Miles J. Breuer
MICHAEL R. PAGE
In March 1926 a new magazine appeared on newsstands with a wondrous cover that showed skaters gliding on a sheet of ice with a Saturn-like planet looming in the background, and it featured classic stories by H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, Edgar Allan Poe, and others. This was the April 1926 issue of Amazing Stories, and with its appearance a new literary genre, science fiction, was born. Well… not quite. Science fiction had been around since the early nineteenth century when Mary Shelley published her classic novel Frankenstein in 1818 and had been a recognizable, but still largely undefined, genre when Verne penned his Voyages extraordinaries from 1864 to the end of the nineteenth century and Wells produced his scientific romances and stories in the 1890s. The selection of reprinted stories that Hugo Gernsback included in Amazing’s first issue, and those he published over the course of the rest of 1926, bear this out. Still, Gernsback’s Amazing Stories was the first magazine devoted exclusively to science fiction (called “scientifiction” in the early years), and in its pages the genre, particularly in its American idiom, was formed and defined.
Gernsback was an innovative publisher, with a special interest in radio and electronics, who had published several technological magazines since the first decade of the new century, starting with Modern Electrics in 1908. When Modern Electrics ended its run in 1913, Gernsback started a new magazine called Electrical Experimenter, which eventually morphed into Science and Invention in 1920. In these magazines Gernsback often included fiction and even published his