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.”)

Visions of Bradbury: The Author at 100

May 1, 2020 by

Although he got his start as a writer of fantasy, horror, detective, and science fiction for the pulp magazines, author Ray Bradbury defied categorization. He referred to himself as a “magician of words.”

Bradbury was born on August 22, 1920, in Waukegan, Illinois and decided to become a writer around the age of twelve. From his earliest memories, he was a voracious reader and consumer of popular genre fiction (and the pulp magazines in which these stories flourished),
silent movies, radio programming, newspaper comic strips, circuses, magicians and more. From his earliest years forward, Ray Douglas Bradbury was enamored with the Buck Rogers newspaper strip and the works of Jules Verne, L. Frank Baum, Edgar Rice Burroughs and others.

After moving with his family 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 fantasy and science fiction, critiquing his stories, and simply telling the budding author to simply write and “shut up.”

Collaborating with Henry Hasse, Ray Bradbury sold his first story in 1941. Based on a work originally published in Bradbury’s self-published fanzine, FUTURE FANTASIA, “Pendulum” ran in the November 1941 issue of SUPER SCIENCE STORIES. The issue featured front cover art by Robert C.  Sherry. The Bradbury and Hasse team would sell two more collaborations before the younger Bradbury set off on his own.

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

In 1944, Ray Bradbury also began to contribute crime and detective fiction to DETECTIVE TALES, DIME MYSTERY MAGAZINE, NEW DETECTIVE MAGAZINE, and other pulps. At the urging of a friend, the young writer also started 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 (after being rejected by WEIRD TALES), found its way into the pages of THE O. HENRY PRIZE STORIES OF 1947.

As his fiction began to be read by a wider audience, Bradbury came to the attention of former COLLIER’S editor Don Congdon. About a year after writing Bradbury to express his admiration for the author’s work, Congdon became Ray Bradbury’s literary agent. During the summer of 1949, Bradbury’s 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?”

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

Other books would follow his Mars collection, including 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, as well as many others. Bradbury would also make significant contributions to ESQUIRE, GALAXY, THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION, PLAYBOY, THE 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.

On Friday, August 7, PulpFest 2020 welcomes Professor Garyn G. Roberts for “Visions of Bradbury: The Author at 100.” Bradbury’s pal for more than thirty years, Professor Roberts will discuss the Science Fiction Grand Master and “Poet of the Pulps,” beginning at 7:50 PM. Our 2013 Munsey Award winner promises to share many unique items that he collected during his long friendship with Ray Bradbury.

(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).

The November 1942 issue of WEIRD TALES — with cover art by Richard Bennett — features the first Ray Bradbury story to be published by “The Unique Magazine,” “The Candle.” The story’s ending was suggested by Bradbury’s mentor, Henry Kuttner.

Garyn G. Roberts, PH.D., has written extensively about the pulps, both professionally and as a fan. He has edited or co-edited some of the best collections from the pulps including A CENT A STORY: THE BEST FROM TEN DETECTIVE ACES, MORE TALES OF THE DEFECTIVE DETECTIVE IN THE PULPS, THE COMPLEAT ADVENTURES OF THE MOON MAN, THE MAGICAL MYSTERIES OF DON DIAVOLO, and THE COMPLEAT GREAT MERLINI SAGA.

Roberts’s anthology, THE PRENTICE HALL ANTHOLOGY OF SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY, a college level textbook, is notable for the attention paid to the pulp magazines. It was honored with the Ray and Pat Browne National Popular Culture Book Award. His comprehensive examination of Chester Gould’s creation, DICK TRACY AND AMERICAN CULTURE, was a Mystery Writers of American Edgar Allan Poe Award finalist.

Garyn regularly contributes research for, edits, and provides introductions for books by Battered Silicon Press Dispatch Box, Haffner Press, Steeger Books, and other publishers. He has published extensively on the life and works of his friends, Ray Bradbury and Robert Bloch, and often serves as a presenter and panelist at conventions.)

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/.)

Happy Labor Day from PulpFest

Sep 2, 2019 by

On this day when we honor working people, PulpFest is pleased to announce that the organizing committee is taking the day off.

Planning is well underway for PulpFest 2020. We’ll be returning to the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry in Mars, Pennsylvania. The convention will run from August 6 – 9, 2020.

It will be the 49th convening of the summertime pulp con.

We’ll be focusing on Bradbury, BLACK MASK, and Brundage. We may even throw in a touch of Brackett and Burroughs for good measure.

FarmerCon XV — saluting the life and legacy of Philip José Farmer — will also join us.

As always, expect a terrific dealers’ room and superb programming.

To keep informed about PulpFest 2020,  please bookmark pulpfest.com or like our Facebook page. Over on Twitter, catch our tweets. You’ll also find selected posts on various newsgroups, including Pulpmags. And don’t forget about our Instagram page! You’ll enjoy our take on the pulps and their offspring.

Having read this post, please take the rest of the day off. You deserve it!

(A New York City building manager and apartment rental agent, Albert Roanoke Tilburne began selling freelance illustrations to Popular Publications in 1935. He became a regular contributor to SHORT STORIES and WEIRD TALES during the late thirties. In 1947, he painted the cover for H. P. Lovecraft’s THE LURKING FEAR AND OTHER STORIES, published by Avon Books in 1947. After retiring from commercial illustration, he developed a reputation as a Western artist.

Tilburne contributed a total of ten covers — including the September 1944 number — to “The Unique Magazine.” Ray Bradbury’s Johnny Choir story — “Bang! You’re Dead!” — was featured in the issue.)

Children of the Pulps — Part Three

Jul 19, 2019 by

The stories and art of the pulp magazines have had a profound effect on popular culture across the globe. They have reverberated through a wide variety of media — comic books, movies, paperbacks and genre fiction, television, men’s adventure magazines, radio drama, and even video, anime, manga, and role-playing games.

Although science fiction can trace its roots to the imaginary voyages, satires, and utopias of the seventeenth century, scholars have repeatedly pointed to Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN  — originally published in 1818 — as the first science-fiction novel. Twenty-five years later — beginning with “MS. Found in a Bottle” — Edgar Allan Poe began to use logic and science to explain elements of his fantastic stories. The strength of Poe’s stories inspired authors around the world. One was Jules Verne, who introduced “precise, scientific details” into FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON, TWENTY THOUSAND LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA, and other tales.

As the 19th century progressed and more people were reading, magazines naturally developed a wider audience. For the more literary, there were titles such as BLACKWOOD’S MAGAZINE and HARPER’S NEW MONTHLY. For those with less refined tastes, there were dime novels, penny-dreadfuls, and story papers. It was in these publications that the “American Jules Verne,” Luis Senarens, developed the Frank Reade, Jr. series that featured steam-powered contraptions in exciting adventure yarns. During the late nineteenth century, the thrilling yarns of Robert Louis Stevenson and H. Rider Haggard, and later, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and H. G. Wells, helped to develop a market for the British popular fiction magazine. The United States would follow in late 1896 when Frank A. Munsey converted THE ARGOSY to an all-fiction, rough-paper magazine.

From its start as a pulp, THE ARGOSY was home to fantastic fiction, reprinting a dystopian short story in its first issue. Other works featured by the magazine included Park Winthrop’s “The Land of the Central Sun” and William Wallace Cook’s “A Round Trip to the Year 2000.”

Selling in the hundreds of thousands, THE ARGOSY was bound to generate 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. Munsey himself would be next in line, introducing THE ALL-STORY in late 1904.

More than any other pulp prior to the introduction of the science fiction and fantasy fiction magazines, THE ALL-STORY became the major repository for the “different” tale, the pseudo-scientific yarn, the scientific romance, or the “off-the-trail” story. In its February 1912 issue, the Munsey pulp would begin serializing Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “Under the Moons of Mars.” The author would follow with Tarzan of the Apes,” published in its entirety in the October 1912 number.

Burroughs’ two classics, along with the pseudo-scientific works of H. G. Wells and his American counterpart, George Allan England, would serve as templates for much of the science fiction written over the next twenty-five years, generating a type of story best known as “the scientific romance.” THE ALL-STORY editor Robert H. Davis, in particular, worked to develop this school of fiction, creating a stable of writers who could contribute such stories. Davis can very well be thought of as “The Grandfather of Science Fiction.”

Although the scientific romances published in the Munsey pulps remained popular, beginning in late 1915, a trend toward specialized magazines slowly emerged. Street & Smith’s DETECTIVE STORY MAGAZINE was the first successful specialty pulp. Over the next decade, magazines specializing in western fiction, love stories, sea yarns, and sports fiction would follow. In early 1923, a pulp devoted to the fantasy and horror genres — WEIRD TALES — would be launched.

In addition to publishing some of the best fantasy and supernatural fiction of the twentieth century, WEIRD TALES, like the Munsey magazines, featured science fiction in its pages. Edmond Hamilton — who began selling to the magazine in 1926 — was the pulp’s leading contributor of science fiction. With tales of super-science about alien invasions, space police, and evolution gone wild, the author became known as “World-Wrecker” Hamilton. Other notable science fiction contributors included Austin Hall, Otis Adelbert Kline, Frank Belknap Long, C. L. Moore, Donald Wandrei, Jack Williamson, and H. P. Lovecraft, spinning his own brand of science fiction in tales of cosmic horror.

Although science fiction was frequently found in its pages, WEIRD TALES was not the first specialized science fiction magazine. That was left for Hugo Gernsback to develop. Called “The Barnum of the Space Age” in 1963, Gernsback came to the United States in 1904. He began importing electronic parts and equipment and sold them via mail order catalog. Gernback’s catalog soon evolved into a magazine, MODERN ELECTRICS, selling for ten cents. In 1911, it began publishing fiction, serializing Gernsback’s own story, “Ralph 124C 41+,” in twelve parts.

In the spring of 1913, Gernsback began publishing a new science periodical, THE ELECTRICAL EXPERIMENTER. Before long, it was also publishing fiction alongside technical articles. Beginning with its August 1920 number, Gernback’s magazine became SCIENCE AND INVENTION.

The scientifically-trained Gernsback was committed to educating his audience about science and technology through the fiction he published. That all changed in early 1923 when — perhaps in an effort to boost circulation or to test the waters in the growing market for specialized fiction magazines — Gernsback began publishing fiction that was meant to entertain. He reprinted two short works by H. G. Wells, and later, new works by George Allan England and Ray Cummings. The August 1923 issue of SCIENCE AND INVENTION was a “Scientific Fiction Number.” It featured six “scientifiction” stories including “The Man from the Atom,” a short story by a new author, sixteen-year-old G. Peyton Wertenbaker.

SCIENCE AND INVENTION and his other technical magazines were mere stepping stones for Hugo Gernsback. In the spring of 1926, he introduced a full-fledged science fiction — or as he then termed it, “scientifiction” — magazine. It was hard to miss the first issue of AMAZING STORIES — dated April 1926 — on the newsstand. It was larger than the typical pulp magazine. Vivid, three-dimensional block letters trailed across its masthead, set against a bright yellow backdrop. Frank R. Paul’s cover art depicted a number of ice skaters, gliding in front of snow heaps crowned by two stranded sailing vessels. Looming behind this scene was a bright red, ringed planet and a small moon.

In 1987, the late Jack Williamson wrote: “I don’t think anybody today can entirely understand what it meant to me and many like me then . . . but we found sheer wonder in AMAZING STORIES, a rich new revelation of exciting things to come, a dazzling vision of new ideas and discoveries and inventions that could push our future frontiers wider, make all our lives richer.”

Within months of its introduction, AMAZING STORIES was selling over 100,000 copies of each issue. In establishing the first specialized science-fiction magazine, Gernsback had tapped a vein of wonder shared by lonely individuals scattered across the country, all of them prone to “imaginative flights of fancy.”

The names on the front covers of the early AMAZING STORIES were certainly major selling points: Edgar Rice Burroughs, A. Merritt, Edgar Allan Poe, Garrett P. Serviss, Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, and others. Gernsback also offered story contests. These helped him 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 the AMAZING STORIES letter column — “Discussions” — Hugo Gernsback also reeled readers into his world of wonder.

With the August 1928 number of AMAZING STORIES, Gernsback introduced his readers to E. E. “Doc” Smith’s “The Skylark of Space.” Also appearing in the issue was Philip Francis Nowlan’s “Armageddon — 2419 AD,” the first tale to feature Buck Rogers. These two “space operas” would color science fiction for well over a decade, turning the genre away from the Munsey type of story — popular with a wide range of readers, both male and female — and toward “that crazy Buck Rogers stuff.”

Although he introduced AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY in the winter of 1928, Hugo Gernsback was increasingly experiencing cash flow problems. Plowing money into his radio interests and paying very hefty salaries to his brother and himself, Gernsback’s Experimenter Publishing Company was forced into bankruptcy.

Although down but not out, Hugo Gernsback used assets tied to his importing and radio businesses to launch a new larger-sized pulp in May 1929. Called SCIENCE WONDER STORIES, Gernsback called the stories in his new magazine, “science fiction.” Unlike “scientifiction,” this name would stick.

With the growth of the science fiction field — both AMAZING and SCIENCE WONDER also issued quarterlies — other publishers began to notice the field. William Clayton — publisher of SNAPPY STORIES, RANCH ROMANCES, and other titles — was the first to take a bite. Not enamored with the Gernsback style of science fiction, Clayton was more interested in stories of action and adventure . . . “that crazy Buck Rogers stuff.” His new magazine would be called ASTOUNDING STORIES OF SUPER-SCIENCE. According to Alva Rogers:

ASTOUNDING was unabashedly an action adventure magazine and made no pretense of trying to present science in a sugar-coated form . . .  The amount of science found in its pages was minimal – just enough to support the action and little more. Lessons in science could be obtained in school or in text books; driving action and heroic adventure was what the reader of ASTOUNDING wanted. Interplanetary wars and space battles, hideous and menacing Bug Eyed Monsters . . . the courage, ingenuity and brains of a single puny man, or small group of men, pitted against the terrible might and overwhelming scientific knowledge of extraterrestrial aliens – with defeat the inevitable fate of the invaders: that was what set the reader’s pulse pounding. . . . Action was the hallmark of ASTOUNDING STORIES OF SUPER-SCIENCE.”

Although the early ASTOUNDING would serve as a repository for space battles and bug-eyed monsters, after it was acquired by Street & Smith in 1933, it would launch what has become known as Science Fiction’s Golden Age. Utilizing writers both old and new, editor John W. Campbell began to set the stage in 1938 and early 1939, publishing such stories as Lester Del Rey’s “Helen O’Loy,” Clifford D. Simak’s “Cosmic Engineers,” Don A. Stuart’s “Who Goes There?” and “Cloak of Aesir,” and Jack Williamson’s “The Legion of Time” and its sequel, “One Against the Legion.”

The July 1939 issue however, is cited most often as the start of the Golden Age of ASTOUNDING and, in turn, of science fiction. Behind a very effective cover by SHADOW cover artist Graves Gladney, the reader would find the first prose fiction by radio soap opera writer A. E. van Vogt as well as the young Isaac Asimov’s first story for ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION. August’s and September’s issues continued the trend with the first stories of Robert A. Heinlein and Theodore Sturgeon appearing in the magazine. October’s number began the serialization of E. E. Smith’s cosmic adventure, “Gray Lensman,” along with another tale by Heinlein.

The start of the new decade brought with it the flowering of Robert Heinlein as he contributed “Reqiem,” his first novel “If This Goes On—,” “The Roads Must Roll,” and “Blowups Happen.” L. Ron Hubbard’s “Final Blackout” as well as A. E. van Vogt’s “Slan,” were also serialized by Campbell during the year. 1941 continued apace with the first of Heinlein’s works as Anson McDonald—“Sixth Column,” “Solution Unsatisfactory,” and “By His Bootstraps”—as well as “—And He Built a Crooked House,” “Logic of Empire,” “Universe,” and “Methuselah’s Children,” all published under his own name. Heinlein however, was not alone in 1941. Leigh Brackett contributed “Martian Quest;” L. Sprague de Camp offered “The Stolen Dormouse;” Theodore Sturgeon shared “Microcosmic God;” Eric Frank Russell and A. E. van Vogt respectively produced the first tales in their “Jay Score” and “Weapon Shops” series; Isaac Asimov presented “Nightfall” and the first of his robot stories; and E. E. Smith began “Second Stage Lensmen.”

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION would continue to publish outstanding works of science fiction throughout World War II and for many years to come. More importantly, it would inspire new magazines dedicated to fantasy and science fiction — GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION, THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION, and others — and older magazines — including AMAZING STORIES and THRILLING WONDER STORIES — to step up their game and publish quality science fiction. We’re still enjoying the results eighty years after that momentous issue of ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION, dated July 1939.

Over the last three days, we’ve explored just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the profound effect of the stories and art of the pulp magazines on popular culture. THE SHADOWWEIRD TALES, and the early science fiction pulps are just a few of the many rough-paper magazines that have inspired pop culture creators over the decades. PulpFest 2019 will focus on the many ways pulp fiction and pulp art have inspired and continue to inspire creators.

We’re calling this year’s theme “Children of the Pulps and Other Stories,” with presentations on Zorro, Dashiell Hammett, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, Sherlock Holmes, THE TWILIGHT ZONE, and more. It’s all part of our examination of the pervasive influence of pulp magazines on contemporary pop culture. We hope you’ll join us from August 15 – 18 at the beautiful DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry in Mars, Pennsylvania.

(Soon after starting his monthly SCIENCE WONDER STORIES, Hugo Gernsback debuted a quarterly title. Its first issue was dated Fall 1929. After three quarterly issues, the “Science” was dropped from its title. In his editorial remarks published in the May 1930 issue of SCIENCE WONDER STORIES, Gernsback noted, “It has been felt for some time that the word “Science” has tended to retard the progress of the magazine, because many people had the impression that it is a sort of scientific periodical rather than a fiction magazine.” Although he continued to publish his science fiction magazine, future issues would feature a new title: WONDER STORIES. His quarterly was likewise retitled.

Frank R. Paul painted all of the covers for Hugo Gernsback’s WONDER STORIES QUARTERLY. We believe that that the artist’s cover for the Fall 1932 quarterly aptly depicts the “sheer wonder” that Jack Williamson and other readers found in the early science fiction pulps.

Unlike the Munsey pulps, THE POPULAR MAGAZINE offered a smattering of the fantastic over the years: H. Rider Haggard’s “Ayesha: The Further History of She,” Edgar Wallace’s “The Green Rust,” Fred MacIsaac’s “The Last Atlantide,” and Sean O’Larkin’s “Morgo the Mighty” are a few examples. The latter novel garnered the cover art on three of the four issues in which it was serialized. Howard V. Brown contributed the cover painting for the first installment, which ran in the second August 1930 number. It was one of very few fantastic covers to be featured on the Street & Smith pulp magazine.

Who knows whether the “Scientific Fiction Number” was an effort to boost circulation or to test the waters in the growing market for specialized fiction magazines? Unfortunately, Hugo Gernsback did not share that information. However, we do know that Howard V. Brown painted the cover for the August 1923 issue.

Not long after the appearance of the November 1928 number of AMAZING STORIES — with its wondrous Frank R. Paul cover — Gernsback’s printer demanded payment on past due bills. The publisher filed for bankruptcy. In early 1929, the Experimenter Publishing Company went into receivership. The last issue of AMAZING STORIES to be edited by Hugo Gernsback was dated April 1929.

Prior to creating the cover art for the first issue of ASTOUNDING STORIES OF SUPER-SCIENCE, H. W. Wessolowski had done a half-dozen covers for AMAZING STORIES and its quarterly companion. Beginning with the January 1930 number, he would become the primary cover artist for the Clayton science fiction pulp.

One of the many changes — or “mutations” as he called them — that John W. Campbell instituted at ASTOUNDING after taking over as editor in late 1937, was the hiring of long-time ADVENTURE artist, Hubert Rogers. The free-lance illustrator’s first cover was the February 1939 number. Eventually, he would paint nearly sixty covers for Campbell’s ASTOUNDING, including the April 1940 number, illustrating L. Ron Hubbard’s “Final Blackout.”

To learn more about the influence of the early science fiction pulps, please visit the PulpFest Instagram page.)

Children of the Pulps — Part Two

Jul 18, 2019 by

The stories and art of the pulp magazines have had a profound effect on popular culture across the globe. They have reverberated through a wide variety of media — comic books, movies, paperbacks and genre fiction, television, men’s adventure magazines, radio drama, and even video, anime, manga, and role-playing games.

WEIRD TALES was the first periodical to specialize in the fantasy and horror genres. Premiering in early 1923, its publishers envisioned “The Unique Magazine” as a place for a writer to be given “free rein to express his innermost feelings in a manner befitting great literature.” In reality, the early issues of the pulp were filled with ghost stories, the decision of the magazine’s editor, Edwin Baird. Far more interested in his company’s REAL DETECTIVE AND MYSTERY STORIES, Baird had little interest in fantastic fiction.

Although never a big moneymaker, WEIRD TALES came into its own in late 1924 when Farnsworth Wright was named the magazine’s editor. In the years ahead, the pulp would become admired for its fantasy and supernatural fiction, publishing the work of Robert E. Howard, H. P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, and later, Ray Bradbury. The magazine would also feature substantial efforts by Robert Bloch, August Derleth, Carl Jacobi, Henry Kuttner, Frank Belknap Long, C. L. Moore, Seabury Quinn, Manly Wade Wellman, Henry S. Whitehead, and others. It would likewise become noted for its artists. Hannes Bok, Margaret Brundage, Lee Brown Coye, and Virgil Finlay all contributed a great deal to the fantasy art field through their work for “The Unique Magazine.”

In addition to publishing some of the best fantasy and supernatural fiction of the twentieth century, WEIRD TALES, like the Munsey magazines, featured science fiction in its pages, offering tales of interplanetary expeditions, brain transference, death rays, lost races, parallel worlds, and more. Edmond Hamilton was its leading contributor of science fiction. With stories about alien invasions, space police, and evolution gone wild, the author became known as “world-wrecker” Hamilton. Other notable science fiction in the magazine included work by Austin Hall, Otis Adelbert Kline, C. L. Moore, Donald Wandrei, and Jack Williamson. H. P. Lovecraft also weaved his own style of science fiction into his tales of cosmic horror.

During the late summer of 1926, H. P. Lovecraft wrote “The Call of Cthulhu.” Initially rejected by WEIRD TALES editor Farnsworth Wright, it was first published in “The Unique Magazine” in its February 1928 issue. Although three minor, related stories predated it in what has come to be known as “The Cthulhu Mythos,” “The Call of Cthulhu” is one of the author’s seminal works. As writer and Lovecraft correspondent Fritz Leiber observed, “Here for the first time, Lovecraft moves horror from the realm of Earth to the stars.”

In the years remaining to Lovecraft following the publication of “The Call of Cthulhu,” he expanded on its themes in such tales as “The Whisperer in Darkness,” “At the Mountains of Madness,” and “The Shadow Out of Time,” depicting a universe of mind-numbing horror that was a reflection of his own materialistic atheism. Lovecraft also invited other writers to pen their own tales using the “synthetic folklore” he had created. “I think it is rather good fun to have this artificial mythology given an air of verisimilitude by wide citation.”  Robert Bloch, August Derleth, Robert E. Howard, Henry Kuttner, Frank Belknap Long, and Clark Ashton Smith were some of the WEIRD TALES writers who authored their own “Mythos” fiction.

In later years — particularly following the death of “the old gentleman” — August Derleth worked to expand Lovecraft’s so-called “mythos,” albeit shaping it in a way that some scholars claim corrupted the original vision. Although he may have twisted H. P. Lovecraft’s ideas, Derleth also helped to popularize the author’s work. His Arkham House Publishers significantly expanded Lovecraft’s reputation, bringing the “Mythos” under the microscope of both academic and amateur scholars. Lovecraft’s stories became more widely read and popular, leading to adaptations in a variety of media including motion pictures, television, comic books, role-playing and video games, and even action figures and other toys. His stories are known the world over and though he lived much of his life in poverty, Lovecraft’s words and ideas have been transformed into a multi-million-dollar industry.

Although an important contributor to Lovecraft’s “Mythos,” Robert E. Howard’s greatest contribution to fantastic fiction was through his tales of Solomon Kane, Kull, and most importantly, Conan.

Howard became a regular contributor to “The Unique Magazine” in 1928, the same year that his first Solomon Kane story — “Red Shadows” — appeared. Kull of Atlantis would follow in 1929. Three years later, the first tale of Conan — “The Phoenix on the Sword” — would appear in the December 1932 WEIRD TALES.

“Conan seemed suddenly to grow up in my mind without much labor on my part and immediately a stream of stories flowed off my pen — or rather, off my typewriter — almost without effort on my part. I did not seem to be creating, but rather relating events that had occurred. Episode crowded on episode so fast that I could scarcely keep up with them. For weeks I did nothing but write of the adventures of Conan. The character took complete possession of my mind and crowded out everything else in the way of story-writing.”

In the stories about Solomon Kane, Kull, and Conan, Robert E. Howard created a genre. As Fritz Leiber wrote in the July 1961 issue of AMRA:

“I feel more certain than ever that this field should be called the sword-and-sorcery story. This accurately describes the points of culture-level and supernatural element and also immediately distinguishes it from the cloak-and-sword (historical adventure) story — and (quite incidentally) from the cloak-and-dagger (international espionage) story too!”

More than ninety years after the first publication of “Red Shadows,” Robert E. Howard’s sword-and-sorcery stories continue to resonate through popular culture. They have inspired motion pictures, comic books, television and animated series, action figures, role-playing and video games, and even heavy metal music and a live-action show at Universal Studios Hollywood. Most importantly, his fiction has inspired other writers to spin their own sword-and-sorcery stories. Lin Carter, Glen Cook, John Jakes, Henry Kuttner, Fritz Leiber, Michael Moorcock, C. L. Moore, Charles Saunders, Karl Edward Wagner, and others have all contributed to the genre that Howard popularized.

Not long after Robert E. Howard’s death in 1936, his friend and correspondent H. P. Lovecraft wrote: “It is hard to describe precisely what made Mr. Howard’s stories stand out so sharply; but the real secret is that he himself is in every one of them.”

Along with Lovecraft’s “The Call of Cthulhu” and Howard’s “Red Shadows,” Clark Ashton Smith’s first story for “The Unique Magazine” also appeared in 1928. Smith was the third member of the WEIRD TALES triumvirate. However, he has not achieved the acclaim of Howard and Lovecraft.

Largely self-taught, Clark Ashton Smith spent the majority of his life in Auburn, California, dwelling in a small cabin erected by his parents. He began to write in his youth and gained some notoriety as a poet. His blank verse poem, “The Hashish Eater,” brought Smith to the attention of H. P. Lovecraft. The pair began exchanging letters. Later, Smith also began corresponding with Robert E. Howard.

The advent of The Great Depression and the declining health of both his parents led Smith to fiction writing. Beginning in 1930 and running through 1936, he published nearly ninety stories, mainly in WEIRD TALES, WONDER STORIES, and STRANGE TALES OF MYSTERY AND TERROR.

Although his work has rarely appeared outside the printed page — a few stories were adapted for television, movies, the graphic format, and role-playing games — the fiction of Clark Ashton Smith inspired other writers.

In a letter to Donald Sidney-Fryer, Harlan Ellison wrote:

“It is often impossible to say where a man’s inspirations come from, but in the lineal descent of my own writings, I have no hesitation in saying had it not been for Clark Ashton Smith and the wonders he revealed to me, at that precise moment of my youth in which I was most malleable, most desperate for direction, I might well have gone in any one of the thousand other directions taken by my contemporaries, and wound up infinitely poorer in spirit, intellect, prestige and satisfaction than I am today. As I owe a great debt to science fiction as a whole, to fandom as a particular, and to the other writers who encouraged me in my work . . . I owe the greatest of debts to Clark Ashton Smith, for he truly opened up the universe for me.”

Other writers who owe a debt to Smith include Fritz Leiber, George R. R. Martin, Michael Moorcock, Jack Vance, Gene Wolfe, and most notably, Ray Bradbury:

“Looking back on the years when I was eleven and twelve, I remember two stories. The first was “The City of the Singing Flame,” the second was “Master of the Asteroid.” Both were by Clark Ashton Smith. These stories more than any others I can remember had everything to do with my decision, while in the seventh grade, to become a writer. In the hardbound book field there were a few writers, of course, who set me going, but in the short-story form CAS stood alone on my horizon. He filled my mind with incredible worlds, impossibly beautiful cities, and still more fantastic creatures on those worlds and in those cities. . . . Take one step across the threshold of his stories, and you plunge into color, sound, taste, smell, and texture — into language.”

“The Unique Magazine” has been inspiring all sorts of creators for ninety-six years. However, WEIRD TALES is just one of the many rough-paper magazines that have inspired pop culture creators over the decades. PulpFest 2019 will focus on the many ways pulp fiction and pulp art have inspired and continue to inspire creators. We’re calling this year’s theme “Children of the Pulps and Other Stories,” an examination of the pervasive influence of pulp magazines on contemporary pop culture. We hope you’ll join us from August 15 – 18 at the beautiful DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry in Mars, Pennsylvania.

(The first issue of WEIRD TALES — dated March 1923 — featured cover art by R. R. Epperly. It is best remembered for publishing Anthony M. Rud’s “Ooze,” a story concerning a giant amoeba. Also featured in the issue were tales by pulpsters Otis Adelbert Kline, Joel Townsley Rogers, R. T. M. Scott, and Harold Ward. The issue was put together by Edwin Baird, the editor of the magazine until the November 1924 issue, when Wright took the helm.

Writer Alan Moore’s and artist Jacen Burrows’s PROVIDENCE  is a twelve-issue comic book series published by Avatar Press. According to the League of Comic Geeks, PROVIDENCE “deconstructs all of Lovecraft’s concepts, reinventing the entirety of his work inside a painstakingly researched framework of American history.” The series ran from 2015 through 2017.

Although Robert E. Howard’s work — particularly his Conan stories — had been collected in small press editions over the years, the Lancer and Ace paperback editions of 1966 – 1977 delivered the character to the masses. Lancer’s CONAN THE ADVENTURER — released in 1966 — was the first of the volumes. Undoubtedly, it was Frank Frazetta’s stunning cover artwork that initially sold the character to readers. However, it was Howard’s expressive writing that kept them clamoring for more.

C. C. Senf‘s cover for the January 1932 issue of WEIRD TALES is one of three illustrating a Clark Ashton Smith story. The others include the April 1938 issue, illustrating “The Garden of Adompha,” and the September 1947 number, illustrating “Quest of the Gazolba,” an abridged version of “The Voyage of King Euvoran.” The latter stories are beyond Smith’s period of active fiction-writing. By 1936, he had turned away from writing prose, concentrating instead on poetry, art, and sculpture.

To learn more about the influence of WEIRD TALES, please visit the PulpFest Instagram page.)

Major George Fielding Eliot at 125

Jun 21, 2019 by

Last year marked the centennial of the armistice that ended the First World War. PulpFest 2018 honored the hundredth anniversary of the war’s end by focusing on the so-called “war pulps” of the early twentieth century and the depiction of war in popular culture.

Major George Fielding Eliot was one of several prolific war fiction writers for the pulps. Born in Brooklyn on June 22, 1894, he emigrated with his parents to Australia when he was eight years old. While attending the University of Melbourne, he joined the school’s cadet corps. A regimental commander upon graduating, Eliot enlisted as a second lieutenant in the Australian army in 1914. Wounded twice and gassed, Eliot saw action in the ill-fated Gallipoli Campaign and on the western front. He was an acting major at war’s end.

Following the First World War and a two-year stint with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Eliot returned to the United States and worked as an accountant and auditor. He also enlisted in the Army Reserve, serving in military intelligence. He rose to the rank of major.

Eliot began writing fiction for the pulps in 1926. He continued to do so until the early years of the Second World War. After the war, he occasionally published a story in the men’s adventure magazines and detective digests.

Best known in pulp circles as the creator of FBI Special Agent Dan Fowler, Eliot wrote primarily for the war and air war magazines. His fiction appeared in BATTLE ACES, BATTLE BIRDS, BATTLE STORIES, DARE-DEVIL ACES, FLYING ACES, THE LONE EAGLE, NAVY STORIES, OVER THE TOP, SKY BIRDS, SKY FIGHTERS, SKY RIDERS, SUBMARINE STORIES, WAR BIRDS, and Dell Publishing’s WAR NOVELS and WAR STORIES. The Major also wrote for ADVENTURE, ARGOSY, BLUE BOOK, THE DANGER TRAIL, DETECTIVE-DRAGNET, FIVE-NOVELS MONTHLY, NICK CARTER MAGAZINE, POPULAR DETECTIVE, THE SAINT, SPY NOVELS, SPY STORIES, THRILLING ADVENTURE, THRILLING RANCH STORIES, WEST, WESTERN ROMANCES, WESTERN TRAILS, and others. For Standard Magazines’ G-MEN, Eliot wrote fourteen of the first 23 Dan Fowler adventures, including the first four stories of the series. They were published under the C. K. M. Scanlon house name.

Several of Eliot’s crime novels were also published in hardcover. His FEDERAL BULLETS was adapted and released by Monogram in 1937. It starred Milburn Stone as Federal Agent Tommy Thompson.

After moving to New York City in 1928, Eliot began to contribute non-fiction articles to such periodicals as INFANTRY JOURNAL and the NAVAL INSTITUTE PROCEEDINGS. In 1937, he co-authored the book IF WAR COMES, with Major R. Ernest Dupuy. His follow-up — THE RAMPARTS WE WATCH: A STUDY OF THE PROBLEMS OF AMERICAN NATIONAL DEFENSE — appeared a year later. He also wrote about war and military strategy for THE AMERICAN MERCURY, CURRENT HISTORY, FOREIGN AFFAIRS, LIFE, HARPER’S MAGAZINE, and SEE.

According to his obituary in THE NEW YORK TIMES, “Major Eliot was a military correspondent and analyst during World War II for THE NEW YORK HERALD TRIBUNE and the Columbia Broadcasting System. He wrote a syndicated military affairs column for seventeen years until 1967 and also was military editor of COLLIER’S ENCYCLOPEDIA. . . . From the outbreak of the war in 1939 until 1947, his column on military affairs appeared daily in THE HERALD TRIBUNE and 34 other papers, and was said to have had five million readers. In addition, Mr. Eliot was the author of a shelf of books on military topics and an indefatigable speaker, in constant demand on lecture platforms around the country. . . . Overall, Americans were heartened by Major Eliot’s writings, speeches and radio commentaries.”

On December 7, 1941, Major Eliot participated in WCBW’s historic broadcast concerning the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He was also a broadcast correspondent from London with Edward R. Murrow in 1939, and part of the live CBS coverage of the D-Day invasion on December 6, 1944. He also contributed a regular military affairs column to ARGOSY from early 1944 through mid-1945. THE NEW YORK TIMES called him “the dean of military analysts during World War II.”

Major George Fielding Eliot died on April 21, 1971, following a long illness.

(“The Copper Bowl” — one of just four tales written by Major George Fielding Eliot  for “The Unique Magazine” — is probably his best known and most widely read story. Often reprinted — most recently by Otto Penzler in his 2017 anthology, THE BIG BOOK OF ROGUES AND VILLAINS — the story was originally published in the December 1928 issue of WEIRD TALES. Editor Farnsworth Wright decided to run it a second time in the December 1939 WEIRD TALES, featuring front cover art by Hannes Bok. The artist’s painting illustrates David H. Keller’s novella, “Lords of the Ice,” the story of “a war-mad world.”

Al Hirschfeld’s drawing of Major George Fielding Eliot was part of a series of post cards published by CBS in 1944. Hirschfeld’s illustrations were used by CBS to advertise their radio programming in newspapers and magazines.)

Two Sought Adventure

May 31, 2019 by

Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser faced each other across the two thieves sprawled senseless. They were poised for attack, yet for the moment neither moved.

Each discerned something inexplicably familiar in the other.

Fafhrd said, “Our motives for being here seem identical.”

“Seem? Surely must be!” the Mouser answered curtly, fiercely eyeing this potential new foe, who was taller by a head than the tall thief.

“You said?”

“I said, ‘Seem? Surely must be!”

“How civilized of you!” Fafhrd commented in pleased tones.

“Civilized?” the Mouser demanded suspiciously, gripping his dirk tighter.

“To care, in the eye of action, exactly what’s said,” Fafhrd explained. Without letting the Mouser out of his vision, he glanced down. His gaze traveled from the belt and pouch of one fallen thief to those of the other. Then he looked up at the Mouser with a broad, ingenous smile.

“Sixty, sixty?” he suggested.

The Mouser hesitated, sheathed his dirk, and rapped out, “A deal!”

 

Eighty Years of Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser

 

Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser first met in the story, “Ill Met in Lankhmar,” published in the April 1970 issue of THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION. Fritz Leiber’s story won both the 1970 Nebula and 1971 Hugo awards in the novella category. However, the characters had been created decades earlier, in a 1934 letter that the beginning author received from his friend, Harry Otto Fischer:

“For all do fear the one known as the Gray Mouser. He walks with a swagger ‘mongst the bravos, though he’s but the stature of a child. His costume is all of gray, from gauntlets to boots and spurs of steel.”

 

Of Fafhrd he wrote that he laughed merrily and was “full seven feet in height. His eyes wide-set, were proud and of fearless mien. His wrist between gauntlet and mail was white as milk and thick as a hero’s ankle.”

 

They met “in the walled city of the Tuatha De Danann called Lankhmar, built on the edge of the Great Salt Marsh . . . and so the saga of the Gray Mouser and Fafhrd was begun.”

After further correspondence with his friend, Fritz Leiber began working on a novella, finishing it in early 1936. It was rejected by Farnsworth Wright of WEIRD TALES as being too full of “stylistic novelties.” Following several revisions, the author showed his manuscript to H. P. Lovecraft, who wrote:

“There will shortly be circulated among the gang . . . a remarkable unpublished novelette by young Leiber — “Adept’s Gambit,” rejected by Wright and now under revision according to my suggestions. It is a brilliant piece of fantastic imagination — with suggestions of Cabell, Beckford, Dunsany, and even Two-Gun Bob — and ought to see publication some day.”

Although the initial tale of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser would not be published until 1947 in NIGHT’S BLACK AGENTS, pulp readers would be introduced to the characters in the August 1939 UNKNOWN. Beginning with “Two Sought Adventure,” the Street & Smith pulp would publish five of Leiber’s tales of the two adventurers. In later years, the stories would be featured in COSMOS SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY MAGAZINE, DRAGON, THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION, OTHER WORLDS, SUSPENSE MAGAZINE, WHISPERS, and, most importantly, FANTASTIC and Donald Wollheim’s Ace Books.

“Two comrades to the death and black comedians for all eternity, lusty, brawling, wine-bibbing, imaginative, romantic, earthy, thievish, sardonic, humorous, forever seeking adventure across the wide world, fated forever to encounter the most deadly of enemies, the most fell of foes, the most delectable of girls, and the most dire of sorcerers and supernatural beasts and other personages.”

Join PulpFest 2019 on Thursday, August 15, as we welcome fantasy and horror writer Jason Scott Aiken and sword and sorcery expert Morgan Holmes, for “Two Sought Adventure — Eighty Years of Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser.” Dr. Holmes is the former official editor of the Robert E. Howard United Press Association and was nominated for a Hugo award in 2016 as Best Fan Writer.

PulpFest 2019 will begin on Thursday, August 15, and run through Sunday, August 18.  Join PulpFest at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry, just north of Pennsylvania’s “Steel City” of Pittsburgh. We’ll be celebrating “Children of the Pulps and Other Stories” at this year’s gathering. Click our Programming button below our homepage banner to get a preview of all the great presentations at this year’s event.

To join PulpFest 2019, click the Register button below our homepage banner. To book a room at the DoubleTree by Hilton — our host hotel — click the Book a Room button, also found on our homepage.

 

(Although the Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser series began in the pulp UNKNOWN, it was Cele Goldsmith of FANTASTIC who took a gamble and commissioned Fritz Leiber to author a new series of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories. The first of these was “Lean Times in Lankhmar,” published in the November 1959 issue. FANTASTIC would run eleven tales featuring Leiber’s two comrades, concluding with “Under the Thumbs of the Gods,” published in the April 1975 number, featuring front cover art by Stephen E. Fabian.

Around 1967, Donald A. Wollheim asked Leiber to put the Fafhrd and Gray Mouser tales “into chronological order and write new ones to fill in the gaps.” The result was a series of six paperbacks, beginning with SWORDS AND DEVILTRY — with cover art by Jeffrey Catherine Jones — first published by Ace Books in 1970.

A seventh book of stories — THE KNIGHT AND KNAVE OF SWORDS — was published in 1988 by William Morrow and Company.)

Born Writing: The Unparalleled Career of Arthur J. Burks

May 24, 2019 by

Pulp writer Arthur J. Burks was fated to be better known for the quantity of his output than the quality of his fiction. A familiar name on many pulp covers, he was a highly effective storyteller who authored approximately 800 stories. On Saturday, August 17, at Pulpfest 2019, the 2004 recipient of the Lamont award, pulp authority John Locke will host a presentation, “Born Writing: The Unparalleled Career of Arthur J. Burks.” We’re all familiar with the amazing million-word-a-year men of the pulps. This talk will focus on how Burks became one of them.

Burks was born to a farming family in Washington state on September 13, 1898. During World War I, he enlisted in the Marine Corps as a private; after rejoining the Corps during World War II, he retired a Lieutenant Colonel. His real passion, though, was writing. While stationed in the Dominican Republic from 1921-24, he witnessed strange things which gave him material for his first professional sales, to a new magazine, WEIRD TALES. In the 1930s, his work seemed to be everywhere. He wrote countless adventure, aviation, boxing, detective, and weird menace tales for AIR STORIES, ASTOUNDING STORIES, FIGHT STORIES, GANGSTER STORIES, MARVEL SCIENCE STORIES, POPULAR DETECTIVE, SKY FIGHTERS, SPORT STORY MAGAZINE, STRANGE TALESTERROR TALES, THRILLING ADVENTURES, THRILLING WONDER STORIES, UNKNOWN, and many others. Burks’ series characters include deaf detective Ewart D’Strange, flyer The Winged Cavalier, New York Chinatown detective Dorus Noel, and gangland boxer Kid Friel.

His friendship with L. Ron Hubbard in the 1930s triggered Burks’s interest in the paranormal and metaphysics. By the 1960s, he was a popular fixture on the lecture circuit, sharing his knowledge with the curious and skeptical alike. Much of Burks’ fantasy fiction centers on the metaphysical. One of his best known works (and one of the few to be published in book form), THE GREAT MIRROR (1942), concerns Martian technology utilized by Tibetan monks to foster ESP and matter transmission.

A writer to the very end, Burks died at age 75 on May 13, 1974.

We hope you’ll join pulp historian John Locke — the world’s foremost Burkologist — at PulpFest 2019 for this very special hour-long presentation on the career of the highly prolific and vastly underappreciated Arthur J. Burks.

PulpFest 2019 will begin on Thursday, August 15, and run through Sunday, August 18.  Join PulpFest at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry, just north of Pennsylvania’s “Steel City” of Pittsburgh in Mars, PA. We’ll be celebrating “Children of the Pulps and Other Stories” — focusing on the pulp influences in popular culture — at this year’s gathering. Click our Programming button below our homepage banner to get a preview of all the great presentations at this year’s event.

To join PulpFest 2019, click the Register button below our homepage banner. To book a room at the DoubleTree by Hilton — our host hotel — click the Book a Room button, also found on our homepage.

(Arthur J. Burks was a prolific and successful pulp writer who usually wrote over one million words per year. He wrote hundreds of stories for the adventure, aviation, detective, fantasy, science fiction, sports, war, and weird menace pulps.

Burks wrote fourteen stories for ASTOUNDING STORIES and its later incarnation, ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION. Most of these tales were of novella or longer length. “The Mind Master” — a two-part serial featured in the January (with cover art by H. W. Wessolowski) and February 1932 issues — concerns a mad scientist who replaces the brains of several apes with human brains. It’s part of a short series that Burks began in 1931 with the story, “Manape the Mighty.”)

120 Years of Arthur J. Burks

Sep 10, 2018 by

Arthur J. Burks was born September 13, 1898. While his name may not be familiar to the more casual pulp fan, he was a prolific and successful pulp writer who authored more than 800 stories (and possibly as many as 1400 when his many pseudonyms are taken into account). Burks was one of a number of pulp writers who distinguished themselves by averaging more than one million words per year. Regardless of the precise amount of his output, he was a prodigious and highly inventive storyteller.

Born to a farming family in Washington state, Burks was a veteran of both World Wars and retired from the service at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. While stationed in the Caribbean, he witnessed voodoo rituals which inspired his second career as a pulp writer beginning in 1920. Burks wrote countless weird menace, adventure, detective, aviation, and boxing stories for WEIRD TALES, ASTOUNDING STORIES, THRILLING WONDER STORIES, STRANGE TALES, SCIENCE FICTION QUARTERLY, MARVEL SCIENCE STORIES, and many others.

Burks’ series characters included Chinatown detective Dorus Noel and boxer Kid Friel. Burks died at age 75 in May 1974. He remained a writer to the very end. He concentrated on the paranormal and metaphysics beginning in the 1960s and became a popular fixture on the lecture circuit sharing his knowledge with the curious and skeptical alike and offering readings. Much of Burks’ fantasy fiction centers on the metaphysical. One of his best known works (and one of the few to be published in book form), THE GREAT MIRROR (1942) concerns Martian technology utilized by Tibetan monks to foster ESP and matter transmission.

Burks married at age nineteen. He and his wife raised four children. While not one of the legendary names in the pulp world, his work in so many genres and under so many pseudonyms made him a fixture during the golden age of pulp and beyond.

Keep watching our website for more on the pulp greats. Then plan to attend next year’s PulpFest. We’ll be highlighting the many ways that pulp fiction and pulp art have inspired writers, artists, film directors, software developers, game designers, and other creators over the decades. PulpFest 2019 will take place August 15 – 18 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry.

(Arthur J. Burks penned some of WEIRD TALE’s best macabre stories during its early years, including “The Ghosts of Steamboat Coulee” and “Bells of Oceana.” His science fiction story,”The Invading Horde,” was published in the November 1927 number. The cover art for the issue was created by C. C. Senf, the artist who painted most of covers for”The Unique Magazine” from early 1927 through mid-1932.)