Super Science Stories
Super Science Stories was an American
Super Science Stories was an initial success, and within a year Popular increased Pohl's budget slightly, allowing him to pay a bonus rate on occasion. Pohl wrote many stories himself, to fill the magazine and to augment his salary. He managed to obtain stories by writers who subsequently became very well known, such as
The magazine was never regarded as one of the leading titles of the genre, but has received qualified praise from science fiction critics and historians. Science fiction historian Raymond Thompson describes it as "one of the most interesting magazines to appear during the 1940s", despite the variable quality of the stories. Critics
Although science fiction (sf) had been published before the 1920s, it did not begin to coalesce into a separately marketed genre until the appearance in 1926 of
|Issues of the first run of Super Science Stories, showing volume/issue|
number. The colors identify the editors for each issue: Frederik Pohl until
August 1941, and Alden H. Norton for the remaining issues.
Popular was uncertain of the sales potential for the two new titles and decided to publish them under its Fictioneers imprint, which was used for lower-paying magazines. Super Science Stories' first issue was dated March 1940; it was bimonthly, with Astonishing Stories appearing in the alternate months. In Pohl's memoirs he recalls
By reducing the space he needed to fill with fiction Pohl managed to stretch his budget. A long letter column took up several pages but required no payment, and neither did running advertisements for Popular's other magazines. Some authors sent inaccurate word counts with the stories they submitted, and savings were made by paying them on the basis of whichever word count was less—the author's or one done by Popular's staff. The result was a saving of forty to fifty dollars per issue. Snipped elements of black and white illustrations were also reused to fill space, as multiple uses of the same artwork did not require additional payments to the artist.
Towards the end of 1940 Popular doubled Pohl's salary to twenty dollars per week.[notes 4] In June 1941 Pohl visited Steeger to ask for a further raise, intending to resign and work as a free-lance writer if he was unsuccessful. Steeger was unreceptive, and Pohl commented later "I have never been sure whether I quit or got fired".[notes 5] Instead of replacing Pohl, Popular assigned editor-in-chief Alden H. Norton to add the magazines to his responsibilities. The arrangement lasted for seven months, after which Norton asked Pohl to return as his assistant. Norton offered Pohl thirty-five dollars a week as an associate editor, substantially more than the twenty dollars a week he had received as editor, and Pohl readily accepted.
Pohl was not eligible to be drafted for military service as he was married, but by the end of 1942 his marriage was over and he decided to enlist. As voluntary enlistment was suspended he was unable to immediately join the army, but eventually was inducted on April 1, 1943. Paper was difficult to obtain because of the war, and Popular decided to close the magazine down; the final issue, dated April 1943, was assembled with the assistance of
|Issues of the second run of Super Science Stories, showing volume/issue|
number. Ejler Jakobsson was editor throughout.
In late 1948, as a second boom in science fiction publishing was beginning, Popular decided to revive the magazine. Jakobsson later recalled hearing about the revival while on vacation, swimming in a lake, five miles from a phone: "A boy on a bicycle showed on shore and shouted, 'Call your office.'" When he reached a phone, Norton told him that the magazine was being relaunched and would be given to Jakobsson to edit.