Clare Winger Harris

Clare Winger Harris (January 18, 1891 – October 1968) was an early science fiction writer whose short stories were published during the 1920s. She is credited as the first woman to publish stories under her own name in science fiction magazines.[1][2] Her stories often dealt with characters on the "borders of humanity" such as cyborgs.[3]

Harris began publishing in 1926, and soon became well liked by readers. She sold a total of eleven stories, which were collected in 1947 as Away From the Here and Now. Her gender was a surprise to Gernsback, the editor who first bought her work, as she was the first woman to publish science fiction stories under her own name. Her stories, which often feature strong female characters, have been occasionally reprinted and have received some positive critical response, including a recognition of her pioneering role as a woman writer in a male-dominated field.

Clare Winger Harris
Clare Winger Harris, as pictured in the 1929 debut issue of Science Wonder Quarterly
Clare Winger Harris, as pictured in the 1929 debut issue of Science Wonder Quarterly
BornClare Winger
January 18, 1891
Freeport, Illinois
DiedOctober 1968 (aged 76–77)
Pasadena, California
GenreScience fiction
SpouseFrank Clyde Harris
Amazing April 1928
Cover of the April 1928 issue of Amazing Stories, which featured Clare Winger Harris's classic short story "The Miracle of the Lily."


Clare Winger was born on January 18, 1891, in Freeport, Illinois[4] and later attended Smith College in Massachusetts. In 1912 she married Frank Clyde Harris.[5] Her husband was an architect and engineer who served in World War I and was chief engineer with the Loudon Machinery Company in Iowa and one of the organizers of the American Monorail Company of Cleveland, Ohio.[6]

Harris gave birth to three sons (Clyde Winger, born 1915; Donald Stover, born 1916; and Lynn Thackrey, born 1918).[5][6] She died in Pasadena, California in 1968.

Harris wrote her most acclaimed works during the 1920s. In 1930, she stopped writing to raise and educate her children.[2][7]

Writing career

Harris published her first short story, "The Runaway World," in the July 1926 issue of Weird Tales.[8] In December of that year, she submitted a story for a contest being run by Amazing Stories editor Hugo Gernsback. Harris's story, "The Fate of the Poseidonia" (a space opera about Martians who steal earth's water),[1] placed third.[9] She soon became one of Gernback's most popular writers.

Harris eventually published eleven short stories in pulp magazines, most of them in Amazing Stories (although she also published in other places such as Science Wonder Quarterly).

In 1947 Harris's short stories were collected under the title Away from the Here and Now. Her stories have also been reprinted in anthologies such as Daughters of Earth: Feminist Science Fiction in the 20th Century (with a critical essay), Sci-Fi Womanthology, Amazing Science Fiction Anthology: The Wonder Years 1926-1935, and Gosh Wow! Sense of Wonder Science Fiction. She wrote one novel, Persephone of Eleusis: A Romance of Ancient Greece (1923).

Harris also wrote one of the first attempts to classify science fiction when, in the August 1931 issue of Wonder Stories, she listed 16 basic science fiction themes, including, "Interplanetary space travel," "Adventures on other worlds," and "The creation of synthetic life."[10]

Critical view and influence

When Gernback published Harris's first short story in Amazing Stories, he praised her writing while also expressing amazement that a woman could write good science fiction: "That the third prize winner should prove to be a woman was one of the surprises of the contest, for, as a rule, women do not make good scientifiction writers, because their education and general tendencies on scientific matters are usually limited. But the exception, as usual, proves the rule, the exception in this case being extraordinarily impressive".[9][11] For many years Harris claimed to have been the first woman science-fiction writer in the United States.[7] While this can be debated (since Gertrude Barrows Bennett, writing under the pseudonym Francis Stevens, published science fiction stories as early as 1917), Harris is recognized as the first woman to publish stories in science fiction magazines under her own name.[3][7]

Even though Harris published only a handful of stories, almost all of them have been reprinted over the years. Of these, "The Miracle of the Lily" has been reprinted the most and praised by many critics, with Richard Lupoff saying the story would have "won the Hugo Award for best short story, if the award had existed then."[12][13] Lupoff also wrote that "[w]hile today's reader may find her prose creaky and old-fashioned, the stories positively teem with still-fresh and provocative ideas.[14]

"The Fate of the Poseidonia" has also been reprinted a number of times and is credited as an early example of a science fiction story with a heroic female lead character.[15] Other of Harris's stories are also noted for featuring strong female characters, such as Sylvia, the airplane pilot and mechanic in "The Ape Cycle" (1930). Harris also wrote one story utilizing a female point of view (in 1928's "The Fifth Dimension").

Because Harris was the first woman published in science fiction magazines, and because of her embrace of female characters and themes, she has been recognized in recent years as a pioneer of women's and feminist science fiction.[11]



  • Persephone of Eleusis: A Romance of Ancient Greece (1923)


  • Away from the Here and Now: Stories in Pseudo-Science (Philadelphia: Dorrance, 1947)

Short stories

(Stories included in Away from the Here and Now).

  • "A Runaway World" (Weird Tales, July 1926)
  • "The Fate of the Poseidonia" (Amazing Stories, June 1927)[9]
  • "A Certain Soldier" (Weird Tales, November 1927)
  • "The Fifth Dimension" (Amazing Stories, December 1928)
  • "The Menace From Mars" (Amazing Stories, October 1928)
  • "The Miracle of the Lily" (Amazing Stories, April 1928)[13]
  • "The Artificial Man" (Science Wonder Quarterly, Fall 1929)
  • "A Baby on Neptune" with Miles J. Breuer, M.D. (Amazing Stories, December 1929)
  • "The Diabolical Drug" (Amazing Stories, May 1929)
  • "The Evolutionary Monstrosity" (Amazing Stories Quarterly, Winter 1929)
  • "The Ape Cycle" (Science Wonder Quarterly, Spring 1930)

(Story not included in Away from the Here and Now).

  • "The Vibrometer" (Science Fiction #5, 1933, edited by Jerry Siegel)


  • Letter (Amazing Stories, May 1929): A Very Interesting Letter from One of Our Authors
  • Letter (Air Wonder Stories, September 1929) [only as by Clare W. Harris]: On why Air Wonder Stories may not make a good venue for her fiction
  • Letter (Weird Tales, March 1930): Expression of appreciation for the style of Henry de Vere Stacpoole's The Blue Lagoon (novel)
  • Letter (Wonder Stories, August 1931): Possible Science Fiction Plots

See also


  1. ^ a b Donawerth, Jane (1990). "Teaching Science Fiction by Women". The English Journal (subscription required). 79 (3): 39–46. doi:10.2307/819233. JSTOR 819233.
  2. ^ a b Davis, Cynthia J.; West, Kathryn (1996). Women Writers in the United States: A Timeline of Literary, Cultural, and Social History. Oxford University Press. p. 229. ISBN 978-0-19-509053-6.
  3. ^ a b John Chute, Peter Nicholls, ed. (1993). The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. St. Martin's Press. p. 544. ISBN 978-0-312-13486-0.
  4. ^ Social Security Death Record for Clare Winger Harris, SS# 550-34-7527, accessed April 2, 2007.
  5. ^ a b "Clare Winger Harris" (in German). Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved 2009-08-03.
  6. ^ a b James Harris-Mary Cherry Family, PART 3, POSTERITY CHAPTER VI, Isaiah M. Harris-Wilkerson-Murrell Descendants, accessed April 2, 2007.
  7. ^ a b c "Curiosities by Richard A. Lupoff". Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine. 1998. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-30.
  8. ^ "Fantasy & Science Fiction: Stories (by date)". SF Site. Retrieved 2007-03-30.
  9. ^ a b c Harris, Clare Winger (June 1927). "The Fate of the Poseidonia". Amazing Stories. pp. 245–252, 267.
  10. ^ Letter/essay from Clare Winger Harris, Wonder Stories, August 1931. An excerpt of this letter is reprinted on Google Groups here, accessed March 30, 2007.
  11. ^ a b Justine Larbalestier, ed. (2006). "Introduction to Clare Winger Harris's "The Fate of the Poiseidonia"". Daughters of Earth: Feminist Science Fiction in the Twentieth Century. Wesleyan University Press. p. 1. ISBN 978-0-8195-6676-8.
  12. ^ "Science Fiction Timelines, 1920-30". Magic Dragon Multimedia. Retrieved 2007-03-30.
  13. ^ a b Harris, Clare Winger (April 1928). "The Miracle of the Lily". Amazing Stories. pp. 48–55.
  14. ^ "Curiosities, F&SF, July 1998
  15. ^ Donawerth, Jane (2006). "Illicit Reproduction: Clare Winger Harris's 'The Fate of the Poiseidonia'". In Justine Larbalestier. Daughters of Earth: Feminist Science Fiction in the Twentieth Century. Wesleyan University Press. ISBN 978-0-8195-6676-8.

External links

2019 in public domain

When a work's copyright expires, it enters the public domain. The following is a list of works that entered the public domain in 2019. Since laws vary globally, the copyright status of some works are not uniform.

Amazing Stories

Amazing Stories is an American science fiction magazine launched in April 1926 by Hugo Gernsback's Experimenter Publishing. It was the first magazine devoted solely to science fiction. Science fiction stories had made regular appearances in other magazines, including some published by Gernsback, but Amazing helped define and launch a new genre of pulp fiction.

As of 2018, Amazing has been published, with some interruptions, for ninety-two years, going through a half-dozen owners and many editors as it struggled to be profitable. Gernsback was forced into bankruptcy and lost control of the magazine in 1929. In 1938 it was purchased by Ziff-Davis, who hired Raymond A. Palmer as editor. Palmer made the magazine successful though it was not regarded as a quality magazine within the science fiction community. In the late 1940s Amazing presented as fact stories about the Shaver Mystery, a lurid mythos that explained accidents and disaster as the work of robots named deros, which led to dramatically increased circulation but widespread ridicule. Amazing switched to a digest size format in 1953, shortly before the end of the pulp-magazine era. It was sold to Sol Cohen's Universal Publishing Company in 1965, which filled it with reprinted stories but did not pay a reprint fee to the authors, creating a conflict with the newly formed Science Fiction Writers of America. Ted White took over as editor in 1969, eliminated the reprints and made the magazine respected again: Amazing was nominated for the prestigious Hugo Award three times during his tenure in the 1970s. Several other owners attempted to create a modern incarnation of the magazine in the following decades, but publication was suspended after the March 2005 issue. A new incarnation appeared in July 2012 as an online magazine. Print publication resumed with the Fall 2018 issue.

Gernsback's initial editorial approach was to blend instruction with entertainment; he believed science fiction could educate readers. His audience rapidly showed a preference for implausible adventures, and the movement away from Gernsback's idealism accelerated when the magazine changed hands in 1929. Despite this, Gernsback had an enormous impact on the field: the creation of a specialist magazine for science fiction spawned an entire genre publishing industry. The letter columns in Amazing, where fans could make contact with each other, led to the formation of science fiction fandom, which in turn had a strong influence on the development of the field. Writers whose first story was published in the magazine include John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Howard Fast, Ursula K. Le Guin, Roger Zelazny, and Thomas M. Disch. Overall, though, Amazing itself was rarely an influential magazine within the genre after the 1920s. Some critics have commented that by "ghettoizing" science fiction, Gernsback harmed its literary growth, but this viewpoint has been countered by the argument that science fiction needed an independent market to develop in to reach its potential.

Amazing Stories Quarterly

Amazing Stories Quarterly was a U.S. science fiction pulp magazine that was published between 1928 and 1934. It was launched by Hugo Gernsback as a companion to his Amazing Stories, the first science fiction magazine, which had begun publishing in April 1926. Amazing Stories had been successful enough for Gernsback to try a single issue of an Amazing Stories Annual in 1927, which had sold well, and he decided to follow it up with a quarterly magazine. The first issue of Amazing Stories Quarterly was dated Winter 1928 and carried a reprint of the 1899 version of H.G. Wells' When the Sleeper Wakes. Gernsback's policy of running a novel in each issue was popular with his readership, though the choice of Wells' novel was less so. Over the next five issues, only one more reprint appeared: Gernsback's own novel Ralph 124C 41+, in the Winter 1929 issue. Gernsback went bankrupt in early 1929, and lost control of both Amazing Stories and Amazing Stories Quarterly; his assistant, T. O'Conor Sloane, took over as editor. The magazine began to run into financial difficulties in 1932, and the schedule became irregular; the last issue was dated Fall 1934.

Authors whose work appeared in Amazing Stories Quarterly include Stanton A. Coblentz, Miles J. Breuer, A. Hyatt Verrill, and Jack Williamson. Critical opinions differ on the quality of the fiction Gernsback and Sloane printed: Brian Stableford regards several of the novels as being important early science fiction, but Everett Bleiler comments that few of the stories were of acceptable quality. Milton Wolf and Mike Ashley are more positive in their assessment; they consider the work Sloane published in the early 1930s to be some of the best in the new genre.

C. L. Moore

Catherine Lucille Moore (January 24, 1911 – April 4, 1987) was an American science fiction and fantasy writer, who first came to prominence in the 1930s writing as C. L. Moore. She was among the first women to write in the science fiction and fantasy genres, though earlier woman writers in these genres include Clare Winger Harris, Greye La Spina, and Francis Stevens, amongst others. Nevertheless, Moore's work paved the way for many other female speculative fiction writers.

Moore married her first husband Henry Kuttner in 1940, and most of her work from 1940-1958 (Kuttner's death) was written by the couple collaboratively. They were prolific co-authors under their own names, although more often under any one of several pseudonyms.

As "Catherine Kuttner", she had a brief career as a television scriptwriter from 1958 to 1962. She retired from writing in 1963.

Feminist science fiction

Feminist science fiction is a subgenre of science fiction (abbreviated "SF") focused on theories that include feminist themes including but not limited to gender inequality, sexuality, race, economics, and reproduction. Feminist SF is political because of its tendency to critique the dominant culture. Some of the most notable feminist science fiction works have illustrated these themes using utopias to explore a society in which gender differences or gender power imbalances do not exist, or dystopias to explore worlds in which gender inequalities are intensified, thus asserting a need for feminist work to continue.

Science fiction and fantasy serve as important vehicles for feminist thought, particularly as bridges between theory and practice. No other genres so actively invite representations of the ultimate goals of feminism: worlds free of sexism, worlds in which women's contributions (to science) are recognized and valued, worlds that explore the diversity of women's desire and sexuality, and worlds that move beyond gender.

Freeport, Illinois

Freeport is the county seat and largest city of Stephenson County, Illinois. The population was 25,638 at the 2010 census, and the mayor of Freeport is Jodi Miller, elected in 2017. Freeport is known for hosting the second Lincoln-Douglas debate of 1858, and as "Pretzel City, USA", named after the heritage of its Germanic settlers in the 1850s and the Billerbeck Bakery pretzel company that started as a result of their arrival. Freeport High School's mascot is the Pretzel to honor this unique heritage.

History of US science fiction and fantasy magazines to 1950

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.

History of feminism

The history of feminism comprises the narratives (chronological or thematic) of the movements and ideologies which have aimed at equal rights for women. While feminists around the world have differed in causes, goals, and intentions depending on time, culture, and country, most Western feminist historians assert that all movements that work to obtain women's rights should be considered feminist movements, even when they did not (or do not) apply the term to themselves. Some other historians limit the term "feminist" to the modern feminist movement and its progeny, and use the label "protofeminist" to describe earlier movements.Modern Western feminist history is conventionally split into three time periods, or "waves", each with slightly different aims based on prior progress:

First-wave feminism of the 19th and early 20th centuries focused on overturning legal inequalities, particularly addressing issues of women's suffrage

Second-wave feminism (1960s–1980s) broadened debate to include cultural inequalities, gender norms, and the role of women in society

Third-wave feminism (1990s–2000s) refers to diverse strains of feminist activity, seen both as a continuation of the second wave and as a response to its perceived failuresAlthough the "waves" construct has been commonly used to describe the history of feminism, the concept has also been criticized for ignoring and erasing the history between the "waves", by choosing to focus solely on a few famous figures and on popular events.

List of people with surname Harris

Harris is an English-language surname with a variety of spellings.

A list of notable people sharing the surname "Harris" is shown here. Only the "Harris" spelling is considered here.

Miles J. Breuer

Miles John Breuer (January 3, 1889 – October 14, 1945) was an American physician and science fiction writer. He was part of the first generation of writers to appear regularly in the pulp science fiction magazines, publishing his first story, "The Man with the Strange Head", in the January 1927 issue of Amazing Stories. His best known works are "The Gostak and the Doshes" (1930) and two stories written jointly with Jack Williamson, "The Girl from Mars" (1929) and The Birth of a New Republic (1931).

Ramble House

Ramble House is a small American publisher founded by Fender Tucker and Jim Weiler in 1999. The press specializes in reprints of long-neglected and rare crime fiction novels, modern crime fiction, 'weird menace' / 'shudder pulps' - short story collections from rare pulp magazines, and scholarly works by noted authors on the crime fiction genre, and a host of other diverse books of a collectible or curious nature. Apart from its main publishing arm, Ramble House has two imprints: Surinam Turtle Press and Dancing Tuatara Press, headed by author Richard A. Lupoff and John Pelan respectively.

Ramble House titles were originally handmade by Tucker in small crafted editions, but the growth in the publisher’s list together with print on demand technology led to the titles being available online now as trade paperback editions. Gavin L. O’Keefe is the cover designer for Ramble House books, creating many original new designs for the books or adapting existing art.

Women in speculative fiction

In 1948, 10–15% of science fiction writers were female. Women's role in speculative fiction (including science fiction) has grown since then, and in 1999, women comprised 36% of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America's professional members. Frankenstein (1818) by Mary Shelley has been called the first science fiction novel, although women wrote utopian novels even before that, with Margaret Cavendish publishing the first (The Blazing World) in the seventeenth century. Early published fantasy was written by and for both genders. However, speculative fiction, with science fiction in particular, has traditionally been viewed as a male-oriented genre.

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