Bea Mahaffey (1928–1987) was an American science fiction fan and editor. She met Raymond Palmer in 1949 at the World Science Fiction Convention in Cleveland, and was hired to assist him at Clark Publications, his publishing company. She worked on Other Worlds from May 1950; Palmer was incapacitated by an accident for a while shortly after she was hired, though he remained involved from his hospital bed. She was listed as coeditor from November 1952 to July 1953 and from May 1955 to November 1955. She coedited both Science Stories and Universe Science Fiction with Palmer, along with the first four issues of Mystic Magazine, from November 1953 to May 1954. Science fiction historians Mike Ashley and E.F. Casebeer both consider that she had a strong positive influence on the magazines, and was probably responsible for acquiring much of the better material Palmer published. After Palmer closed his offices in Evanston, Illinois in 1955, Mahaffey continued to work on the magazine by mail from Cincinnati. In 1956, an unexpected tax bill forced Palmer to lay off Mahaffey, and he ran the magazine by himself from that point on.
Mahaffey was very popular with male science fiction fandom in the 1950s; Fred Nadis, in his biography of Palmer, records that "fans flocked to the Clark Publishing offices to get a glimpse of her", and that fans "pined for her" and "reported Bea sightings".
Science fiction and fantasy magazines began to be published in the United States in the 1920s. Stories with science fiction themes had been appearing for decades in pulp magazines such as Argosy, but there were no magazines that specialized in a single genre until 1915, when Street & Smith, one of the major pulp publishers, brought out Detective Story Magazine. The first magazine to focus solely on fantasy and horror was Weird Tales, which was launched in 1923, and established itself as the leading weird fiction magazine over the next two decades; writers such as H.P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith and Robert E. Howard became regular contributors. In 1926 Weird Tales was joined by Amazing Stories, published by Hugo Gernsback; Amazing printed only science fiction, and no fantasy. Gernsback included a letter column in Amazing Stories, and this led to the creation of organized science fiction fandom, as fans contacted each other using the addresses published with the letters. Gernsback wanted the fiction he printed to be scientifically accurate, and educational, as well as entertaining, but found it difficult to obtain stories that met his goals; he printed "The Moon Pool" by Abraham Merritt in 1927, despite it being completely unscientific. Gernsback lost control of Amazing Stories in 1929, but quickly started several new magazines. Wonder Stories, one of Gernsback's titles, was edited by David Lasser, who worked to improve the quality of the fiction he received. Another early competitor was Astounding Stories of Super-Science, which appeared in 1930, edited by Harry Bates, but Bates printed only the most basic adventure stories with minimal scientific content, and little of the material from his era is now remembered.
In 1933 Astounding was acquired by Street & Smith, and it soon became the leading magazine in the new genre, publishing early classics such as Murray Leinster's "Sidewise in Time" in 1934. A couple of competitors to Weird Tales for fantasy and weird fiction appeared, but none lasted, and the 1930s is regarded as Weird Tales' heyday. Between 1939 and 1941 there was a boom in science fiction and fantasy magazines: several publishers entered the field, including Standard Magazines, with Startling Stories and Thrilling Wonder Stories (a retitling of Wonder Stories); Popular Publications, with Astonishing Stories and Super Science Stories; and Fiction House, with Planet Stories, which focused on melodramatic tales of interplanetary adventure. Ziff-Davis launched Fantastic Adventures, a fantasy companion to Amazing. Astounding extended its pre-eminence in the field during the boom: the editor, John W. Campbell, developed a stable of young writers that included Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and A.E. van Vogt. The period starting in 1938, when Campbell took control of Astounding, is often referred to as the Golden Age of Science Fiction. Well-known stories from this era include Slan, by van Vogt, and "Nightfall", by Asimov. Campbell also launched Unknown, a fantasy companion to Astounding, in 1939; this was the first serious competitor for Weird Tales. Although wartime paper shortages forced Unknown's cancellation in 1943, it is now regarded as one of the most influential pulp magazines.
Only eight science fiction and fantasy magazines survived World War II. All were still in pulp magazine format except for Astounding, which had switched to a digest format in 1943. Astounding continued to publish popular stories, including "Vintage Season" by C. L. Moore, and "With Folded Hands ..." by Jack Williamson. The quality of the fiction in the other magazines improved over the decade: Startling Stories and Thrilling Wonder in particular published some excellent material and challenged Astounding for the leadership of the field. A few more pulps were launched in the late 1940s, but almost all were intended as vehicles to reprint old classics. One exception, Out of This World Adventures, was an experiment by Avon, combining fiction with some pages of comics. It was a failure and lasted only two issues. Magazines in digest format began to appear towards the end of the decade, including Other Worlds, edited by Raymond Palmer. In 1949, the first issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction appeared, followed in October 1950 by the first issue of Galaxy Science Fiction; both were digests, and between them soon dominated the field. Very few science fiction or fantasy pulps were launched after this date; the 1950s was the beginning of the era of digest magazines, though the leading pulps continued until the mid-1950s, and authors began selling to mainstream magazines and large book publishers.Hydra Club
The Hydra Club was a social organization of science fiction professionals and fans. It met in New York City during the 1940s and 1950s.
It was founded October 25, 1947 in the apartment of Judith Merril and Frederik Pohl on Grove Street in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York. As nine founders were present, the club took its name from the legendary nine-headed monster, the Hydra.
Among its members were Lester del Rey, David A. Kyle, Frederik Pohl, Judith Merril, Martin Greenberg, Robert W. Lowndes, Philip Klass, Jack Gillespie, David Reiner, L. Jerome Stanton, Fletcher and Inga Pratt, Willy Ley, George O. Smith, Basil Davenport, Sam Merwin, Harry Harrison, Jerome Bixby, Groff Conklin, Bea Mahaffey, Murray Leinster, Jack Coggins, and J. Harry Dockweiler.An article by Merril about the club in the November 1951 Marvel Science Fiction was accompanied by Harry Harrison's drawing caricaturing 41 members:
Harrison's caption adds, "The remaining twenty-odd members showed up too late at the meeting."Imagination (magazine)
Imagination was an American fantasy and science fiction magazine first published in October 1950 by Raymond Palmer's Clark Publishing Company. The magazine was sold almost immediately to Greenleaf Publishing Company, owned by William Hamling, who published and edited it from the third issue, February 1951, for the rest of the magazine's life. Hamling launched a sister magazine, Imaginative Tales, in 1954; both ceased publication at the end of 1958 in the aftermath of major changes in US magazine distribution due to the liquidation of American News Company.
The magazine was more successful than most of the numerous science fiction titles launched in the late 1940s and early 1950s, lasting a total of 63 issues. Despite this success, the magazine had a reputation for low-quality space opera and adventure fiction, and modern literary historians refer to it in dismissive terms. Hamling consciously adopted an editorial policy oriented toward entertainment, asserting in an early issue that "science fiction was never meant to be an educational tour de force". Few of the stories from Imagination have received recognition, but it did publish Robert Sheckley's first professional sale, "Final Examination", in the May 1952 issue, and also printed fiction by Philip K. Dick, Robert A. Heinlein and John Wyndham.Midwestcon
Midwestcon is a science fiction convention held annually in the Cincinnati, Ohio area by the Cincinnati Fantasy Group.
Midwestcon is an informal type of convention known as a "relaxacon," which means that it has no programming. Instead it is notable as a means for science fiction fans to get together and talk to each other without the distractions of other conventions.Other Worlds, Universe Science Fiction, and Science Stories
Other Worlds, Universe Science Fiction, and Science Stories were three related US magazines edited by Raymond A. Palmer. Other Worlds was launched in November 1949 by Palmer's Clark Publications and lasted for four years in its first run, with well-received stories such as "Enchanted Village" by A. E. van Vogt and "Way in the Middle of the Air", one of Ray Bradbury's "Martian Chronicle" stories. Since Palmer was both publisher and editor, he was free to follow his own editorial policy, and presented a wide array of science fiction.
Palmer entered a partnership with a Chicago businessman in 1953 to create Bell Publications, and printed Universe Science Fiction from June 1953. Palmer used the new company to abandon Other Worlds and launch Science Stories, in order to escape from Clark Publications' financial difficulties. Hence Science Stories can be considered a continuation of Other Worlds. Science Stories was visually attractive but contained no memorable fiction. Universe, on the other hand, was drab in appearance, but included some well-received stories, such as Theodore Sturgeon's "The World Well Lost", which examined homosexuality, a controversial topic for the time.
Palmer's Chicago partner lost interest, so he took over both Science Stories and Universe Science Fiction under a new company. In 1955 he culled both magazines and brought back Other Worlds, numbering the issues to make the new magazine appear a continuation of both the original Other Worlds and also of Universe. In this new incarnation the magazine was less successful, but did print Marion Zimmer Bradley's first novel, Falcons of Narabedla. In 1957 Palmer changed the focus of the magazine to unidentified flying objects (UFOs), retitling it Flying Saucers from Other Worlds, and after the September 1957 issue no more fiction appeared. Palmer eventually settled on Flying Saucers, Mysteries of the Space Age as the title, and in that form it survived until June 1976.