The Time Machines: The Story of the Science-Fiction Pulp Magazines from the Beginning to 1950

The Time Machines: The Story of the Science-Fiction Pulp Magazines from the Beginning to 1950

The Time Machines: The Story of the Science-Fiction Pulp Magazines from the Beginning to 1950

The Time Machines: The Story of the Science-Fiction Pulp Magazines from the Beginning to 1950

Synopsis

This is the first of three volumes that chart the history of the science fiction magazine from the earliest days to the present. This first volume looks at the exuberant years of the pulp magazines. It traces the growth and development of the science fiction magazines from when Hugo Gernsback launched the very first, Amazing Stories, in 1926 through to the birth of the atomic age and the death of the pulps in the early 1950s. These were the days of the youth of science fiction, when it was brash, raw and exciting: the days of the first great space operas by Edward Elmer Smith and Edmond Hamilton, through the cosmic thought variants by Murray Leinster, Jack Williamson and others to the early 1940s when John W. Campbell at Astounding did his best to nurture the infant genre into adulthood. Under him such major names as Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, A. E. van Vogt and Theodore Sturgeon emerged who, along with other such new talents as Ray Bradbury and Arthur C. Clarke, helped create modern science fiction. For over forty years magazines were at the heart of science fiction and this book considers how the magazines, and their publishers, editors and authors influenced the growth and perception of this fascinating genre.

Excerpt

It has been over twenty-five years since I first prepared my History of the Science Fiction Magazine. Much has happened in the science-fiction world since then. Blockbuster movies such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Star Wars and ET have made science fiction popular and accessible. Computer games have brought an interaction between humans and technology greater than ever before. Now we are into virtual reality, where we and our simulated dream worlds can become as one. To many of us the worlds of science fiction are alive and all about us.

To a large extent the science-fiction magazine has become a strange anachronism in this world. Its demise was already being predicted 20 years ago, and yet it lives on. In those past 20 years magazines have been issued in tape format, back issues are available on microfilm and CD-ROM, and magazines have developed on the internet. Yet there is still a desire for the written word in magazine form, and for as long as that desire is sufficient to make the magazines pay for themselves, they will, I believe, continue to appear.

Unfortunately, whenever the science-fiction magazine receives any form of press coverage (and that isn't often), it tends to reflect the garish and sensational aspects. This attitude has not changed in the past 20 years, and much of my argument in the preface to the first volume of my History published back in 1974 remains valid. Science fiction is still not regarded as literature by most of the literary establishment, although it has achieved slightly more respectability in recent years as we have entered the high-tech age, and as its leading lights, especially Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke, have been acknowledged for their craft and predictions. In addition the more literary aspects of science fiction have been championed from both within, through writers such as Brian W. Aldiss, Robert Silverberg and Harlan Ellison, and without, through Kingsley Amis, Colin Wilson and Angela Carter, so that it has developed a veneer of respectability, although that respectability tends to cling more to the writer than to the subject.

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