Harry Bates (author)

Harry Bates
BornHiram Gilmore Bates III
(1900-10-09)October 9, 1900
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
DiedSeptember 1981 (80)
New York
Pen nameAnthony Gilmore, H.G. Winter, A.R. Holmes
Occupationeditor, author
NationalityAmerican
Period1930–1953
GenreScience fiction
Notable works"Farewell to the Master"
Notable awardsFirst Fandom Hall of Fame
1976
[1]

Hiram Gilmore "Harry" Bates III (October 9, 1900 – September 1981) was an American science fiction editor and writer. His short story "Farewell to the Master" (1940) was the basis of the well-known science fiction movie The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951).

Biography

Harry Bates was born Hiram Gilmore Bates III on October 9, 1900 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He began working for William Clayton in the 1920s as the editor of adventure pulp magazines. When Clayton proposed a period adventure magazine, Bates suggested several alternatives that he said would be easier to edit, and Astounding Science Fiction was the result. Bates, who was not a fan of science fiction,[2] edited the magazine from its inception in January 1930 until March 1933, when Clayton went bankrupt and the magazine was sold to Street and Smith. During that time, he edited other magazines for Clayton, including Strange Tales, intended to compete with Weird Tales.

Bates believed the science fiction stories of the time were poorly written: "Amazing Stories! Once I had bought a copy. What awful stuff I'd found it! Cluttered with trivia! Packed with puerilities. Written by unimaginables! But now at the memory I wondered if there might be a market for a well-written magazine on the Amazing themes." Bates wrote that the "science fiction of the early writers had little relation to science of the scientists." What science fiction writers did was to "extrapolate" and not "relate" because "almost all of what is called science fiction is fantasy and nothing else but."

In 1964, Bates recalled his editorship of Astounding: "Long ago I was a party to the genesis of a magazine which persisted through thirty years and thirty millions of words. ... Astounding was a living being. I served it in its infancy and childhood, Orlin Tremaine brought it through youth and adolescence, John Campbell guided it through adulthood and maturity."

Clayton was willing to pay four times the rates offered by Hugo Gernsback's rival Amazing Stories. Bates had a different opinion of science fiction than Gernsback. Bates felt that the science needed to be exciting but not necessarily accurate[citation needed] and that story and pacing were more important.

Using the pseudonyms Anthony Gilmore and H.G. Winter, Bates and his assistant editor Desmond Winter Hall collaborated on the "Hawk Carse" series and other stories. In 1952, the Hawk Carse stories were collected in Space Hawk: The Greatest of Interplanetary Adventurers. Bates's most famous story is "Farewell to the Master" (Astounding, October 1940), which was the basis for the well-known science fiction movie of 1951, The Day the Earth Stood Still, as well as the 2008 remake and the 1973 Marvel Comics Worlds Unknown series adaptation.

Bates recalled the creation of the Hawk Carse science fiction series in Requiem for Astounding (1964): "From the beginning I had been bothered by the seeming inability of my writers to mix convincing character with our not-too-convincing science; so after nearly two years, with the double hope of furnishing the writers an example of a vivid hero and villain and my readers a whopping hero versus villain, I generated the first Hawk Carse story."

Two novellas by Bates appeared in Gernsback's Science-Fiction Plus, edited by Sam Moskowitz. "The Death of a Sensitive" (May, 1953) was ranked by Moskowitz as the best story he ever published in the magazine. Both Gernsback and Moskowitz, however, wanted changes in "The Triggered Dimension" (December 1953). Bates agreed to make the changes and arrived at the magazine's offices at 25 West Broadway to do the revisions.

That same year Moskowitz began teaching what is believed to be the first college course on science fiction at City College. Bates had agreed to speak as a guest lecturer for the first class. As retaliation for the revision of his story, however, Bates intentionally did not go to the class, resulting in considerable awkwardness for Moskowitz. Moskowitz recalled later:

Seven years later, I received a letter from Harry Bates dated October 2, 1960. In essence, it revealed that Bates was now totally disabled due to progressive arthritis and was trying to get early Social Security at 60. He had a doctor's statement that he was suffering from that condition at present, but they wanted proof that it was progressive and prevented him from writing stories for income. He asked if I would be willing to supply a statement that he had written stories for me with the greatest difficulty. He didn't know if he had ever mentioned it to me, but any validation would help. It so happened that he had shown me his swollen knuckles in 1953, but beyond that, I had a letter from him describing the difficulty, written earlier that year. I mailed him back the letter, for which I still had the dated envelope, and he got his Social Security—- his only income for the next 20 years! Christmas of 1962 I received a card from him on which he scrawled: "I ain't mad at you no more."[3]

In 1964, Bates contributed an introductory essay, Editorial Number One, "To Begin", along with John W. Campbell, to A Requiem for Astounding by Alva Rogers, which examined the history of the science fiction magazine Astounding.

Harry Bates died in September, 1981, at the age of 80.

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