PulpFest Historical — Sam Moskowitz, Superfan

Jun 29, 2020 by

Hugo Award-winning science fiction historian and anthologist Sam Moskowitz was born 100 years ago on June 30, 1920. Best remembered in pulp circles for his definitive history of the early Munsey pulp magazines, UNDER THE MOONS OF MARS: A HISTORY AND ANTHOLOGY OF “THE SCIENTIFIC ROMANCE” IN THE MUNSEY MAGAZINES, 1912-1920, and for his pair of biographical studies of pulp science fiction authors, EXPLORERS OF THE INFINITE: SHAPERS OF SCIENCE FICTION and SEEKERS OF TOMORROW: MASTERS OF MODERN SCIENCE FICTION, Moskowitz also authored a detailed history of early science fiction fandom, THE IMMORTAL STORM: A HISTORY OF SCIENCE FICTION FANDOM

A sometimes controversial figure, he proved to be a prolific editor with over 60 books to his name, principally anthologies and collections. Notable among his many credits, Moskowitz also served as editor of Hugo Gernsback’s final foray into the genre with SCIENCE-FICTION PLUS (1952-1954) and, two decades later, filled the same role for Leo Margulies on the revived WEIRD TALES (1973-1974).

Having established himself as an authority in his field, Moskowitz taught the very first college course on science fiction in 1953. An avid collector with more than 40,000 books and magazines in his collection, he was gifted with a near-photographic memory that he put to good use. He was inducted into the New Jersey Literary Hall of Fame in 1987. Sam Moskowitz died of a heart attack on April 15, 1997 at age 76. The First Fandom Sam Moskowitz Archive Award for excellence in science fiction collecting was established in his memory in 1998.

(In addition to his many contributions to science fiction and pulp scholarship, Sam Moskowitz was a pulp writer “back in the day.” In 1941, he published three stories in the science fiction pulps. His first tale appeared in COMET, followed by two in PLANET STORIES. His short story, “World of Mockery,” ran in the Summer 1941 PLANET STORIES,  featuring a cover painting by Virgil Finlay. Also appearing in the same issue was Leigh Brackett’s “The Dragon-Queen of Jupiter.” It was her second appearance in the Fiction House magazine and garnered her top billing on the magazine’s cover. She would sell many more to PLANET in the coming years, including one for the pulp’s final issue.

If you’d like to learn more about First Fandom, please join us in September for Sara Light-Waller’s visit with David and Daniel Ritter of First Fandom Experience. It’s the first of our “PulpFest Profiles,” a new series on today’s “Children of the Pulps.”)