. Alternately, you can search for a room at tripadvisor or a similar website to find a hotel near the convention. Thanks so much to everyone who has reserved a room at our host hotel. By staying at the Hyatt Regency, you’ve helped to ensure the convention’s success.

(Our guest of honor continues to publish professionally after more than sixty years of practicing his craft. His short story, “The Uncertain Past,” appeared in the March & April 2014 number of THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION — featuring front cover art by Kent Bash — while “The Philistine” can be found in the October 2015 issue of ANALOG SCIENCE FICTION AND FACT.

AMAZING STORIES likewise continues to be published, ninety years after the appearance of its first issue. That number — dated April 1926 — featured front cover art by Frank R. Paul, the “grandfather of science fiction art.” Revived in 2012 by longtime science-fiction fan Steve Davidson as an online magazine, you can find the new AMAZING STORIES at http://amazingstoriesmag.com/. It’s also available as an ebook via Amazon.com.)

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120 Years of Murray Leinster

Jun 16, 2016 by

Argosy 29-12-28Although magazines have been around since the seventeenth century, it wasn’t until the last month of 1896 that the pulp magazine was born. It was left to Frank A. Munsey – a man about whom it has been suggested, “contributed to the journalism of his day the talent of a meat packer, the morals of a money changer and the manner of an undertaker” – to deliver the first American periodical specifically intended for the common man — THE ARGOSY. In his own words, Munsey decided to create “a magazine of the people and for the people, with pictures and art and good cheer and human interest throughout.”

That same year, on June 16, a child was born who would become one of THE ARGOSY’s regular writers for nearly four decades — William Fitzgerald Jenkins. Best known and remembered under his pseudonym of Murray Leinster, Jenkins wrote and published more than 1,500 short stories and articles, fourteen movie scripts, and hundreds of radio scripts and television plays. Active as a writer for nearly seven decades, Jenkins’ writing career began in early 1916 when his work began to be featured in H. L. Mencken’s and George Jean Nathan’s THE SMART SET.

Although he wrote in a wide range of genres — western, detective, jungle adventure, horror, spicy, and even love — Jenkins is best known for his science fiction. His first story in the field, “The Runaway Skyscraper,” published in February 22, 1919 issue of ARGOSY AND RAILROAD MAN’S MAGAZINE, is considered a science fiction classic. Other greats, including “The Mad Planet” (ARGOSY for June 12, 1920) and “The Red Dust” (ARGOSY ALL-STORY WEEKLY, April 2, 1921) soon followed.

An extremely adaptable writer, Jenkins/Leinster published some remarkably inventive stories during the late twenties and early 1930s including “The Darkness on Fifth Avenue” (ARGOSY ALL-STORY WEEKLY, November 30, 1929), “The City of the Blind” (ARGOSY, December 12, 1928), “Sidewise in Time” (ASTOUNDING STORIES, June 1934) — which introduced the concept of parallel worlds — and “Proxima Centuri” (ASTOUNDING STORIES, March 1935). He would reach his prime as a science fiction writer during the decade following the Second World War. During this period, Jenkins/Leinster penned such classics as “First Contact” (ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, May 1945 and probably his most highly regarded story), “A Logic Named Joe” (ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, March 1946) — which anticipated computers and the Internet — and “Exploration Team” (ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, March 1956) — which won the 1956 Hugo Award for Best Novelette.

Remaining active in the field until about 1970, Will Jenkins/Murray Leinster died on June 8, 1975. A longtime craftsman in the field of magazine fiction writing, Leinster is fondly remembered as “The Dean of Science Fiction.” He would be 120 years old on this very day.

(Although the fiction of Will Jenkins/Murray Leinster appeared in a wide range of magazines — ARGOSY — including the  December 12, 1928 issue with cover art by Howard V. Brown — BLACK BAT DETECTIVE MYSTERIES, BLACK MASK, BLUE BOOK, BREEZY STORIES, COLLIER’S, COWBOY STORIES, DANGER TRAILS, DETECTIVE FICTION WEEKLY, DETECTIVE STORY MAGAZINE, ESQUIRE, FRONTIER STORIES, JUNGLE STORIES, LOVE STORY MAGAZINE, MYSTERY STORIES, RANCH ROMANCES, THE SATURDAY EVENING POST, SHORT STORIES, THE SMART SET, SNAPPY STORIES, THE THRILL BOOK, THRILLING DETECTIVE, TRIPLE-X WESTERN, WEIRD TALES, and WEST — he is primarily remembered for his science fiction. In that genre, he published in an equally wide range of titles, including the first continuing science fiction magazine, AMAZING STORIES.

Amazing Stories 27-01The early issues of Hugo Gernsback’s magazine featured a great deal of material reprinted from other sources. Works by Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, Edgar Allan Poe, and others were regularly featured in the early numbers of the magazine. Another author featured regularly was Murray Leinster. “The Runaway Skyscraper” was reprinted in the third issue, dated June 1926, while “The Mad Planet” found its way into the eighth issue, dated November 1926. Leinster’s name was featured on the cover to the January 1927 number with cover art by Frank R. Paul. “The Red Dust” appeared inside.

PulpFest 2016 will salute both ARGOSY — the first pulp fiction magazine — and AMAZING STORIES — the first continuing science fiction magazine — at this year’s convention. Please join us in the Columbus, Ohio Arena district at the Hyatt Regency hotel and the city’s spacious convention center from July 21 through July 24 for “Summer’s AMAZING Pulp Con!”

Please remember that the Hyatt Regency Columbus is sold out of rooms for July 21 through July 23. At www.columbusconventions.com/thearea.php, you’ll find a list of area hotels courtesy of the Greater Columbus Convention CenterAlternately, you can search for a room at tripadvisor or a similar website to find a hotel near the convention. Thanks so much to everyone who has reserved a room at our host hotel. By staying at the Hyatt Regency, you’ve helped to ensure the convention’s success.)

The First Science-Fiction Pulp — An AMAZING Story

Jun 9, 2016 by

Amazing Stories 26-04It was hard to miss the first issue of AMAZING STORIES on the newsstand. Letter-size, larger than the typical pulp magazine, with three-dimensional block letters trailing across its masthead and a bright yellow backdrop that framed an alien landscape and a bright red, ringed planet and small moon, the magazine certainly stood out on the sales rack. Frank R. Paul was the artist.

The names on the front cover of the magazine’s early issues were also major selling points: Edgar Allan Poe, Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, Garrett P. Serviss, Edgar Rice Burroughs, A. Merritt, and others. It was just as Gernsback wrote in his editorial for the pulp’s first issue: “By ‘scientifiction’ I mean the Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, and Edgar Allan Poe type story — a charming romance intermingled with scientific fact and prophetic vision.” That is what the readers of AMAZING STORIES sought: “They wanted to be entertained, to escape, to experience that sense of wonder that good visionary fiction brought.” (Mike Ashley in THE TIME MACHINES).

Using stories drawn from the Munsey magazines, BLUE BOOK, THE STRAND, and other sources, Gernsback offered reprints of science-fiction classics, eventually coupling these with new stories often generated through contests. Through these competitions, Gernsback began to acquire a stable of new writers willing and able to write scientifiction: Miles J. Breur, Clare Winger Harris, David H. Keller, S. P. Meek, A. Hyatt Verrill, Harl Vincent, and others. Through his letter column, entitled “Discussions,” he reeled his readers into his world of wonder.

Within months, the new specialty magazine was selling over 100,000 copies of each issue. In establishing the first specialized science-fiction magazine, Gernsback had tapped a vein of wonder, shared by lonely individuals prone to “imaginative flights of fancy.” Next would come AMAZING STORIES ANNUAL, published in the summer of 1927 and featuring Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “The Mastermind of Mars.” AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY followed in the winter of 1928. Then, in the August 1928 number of AMAZING STORIES, Gernsback introduced his readers to E. E. “Doc” Smith’s “The Skylark of Space” and Philip Francis Nowlan’s “Armageddon—2419 AD,” the first tale to feature Buck Rogers. These two “space operas” would color science fiction for well over a decade, turning it into “that crazy Buck Rogers stuff.”

Not one of the penny dreadfuls, dime novels, or pulp magazines published from the turn to the middle of the twentieth century, was created in isolation. There was a great, sometimes troubling, world buzzing around the butcher, the baker, the cop, the bobby-soxer, the factory worker, the Gibson girl, and the kid as they flipped a coin on the counter, left the newsstand, and walked home with a copy of magic in their hands.

Amazing Stories 2014-04It was certainly true of the magazine that transmogrified scientifiction into science fiction: AMAZING STORIES. Through war, police actions, political upheaval; through reprints and originals; though a remarkable set of editors, AMAZING persevered into the twenty-first century.

Join PulpFest 2016 at 8:45 PM on Friday, July 22, as we welcome Joseph Coluccio, president of the Pittsburgh Area Fantasy and Science Fiction Club, to our programming stage in the Union Rooms on the second floor of the Hyatt Regency Columbus for a look at AMAZING STORIES during the pulp era. It is Mr. Coluccio’s intention to consider the history — to about mid-century — of the content found in the pages of AMAZING STORIES, not in the context of the world at large, but in comparison to the rich popular culture of the time — science, radio, film art, and literature — that surrounded and influenced the magazine. Cover art, words and anecdotes are all that are left of those early, amazing years. Through a series of sometimes exciting, sometimes disastrous editorial decisions, AMAZING STORIES reflected changes right back into the flowing current of everyday taste. Relive those times through the words of Hugo Gernsback, T. O’Connor Sloane, Raymond A. Palmer and Howard Browne, brought to you by PARSEC‘s Joseph Coluccio.

Join “Summer’s AMAZING Pulp Con” as we salute the 90th anniversary of the first continuing science fiction magazine. The convention will take place from July 21 through July 24 in the Columbus, Ohio Arena district at the Hyatt Regency hotel and the city’s spacious convention center. You’ll have a FANTASTIC time.

(Hugo Gernsback edited and published AMAZING STORIES from April 1926 through April 1929. Plowing money into other interests and paying an extremely hefty salary to both himself and his brother, Hugo Gernsback filed for bankruptcy in early 1929. Afterward, T. O’Conor Sloane — who had assisted Gernsback from the start — became the magazine’s editor until the April 1938 issue. Sloane was far from being a visionary; he thought space travel was impossible.

Ziff-Davis took over the magazine with its April 1938 number featuring Ray Palmer as editor. The new editor transformed AMAZING STORIES into a juvenile magazine, establishing a stable of authors to write fiction aimed at the youth market. Toward the end of his editorial reign, Palmer started “The Shaver Mystery,” a hoax involving an evil race that causes all of mankind’s problems from their home underground. Palmer’s last issue was dated December 1949. In later years, he became involved with UFOs and similar topics while publishing FATE magazine.

Amazing Stories 53-04-05Howard Browne, a Palmer assistant, assumed the editorship in January 1950. Primarily interested in mystery fiction, Browne nevertheless turned AMAZING STORIES around, directing it toward an adult audience. It became a digest magazine — featuring cover art by Barye Phillps on its first issue — with its April/May 1953 number. Browne left the magazine following its August 1956 number. He was succeeded by Paul Fairman and the talented Cele Goldsmith. Ms. Goldsmith managed the magazine from March 1957 through June 1965, during which time it garnered a great deal of respect.

The Ultimate Publishing company, headed by Sol Cohen, began publishing the magazine with its August 1965 issue. Joseph Wrzos was its first editor, followed by Harry Harrison, Barry Malzberg, Ted White, and Elinor Mavor. The magazine was acquired by TSR Hobbies in March 1982, with Mavor continuing as editor. George Scithers became the editor with the November 1982 issue. Later editors included Patrick Price, Kim Mohan, and Jeff Berkwits. Its last issue was published in March 2005 with Paizo Publishing in charge.

In July 2012, longtime science-fiction fan Steve Davidson revived AMAZING STORIES as an online magazine. You can find it at http://amazingstoriesmag.com/. Its first issue dated April 2014 — featured front cover art by William F. Wu. According to the artist, the painting is a reworking of Frank Paul’s cover to the very first issue of the magazine, published in April 1926. To read more about Wu’s cover, please visit http://amazingstoriesmag.com/articles/cover-amazing-stories-april-2014/.)