History of US science fiction and fantasy magazines to 1950 | boom continues

Boom continues

First issue of Science Fiction Quarterly, in 1940; cover art by Jack Binder

The boom in sf magazine publishing continued into 1940, Standard Magazines adding yet another title to Mort Weisinger's portfolio. This was Captain Future, a hero pulp with simple space opera plots in which Captain Future and his friends saved the solar system or the entire universe from a villain. Nearly all the lead novels were written by Edmond Hamilton. It appeared quarterly, the first issue dated Winter 1940.[105] Standard's sf titles were unabashedly aimed at young readers, with patronizing gimmicks such as "Sergeant Saturn", who answered readers' letters in all three magazines.[106]

Captain Future was followed by Astonishing Stories and Super Science Stories, two new titles from Popular Publications, a well-established pulp publisher. Both magazines were bimonthly, Astonishing's first issue dated February 1940, and Super Science Stories appearing the following month; and both were edited by nineteen-year-old Frederik Pohl—he had shown up at Popular's offices looking for editorial work just as they were considering starting a new magazine, and left as the editor of both new titles. Pohl had a very limited budget, but his contacts with other budding sf writers such as Cyril Kornbluth and James Blish meant he was able to find surprisingly good material. Popular paid promptly, which was more than could be said for some of the other publishers, and so despite the low rates Pohl soon began to see submissions that had been rejected by Campbell at Astounding but not sent anywhere else. As a result, he occasionally printed material by some of the Astounding regulars, including "Genus Homo", a collaboration between L. Sprague de Camp and P. Schuyler Miller, and "Lost Legion", by Robert A. Heinlein.[107]

In mid-1940 Louis Silberkleit, who already had two titles on the market (Science Fiction and Future Fiction, both edited by Charles Hornig), added a third, titled Science Fiction Quarterly, with the intention of including a full-length novel in every issue. Silberkleit obtained reprint rights to some of the lead novels from Gernsback's Science Wonder Quarterly that had appeared a decade earlier. The new magazine was added to Hornig's responsibilities, but by the end of the year Hornig had moved to California and all three titles were given to Robert W. Lowndes to edit.[108] Mid-1940 also saw Munsey launch Fantastic Novels, a companion to Famous Fantastic Mysteries; like Science Fiction Quarterly it was planned as a vehicle for novel-length works, though in this case the novels were reprints from Munsey's backlog.[97]

May 1941 issue of Cosmic Science Fiction; cover art by Hannes Bok

In December 1940 the first issue of Comet appeared. This saw the return to the field of F. Orlin Tremaine, who had been influential in the mid-1930s when he edited Astounding.[109] The publisher, H-K Publications, was owned by Harold Hersey, who had previously been involved with several failed magazines—The Thrill Book, Ghost Stories, Miracle Science and Fantasy Stories, and Flash Gordon Strange Adventures. Tremaine had a relatively high budget for fiction compared to many of the new magazines, but this may have put Comet under greater financial pressure, and it only survived for five issues, ceasing publication with the July 1941 issue.[109]

Two more magazines appeared in early 1941, Stirring Science Stories and Cosmic Stories, on alternating months, starting in February. These were published by a father and son operating under the name of Albing Publications; they had almost no capital, but persuaded Donald Wollheim to edit the magazine for no salary at all, with no budget for fiction. The plan was to start paying contributors once the magazine was profitable. Like Pohl, Wollheim knew several budding writers who were willing to donate stories, and managed to acquire some good fiction, including "Thirteen O'Clock" and "The City in the Sofa", by Kornbluth, which Ashley describes as "enjoyable tongue-in-cheek fantasies". In the event only six issues appeared in 1941 before Albing failed financially, though Wollheim was able to find another publisher for one more issue of Stirring in March 1942.[110]

The final magazine to launch during 1941 was titled Uncanny Stories, published by the Goodman brothers. Marvel Science Stories ceased publication in 1941, and Uncanny was probably created to use up some remaining stories in its inventory. It was dated the same month as the last issue of Marvel: April 1941, and contained little worthwhile; Ashley comments that the lead story, "Coming of the Giant Germs" by Ray Cummings, was "one of his most appalling stories".[111]

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