PulpFest and Ray Bradbury on Instagram

Aug 27, 2020 by

Here is one of the many fine cover images that we’ve been posting to the PulpFest Instagram page over the last few days. It’s just one small part of our Ray Bradbury tribute, honoring the August 22 centennial of the author’s birth.

The image displayed here is the cover for the Spring 1944 issue of PLANET STORIES. Painted by “Ghastly” Graham Ingels, it’s the artist’s only cover for the Fiction House science fiction pulp. Best known for his work for EC Comics during the 1950s — notably THE HAUNT OF FEAR and TALES FROM THE CRYPT — Ingels also contributed interior art to PLANET STORIES and other Fiction House pulps.

Ray Bradbury’s “The Monster Maker” — a short story reprinted in THE COLLECTED STORIES OF RAY BRADBURY: A CRITICAL EDITION, VOLUME 1: 1938-1943 — originally appeared in this particular issue of PLANET STORIES. Bradbury established himself as one of the leading “Golden Age” voices of science fiction in the pages of the Fiction House magazine.

Join us every Monday through Friday — between 7:30 and 8 PM, eastern time — for selected images and commentary related to Bradbury appearances on the PulpFest Instagram page. Why not become one of the 1100+ followers we have on Instagram? You’ll find us at https://www.instagram.com/pulpfest/.

PulpFest and Ray Bradbury on Instagram

Aug 24, 2020 by

As part of our celebration of the centennial of Ray Bradbury’s birth, PulpFest will explore some of the author’s magazine fiction on our Instagram page. For the next few weeks, PulpFest will post magazine cover images and remarks concerning Bradbury and his development as a writing professional on Instagram.

As we recently mentioned in our post, “PulpFest Historical — Bradbury’s Centennial,” Ray Bradbury sold his first story in 1941. A collaboration with Henry Hasse, “Pendulum” was based on a work originally published in Bradbury’s own FUTURE FANTASIA. The two authors would sell two more collaborations before the younger Bradbury set off on his own.

Beginning tonight, we’ll discuss the first regular market for Bradbury’s solo work: WEIRD TALES. Between 1942 and 1948, editor Dorothy McIlwraith published 25 Ray Bradbury short stories and a poem in “The Unique Magazine.” The content of Bradbury’s first book — DARK CARNIVAL, published by Arkham House in 1947 — was largely drawn from his WEIRD TALES fiction.

Later this week, we’ll turn our attention to the science fiction pulps. There, Bradbury established himself as one of the leading lights of the genre’s “Golden Age” as World War II drew to a close. PulpFest will also explore his work for the crime and detective pulps, as well as his fiction in the digest and “slick” magazines.

Every Monday through Friday — between 7:30 and 8 PM, eastern time — we’ll post selected images related to Bradbury appearances, plus commentary, to the PulpFest Instagram page. Why not become one of the 1100+ followers we have on Instagram? You’ll find us at https://www.instagram.com/pulpfest/.

(Ray Bradbury’s novella, “The Fireman,” originally appeared in the February 1951 issue of H. L. Gold’s GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION. Bradbury’s story would serve as the basis for his classic dystopian novel, FAHRENHEIT 451.

Chesley Bonestell painted the cover art for the February 1951 issue of GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION. The artist was much admired for his contributions to the science fiction digest magazines, including ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION, and THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION. He later collaborated with several authors on such books as THE CONQUEST OF SPACE, THE EXPLORATION OF MARS, and BEYOND THE SOLAR SYSTEM. The Association of Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists’ Chesley Award for achievement in science fiction and fantasy art is named for him, and a crater on Mars and asteroid 3129 Bonestell are also named in his honor.)

PulpFest Historical — Bradbury’s Centennial

Aug 22, 2020 by

Ray Douglas Bradbury was born on August 22, 1920, in Waukegan, Illinois. From an early age, he was a voracious reader and consumer of popular culture — movies, pulp magazines, radio programming, newspaper comic strips, circuses, magic, and more. He was enamored with the Buck Rogers newspaper strip, the stories of L. Frank Baum, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and more. By age twelve, he wanted to write.

After his family moved to Los Angeles in 1934, the teenaged Bradbury discovered science fiction fandom. Through the Los Angeles Science Fiction Society, he met such people as Forrest J Ackerman, Hannes Bok, Leigh Brackett, Ray Harryhausen, Henry Hasse, Robert A. Heinlein, and Henry Kuttner. It was Kuttner, in particular, who took the young Bradbury under his wing, urging him to read more outside the fields of science fiction and fantasy, critiquing his stories, and advising the budding author to simply “shut up and write.”

Ray Bradbury sold his first story in 1941. A collaboration with Henry Hasse, “Pendulum” was based on a work originally published in Bradbury’s own fanzine, FUTURE FANTASIA. The two authors would sell two other collaborations before the younger Bradbury set off on his own.

With the help of Kuttner and fellow writer Leigh Brackett, as well as literary agent Julius Schwartz, Bradbury began to find regular markets for his fantasy and science fiction in AMAZING STORIES, PLANET STORIES, SUPER SCIENCE STORIES, THRILLING WONDER STORIES, and WEIRD TALES. It was from the latter that Bradbury would largely construct his first book. The legendary DARK CARNIVAL was published by Arkham House in 1947.

Bradbury also began to contribute crime and detective fiction to DETECTIVE TALES, DIME MYSTERY MAGAZINENEW DETECTIVE MAGAZINE, and similar pulps. At the urging of a friend, the young writer began to submit his work to the more prestigious (and better paying) “slicks.” These included AMERICAN MERCURY, CHARM, COLLIER’S, MADEMOISELLE, and THE NEW YORKER. His story, “The Big Black and White Game” — published in the August 1945 issue of AMERICAN MERCURY — was included in THE BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES OF THE YEAR anthology. “The Homecoming” — published in the October 1946 issue of MADEMOISELLE — found its way into the pages of THE O. HENRY PRIZE STORIES OF 1947.

As his fiction began to be discovered by a wider audience, Ray Bradbury came to the attention of former COLLIER’S editor Don Congdon. About a year after writing to express his admiration for the author’s work, Congdon became Ray Bradbury’s literary agent. During the summer of 1949, Bradbury’s new representative arranged a meeting with Doubleday editor Walter I. Bradbury (no relation) in New York City. According to Sam Weller’s THE BRADBURY CHRONICLES, it was during this meeting that the Doubleday editor suggested: “What about all those Martian stories you’ve been writing for PLANET STORIES and THRILLING WONDER? Wouldn’t there be a book if you took all those stories and tied them together into a tapestry?”

THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES was published in 1950 by Doubleday and Company. It would be this “fix-up” novel — a mixture of previously published and new, loosely connected stories — that would assure Ray Bradbury’s success as an author.

Other books would follow Bradbury’s Mars novel. These included THE ILLUSTRATED MAN in 1951, FAHRENHEIT 451 and THE GOLDEN APPLES OF THE SUN in 1953, THE OCTOBER COUNTRY in 1955, DANDELION WINE in 1957, A MEDICINE FOR MELANCHOLY  in 1959, R IS FOR ROCKET and SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES in 1962, THE MACHINERIES OF JOY in 1964, and many others. Bradbury would also make significant contributions to ESQUIRE, GALAXY, THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION, PLAYBOYTHE SATURDAY EVENING POST, and other magazines.

Ray Bradbury won the World Fantasy Award in 1977, the SFWA Grand Master Award in 1989, the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1989, an Emmy Award in 1994, the National Medal of Arts in 2004, a special citation from the Pulitzer Prize jury “for his distinguished, prolific, and deeply influential career as an unmatched author of science fiction and fantasy” in 2007, and many other awards. The author died on June 5, 2012, a few months shy of 92.

Although he got his start as a writer of fantasy, horror, detective, and science fiction stories for the pulp magazines, Ray Bradbury defied categorization. He was truly — as he often called himself — a “magician of words.”

(Ray Bradbury’s short novel, “The Creatures That Time Forgot,” garnered Chester Martin’s cover illustration for the Fall 1946 issue of PLANET STORIES. Published as “Frost and Fire” in R IS FOR ROCKET, the story concerns a world with such extreme conditions that its inhabits — the descendants of space explorers who had crashed on the planet — live for just eight days.

Bradbury’s novella was later adapted to film by Elaine and Saul Bass and released in 1983. Two years later, it was adapted by Klaus Janson as a graphic novel and published by DC Comics.

To learn more about Ray Bradbury, we recommend BECOMING RAY BRADBURY, by Jonathan R. Eller (University of Illinois Press, 2011), NOLAN ON BRADBURY, by William F. Nolan (Hippocampus Press, 2013), and THE BRADBURY CHRONICLES: THE LIFE OF RAY BRADBURY, by Sam Weller (HarperCollins Publishers, 2005). Of course, there’s also the PulpFest 2020 program book, THE PULPSTER #29. It will soon be available for $15, plus postage, and feature a number of articles about Ray Bradbury.)

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.”)

PulpFest Historical — Leo Margulies and His Thrilling, Exciting, and Popular Journey

Jun 22, 2020 by

When Ned Pines was asked by The American News Company to start a chain of pulp magazines that it would distribute for him, he knew he needed an editor. The young publisher requested Frank A. Munsey employee, Leo Margulies, to be the managing editor of his new enterprise. With the country gripped by the Great Depression, the two men came up with a daring idea for the rough paper market: a ten-cent pulp magazine.

Standard Magazines, better known as “The Thrilling Group,” launched THRILLING DETECTIVE, THRILLING ADVENTURES, and THRILLING LOVE in late 1931. Each sold for a dime. Within two years, the line expanded, adding THE PHANTOM DETECTIVE, THE LONE EAGLE, SKY FIGHTERS, THRILLING RANCH STORIES, and THRILLING WESTERN. As Standard grew, Leo Margulies became the company’s face.

Margulies was born on June 22, 1905, and raised in Brooklyn, New York. After briefly attending Columbia University, he began working for the Munsey magazine chain, selling subsidiary rights to its stories. His mentor was the legendary editor, Bob Davis, the man who published the early works of Max Brand, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Ray Cummings, George Allan England, A. Merritt, and other popular writers.

After Davis left the pulp industry, Margulies worked as head of East Coast research for Fox Films; helped to establish Tower Magazines, sold by Woolworth’s; and founded a literary agency. After joining Ned Pines’s new publishing venture, he developed a reputation “. . . not only for quick decisions on buying stories but also for swift payment — which made him a writers’ favorite.”

Respected by authors and editors alike, Margulies became known as “The Little Giant of the Pulps.” As author and screenwriter Steve Fisher wrote in a writer’s magazine:

“. . . there was a sudden silence. Fifty people stopped eating and looked up. Leo Margulies made his usual dramatic entrance. . . . I thought for a moment (American Fiction Guild) president Art Burks was going to leap to his feet and salute.”

During World War II, Leo Margulies enlisted in the military as a war correspondent. He was onboard the USS Missouri when the Japanese surrendered. Returning to the USA, he helped launch the Popular Library line of paperback books. Following a lengthy trip to Europe n the early fifties, Margulies left Pines’s employ and started a new publishing venture, King-Size Publications. He returned to the fiction market with two digest magazines — THE SAINT DETECTIVE MAGAZINE and FANTASTIC UNIVERSE.

In later years, Margulies established MIKE SHAYNE MYSTERY MAGAZINETHE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. MAGAZINEZANE GREY’S WESTERN MAGAZINE, and other fiction digests. He also revived WEIRD TALES in 1973-1974, with Sam Moskowitz as editor. Leo Margulies died on December 26, 1975 at the age of seventy-five.

As part of its tribute to Ned Pines’s Standard Magazines in 2015, PulpFest welcomed Margulies’ nephew, Philip M. Sherman, to the convention. Mr. Sherman discussed his uncle on both a professional and personal level: “Not only was Leo an outstanding editor and publisher . . . he was also an outstanding uncle.”

Although Philip Sherman passed away in 2019 at the age of 88, he was able to write a biography of his uncle. LEO MARGULIES, GIANT OF THE PULPS: HIS THRILLING, EXCITING, AND POPULAR JOURNEY was published in 2017 by Altus Press. It is available through Steeger Books and other fine booksellers.

(In addition to Arthur C. Clarke’s classic novella, “Against the Fall of Night,” the November 1949 STARTLING STORIES — with cover art by Earle Bergey — also featured Ray Bradbury’s “The Visitor.” One of twenty-two Bradbury Mars stories to be published before the release of THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES, it was not included in the book. Subsequently appearing in THE ILLUSTRATED MAN, “The Visitor” is a riff on “Impossible” (SUPER SCIENCE STORIES, November 1949). Retitled “The Martian” for its appearance in THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES, “Impossible” was far superior to “The Visitor.”

According to John Locke’s introduction to THRILLING DETECTIVE HEROES, Leo Margulies “answered the higher calling of wartime. He and several other writers and editors joined the Navy for a stint in the Pacific Theater as war correspondents.” Pictured above is Margulies in uniform during World War II. Many thanks to Matt Moring of Steeger Books for this photograph. It originally appeared in Will Murray’s study of the pulp western, WORDSLINGERS.)

PulpFest Historical — Rudolph Belarski

May 27, 2020 by

Rudolph Belarski was born 120 years ago today on May 27, 1900. The son of unskilled immigrants from Europe, he grew up in the mining town of Dupont, Pennsylvania. Forced to quit school after sixth grade, he labored for ten years at the Pittston Mines. Young Rudolph’s nights were spent following his dream to become a professional illustrator as he completed mail-order art courses from the International Correspondence School, Inc. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Moving to New York City in 1922, Belarski studied at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. He began teaching there in 1928, the same year he entered the pulp industry through Dell Publications, providing interiors and covers for WAR ACES, WARBIRDS, WAR NOVELS, and WAR STORIES. He would leave the Pratt Institute behind in 1933 to work for Fiction House, Thrilling Publications, and Munsey. Rudolph Belarski painted covers for ACES, ALL-AMERICAN FICTION, ARGOSY, CAPTAIN FUTURE, DETECTIVE FICTION WEEKLY, MYSTERY BOOK, POPULAR DETECTIVE, RED STAR ADVENTURES, THRILLING DETECTIVE, WINGS, and other rough-paper titles.

Too old to serve in the Second World War, Belarski drew portrait sketches for hospitalized servicemen on both sides of the Atlantic. After the war, he became one of Ned Pines’ top paperback cover artists at Popular Library as well as a leading illustrator for the men’s adventure magazines. He finished his career as a teacher at the world’s foremost correspondence art school, the Famous Artists School of Westport, Connecticut. He retired in 1972. Rudolph Belarski passed away at age 83 on Christmas Eve, 1983.

(We had hoped to find a Ray Bradbury cover painted by Rudolph Belarski to go along with this article. However, by the time Bradbury was writing, Earle Bergey was painting most of the science fiction and fantasy covers for the Standard Magazines pulp line. So instead, we decided to go with a Belarski painting of Tarzan, one of Ray Bradbury’s longtime heroes.

Rudolph Belarski’s painting was created for the cover of the March 19, 1938 ARGOSY WEEKLY, illustrating the Edgar Rice Burroughs serial, “The Red Star of Tarzan.” The story — which was originally published in six weekly installments — would be titled TARZAN AND THE FORBIDDEN CITY when it appeared later the same year in book form.

We’ll have plenty of programming related to the work of Edgar Rice Burroughs. So please stayed tuned to pulpfest.com in the weeks ahead.

William Patrick Maynard was born and raised in Northeast Ohio. An avid reader of vintage thriller fiction and a keen student of film and comic art, he has been writing fiction since childhood. Since 2009, he has been authorized by the Sax Rohmer literary estate to continue the Fu Manchu series. Apart from his novels, he also writes mystery and sci-fi short fiction and screenplays. He has authored nearly 300 pop culture articles and has contributed DVD commentaries to classic films of the last century. In late 2018, Bill joined the PulpFest marketing department as a writer. Since then, he has contributed significantly to our website. Bill is the convention’s assistant director of marketing and director of afternoon programming. To reach him by email, write to wpm@pulpfest.com.)

Ray Bradbury’s THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES

May 4, 2020 by

In his introduction to Irwin Porges’s EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS: THE MAN WHO CREATED TARZAN, Ray Bradbury suggested that during the summer of 1930, “a mob of boys and girls” were running away from him. That he made the summer excruciating and unbearable “for everyone.” Why you may ask?

You see my problem was Edgar Rice Burroughs and Tarzan and John Carter, Warlord of Mars.

Problem, you ask. That doesn’t sound like much of a problem.

Oh, but it was. You see, I couldn’t stop reading those books. I couldn’t stop memorizing them line by line and page by page. Worst of all, when I saw my friends, I couldn’t stop my mouth. The words just babbled out. Tarzan this and Jane that, John Carter here and Dejah Thoris there. And when it wasn’t those incredible people it was Tanar of Pellucidar or I was making noises like a tyrannosaurus rex and behaving like a Martian thoat, which, everyone knows, has eight legs.

In the view of Ray Bradbury, Edgar Rice Burroughs stands above other writers because of his . . .

. . .  unreason, because of his natural impulses, because of the color of the blood running in Tarzan’s veins, because of the blood on the teeth of the gorilla, the lion, and the black panther. Because of the sheer romantic impossibility of Burroughs’ Mars and its fairytale people with green skins and the absolutely unscientific way John Carter traveled there. Being utterly impossible, he was the perfect fast-moving chum for any ten-year-old boy. For how can one resist walking out of a summer night to stand in the middle of one’s lawn to look up at the red fire of Mars quivering in the sky and whisper, “Take me home.”

As a writer, Ray Bradbury first visited Mars in print in the story, “The Piper,” self-published in the Spring 1940 issue of his fanzine, FUTURIA FANTASIA. A revised version under the same title would appear in the February 1943 number of THRILLING WONDER STORIES. 

Originally published as by Ron Reynolds, “The Piper” is far removed from the Mars depicted in his seminal work, THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES. The first of his “Chronicles” stories — “The Million Year Picnic” — would first appear in the Summer 1946 PLANET STORIES. “Lorelei of the Red Mist,” a novella started by his friend and mentor, Leigh Brackett, and completed by Bradbury would also run in the same issue.

Initially released by Doubleday & Company seventy years ago today, THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES was a “fix-up” novel comprised of a mixture of previously published stories and bridge chapters. Crediting Sherwood Anderson’s WINESBURG, OHIO and John Steinbeck’s THE GRAPES OF WRATH as major influences on the book’s structure, Ray Bradbury labeled his book, a “half-cousin to a novel.”

Inspired by a suggestion by Doubleday editor Walter I. Bradbury (no relation), the initial outline for THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES was put together on a portable typewriter at the Sloane House YMCA in New York City in 1949. As the author later recalled, “It was a typical hot June night in New York. Air conditioning was still a luxury of some future year. I typed until 3 A.M., perspiring in my underwear as I weighted and balanced my Martians in their strange cities in the last hours before arrivals and departures of my astronauts.”

According to Sam Weller’s biography of the author — THE BRADBURY CHRONICLES: THE LIFE OF RAY BRADBURY — Walter Bradbury loved the idea behind THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES:

This idea for a novel-in-stories would provide a mirror for humanity, its faults, foibles, and failures. The book would be a cautionary tale, warning against the cultural perils that lay ahead.

Recognizing Ray Bradbury as a “rising literary talent who could be a key player in Doubleday’s new science fiction line,” the editor offered the writer a book deal on the spot, sending him back to Southern California with a check for $1500 for a pair of books.

Over the next year, Ray Bradbury reviewed all of his Martian stories, selecting and revising those to be included in his “book of stories pretending to be a novel.” Initially compiled as eighteen stories and eleven bridge chapters, it was paired down by the author and his editor, Walter Bradbury. Four segments were removed from the final manuscript.

THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES would be welcomed by both the science fiction community and, later, by mainstream critics led by the respected author, Christopher Isherwood. It has remained in print since 1950 and has been adapted for radio, comic books, theater, television, and as an opera and a video game. To date, although both MGM and Paramount have owned the book’s film rights, no motion picture version has ever been produced.

In Sam Weller’s book, LISTEN TO THE ECHOES: THE RAY BRADBURY INTERVIEWS, the Science Fiction Grand Master and “Poet of the Pulps” suggests:

I love to say it because it upsets everyone terribly — Burroughs is probably the most influential writer in the entire history of the world . . . . By giving romance and adventure to a whole generation of boys, Burroughs caused them to go out and decide to become special. That’s what we have to do for everyone, give the gift of life with our books. Say to a girl or boy at age ten: “Hey, life is fun! Grow tall!” I’ve talked to more biochemists and more astronomers and technologists in various fields, who, when they were ten years old, fell in love with John Carter and Tarzan and decided to become something romantic. Burroughs put us on the moon. All the technologists read Burroughs.

Like Edgar Rice Burroughs before him, Ray Bradbury has inspired a fair share of “technologists.” As astronaut Chris Hadfield wrote in his introduction to the 2015 Folio Society edition of THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES:

The spaceship was improbable, at best. Having been blasted from the Earth’s surface, pushed hard to an incredible speed, and then having to endure a silent nine-month coast through interplanetary space, it was now being pulled unstoppably by the gravity of planet Mars, inexorably down into the Martian atmosphere. Jealously protecting its precious cargo, a carton-of-eggs rover named Curiosity, the ship gradually, deliberately gave its life to the wicked heat, the punishing deceleration and the sudden, final impact onto the dusty surface of Mars. And as the newly landed Curiosity slowly, safely awoke and began to look around, its robot eyes showed us a new place in our history – just south of Mars’ equator, on an ancient sea floor in Gale Crater, forevermore known as Bradbury Landing. The dreamers and scientists and engineers who guided Curiosity to the landing site chose that name because “many of us and millions of other readers were inspired in our lives by stories Ray Bradbury wrote to dream of the possibility of life on Mars.” Those stories, the sparks of imagination that helped fire the flames that lifted Curiosity, are . . . THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES.

(At PulpFest 2020, we’ll be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of author Ray Bradbury. Our keynote address will be presented by Professor Garyn G. Roberts. Bradbury’s pal for more than thirty years, Garyn will discuss the life and works of the Science Fiction Grand Master and “Poet of the Pulps,” including “The Million Year Picnic,” originally published in the Summer 1946 PLANET STORIES and featuring front cover art by Chester Martin.

We’ll also have presentations on Bradbury in comic books, television, and film. Filling out our Bradbury salute will be several presentations concerning Mars in fiction, a look at early science fiction fandom, and more.)

PulpFest Profile — G. T. Fleming-Roberts

Apr 17, 2020 by

George Thomas Roberts, better known as G. T. Fleming-Roberts, was born on April 17, 1910 in Lafayette, Indiana. Starting out as a veterinary surgeon following in his father’s footsteps, a sideline as a pulp writer quickly took over.

Best known as the creator of The Green Ghost, the highly prolific pulp writer was also a regular scribe for Secret Agent XDan Fowler, and Captain Zero. Fleming-Roberts wrote literally hundreds of pulp stories from the early 1930s to the mid-1950s under a variety of house names with only his service during the Second World War to slow him down. His career peak in the 1940s saw two of his stories filmed by Hollywood with Warner Brothers releasing Find the Blackmailer in 1943 and PRC releasing Lady Chaser in 1946.

While The Green Ghost remains his best known creation, Fleming-Roberts also wrote popular pulp series about two other magician detectives, Diamondstone for POPULAR DETECTIVE and Jeffrey Wren for DIME DETECTIVE. Once the pulp era came to an end, Fleming-Roberts turned to the lecture circuit to share his experiences with other aspiring writers and fans alike. Late in life, George “Tommy” Roberts was active in Indiana politics. He died in 1968 and was survived by his wife of nearly 30 years, Agatha Halcyon Amell.

Monte Herridge compiled an excellent survey of Fleming-Roberts’ works including the most comprehensive bibliography available along with biographical information on the writer. Herridge’s work on Fleming-Roberts can be found at the Mystery File website.

(Soon after Popular Publications took over BLACK MASK in 1940, G. T. Fleming-Roberts began appearing in the magazine. He sold eight stories to BLACK MASK between 1940 and 1951, the pulp’s final year of publication. His story, “Rats Breed Rats,” appeared in the August 1940 BLACK MASK — featuring cover art by  Rafael M. DeSoto. It was Fleming-Roberts first appearance in the classic detective pulp.

On Friday evening, August 7, we hope you’ll join PulpFest as we welcome award-winning author John Wooley and award-winning publisher John Gunnison for a look at “BLACK MASK: The Popular Years.” It’s part of the convention’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of BLACK MASK, the magazine where the hardboiled detective story took root and blossomed.

Please join us for “Bradbury, BLACK MASK, and Brundage” at PulpFest 2020. We’ll be at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry in Mars, Pennsylvania from August 6 – 8.)

PulpFest Profile — BLACK MASK

Mar 2, 2020 by

Although the earliest pulps were general fiction magazines, the rough-paper rags eventually began to specialize. Pulps featuring aviation and war stories, fantasy and the supernatural, love and romance, the railroad, science fiction, sports, and other genres emerged. There were also titles devoted to prison yarns, firefighters, and even engineering stories. However, one of the longest lasting and most popular categories was the detective field. In fact, the first pulp magazine successfully dedicated to a single fiction genre was Street & Smith’s DETECTIVE STORY MAGAZINE.

Although a trailblazer as a specialty magazine, DETECTIVE STORY did little to further the development of the detective or crime story. That task would be left to its highly prized successors: BLACK MASK  — the pulp where the hardboiled detective story began to take shape — and DIME DETECTIVE MAGAZINE — where the tough guy detective became extremely popular. Call them what you will — flatfoots, gumshoes, dime detectives, or private eyes  — it was these hardboiled dicks that transformed the traditional mystery story into the tough guy (and gal) crime fiction that remains popular to this very day.

Most critics cite BLACK MASK MAGAZINE as the fertile ground where hardboiled detective fiction gathered its form. From 1923 through 1931, it reigned supreme as the home of the genre. However, when the magazine’s first issue — dated April 1920 — debuted one hundred years ago this month, it was billed as “Five magazines in one: the best stories available of adventure, the best mystery and detective stories, the best romances, the best love stories, and the best stories of the occult.”

At PulpFest 2020 we’ll not only salute the centennial of author Ray Bradbury’s birth and the 120th anniversary of the birth of WEIRD TALES artist Margaret Brundage, but we’ll also celebrate the 100th anniversary of BLACK MASK. Along with Bradbury and Brundage, BLACK MASK has inspired and continues to inspire creators the world over.

From its populist beginnings helping publisher H. L. Mencken fund THE SMART SET to its glory days under editor Joseph “Cap” Shaw, BLACK MASK published some of the finest hard boiled fiction from Carroll John Daly and Dashiell Hammett to Paul M. Cain and Raymond Chandler. Those were just for starters as the title also featured notable fiction from Vincent Starrett, Erle Stanley Gardner, Frederick Nebel, Raoul Whitfield, Frederick C. Davis, and John D. MacDonald. While BLACK MASK also showcased adventure, westerns, and romance stories; it will always be synonymous with the hard boiled detective and crime fiction that first graced its pages before exploding into virtually every media from newspapers comic strips to radio drama to the silver screen to television. BLACK MASK eventually lost its notoriety and eventually gained literary respectability when its leading lights were enshrined by The Library of America. Its legacy lingers as the pulp that taught young and old alike the difference between gunsels and molls and roscoes and blackjacks.

(The first issue of THE BLACK MASK — dated April 1920 — featured front cover art by William Grotz. A commercial artist who was active during the early twentieth century, Grotz contributed cover art to a variety of magazines including ACTION STORIES, THE BLACK MASK, FILM FUN, JUDGE, LIBERTY, NEEDLECRAFT MAGAZINE, and WESTERN STORY MAGAZINE.

Not long after Joseph T. Shaw became the editor of THE BLACK MASK in late 1926, freelance artist Fred Craft became the magazine’s primary cover artist. During 1927 and 1928 and again from mid-1934 through mid-1935, Craft painted almost every cover for the classic detective pulp magazine, including the January 1935 number. Beside BLACK MASK, Fred Craft also sold cover paintings to ACE-HIGH MAGAZINE, ACTION STORIES, FRONTIER STORIES, WESTERN STORY MAGAZINE, WILD WEST WEEKLY, and other pulps. Craft died in March 1935.

When Popular Publications took over BLACK MASK in early 1940, leading pulp artist Rafael DeSoto became the primary cover artist for the magazine. From mid-1940 until early 1947, DeSoto contributed about fifty covers — including the one for the February 1942 issue — to the magazine. He also painted covers for many other Popular detective pulps, including DETECTIVE TALES, DIME DETECTIVE, DIME MYSTERY, 15 STORY DETECTIVE, FLYNN’S DETECTIVE FICTION, NEW DETECTIVE, and, of course, THE SPIDER.

Many thanks to Neil Mechem for providing our image of the first issue of THE BLACK MASK.)

 

PulpFest Profile — Eighty Years of CAPTAIN FUTURE

Jan 6, 2020 by

The Wizard of Science

Captain Future is a science fiction pulp hero with a very long reach. He’s appeared in more than two dozen stories, comics, cartoon and live-action television shows, and may yet appear in a big-budget movie. His origin owes much to Doc Savage, and some of his gimmicks were re-tooled for SUPERMAN and BATMAN. He’s even been written about by one of New York’s premier humorists, S. J. Perelman.

Brilliant, red-headed Curt Newton is one of Edmond Hamilton’s most famous characters and yet Hamilton neither created him, nor wrote all the stories. Captain Future has fans all over the world and new adventures are appearing today in books and magazines.

The Birthplace of Creation

The character of Captain Future was created by Leo Margulies and Mort Weisinger allegedly in response to early science fiction fandom at the First World Science Fiction Convention in the summer of 1939. The original idea was for a character called, “Mr. Future: Wizard of Science,” a space-age Doc Savage with three alien side kicks. Mr. Future was a genetic superman who battled evil in the 21st Century. (Ironic, as Weisinger would later edit SUPERMAN.)

Margulies and Weisinger hired Edmond Hamilton to write the series. Hamilton helped refine the characters and storyline and dubbed Future’s sidekicks, “The Futuremen.” These became Grag, a hulking mechanical man of great strength and good-natured loyalty; Otho, a white-skinned, emerald-eyed android of great wit and intelligence; and Simon Wright, an elderly scientist who, at death, had his brain encased in a transparent, life-sustaining box fitted with artificial eyes and mouth. During this early design process “Mr. Future” became “Captain Future.”

Calling Captain Future

After the initial drafts, Curtis Newton was no longer a genetic superman, but remained a brilliant young scientist, superb athlete, and brave, heroic crusader. He’s the son of gifted biologist, Roger Newton, and his wife, Elaine. Both of Curtis’ parents are murdered by Victor Corvo, who tracked them to their hidden sanctuary on the Moon to steal Roger’s secrets for the creation of artificial life.

Thereafter, infant Curtis is raised by Roger’s co-worker, Simon Wright, the brain, Grag, the robot, and Otho, the android. Curtis has a remarkable upbringing. His three unhuman guardians train the boy to unparalleled scientific knowledge, incredible strength and stamina based on a system of super-exercises, and unbelievable swiftness of physical and mental reactions. Curt and Simon Wright develop a super-ship, “The Comet,” and use it to travel around the solar system and visit the various worlds. When he’s grown, Curtis is told the details of his parents’ murders. He then chooses to become Captain Future,  “. . . implacable Nemesis of all oppressors and exploiters of the System’s human and planetary races.”

Besides the Futuremen, Curt’s team includes two members of the Planet Police force — Secret Agent Joan Randall and Marshal Ezra Gurney.

The Triumph of Captain Future

The first novel,Captain Future and the Space Emperor,” debuted in the premiere issue (Winter 1940) of CAPTAIN FUTURE: WIZARD OF SCIENCE. The story was good escapist fun and prompted humorist, S. J. Perelman, to write a NEW YORKER review entitled, “Captain Future, Block That Kick!” which, although tongue-in-cheek, is still a delightful read.

CAPTAIN FUTURE continued for seventeen issues and included novels, short stories and features such as: “The Worlds of Tomorrow,” “The Futuremen,” and “The Future of Captain Future.” It got a name change for the Winter 1941 number and became CAPTAIN FUTURE: MAN OF TOMORROW. The magazine was just hitting its stride when America entered World War II. Edmond Hamilton expected to be drafted and resigned from the series. Margulies hired two pulp writers to replace him —  Manly Wade Wellman and Joseph Samachson (pen name of William Morrison). A house name of “Brett Sterling” was attached to the series even before Hamilton stopped writing it. As it turned out, Hamilton wasn’t drafted and continued writing the series under the name of Brett Sterling.

Wartime brought some unusual problems to the magazine. In one case, U. S. Customs seized one of Hamilton’s manuscripts during a border crossing from Mexico. The agents were suspicious of the maps showing an imaginary planet called “Vulcan,” inside the orbit of Mercury. This caused a production delay until Hamilton got his materials back from Washington.

An editorial snafu with an unnamed editor caused Hamilton and Samachson to produce two novels with too-similar plots. This led to Hamilton re-writing “Outlaw World” and its eventual publication several years later in STARTLING STORIES.

Wartime paper shortages were disastrous for the pulps. Magazines implored readers to reserve copies as print runs were reduced. But even subscriptions weren’t enough to keep the presses running for CAPTAIN FUTURE. The Spring 1944 issue was the last and all remaining CAPTAIN FUTURE stories were added to their sister magazine, STARTLING STORIES. The character remained in STARTLING until Captain Future retired in 1946.

But not for long. Captain Future and his team returned to STARTLING STORIES in 1950 for a series of character-driven novelettes which are considered some of the best in the run. “The Return of Captain Future” led the way in January 1950. This was followed by six other stories which highlighted different members of the team — Simon Wright in “The Harpers of Titan” (September 1950), Grag in “Pardon My Iron Nerves” (November 1950), Ezra Gurney in “Moon of the Unforgotten” (January 1951), and “Birthplace of Creation” (May 1951) in which Captain Future, himself, is tested. In that story Curt discovers that even he is not immune to the corruption of power.

The Return of Captain Future

When Captain Future wrapped in May of 1951, readers thought they’d seen the last of Curt Newton and his friends. But it wasn’t the end. Twenty-seven years later, in 1978, Toei Animation of Japan produced a fifty-three episode cartoon (anime) series based on thirteen of the original “Captain Future” stories. The series was very well-received and had a global distribution. It remains popular to this day, but not in the United States where poor English translations and editing discouraged fans.

In 2017, German director Christian Alvart, inspired by the Toei animation series, began work on a big budget, live-action Captain Future film. His plan is to have it produced out of Europe with an international cast. The trailer looks promising and comments from fans are very positive.

Captain Future had succeeded in various media, but there were no new stories until the mid-1990’s when sci-fi writer, Allen Steele, got permission from Hamilton’s estate to pen a few new Captain Future stories. He began with “The Death of Captain Future” (ASIMOV’S SCIENCE FICTION, October 1995), then followed it up with “The Exile of the Evening Star” (ASIMOV’S SCIENCE FICTION, January 1999). Both of these are “satirical homages” to the original material.

“The Death of Captain Future” received both the Hugo and Seiun Awards in 1996 and was also short-listed for a Nebula Award.

in 2018, Steele had a new Captain Future novel ready to go with Tor Books. This time it was a modern reboot called AVENGERS OF THE MOON. The book brings the characters and technology up-to-date and pushes the stories forward in time to the late 23rd/early 24th centuries (as opposed to the early 21st century of the original.)

Allen Steele’s “Captain Future Novel” was part of a planned trilogy. Unfortunately, after a house editorial change Tor cancelled the second and third books. As luck would have it, Steele’s friend Steve Davidson was about to revive AMAZING STORIES as a print magazine and asked Steele for a story. “Captain Future In Love” (AMAZING STORIES Fall & Winter 2018) is the result, serialized in the first two issues.

Star Trail to Glory

When I started researching this article, I thought I was pretty well-versed on the subject. I’m a big fan of Captain Future, have read all the books, and watched quite a few of the anime. I’ve also written about him before. But this time I dug deeper and discovered a lot more to the story. From the hero’s creation to the twists and turns that followed, I was surprised by all that I found.

And then there are Allen Steele’s new stories. I admit that I’m a purist and wasn’t prepared to accept a rebooted CAPTAIN FUTURE universe. But then it occurred to me that Steele is doing the world a favor by adding new stories to the original catalog. His love of the characters might already have inspired a new generation of readers. And those readers, hungry for more, might look back at the original stories and enjoy them, also.

I have no idea what Hamilton, Wellman, and Samachson would think of AVENGERS OF THE MOON or “Captain Future In Love,” and it’s not my place to guess. What I can be sure of is that every writer wants their creations to last. This month, Captain Future turns eighty years old and what writer wouldn’t be happy with that kind of longevity?

Happy Birthday, Curt Newton! Long may “The Comet” fly.

(Dated Winter 1940, the first issue of Standard Magazines CAPTAIN FUTURE featured front cover art by George Rozen. The artist is best remembered for the many covers that he painted for the popular Street & Smith hero pulp, THE SHADOW. Rozen would paint one more CAPTAIN FUTURE cover — dated Fall 1941 — and two covers for Fiction House’s PLANET STORIES. In later years, he created paperback cover paintings for Popular Library and the “Ace Doubles” series.

Sara Light-Waller is a writer, illustrator, and avid pulp fan. Science fiction pulps are her favorites, especially space opera and thought variant stories. She has published two illustrated New Pulp books with more to come. Catch up with her at Lucina Press.

If you’d like to read more about Captain Future and his Futuremen, click here for a list of references that Sara used to prepare for this post.)

It’s the Isaac Asimov Centennial

Jan 2, 2020 by

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Isaac Asimov. Best known for his science fiction, Asimov wrote or edited more than 500 books in his lifetime. It has been estimated that he also wrote more than 90,000 letters and postcards.

Beginning with the short story “Marooned Off Vesta” — published in the March 1939 issue of AMAZING STORIES — Isaac Asimov wrote hundreds of stories, novels, poems, articles, and editorials for the pulp and digest magazine markets. In 1977, the prolific author founded ISAAC ASIMOV’S SCIENCE FICTION MAGAZINE with Joel Davis. Although the author served as the editorial director of ASIMOV’S, he “insisted on hiring excellent personnel to edit the magazine.” Still published today, the magazine has won countless awards.

Although he was born and raised in Brooklyn and taught biochemistry at Boston University, PulpFest was not able to include Professor Asimov among the boatload of “B’s” that the convention will be celebrating from August 6 – 9 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry on Mars (Pennsylvania, that is).

PulpFest 2020 will celebrate the centennial of Ray Bradbury’s birth, the 100th anniversary of BLACK MASK, and the 120th anniversary of the birth of WEIRD TALES cover artist Margaret Brundage. There will also be presentations brimming with Baum, Burroughs, Barsoom, Brackett, B-movies, and more. And don’t forget about our guest of honor, the beautiful Eva Lynd, one of the top magazine models of the fifties and sixties.

We couldn’t cram former pulpster Isaac Asimov onto our boatful of “B’s.” However, PulpFest would still like to salute this exceptional author and his many contributions to science fiction, mystery, fantasy, and many other fields on the centennial of his birth on January 2,1920.

(The cover artist for the March 1939 issue of AMAZING STORIES was Robert Fuqua. This was the pen name of Joseph Wirt Tillotson, an artist best known for his illustrations for the Chicago-based pulp magazine company, Ziff-Davis Publications. Tillotson created his pseudonym to protect his reputation in the field of advertising art.) 

Margaret Brundage

Dec 9, 2019 by

No one defined the look of WEIRD TALES like pulp’s premier cover artist Margaret Brundage. The talented woman who dressed (and undressed) countless Seabury Quinn, Robert E. Howard, Jack Williamson, Edmond Hamilton, and Manly Wade Wellman characters was born December 9, 1900 into a devout Christian Science household in Chicago. Her parents were Swedish and Irish immigrants from Scotland.

Editor of her high school newspaper where classmate Walt Disney was a cartoonist, Margaret graduated to become a fashion designer. She supplemented her income with newspaper illustrations and by decorating speakeasies during Prohibition. It was in the latter pursuit that she met and married speakeasy bouncer and janitor Slim Brundage. Her new husband was an alcoholic womanizer, self-professed hobo, and avowed leftist who was born in an insane asylum.

Sadly, as a husband Slim was not a consistent breadwinner. He founded the College of Complexes in 1933, but it closed three months later. He became director of the Hobo College in 1936. His commitment to radical communism led to continuous trouble with authorities and even periods of incarceration.

Forced to support herself, their young son, and her sickly mother, Margaret found work as a cover artist for WEIRD TALES, ORIENTAL STORIES, and MAGIC CARPET. Editor Farnsworth Wright paid her $90 per cover painting. She provided cover art for 66 issues of WEIRD TALES between 1932 and 1945, making her the most in-demand cover artist for the magazine. Only Virgil Finlay was a close rival.

Margaret initially disguised her gender by signing her work as M. Brundage. She redefined sensuality for the already scandalous pulp market, but later found her work the target of New York Mayor LaGuardia’s 1938 decency campaign. Censorship and Farnsworth Wright’s retirement in 1940 saw a lessening of demand for the talented artist in the pulp market.

In spite of her stormy marriage and demanding career depicting half-naked damsels about to be lashed, life was not all Brundage and Discipline for Margaret. Slim abandoned his wife and their son just as America began climbing out of the Great Depression. He would later cash in his pension and re-open the College of Complexes in 1951. It would become Chicago’s most popular beatnik bistro of the decade.

Margaret’s final pulp cover sale was in 1953, but she continued to paint and exhibited and sold her work at art fairs and science fiction conventions. Clark Ashton Smith was highly critical of her sexually-charged paintings as his contemporaneous correspondence with H. P. Lovecraft and R. H. Barlow proved. A leering Forrest J. Ackerman and the dubious claims of L. Sprague de Camp helped keep her work in vogue during the early years of science fiction fandom. Robert Weinberg’s early scholarship did much to correct erroneous claims that she used models (with de Camp propagating the rumor that a nonexistent daughter posed for her, in various stages of undress). Margaret Brundage died in poverty in 1976. Her work survives and continues to define popular conceptions of pulp fiction, sword & sorcery, and weird fantasy.

Pulp scholar and co-founder of the Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention Doug Ellis will present “The Weird Tales of Margaret Brundage” on Friday evening, August 7 as PulpFest 2020 celebrates the 120th anniversary of the birth of Margaret Brundage, the centennial of Ray Bradbury’s birth, and the 100th anniversary of BLACK MASK. The convention will also feature presentations brimming with Baum, Burroughs, Barsoom, Brackett, B-movies, and more, including the beautiful Eva Lynd. Be sure to join us August 6 – 9 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry in Mars, PA.

(Although remembered primarily for her WEIRD TALES covers, Margaret Brundage also painted covers for other Popular Fiction Publishing magazines. She contributed two covers to ORIENTAL STORIES and twice that number to THE MAGIC CARPET MAGAZINE, including the October 1933 number.

In addition to her sixty-six covers for WEIRD TALES, Brundage also contributed two covers to GOLDEN FLEECE, a Sun Publications pulp magazine, also based in Chicago.

For a more detailed look at Margaret Brundage, we urge you to pick up a copy of Stephen D. Korshak’s and J. David Spurlock’s book, THE ALLURING ART OF MARGARET BRUNDAGE. David’s “book within a book” — entitled “The Secret Life of Margaret Brundage” — was largely used for the biographical information found in our post. Prior to David’s detailed revelations, so much of what is now known about Brundage was totally unknown.

THE ALLURING ART OF MARGARET BRUNDAGE is available through Amazon and other booksellers. You can also get it direct from the publisher — Vanguard Publications — by visiting http://www.vanguardpublishing.com/.)

An ASTOUNDING 90 Years

Dec 2, 2019 by

The Beginning of a Legacy

Happy birthday to ASTOUNDING/ANALOG magazine! It has been in continual production since late 1929. Its editors are some of the most influential in the field, and have shaped science fiction destiny for nine decades. The title may have changed, but the magazine’s original purpose — to tell stories that are scientifically accurate and vividly told — remains true to this day.

ASTOUNDING STORIES OF SUPER-SCIENCE launched as a Clayton magazine with Harry Bates as editor. Its first issue was dated January 1930. Clayton paid much better rates than AMAZING and WONDER STORIES — two cents a word upon acceptance as opposed to half a cent a word — and drew better-known writers such as Ray Cummings, Murray Leinster, Jack Williamson, and Victor Rousseau. Although the editors’ original intent was to include stories which “forecasted scientific achievements of To-morrow,” in practice the Clayton ASTOUNDING was primarily an action/adventure pulp magazine.

While the magazine was successful, poor business decisions made during the Great Depression stretched Clayton’s resources. In 1933 they went bankrupt and ASTOUNDING became part of the Street & Street line. The magazine’s new publisher was no stranger to successful pulps magazines as THE SHADOW and DOC SAVAGE were also their properties, both with big circulation numbers. The first Street & Street issue of ASTOUNDING STORIES — dated October 1933 — hit the stands with F. Orlin Tremaine as editor.

In the December 1933 number, Tremaine began a discussion forum called “Brass Tacks.” It has run continuously since then. In that first column, Tremaine wrote a statement of editorial policy. He called for “thought variant” stories to open “the way for real discussion . . . connected with social science, the present condition of the world, and the future.” The magazine published some fascinating thought variant stories — Jack Williamson’s “The Legion of Space,”  Murray Leinster’s “Sidewise in Time,” “The Bright Illusion,” by C. L. Moore, and “Twilight,” by John W. Campbell.

Space opera remained popular and ASTOUNDING serialized both “The Skylark of Valeron,” by E. E. “Doc.” Smith, and “The Mightiest Machine,” by John W. Campbell. By the middle of 1934, the magazine’s circulation was up to an estimated 50,000. By the end of that year, ASTOUNDING was the clear leader in the field.

John W. Campbell, Jr.

It’s fair to say that John W. Campbell, Jr. is the most influential editor in science fiction history. He succeeded Tremaine and gained full editorial control of ASTOUNDING as of the March 1938 issue. Campbell continued as editor until 1971. During those thirty-four years, he developed not only a superior stable of writers, but also changed the face of science fiction for all time. The “Golden Age of Science Fiction” began when Campbell became editor of ASTOUNDING.

Immediately, John Campbell made changes to target a more mature reading audience. He added additional non-fiction articles and demanded that his writers understand both science and people, a hard requirement for some of the established pulp writers of the 1930s.

He spearheaded a modification to the magazine’s title, changing it from ASTOUNDING STORIES to ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION. Over time, the magazine played an interesting visual trick on readers, slowly decreasing the importance of the word “Astounding” (which Campbell felt was too sensational) and bringing the words “Science Fiction” to greater prominence. This transition is completed when the hyphen in “Science-Fiction” disappears on the November 1943 number, making it ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION. This is how the title remained until 1960.

Campbell also changed the direction of the cover art, seeking a less juvenile approach. Howard V. Brown, Charles Schneeman, and Hubert Rogers were his new favorites and their art graces many “Astounding” covers. This change in visual art style immediately differentiated ASTOUNDING from its rivals.

Within two years, Campbell had an extraordinary group of writers working for him — L. Ron Hubbard, Clifford Simak, Jack Williamson, L. Sprague de Camp, Henry Kuttner, C. L. Moore, Lester del Rey, Theodore Sturgeon, Isaac Asimov, A. E. van Vogt, and Robert A. Heinlein.

He held a firm editorial line, emphasizing scientific accuracy over literary style. Some of his top writers — Asimov, Heinlein, and de Camp — were trained scientists and engineers. During and after the war, several of these appeared less frequently. The writers who remained notably — van Vogt, Simak, Kuttner, Moore, and Fritz Leiber — were less technologically-oriented, leading to more psychological stories such as van Vogt’s “World of Null-A” and Kuttner and Moore’s “Galloway Gallagher” stories. More literary stories — such as Kuttner/Moore’s “Mimsy Were the Borogoves” and Fritz Leiber’s “Gather, Darkness!” — also began to appear. Both of these stories were published in 1943.

Campbell finally achieved his goal of ridding the magazine’s title of the word “Astounding”  in 1960. From then on it was ANALOG SCIENCE FACT — FICTION or some variation thereof. Campbell chose the word, “Analog” partly because he thought of each story as an “analog simulation” of a possible future. He also saw an analogy between the imagined scenes in a science fiction story and real science being done in the laboratories of the world.

AStounding Transitions to Analog

The full list of works published during Campbell’s tenure reads like a “Who’s Who of Science Fiction.” He was a man of strong opinions and although he did much for the field of science fiction, his regressive social views have lately come under fire. This has caused ANALOG SCIENCE FICTION AND FACT to drop the name of John W. Campbell from its annual prize for best new writer.

ANALOG after Campbell

Ben Bova succeeded Campbell as editor of ANALOG in 1972. Also a technophile with a scientific background, Bova immediately declared his intention to keep publishing stories with scientific foundations. Under his direction the character of the magazine changed, allowing fiction that included sexual content and profanity. Ben Bova won five consecutive Hugo Awards for his editing of ANALOG.

Bova was succeeded by Stanley Schmidt in 1978. Schmidt, an assistant professor of physics at the time of the transfer, continued the established editorial policies and a long-standing tradition of writing provocative editorials. Schmidt remained at the helm of ANALOG until 2012 when the current editor, Trevor Quachri, took over.

Says Quachri: “Real science and technology have always been important in ANALOG, not only as the foundation of its fiction, but as the subject of articles about real research with big implications for the future. . . . It’s true that we care very much about making our speculations plausible, because we think there’s something extra special about stories that are not only fantastic, but might actually happen.”

ANALOG comes out bi-monthly and issues are available in print and digital formats. With its January 2020 number, the magazine will begin a year-long celebration to honor its 90th anniversary. The ANALOG website can be found at: https://www.analogsf.com/.

When ASTOUNDING launched in the last month of 1929, Herbert Hoover was President. It was the beginning of the Great Depression, and Mickey Mouse had just made his first appearance. The dwarf planet, Pluto, wouldn’t be discovered until February 1930 and The Chrysler Building wouldn’t open until May. In India, Mohandas Gandhi was holding non-violent protest marches.

It’s hard to imagine that long-ago world when science fiction was in its infancy. It’s just as hard to image a world without ASTOUNDING/ANALOG. Science fiction would be nothing like we know it today. And that is an alternate reality I would not want to see.

Astounding 1930 and Analog 2019

(Dated January 1930, the first issue of ASTOUNDING STORIES OF SUPER-SCIENCE — published by Clayton Publishing — appeared on America’s newsstands in December 1929, ninety years ago. The pulp featured front cover art by Hans Wessolowski, a German-born artist who entered the United State illegally in 1912. After establishing himself as a commercial artist in New York City, he began to sell interior art and cover paintings to various pulp magazines in 1928. His work was generally signed “Wesso.”

Hired by Street & Smith in 1937, John W. Campbell became the editor of ASTOUNDING STORIES after F. Orlin Tremaine was promoted to editorial director at Street & Smith. Campbell’s first issue of ASTOUNDING with full editorial control was dated March 1938, when the title of the magazine became ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION. The cover art is by Hans Wessolowski.

ASTOUNDING morphed into ANALOG over a series of issues in 1960. The change began with the February 1960 number, featuring an uncredited photographic cover. Behind the “Astounding” in the title bar are the letters “nalog,” outlined in red. Gradually, the “nalog” was brought more to the forefront, as in the May 1960 issue, with cover art by H. R. Van Dongen. A commercial artist, Van Dongen sold his first pulp cover painting to Popular Publications in 1950.

With the October 1960 number — with a cover sometimes credited to Campbell — the change was complete. “Astounding” completely disappeared from the title. Thereafter, the magazine was called ANALOG SCIENCE FACT — FICTION, or some variation thereof. The “Fact” and “Fiction” were flip-flopped in 1965. It became ANALOG SCIENCE FICTION AND FACT with the January 1993 issue, its current title. You can find the November/December 2019 number — with cover art by Tuomas Korpi — at book stores. The magazine’s 90th birthday issue — dated January/February 2020 — will go on sale on December 18, 2019.)