Visions of Mars: The Modern Years

May 15, 2020 by

Since the dawn of civilization, humankind has looked toward the heavens for renewal and redemption. From the Ancient Greeks and Romans — who believed the stars and planets to be their gods and heroes — through the utopian writers of the late nineteenth century and Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter gazing toward a red star on the horizon . . .

As I gazed upon it, I felt a spell of overpowering fascination — it was Mars, the god of war, and for me, the fighting man, it had always held the power of irresistible enchantment. As I gazed at it on that far-gone night it seemed to call across the unthinkable void, to lure me to it, to draw me as the lodestone attracts a particle of iron. . . . 

Even in H.G. Wells’s apocalyptic THE WAR OF THE WORLDS and its more recent sequels including Stephen Baxter’s THE MASSACRE OF MANKIND (2017), humanity is drawn to the heavens . . .

If the Martians can reach Venus, there is no reason to suppose that the thing is impossible for men, and when the slow cooling of the sun makes this earth uninhabitable, as at last it must do, it may be that the thread of life that has begun here will have streamed out and caught our sister planet within its toils. Dim and wonderful is the vision I have conjured up in my mind of life spreading slowly from this little seed bed of the solar system throughout the inanimate vastness of sidereal space.

The countless alien invasion and bug-eyed-monster pulp yarns inspired by Wells’s novel likewise end with humankind triumphant and gazing toward the heavens or the next galaxy with a sense of wonder.

As the pulps gave way to digest magazines and paperback books, the fiction of Mars also changed. Stepping away from the largely romantic adventures found in the Barsoom of Edgar Rice Burroughs and the monster yarns, it turned toward the frontier notions found in Ray Bradbury’s THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES.

Although the Mars of this 1950 fix-up novel is a dead and haunted planet, it still beckoned to readers and other writers. Despite an oftentimes more realistic approach to the red planet, a sense of wonder and romance is very much present in the Martian fiction of the 1950s and beyond.

Bradbury’s influence is readily seen in stories such as Clifford D. Simak’s “Seven Came Back” (AMAZING STORIES, October 1950), Robert A. Heinlein’s STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND (1961), J.G. Ballard’s “The Time-Tombs” (IF, March 1963), Roger Zelazny’s “A Rose for Ecclesiastes” (THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION, November 1963), John Varley’s “In the Hall of the Martian Kings” (THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION, February 1977), Ian McDonald’s DESOLATION ROAD (1988), and even Leigh Brackett‘s adventurous “Black Amazon of Mars” (PLANET STORIES, March 1951) and “The Last Days of Shandakor” (STARTLING STORIES, April 1952). The human newcomers are redeemed by accepting Mars, similar to the family in Ray Bradbury’s “The Million Year Picnic” (PLANET STORIES, Summer 1946), the last story in THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES.

The Martians were there — in the canal — reflected in the water. Timothy and Michael and Robert and Mom and Dad. The Martians stared back up at them for a long, long silent time from the rippling water. . . .

In the more realistic portrayals of Mars found in Arthur C. Clarke’s THE SANDS OF MARS (1951), Cyril Kornbluth’s and Judith Merrill’s OUTPOST MARS (originally serialized as “Mars Child” in GALAXY, May – July, 1951, as by Cyril Judd), Isaac Asimov’s “The Martian Way,” (GALAXY, November 1952), Walter M. Miller’s “Crucifixus Etiam” (ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, February 1953), Theodore Sturgeon’s “The Man Who Lost the Sea” (THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION, October 1959), James Blish’s WELCOME TO MARS (originally serialized as “The Hour Before Earthrise” in IF, July – September 1966), Frederick Turner’s A DOUBLE SHADOW (1978), Greg Bear’s MOVING MARS (1993), Ben Bova’s MARS (1992) and RETURN TO MARS (1999), Kim Stanley Robinson’s award-winning Mars trilogy — RED MARS (1992), BLUE MARS (1993), and GREEN MARS (1996) — Geoffrey A. Landis’s MARS CROSSING (2000), and even Andy Weir’s survival story, THE MARTIAN (2011) and the young adult anthology, THE CALLAHAN KIDS: TALES OF LIFE ON MARS (2013), the romance and wonder of the Martian frontier and the redemption of humanity are very much present for those who accept it.

One can even discern wonder and redemption in the twisted realities of Frederick Brown’s comical “Martians Go Home” (ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, September 1954), Kurt Vonnegut’s THE SIRENS OF TITAN (1959), and Philip K. Dick’s MARTIAN TIME-SLIP (originally serialized as “All We Marsmen” in WORLDS OF TOMORROW, August – December 1963) and THE THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH (1964).

These are just a few of the many fine tales of Mars and Martians to be published since the release of THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES over seventy years ago. Please join PulpFest 2020 on Friday, August 7, as we welcome Albert Wendland to discuss modern visions of the planet Mars at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry in Mars, Pennsylvania. It’s the third and final segment of our series exploring “Visions of Mars,” celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of author Ray Douglas Bradbury.

(Pictured here are William Lampkin’s modified version of  Hannes Bok’s wrap around cover-art for THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION for November 1963, as well as GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION for May 1951 with front cover art by Chesley Bonestell.

To learn more about the fiction of Mars, we recommend the Mars entry in the online SFE: THE SCIENCE FICTION ENCYCLOPEDIA (which also includes a look at Mars in film and television), Book Riot’s MARS IN FICTION: A TIMELINE, 21 BEST MARS SCIENCE FICTION BOOKS on The Best Sci Fi Books, goodreads’s “100 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books set on or about Mars,” and Mike Ashley’s “A Brief History of Sci-Fi’s Love Affair With the Red Planet,” a somewhat abridged version of his introduction to his anthology, LOST MARS, a collection of “Stories from the Golden Age of the Red Planet.”

Albert Wendland has made a career out of his life-long interests in science fiction — and photography, art, film, and travel. He teaches popular fiction, literature and writing at Seton Hill University, where he was director of its MFA in Writing Popular Fiction (the first program with exclusive attention to genre writing). His science-fiction “space noir” novel from Dog Star Books, THE MAN WHO LOVED ALIEN LANDSCAPES, was a starred pick-of-the-week by PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY. It was followed by the prequel, IN A SUSPECT UNIVERSE, described as “planetary-romance noir.” Dog Star just published a book of his poetry supposedly written by the protagonist of both novels, TEMPORARY PLANETS FOR TRANSITORY DAYS, on both interstellar and terrestrial subjects. He’s also written and published a study of science fiction, a chapter in MANY GENRES, ONE CRAFT, a poem in DRAWN TO MARVEL: POEMS FROM THE COMIC BOOKS, and several articles on science fiction and writing. He enjoys landscape photography, astronomy, film studies, graphic novels, and the “sublime.”

For a look at our entire programming schedule, please click the Programming button below the PulpFest banner on our home page.)

 

Visions of Mars: The Early Years

May 11, 2020 by

Mars has long fascinated people, due to its color and not being “fixed” as were most other lights in the night sky. The ancient Greeks and the Romans christened the red planet, both naming it after their god of war.

Following the invention of the telescope in 1609, early astronomers began to discern some features of Mars, notably a dark spot on the planet’s surface — probably Syrtis Major — and a white one near its south pole. In 1877, Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli called the lines he observed on Mars, “canali,” or “channels.” Unfortunately, Schiaparelli’s word was misinterpreted as “canals,” suggesting that intelligent life existed on Earth’s neighbor.

One person who helped popularize the Martian canals was French astronomer and popular science writer, Nicolas Camille Flammarion. A prolific author of more than fifty titles — including some early works of science fiction — Flammarion researched the so-called “canals” during the 1880s and 1890s. In his book, LA PLANÈTE MARS ET SES CONDITIONS D’HABITABILITÉ, Flammarion suggested, “the canals were the product of an intelligent species attempting to survive on a dying world.”

The idea of Martian canals inspired many of the writers of the late nineteenth century to imagine utopias on the red planet. Science fiction and pulp historian Mike Ashley lists Percy Greg’s ACROSS THE ZODIAC (1880), Robert Cromie’s A PLUNGE INTO SPACE (1890), Thomas Blot’s THE MAN FROM MARS (1891), James Cowan’s DAYBREAK (1896), UNVEILING A PARALLEL: A ROMANCE (1893) by “Two Women of the West,” and others in the anthology, LOST MARS (2018). Charles Cole’s VISITORS FROM MARS (1901) has Jesus Christ educated on the red planet, while Hugo Gernsback describes an advanced Martian civilization in “The Scientific Adventures of Baron Münchausen,” published in THE ELECTRICAL EXPERIMENTER from October 1915 through February 1917.

A much grimmer view of the inhabitants of Mars was postulated in the 1897 serialization of the science fiction novel, “The War of the Worlds.” Although H.G. Wells‘s Martians are still an advanced race, the author depicts them as many legged alien creatures who are wedded to giant walking machines in their war to conquer our planet. Wells’s invasion would inspire countless other popular tales including Homer Eon Flint’s “The Planeteer” (ALL-STORY WEEKLY for March 9, 1918), Austin Hall’s “The Man Who Saved the Earth” (ALL-STORY WEEKLY for December 13, 1919), and Edmond Hamilton’s “Across Space” (serialized in WEIRD TALES for September through November 1926). THE WAR OF THE WORLDS remains a popular story in contemporary media.

While H.G. Wells was scaring the bejesus out of the reading public, a more romanticized version of the red planet was also growing in popularity. In Gustavus W. Pope’s A JOURNEY TO MARS (1894), Mars is populated by three races with different skin tones, struggling for the throne of the red planet. Similarly romanticized versions of Mars can be found in British writer Edwin Lester Arnold’s LIEUT. GULLIVAR JONES: HIS VACATION (1905), Avis Hekking’s A KING OF MARS (1908), and other works.

Perhaps the impetus for the more romantic Mars was the work of American astronomer Percival Lowell. Between 1895 and 1908, Lowell wrote three books about Mars that “championed the now-abandoned theory that intelligent inhabitants of a dying Mars constructed a planet-wide system of irrigation, utilizing water from the polar ice caps, which melt annually. He thought the canals were bands of cultivated vegetation dependent on this irrigation.”

Which brings us to “Under the Moons of Mars,” a six-part serial credited to Norman Bean. The story began in the February 1912 issue of THE ALL-STORY. Retitled A PRINCESS OF MARS for its book publication, Bean’s serial is told by Captain John Carter of Virginia. A wondrous tale of four-armed Tharks and red-skinned Heliumites, of fantastic airships and many-legged thoats, of vast dead seas and long-abandoned cities, and of a lost princess and the man from another world who won her heart, the novel was actually the work of a gifted storyteller named Edgar Rice Burroughs. His tale inspired ten sequels and a host of adventures written by Otis Adelbert Kline, Leigh Brackett, Michael Moorcock, Will Murray, Mike Resnick, and a “magician of words” named Ray Bradbury.

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.”

As part of our celebration of the Ray Bradbury centennial, PulpFest 2020  will also pay tribute to the author’s lifelong affair with the planet Mars, best remembered through his work, THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES. As Ray Bradbury wrote in his introduction to Irwin Porges’s EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS: THE MAN WHO CREATED TARZAN:

“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.”

Please join PulpFest 2020 on Thursday, August 8, as we welcome Henry G. Franke, III to discuss early visions of the planet Mars at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry in Mars, Pennsylvania. It’s the first part of our series exploring “Visions of Mars,” celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of author Ray Douglas Bradbury.

(As many other creators before and after him, Frank R. Paul was very much inspired by the Martians of H.G. Wells. Pictured here is William Lampkin’s modified version of the artist’s cover art for the August 1927 issue of AMAZING STORIES. Wells’s “The War of the Worlds” was serialized in two parts by the Hugo Gernsback science fiction magazine.

P.J. Monahan, on the other hand, was inspired by Edgar Rice Burroughs’ romantic adventures on the planet Mars. Pictured here is Monahan’s cover art for the April 8, 1916 issue of ALL-STORY WEEKLY, depicting a scene from Burroughs’ fourth novel of Barsoom, “Thuvia, Maid of Mars.” The story was serialized in three parts in the Munsey magazine.

Henry G. Franke, III is the Editor of The Burroughs Bibliophiles, the non-profit literary society devoted to the life and works of Edgar Rice Burroughs. The Bibliophiles publish THE BURROUGHS BULLETIN journal and THE GRIDLEY WAVE newsletter.  Henry is only the third editor of THE BURROUGHS BULLETIN since its debut in 1947. He was the Contributing Editor and penned the introductions for IDW Publishing’s Library of American Comics archival series reprinting Russ Manning’s Tarzan daily and Sunday newspaper comic strips. The first volume won the 2014 Eisner Award for Best Archival Collection – Strips. He has written articles and other book introductions on Tarzan comic books and strips for TwoMorrows Publishing, Titan Books, and IDW’s Library of American Comics. Henry was the Official Editor of the Edgar Rice Burroughs Amateur Press Association (ERBapa) in 1994-1996, 2004, and 2019-2020. He served in the United States Army from 1977 to 2009 and is now a government civilian employee of the Army.

For a look at our entire programming schedule, please click the Programming button below the PulpFest banner on our home page.)

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!)

Traveling through Time with H. G. Wells

Jun 6, 2016 by

Amazing Stories 27-08Just a few days ago, we discussed The Whisperer and The Skipper, two of the “superheroes” of the pulps. Both characters premiered in their own magazines in 1936, eighty years ago. PulpFest will be celebrating a potpourri of anniversaries in 2016, including the 120th anniversary of the first pulp magazine — THE ARGOSY — and the 90th anniversary of the debut of the first continuing science fiction magazine, AMAZING STORIES. We’ll be previewing our programming during this month.

September 21, 2016 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of H. G. Wells. Along with Jules Verne (1828-1905), Wells is a central pillar to what we today call science fiction. However, Wells was also a multifaceted personality and talent. Educated in the sciences and a literary genius, Herbert George Wells came into prominence during the late nineteenth century. By the turn of the century, he was considered by many to be the world’s most important social thinker.

A prodigious talent, Wells wrote for the popular fiction magazines of his native England during “The Age of the Storytellers,” a period when increasingly urban and literate societies required cheap, entertaining, and easily accessible entertainment to escape the drudgery of the mills and offices. Writing for magazines such as THE STRAND and PEARSON’S MAGAZINE, H. G. Wells delivered countless scientific romances that are enjoyed to this very day. His classic novels “The War of the Worlds” and “The Invisible Man,” were both originally published in PEARSON’S in 1897. His later science fiction, including “The First Men in the Moon” (1900-1901) and “The Country of the Blind” (1904), would run inTHE STRAND.

It would be difficult to deny the importance of Wells to the development of both science fiction and AMAZING STORIES. 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 tales as “The Country of the Blind,” “The Crystal Egg,” “The Empire of the Ants,” “The First Men in the Moon,” “The Invisible Man,” “The Island of Dr. Moreau,” “The Man Who Could Work Miracles,” “A Story of the Days to Come,” “The Time Machine,” “The Valley of the Spiders,” “The War of the Worlds,” and “When the Sleeper Wakes” in his flagship title and its companions.

War of the Worlds

At 10:05 PM on Thursday, July 21 — the opening night of PulpFest 2016 — please join us in the Union Rooms on the second floor of the Hyatt Regency in downtown Columbus, Ohio for “Traveling through Time with H. G. Wells.” Professor Garyn G. Roberts will offer an illustrated presentation regarding Wells that surveys both the better and lesser-known achievements in the man’s life, emphasizing and including his works reprinted in Gernsback’s AMAZING STORIES. Garyn will also explore the author’s many contributions to the early days of pulp magazine speculative fiction.

Garyn Roberts has written extensively about the pulps, both professionally and as a fan, and has edited or co-edited some of the best collections of fiction from the pulps. He is the author/editor of the award-winning THE PRENTICE HALL ANTHOLOGY OF SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASYGaryn was presented with the Munsey Award by PulpFest in 2013 to honor his many contributions to the pulp community.

The summertime destination for fans and collectors of vintage popular fiction and related materials, PulpFest seeks to honor pulp fiction by drawing attention to the many ways it had inspired writers, artists, film directors, software developers, and other creators over the decades. The convention will take place from Thursday evening, July 21st, through Sunday afternoon, July 24th, in the Columbus, Ohio Arena district at the Hyatt Regency hotel and the city’s spacious convention center. Start making your plans to join us at the “pop culture center of the universe” for PulpFest 2016.

Wells War of the Worlds film poster

(Three visions of H. G. Wells’ “The War of the Worlds.” Frank R. Paul, the “grandfather of science-fiction art,” painted the cover for the August 1927 issue of AMAZING STORIES, illustrating the first half of the classic novel, serialized by the magazine in two parts. PulpFest 2016 has used Paul’s cover art throughout the past year to promote our convention at book stores, comic shops, and other conventions and fairs.

“War of the Worlds” was originally serialized in eight parts in PEARSON’S MAGAZINE, running from April through December in the year 1897. It was very well-illustrated by Warwick Goble.

In 1951, film producer George Pal, screenwriter Barré Lyndon, and director Byron Haskin began working to produce a movie that above all, would attempt to portray as realistically as possible the details of an alien invasion. Largely set in the United States and starring Gene Barry and Ann Robinson, Pal’s THE WAR OF THE WORLDS was released in 1953. Although the film now appears somewhat dated, it remains one of the best and most important science fiction movies of the 1950s. Unfortunately, the creator of the film art is not known.)

We Hope that You’ve Enjoyed AMAZING STORIES

Mar 14, 2016 by

Amazing Stories 27-08Over the last month we’ve turned our website over to author, anthologist, and popular culture historian Mike Ashley, running his multi-part history AMAZING STORIES, originally offered in the January through July 1992 issues of TSR’s AMAZING® STORIES. Once again, we’d like to thank Curt Phillips, the moderator of the Yahoo newsgroup PulpMags, for drawing our attention to and providing us with copies of Mike’s exceptional series about the world’s first science fiction magazine.

You’re more than welcome to post your comments about Mike Ashley’s “The AMAZING Story” to our Facebook site at https://www.facebook.com/PulpFest.

Mr. Ashley’s article was a perfect tie-in to one of the major themes of PulpFest 2016, namely, the 90th anniversary of the first continuing science fiction magazine, Hugo Gernsback’s AMAZING STORIESIn addition to the appearance of our Guest of Honor, Ted White — the author and editor who ushered in the Golden Age of AMAZING STORIES and FANTASTIC during the 1970s and wrote the Captain America novel THE GREAT GOLD STEAL and many other books  — we’ll be offering a presentation on the magazine itself, put together by Joseph Coluccio, president of the Pittsburgh Area Fantasy and Science Fiction Club. Mr. Coluccio will discuss the pulp era of AMAZING, the years when Hugo Gernsback, T. O’Conor Sloane, Ray Palmer, William Hamling, and Howard Browne helmed the world’s first science fiction magazine. He’ll also be exploring the digest years of the magazine, when editors such as Cele Goldsmith and Ted White published countless amazing stories and brought the magazine into its golden age.

The 150th anniversary of H. G. Wells‘ birth — another theme of our convention — will likewise tie into our AMAZING story. Herbert George Wells, who came into prominence during the late nineteenth century, was educated in the sciences and was a literary genius. It would be difficult to deny the importance of Wells to the development of both science fiction and AMAZING STORIES. During his three years as editor and publisher of the first science fiction magazine, Gernsback turned to Wells’ fictional output for nearly thirty stories, reprinting such tales as “The Country of the Blind,” “The Crystal Egg,” “The Empire of the Ants,” “The First Men in the Moon,” “The Invisible Man,” “The Island of Dr. Moreau,” “The Man Who Could Work Miracles,” “A Story of the Days to Come,” “The Time Machine,” “The Valley of the Spiders,” “The War of the Worlds,” and “When the Sleeper Wakes” in his flagship title and its companions.

Our presentation, “Traveling through Time with H. G. Wells,” will feature 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, one of the leading college level textbooks on the subject, is notable for the attention paid to the pulp magazines.

These are just some of the ways that PulpFest 2016 will be celebrating ninety years of AMAZING STORIES. We certainly hope that you’re planning to join us from Thursday evening, July 21st, through Sunday afternoon, July 24th, in the Columbus, Ohio Arena district at the Hyatt Regency hotel and the city’s spacious convention center for “Summer’s AMAZING Pulp Con.” In addition to our presentations on AMAZING — scheduled for July 21st through the 23rd — PulpFest 2016 will also be paying tribute to the history of the pulps by saluting the 120th anniversary of the debut of the first pulp magazine, THE ARGOSY; the 100th anniversary of the genre pulps such as DETECTIVE STORY and LOVE STORY; the 80th anniversaries of the premieres of two exciting hero pulpsTHE SKIPPER and THE WHISPERER; and the tenth anniversary of Sanctum Books, well known for their reprints of DOC SAVAGETHE SHADOW,  and other hero pulps. You’ll find our planned programming schedule at http://www.pulpfest.com/2016/01/coming-soon-to-columbus-pulpfest-2016/.

In addition to a line-up of great programming, PulpFest 2016 will also have a dealers’ room featuring tens of thousands of pulp magazines, vintage paperbacks, digests, men’s adventure and true crime magazines, original art, first edition hardcovers, series books, reference books, dime novels and story papers, Big Little Books, B-Movies, serials and related paper collectibles, old-time radio shows, and Golden and Silver Age comic books, as well as newspaper adventure strips. So what are you waiting for? Start making your plans to join us at the “pop culture center of the universe” for PulpFest 2016.

(Frank R. Paul, the “grandfather of science-fiction art,” painted the cover for the August 1927 issue of AMAZING STORIES, illustrating the first half of the classic H. G. Wells novel, “The War of the Worlds,” serialized by the magazine in two parts. PulpFest 2016 is using Paul’s classic illustration in its promotional efforts for this summer’s convention which promises to be an AMAZING Pulp Con!)

An AMAZING Story

Feb 15, 2016 by

The latest issue of AMAZING STORIES, dated April 2014, with cover art by Frank Wu

One of the major themes of PulpFest 2016 will be the 90th anniversary of the first continuing science-fiction magazine, AMAZING STORIES. In addition to the appearance of our Guest of Honor, Ted White — the longest serving editor of the magazine (and its companion title, FANTASTIC) — we’ll be offering a presentation on the magazine itself, put together by Joseph Coluccio, president of the Pittsburgh Area Fantasy and Science Fiction Club. Mr. Coluccio will discuss the pulp era of AMAZING, the years when Hugo Gernsback, T. O’Conor Sloane, Ray Palmer, William Hamling, and Howard Browne helmed the world’s first science-fiction magazine.

Another theme of our convention — the 150th anniversary of H. G. Wells‘ birth — will likewise tie into our AMAZING story. Herbert George Wells, who came into prominence during the late nineteenth century, was educated in the sciences and was a literary genius. It would be difficult to deny the importance of Wells to the development of both science fiction and AMAZING STORIES. During his three years as editor and publisher of the first science-fiction magazine, Gernsback turned to Wells’ fictional output for nearly thirty stories, reprinting such tales as “The Country of the Blind,” “The Crystal Egg,” “The Empire of the Ants,” “The First Men in the Moon,” “The Invisible Man,” “The Island of Dr. Moreau,” “The Man Who Could Work Miracles,” “A Story of the Days to Come,” “The Time Machine,” “The Valley of the Spiders,” “The War of the Worlds,” and “When the Sleeper Wakes” in his flagship title and its companions.

Our presentation, “Traveling through Time with H. G. Wells,” will feature 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.

These are just some of the ways that PulpFest 2016 will be celebrating ninety years of the first science-fiction magazine — AMAZING STORIES — whose inaugural issue really stood out on the newsstand. It was larger than the typical pulp magazine with three-dimensional block letters trailing across its masthead and a bright yellow background that framed an alien landscape, a ringed planet and small moon. Frank R. Paul was the artist, illustrating Verne’s “Off on a Comet.”

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. The readers of AMAZING “… wanted to be entertained, to escape, to experience that sense of wonder that good visionary fiction brought.”

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 generated through contests. Using various 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, H. 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 per 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,” featuring Anthony “Buck” Rogers. These two “space operas” would color science fiction for well over a decade, turning it into “that crazy Buck Rogers stuff.”

Amazing Stories 26-04Despite its seeming success, the Gernsback publishing empire continuously experienced cash flow problems. Plowing money into his radio interests and paying extremely hefty salaries to both himself and his brother, Gernsback offered generally low word rates for stories. Coupled with a slow payment schedule, often months after a story had been published, few authors were interested in writing for the company. In early 1929, Gernsback’s suppliers demanded payment on past due bills, leading the publisher to file for bankruptcy. Experimenter Publishing Company went into receivership, ending Hugo Gernsback’s involvement with the first science-fiction pulp, AMAZING STORIES.

Be here on Thursday when PulpFest begins a series of articles on the history of AMAZING STORIES authored by popular culture historian Mike Ashley. The series originally ran in the January through July 1992 issues of AMAZING STORIES. We’ll be posting the entire series at www.pulpfest.com, starting on Thursday, February 18th with “The AMAZING Story: The Twenties — By Radio to the Stars.”

(Hugo Gernsback edited and published AMAZING STORIES from April 1926 through April 1929. He then lost control of the magazine. His most favored artist was Frank R. Paul — now known as the “grandfather of science-fiction art” — who painted both the first and the last covers of the Gernsback AMAZING.

In July 2012, longtime science-fiction fan Steve Davidson revived AMAZING STORIES as an online magazine. You can find it at http://amazingstoriesmag.com/. It’s also available as an ebook via Amazon.com.

The first new issue of AMAZING STORIES — pictured at the head of our article and dated April 2014 — features cover art by Frank 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/.)

ARGOSY at PulpFest — An Abundance of Riches

Jan 25, 2016 by

Blackwood's Magazine 1818-10 to 1819-03Although magazines have been around since the seventeenth century — the first regular periodical was ERBAULICHE MONATHS UNTERREDUNGEN, a literary and philosophy magazine, launched in Germany in 1663 — it was only with the arrival of increased literacy and lower costs in the early nineteenth century that magazines of mass appeal began to be produced.

As Europe and North America became increasingly industrialized, magazines began to reach a much wider, sometimes national, audience. BLACKWOOD’S MAGAZINE, NOUVEAU MAGAZINE DES ENFANTSHARPER’S NEW MONTHLY MAGAZINE, ATLANTIC MONTHLY, SCRIBNER’S MONTHLYand others emerged, publishing the fiction of Charles Dickens, Fitz-James O’Brien, Walter Scott, Mark Twain, Jules Verne, and others. The dime novels, penny-dreadfuls, and story papers were also introduced during these years, offering tales of derring-do to a growing juvenile audience. It was in such periodicals that the “American Jules Verne,” Luis Senarens, developed the Frank Reade, Jr. series of adventure yarns.

The last quarter of the nineteenth century has become known as “The Age of the Storytellers.” Beginning around 1880, when Robert Louis Stevenson started to publish his first works of fiction, the world would witness the birth of the popular fiction magazine as well as the pulp magazine. Stevenson’s “Treasure Island,” first serialized in 1881 – 82, helped provide the spark for other authors to try their hand at similar fiction. Works such as H. Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines (1885), “She” (1886), and “Allan Quatermain” (1887), as well as Arthur Conan Doyle’s “A Study in Scarlet” (1887), demonstrated the need for an inexpensive, popular fiction magazine to be published on a regular basis. Shortly after Christmas in 1890, the first of these — THE STRAND MAGAZINE — was launched in Great Britain by George Newnes. Filled with illustrations, the periodical really took off during the summer of 1891 with the start of Conan Doyle’s “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes,” featuring one of the most successful continuing character series of all time.

With the success of THE STRAND MAGAZINE came a host of imitators, among them PEARSON’S MAGAZINE, another popular British fiction magazine. It debuted in late 1895 and soon became one of the leading publishers of magazine science fiction, featuring the future war stories of George Griffith and the scientific romances of Herbert George Wells. “The War of the Worlds” and “The Invisible Man,” both originally published in PEARSON’S in 1897, are still enjoyed today, over a century after their initial appearances. Educated in the sciences as well as a literary genius, Wells’ mastery of both science and fiction was readily apparent. His later science fiction, including “The First Men in the Moon” (1900-1901) and “The Country of the Blind “1904), would run in THE STRAND.

War of the Worlds

The British popular fiction magazines were modeled after the illustrated periodicals of America. However, unlike their British counterparts, the leading American magazines of the late nineteenth century – HARPER’S, CENTURY MAGAZINE, and  SCRIBNER’S – were beyond the financial and intellectual reach of the average U. S. citizen. 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. 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.”

Frank Munsey was born in Maine where he became interested in publishing. With minimal funds, he traveled to New York City and founded THE GOLDEN ARGOSY, a children’s weekly, in late 1882. Working largely on credit, he struggled for years, building his circulation through advertising and sheer determination. Deciding that the future lay in the adult market, he founded MUNSEY’S WEEKLY in 1889, soon converting it to MUNSEY’S MAGAZINE. In 1893, convinced that a magazine could only be successful if the price was right, he slashed the price of MUNSEY’S to a dime and marketed it directly to newsdealers, essentially cutting out the middle man.

Argosy 1896-12As the circulation of MUNSEY’S climbed to hundreds of thousands of copies, the publisher converted THE ARGOSY to an adult magazine, similarly priced and modeled after it’s brethren. Envisioning a new kind of magazine, Frank Munsey wrote, “We want stories . . . . not dialect sketches, not washed out studies of effete human nature, not weak tales of sickly sentimentality, no ‘pretty’ writing . . . . We do want fiction in which there is a story, a force, a tale that means something – in short a story. Good writing is as common as clam shells, while good stories are as rare as statesmanship.”

In October 1896, THE ARGOSY became the first all-fiction magazine. Two months later in a cost-cutting move, it began to be printed on the wood-pulp paper Munsey used for his daily newspaper and the rough-paper fiction magazine, or pulp, was born. Within a short while, its circulation had doubled to about 80,000 copies per issue. By 1907, the year the periodical celebrated its 25th anniversary, its circulation had reached a half million copies, earning its publisher about $300,000 per year.

As its readership grew, THE ARGOSY was bound to attract some imitators. Street & Smith, the longtime publisher of dime novels and story papers, was first to meet the call, debuting THE POPULAR MAGAZINE with its November 1903 issue. As the circulation of the new magazine grew, it became apparent to Frank Munsey that there was room on the newsstand for more than one pulp. At the end of 1904, the publisher debuted THE ALL-STORY MAGAZINE.

More than any other periodical prior to the introduction of the specialized science-fiction and fantasy pulps, THE ALL-STORY became the major repository for the “different” tale or the pseudo-scientific yarn. It was soon joined by other Munsey magazines – THE SCRAP BOOK and THE RAILROAD MAN’S MAGAZINE (both 1906), THE OCEAN/LIVE WIRE (1907), and THE CAVALIER (1908). All of these, THE CAVALIER in particular, published fantastic fiction. However, it was all but a prelude to the serial novel that would begin in the February 1912 issue of THE ALL-STORY — “Under the Moons of Mars” – credited to Norman Bean.

All-Story 12-10Bean’s novel — the first published fiction of Edgar Rice Burroughs — would introduce John Carter of Mars to readers. It would soon be followed by the author’s “Tarzan of the Apes,” published in its entirety in the October 1912 issue of THE ALL-STORY. These two novels, along with the pseudo-scientific works of H. G. Wells and his American disciple, George Allan England, would serve as templates for much of the science fiction written over the next twenty-five years, generating a type of fiction best known as “the scientific romance.” The Munsey chain in particular worked to develop this school of fiction, creating a stable of writers – Ray Cummings, J. U. Geisy, Victor Rousseau, Francis Stevens, Charles B. Stilson, and the best of all, Abraham Merritt – able to contribute such stories.

Although the fiction of Burroughs and Wells and those “inspired” by their work would remain popular for some time to come, its share of the pulp market would diminish as new magazines began to arrive on the scene. Beginning with ADVENTURE MAGAZINE, introduced by the Ridgway Company in 1910, these specialized pulps lessened the attraction of the general fiction magazines for those who enjoyed a certain type of story – mystery, romance, western, or straight adventure. In not too many years, the fantasy and science-fiction fan would likewise be served.

The word “argosy” is defined as a large merchant ship, especially one with a rich cargo. With the terrific programming we’re lining up for PulpFest 2016, you’re promised “an abundance of riches” We’ll be saluting a wide range of anniversaries at this summer’s pulp con: the tenth anniversary of Sanctum Books; the eightieth anniversary of THE WHISPERER and THE SKIPPER; the ninetieth anniversary of AMAZING STORIES, the first science-fiction pulp; the hundredth anniversary of the specialty pulp; the 120th anniversary of THE ARGOSY, the original pulp magazine; and the 150th anniversary of the birth of H. G. Wells!

Check out our post of January 4, 2016 — “Coming Soon to Columbus — PulpFest 2016” — for a look at our planned. We’ll be featuring a pair of presentations on THE ARGOSY. “120 Years of THE ARGOSY — The World’s First Pulp Magazine,” will be offered by Doug Ellis, one of the world’s leading collectors and authorities on the magazine and a founder of the fabulous Windy City Pulp and Paper ConventionArt and pulp historian David Saunders will be discussing “The Artists of THE ARGOSY —  120 Years of Sensational Pulp Artists.” Both presentations are planned for Saturday evening, July 23rd, immediately preceding our exciting auction.

“Summer’s AMAZING Pulp Con” will take place from July 21st through July 24th in the Columbus, Ohio Arena district at the Hyatt Regency hotel and the city’s spacious convention center. Start making your plans to join us at the “pop culture center of the universe” for PulpFest 2016.

(BLACKWOOD’S EDINBURGH MAGAZINE — which first appeared in April 1817 — was one of the first magazines to reach a national audience. It’s introduction helped pave the way for the popular fiction periodicals of the late nineteenth century. Pictured here is volume 4 of the magazine, dated October 1818 – March 1819. The image on the cover is an engraving of the 16th century Scottish historian George Buchanan. BLACKWOOD’S continued publication until 1980.

PEARSON’S MAGAZINE was one of the popular British fiction magazines that emerged during the late 1800s. Its first issue was dated January 1896. The magazine’s publisher, C. Arthur Pearson, was “fascinated with stories of the future and what science might bring. Hence, it comes as no surprise that H. G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds” was originally serialized in eight parts in PEARSON’S, running from April the December in 1897. It was illustrated by Warwick Goble. PEARSON’S ran for over 500 issues. Its last issue was date November 1939.

The December 1896 issue of THE ARGOSY, published by Frank A. Munsey, was the world’s first pulp fiction magazine. It would continue for nearly eighty years, ending as a “men’s adventure magazine.” It’s final issue was dated November 1978.

One of the most popular authors to appear in the Munsey magazines was undoubtedly Edgar Rice Burroughs. His adventure romance, “Tarzan of the Apes,” was published in its entirety in the October 1912 issue of THE ALL-STORY. The issue featured front cover art by Clinton Pettee who drew interior story illustrations for MUNSEY’S MAGAZINE and painted covers for such pulp magazines as THE ARGOSY,THE ALL-STORYTHE CAVALIER, and SHORT STORIES.)

 

Your Last Chance to Guess Our Guest’s Identity

Jan 10, 2016 by

Amazing Stories 26-04On Thursday evening, we drew your attention to the fact that we are planning to announce our convention’s 2016 guest of honor on Monday, January 11th. The news will be released here and on our social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. We also mentioned that we’re planning to offer a wide array of programming at PulpFest 2016, including salutes to the 150th anniversary of the birth of H. G. Wells — author of “The Time Machine,” “War of the Worlds,” and other classic science-fiction novels — and the 90th anniversary of the first science-fiction pulp, AMAZING STORIES.

As we mentioned in our post concerning THE ARGOSY  the first American periodical specifically designed for the common man — pulp magazines were named for the cheap paper on which they were printed. Nearly two decades after Frank A. Munsey pioneered the format in late 1896, the rough-paper periodicals began to specialize with the introduction of DETECTIVE STORY MAGAZINE by Street & Smith. During the 1920s more magazines geared toward specific genres were introduced: LOVE STORY, SEA STORIES, SPORT STORY MAGAZINE, GHOST STORIES, WAR STORIES, and others. The movement would culminate in single-character magazines such as THE SHADOW or DOC SAVAGE MAGAZINE.

It was hard to miss the inaugural issue of AMAZING STORIES — the first magazine to be geared toward the science-fiction reader. Larger than the typical pulp magazine with three-dimensional block letters trailing across its masthead, with a bright yellow backdrop that framed an alien landscape, a ringed planet and small moon, the magazine certainly stood out on the sales rack.

The names on the front cover of the early issues of AMAZING STORIES were also major selling points for the magazine: Edgar Rice Burroughs, A. Merritt, Edgar Allan Poe, Garrett P. Serviss, Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, and others. 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 generated through contests. 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.”

Amazing Stories 27-08It would be difficult to deny the importance of Herbert George Wells to the development of both science fiction and AMAZING STORIES. During his three years as editor and publisher of the first science-fiction magazine, Gernsback turned to Wells’ fictional output for nearly thirty stories, reprinting such tales as “The Country of the Blind,” “The Crystal Egg,” “The Empire of the Ants,” “The First Men in the Moon,” “The Invisible Man,” “The Island of Dr. Moreau,” “The Man Who Could Work Miracles,” “A Story of the Days to Come,” “The Time Machine,” “The Valley of the Spiders,” “The War of the Worlds,” and “When the Sleeper Wakes” in his magazine and its companion titles.

PulpFest 2016 will be celebrating both H. G. Wells and AMAZING STORIES at its convention in July. Please join us at “the pop culture center of the universe” for “Summer’s AMAZING Pulp Con,” from July 21st through July 24th in the Columbus, Ohio Arena district at the Hyatt Regency hotel and the city’s spacious convention center.

Here’s our final clue to the identity of our PulpFest 2016 guest of honor: in 1926, Hugo Gernsback introduced the reading public to the first science-fiction magazine, AMAZING STORIES. Since then, Gernsback’s magazine has inspired countless imitators. During our 2016 guest of honor’s career, he or she has also been associated with the science-fiction genre. Here’s your last chance to leave your guess to our special guest’s identity on our Facebook page. If you haven’t done so already, be sure to “like” us. We’ll provide a free membership to PulpFest 2016 to the first person who guesses the identity of this year’s honored guest. And remember to visit www.pulpfest.com on Monday, January 11th when we will reveal the identity of the PulpFest 2016 Guest of Honor.

(Frank R. Paul, the “grandfather of science-fiction art,” painted the covers to both the inaugural issue of AMAZING STORIES — dated April 1926 — and the August 1927 number of the magazine. The latter issue of the rough-paper periodical featured the first half of the classic H. G. Wells novel, “The War of the Worlds,” serialized by the magazine in two parts. Wells’ story of an alien invasion of planet Earth — originally published in PEARSON’S MAGAZINE in 1897 — is still enjoyed to this very day.)

The Munsey Magazines

Apr 15, 2014 by

All Story 1905-01Shortly after The Argosy had been converted to the first all-fiction magazine in 1896, and not long thereafter the first pulp magazine, its circulation had doubled to about 80,000 copies per issue. By 1907, the year the periodical celebrated its 25th anniversary, its circulation had reached a half million copies, earning its publisher about $300,000 per year.

From its beginning, The Argosy made a home for fantastic fiction, reprinting “Citizen 504,” a dystopian short story written by Charles H. Palmer, in the December 1896 issue. Other reprints, from a variety of sources would follow. As the century turned, original fiction of a fantastic nature began to appear in The Argosy, including works by Jared L. Fuller, Park Winthrop, and longtime dime novelist William Wallace Cook. Edgar Franklin Stearns also began to contribute his humorous fantasies concerning off-beat contraptions to the magazine.

As its readership grew, The Argosy was bound to attract some imitators. Street & Smith, the longtime publisher of dime novels and story papers, was first to meet the call, debuting The Popular Magazine with its November 1903 issue. As the circulation of the new magazine grew, it became apparent to Frank Munsey that there was room on the newsstand for more than one pulp. At the end of 1904, the publisher debuted The All-Story Magazine.

allstory_tarzanMore than any other periodical prior to the introduction of the specialized science-fiction and fantasy pulps, The All-Story became the major repository for the “different” tale or the pseudo-scientific yarn. It was soon joined by other Munsey magazines–The Scrap Book and The Railroad Man’s Magazine (both 1906), The Ocean/The Live Wire (1907), and The Cavalier (1908). All of these, The Cavalier in particular, published fantastic fiction. However, it was all but a prelude to the serial novel that would begin in the February 1912 issue of The All-Story– “Under the Moons of Mars”–credited to Norman Bean.

Bean’s novel—the first published fiction of Edgar Rice Burroughs—would introduce John Carter of Mars to readers. It would soon be followed by the author’s “Tarzan of the Apes,” published in its entirety in the October 1912 issue of The All-Story. These two novels, along with the pseudo-scientific works of H. G. Wells and his American disciple, George Allan England, would serve as templates for much of the science fiction written over the next twenty-five years, generating a type of fiction best known as “the scientific romance.” The Munsey chain in particular worked to develop this school of fiction, creating a stable of writers–Ray Cummings, J. U. Geisy, Victor Rousseau, Francis Stevens, Charles B. Stilson, and the best of all, Abraham Merritt–able to contribute such stories.

Adventure 1910-11Although the fiction of Burroughs and Wells and those “inspired” by their work would remain popular for some time to come, its share of the pulp market would diminish as new magazines began to arrive on the scene. Beginning with Adventure Magazine, introduced by the Ridgway Company in 1910, these specialized pulps lessened the attraction of the general fiction magazines for those who enjoyed a certain type of story–mystery, romance, western, or straight adventure. In not too many years, the fantasy and science-fiction fan would likewise be served.

To learn more about the images used in this post, click on the illustrations. Click here for references consulted for this article.

Prelude to the Pulps

Apr 7, 2014 by

Amazing_Stories 27-08As we learned in our April 4th post, “Origins of Science Fiction,” magazines began to reach a much wider audience as Europe and America became more industrialized. Increasingly urban and literate societies required cheap, entertaining, and easily accessible entertainment to escape the drudgery of the mills and offices. Since magazines could be produced cheaply and in a timely fashion, the last quarter of the nineteenth century became “The Age of the Storytellers.” Beginning around 1880, when Robert Louis Stevenson started to publish his first works of fiction, the world would witness the birth of the popular fiction magazine as well as the pulp magazine.

Strand 1891-07Stevenson’s “Treasure Island,” first serialized in 1881-82, helped to provide the spark for other authors to try their hand at similar fiction. Works such as H. Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines (1885), “She” (1886), and “Allan Quatermain” (1887), as well as Arthur Conan Doyle’s “A Study in Scarlet” (1887) demonstrated the need for an inexpensive, popular fiction magazine to be published on a regular basis. Shortly after Christmas in 1890, the first of these—The Strand Magazine—was launched by George Newnes. Filled with illustrations, the periodical really took off during the summer of 1891 with the start of Conan Doyle’s “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes,” introducing one of the most successful continuing character series of all time.

With the success of The Strand Magazine came a host of imitators, among them Pearson’s Magazine. It debuted in late 1895 and soon became one of the leading publishers of magazine science fiction, featuring the future war stories of George Griffith and the scientific romances of Herbert George Wells. “The War of the Worlds” and “The Invisible Man,” both originally published in Pearson’s in 1897, are still enjoyed today, over a century after their initial appearances. Educated in the sciences as well as a literary genius, Wells’ mastery of both science and fiction was readily apparent. His later science fiction, including “The First Men in the Moon” (1900-1901) and “The Country of the Blind “1904), would run in The Strand.

In our next installment, we’ll turn our attention across the pond where an American entrepreneur named Frank A. Munsey was busy turning a struggling magazine into the first American all-fiction magazine.

War of the Worlds

To learn more about the images used in this post, click on the illustrations. Click here for references consulted for this article.