Famous Fantastic Mysteries was an American science fiction and fantasy pulp magazine published from 1939 to 1953. The editor was Mary Gnaedinger. It was launched by the Munsey Company as a way to reprint the many science fiction and fantasy stories which had appeared over the preceding decades in Munsey magazines such as Argosy. From its first issue, dated September/October 1939, Famous Fantastic Mysteries was an immediate success. Less than a year later, a companion magazine, Fantastic Novels, was launched.
Frequently reprinted authors included George Allan England, A. Merritt, and Austin Hall; the artwork was also a major reason for the success of the magazine, with artists such as Virgil Finlay and Lawrence Stevens contributing some of their best work. In late 1942, Popular Publications acquired the title from Munsey, and Famous Fantastic Mysteries stopped reprinting short stories from the earlier magazines. It continued to reprint longer works, including titles by G. K. Chesterton, H. G. Wells, and H. Rider Haggard. Original short fiction also began to appear, including Arthur C. Clarke's "Guardian Angel", which would later form the first section of his novel Childhood's End. In 1951, the publishers experimented briefly with a large digest format, but returned quickly to the original pulp layout. The magazine ceased publication in 1953, almost at the end of the pulp era.
By the early decades of the 20th century, science fiction (sf) stories were frequently seen in popular magazines. The Munsey Company, a major pulp magazine publisher, printed a great deal of science fiction in these years, but it was not until 1926 that Amazing Stories, the first pulp magazine specializing in science fiction appeared. Munsey continued to print sf in Argosy during the 1930s, including stories such as Murray Leinster's The War of the Purple Gas and Arthur Leo Zagat's "Tomorrow", though they owned no magazines that specialized in science fiction. By the end of the 1930s science fiction was a growing market, with several new sf magazines launched in 1939. That year Munsey took advantage of science fiction's growing popularity by launching Famous Fantastic Mysteries as a vehicle for reprinting the most popular fantasy and sf stories from the Munsey magazines.
The first issue was dated September/October 1939, and was edited by Mary Gnaedinger. The magazine immediately became successful and went to a monthly schedule starting in November 1939. Demand for reprints of old favorites was so strong that Munsey decided to launch an additional magazine, Fantastic Novels, in July 1940. The two magazines were placed on alternating bimonthly schedules, but when Fantastic Novels ceased publication in early 1941 Famous Fantastic Mysteries remained bimonthly until June 1942. Munsey sold Famous Fantastic Mysteries to Popular Publications, a major pulp publisher, at the end of 1942; it appears to have been a sudden decision, since the editorial in the December 1942 issue discusses a planned February issue that never materialized, and mentions forthcoming reprints that did not appear. The first issue from Popular appeared in March 1943, and only two more issues appeared that year; the September 1943 issue marked the beginning of a regular quarterly schedule. It returned to a bimonthly schedule in 1946 which it maintained with only slight deviations until the end of its run.
In 1949, Street & Smith, one of the longest established and most respected publishers, shut down all of their pulp magazines: the pulp era was drawing to a close. Popular Publications was the biggest pulp publisher, which helped their titles last a little longer, but Famous Fantastic Mysteries finally ceased publication in 1953, only a couple of years before the last of the pulps ceased publication.
Munsey's plan for the magazines was laid out in a note that appeared in the first four issues: "This magazine is the answer to thousands of requests we have received over a period of years, demanding a second look at famous fantasies which, since their original publication, have become accepted classics. Our choice has been dictated by your requests and our firm belief that these are the aces of imaginative fiction." The first issue included Ray Cummings' "The Girl in the Golden Atom" and A. Merritt's "The Moon Pool", both popular stories by well-known authors. Merritt's sequel, "The Conquest of the Moon Pool", began serialization in the next issue, with illustrations by Virgil Finlay. Finlay did many illustrations for Famous Fantastic Mysteries over its lifetime, and became one of its most popular artists. Frank R. Paul began illustrating for the magazine with the third issue; he was not as capable an artist as Finlay but was very popular with the readers. The first five covers were simply tables of contents, but with the sixth issue, dated March 1940, pictorial covers began, with Finlay the artist for that first cover. Three early covers in 1940 were painted by Paul, but thereafter almost every cover was painted by either Finlay, Lawrence Stevens, or his son, Peter Stevens, including every single issue from February 1941 through April 1950. The high quality of the artwork helped make the magazine one of the most popular of its day, and sf historian Thomas Clareson has suggested that it was Finlay's work in Famous Fantastic Mysteries and Fantastic Novels that made his reputation.
The decision to launch Fantastic Novels was taken partly because there were a great many book-length works that readers wanted to see reprinted. Gnaedinger commented that "Everyone seems to have realized that although [the] set-up of five to seven stories with two serials running, was highly satisfactory, that the long list of novels would have to be speeded up somehow". When Fantastic Novels was launched, Famous Fantastic Mysteries was partway through serialization of The Blind Spot, by Austin Hall and Homer Eon Flint, with the third episode appearing in the May/June 1940 issue. Rather than complete the serialization, Gnaedinger decided to print the novel in its entirety in the first issue of Fantastic Novels, ensuring that readers of Famous Fantastic Mysteries would also acquire the new magazine. After Fantastic Novels ceased publication in 1941, Famous Fantastic Mysteries changed its policy, and began publishing a complete novel in every issue, rather than several stories and one or two serials running concurrently. Usually there were also short stories, but occasionally a particularly long novel would appear alone in the issue: this happened, for example, with the February 1942 issue, which contained Francis Stevens' The Citadel of Fear, and no other fiction.
When Munsey sold Famous Fantastic Mysteries to Popular, the editorial policy changed again, to exclude reprints of short fiction that had previously appeared in magazine form. Book length fiction continued to be reprinted, as did some shorter works that had appeared only in books, such as William Hope Hodgson's "The Derelict", and Robert W. Chambers' "The Mask", both of which appeared in the December 1943 issue. The reprinted novels included G. K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday, H. G. Wells' The Island of Dr. Moreau, H. Rider Haggard's The Ancient Allan, and works by Algernon Blackwood, Lord Dunsany, and Arthur Machen. Some of the reprinted material was abridged, but despite this, Famous Fantastic Mysteries did an important service to its readers by making works available that had been long out of print, and which in some cases had only been previously published in the U.K., making their appearance in the magazine the first chance many subscribers have had to read them.
Some original material also appeared after Popular acquired the magazine. Contributors who published original stories in Famous Fantastic Mysteries included Henry Kuttner, Ray Bradbury, and C. L. Moore. Arthur C. Clarke's story "Guardian Angel" appeared in the April 1950 issue; it was later turned into the first section of his novel Childhood's End.
|Issues of Famous Fantastic Mysteries, identifying volume and issue numbers.|
Mary Gnaedinger was editor throughout.
Mary Gnaedinger was the editor of Famous Fantastic Mysteries for all 81 issues. The magazine was launched as a bimonthly in September 1939, and was converted to monthly from the second issue, in November 1939. The May 1940 issue was followed by August 1940, which began a bimonthly sequence that lasted until June 1942, which began another monthly sequence that ran through the end of 1942. The next issue, March 1943, was followed by a September issue that inaugurated a quarterly sequence that ran until December 1945, which began another bimonthly run. This lasted until the final issue in June 1953 with only two irregularities: October 1950 was followed by January 1951, and July 1951 was followed by October 1951. Famous Fantastic Mysteries was published by the Munsey Corporation until the end of 1942, and by Popular Publications, thereafter. The magazine was initially 128 pages long. This was cut to 112 pages with the October 1940 issue, and then returned to 128 pages for the June 1941 issue. From June 1942 to March 1944 the page count was 144; it was cut to 132 in June 1944 and again to 112 in January 1951, where it remained until the end of the run. The price was 15 cents throughout, except for the period from October 1940 to April 1941 during which it was 10 cents. Famous Fantastic Mysteries began as a pulp, and remained in that format throughout its run except for a brief experiment in 1951 in which it was reduced to large digest size.
A Canadian reprint edition, with identical contents and dates, began in February 1948, from All Fiction Field, Inc.; in October 1951 the publisher became Popular Publications, Toronto, but this was just a name change rather than a change of ownership. The final Canadian issue was dated August 1952; these issues were half an inch longer than the U.S. versions. In addition, the Canadian edition of Super Science Stories, which had initially reprinted from its U.S. namesake and from the U.S. edition of Astonishing Stories, began to reprint almost entirely from Famous Fantastic Mysteries beginning with the August 1944 Canadian issue. As a nod to the change in source material, the title of the Canadian edition was changed to Super Science and Fantastic Stories starting with the December 1944 issue. A Mexican magazine, Los Cuentos Fantasticos, which published 44 issues between 1948 and 1953, reprinted stories from both Famous Fantastic Mysteries and Astounding Science Fiction, mostly (though not entirely) without obtaining permission first.
An anthology, Famous Fantastic Mysteries: 30 Great Tales of Fantasy and Horror from the Classic Pulp Magazines Famous Fantastic Mysteries and Fantastic Novels, appeared in 1991, edited by Stefan R. Dziemianowicz, Robert E. Weinberg and Martin H. Greenberg, and drawing almost all of its contents from Famous Fantastic Mysteries.
A. Merritt's Fantasy Magazine was an American pulp magazine which published five issues from December 1949 to October 1950. It took its name from fantasy writer A. Merritt, who had died in 1943, and it aimed to capitalize on Merritt's popularity. It was published by Popular Publications, alternating months with Fantastic Novels, another title of theirs. It may have been edited by Mary Gnaedinger, who also edited Fantastic Novels and Famous Fantastic Mysteries. It was a companion to Famous Fantastic Mysteries, and like that magazine mostly reprinted science-fiction and fantasy classics from earlier decades.Angel Island (novel)
Angel Island is a science fiction/fantasy novel by American feminist author, journalist and suffragette Inez Haynes Irwin, writing under the name Inez Haynes Gillmore. It was originally published by Henry Holt in January 1914. The novel is about a group of men shipwrecked on an island occupied by winged-women.
Angel Island was reprinted in the February 1949 issue of Famous Fantastic Mysteries, and again in 1978 by Arno Press. In 1988 it was republished by Plume as a "classic of early feminist literature" with an introductory essay by science fiction and fantasy author Ursula K. Le Guin.Childhood's End
Childhood's End is a 1953 science fiction novel by the British author Arthur C. Clarke. The story follows the peaceful alien invasion of Earth by the mysterious Overlords, whose arrival begins decades of apparent utopia under indirect alien rule, at the cost of human identity and culture.
Clarke's idea for the book began with his short story "Guardian Angel" (published in New Worlds #8, winter 1950), which he expanded into a novel in 1952, incorporating it as the first part of the book, "Earth and the Overlords". Completed and published in 1953, Childhood's End sold out its first printing, received good reviews and became Clarke's first successful novel. The book is often regarded by both readers and critics as Clarke's best novel and is described as "a classic of alien literature". Along with The Songs of Distant Earth (1986), Clarke considered Childhood's End to be one of his favourites of his own novels. The novel was nominated for the Retro Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2004.
Several attempts to adapt the novel into a film or miniseries have been made with varying levels of success. Director Stanley Kubrick expressed interest in the 1960s, but collaborated with Clarke on 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) instead. The novel's theme of transcendent evolution also appears in Clarke's Space Odyssey series. In 1997, the BBC produced a two-hour radio dramatization of Childhood's End that was adapted by Tony Mulholland. The Syfy Channel produced a three-part, four-hour television mini-series of Childhood's End, which was broadcast on December 14–16, 2015.Elmer Brown Mason
Elmer Brown Mason (1877–1955) was an American writer. He studied at Yale for a period, but then transferred to Princeton, from which he graduated in 1903. Mason became an entomologist for the now-defunct Bureau of Entomology (USDA) in 1910. In addition, he was a seasoned world traveler. In 1915, his fantastic stories of scientists hunting rare species in the remote corners of the world started appearing. Of note were the five stories featuring swamp-guide, Wandering Smith, in The Popular Magazine, especially "The Golden Anaconda"; and the variety of tales in All-Story Weekly, highlighted by the horror-filled lost-race novelette "Black Butterflies," set in Borneo, and its sequel, "Red Tree-Frogs."
Mason was gassed in France during World War I, suffering permanent disabilities, which sidetracked his writing career. His globe-trotting ceased and his stories exchanged the fantastic for the domestic. His fiction writing career petered out around 1926.He had a brief revival in 1949-50 in the pulp magazines, Famous Fantastic Mysteries and Fantastic Novels, which reprinted four of his stories from All-Story Weekly.
"Black Butterflies," was included in the anthology Rainbow Fantasia: 35 Spectrumatic Tales of Wonder ed. by Forrest J. Ackerman; Anne Hardin.Fantastic Novels
Fantastic Novels was an American science fiction and fantasy pulp magazine published by the Munsey Company of New York from 1940 to 1941, and again by Popular Publications, also of New York, from 1948 to 1951. It was a companion to Famous Fantastic Mysteries. Like that magazine, it mostly reprinted science fiction and fantasy classics from earlier decades, such as novels by A. Merritt, George Allan England, and Victor Rousseau, though it occasionally published reprints of more recent work, such as Earth's Last Citadel, by Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore.
The magazine lasted for 5 issues in its first incarnation, and for another 20 in the revived version from Popular Publications. Mary Gnaedinger edited both series; her interest in reprinting Merritt's work helped make him one of the better-known fantasy writers of the era. A Canadian edition from 1948 to 1951 reprinted 17 issues of the second series; two others were reprinted in Great Britain in 1950 and 1951.Fantasy fiction magazine
A fantasy fiction magazine or fantasy magazine is a magazine which publishes primarily fantasy fiction. Not generally included in the category are magazines for children with stories about such characters as Santa Claus. Also not included are adult magazines about sexual fantasy. Many fantasy magazines, in addition to fiction, have other features such as art, cartoons, reviews, or letters from readers. Some fantasy magazines also publish science fiction and horror fiction, so that here is not always a clear distinction between a fantasy magazine and a science fiction magazine. For example, Fantastic magazine published almost exclusively science fiction for much of its run.Fields of Sleep
Fields of Sleep is a fantasy novel by British writer E. C. Vivian. It was first published in the United Kingdom in 1923 by Hutchinson. In the United States, the novel first appeared in the magazine
Famous Fantastic Mysteries under the title The Valley of Silent Men. An edition with illustrations by Thomas Canty was published by Donald M. Grant, Publisher, Inc. in 1980. A sequel, People of the Darkness, appeared in 1924. An omnibus edition of the two volumes was published by Arno Press as Aia in 1978.Hannes Bok
Hannes Bok, pseudonym for Wayne Francis Woodard (July 2, 1914 – April 11, 1964), was an American artist and illustrator, as well as an amateur astrologer and writer of fantasy fiction and poetry. He painted nearly 150 covers for various science fiction, fantasy, and detective fiction magazines, as well as contributing hundreds of black and white interior illustrations. Bok's work graced the pages of calendars and early fanzines, as well as dust jackets from specialty book publishers like Arkham House, Llewellyn, Shasta Publishers, and Fantasy Press. His paintings achieved a luminous quality through the use of an arduous glazing process, which was learned from his mentor, Maxfield Parrish. Bok shared one of the inaugural 1953 Hugo Awards for science fiction achievement (best Cover Artist).Today, Bok is best known for his cover art which appeared on various pulp and science fiction magazines, such as Weird Tales, Famous Fantastic Mysteries, Other Worlds, Super Science Stories, Imagination, Fantasy Fiction, Planet Stories, If, Castle of Frankenstein and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.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.Joseph H. Crawford Jr.
Joseph H. Crawford Jr. (born 1932) is an American science fiction collector and bibliographer. He notably compiled 333: A Bibliography of the Science-Fantasy Novel with James J. Donahue and Donald M. Grant which was published by The Grandon Company in 1953. Crawford was born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1932. He graduated from La Salle Academy in 1949 and received a B. A. in Political Science from Providence College in 1953. He served in the United States Army from 1955-1957. Crawford was first attracted to science fiction through the magazine Famous Fantastic Mysteries.Lawrence Sterne Stevens
Lawrence Sterne Stevens (December 4, 1884 – 1960) was an American pulp fantasy and science fiction illustrator.He is known for his interior story illustrations for Argosy and cover paintings for Amazing, A. Merritt's Fantasy Magazine, Famous Fantastic Mysteries, and Fantastic Novels.Mary Gnaedinger
Mary C. Gnaedinger (September 28, 1897 – July 31, 1976) was an American editor of pulp magazines.
Born Mary Catherine Jacobson, she attended the Columbia University School of Journalism. After stints as a society reporter for the Brooklyn Eagle and work for E. P. Dutton, she became editor of the Frank Munsey Company's Famous Fantastic Mysteries in 1939, Fantastic Novels in 1940, and possibly A. Merritt's Fantasy Magazine.Gnaedinger was known for ardently interacting with readers, basing the stories she printed in the magazine on their requests and commonly praising their knowledge of Science Fiction.Matt Fox (comics)
Matthew "Matt" Fox (1906–1988) was an American illustrator and comic book artist. Fox notably illustrated the covers for the horror pulp magazine Weird Tales from 1943 to 1951. He also contributed art to other pulps, including Crack Detective, Famous Fantastic Mysteries, and Planet Stories. In the 1950s and 1960s he worked for Atlas Comics, contributing inking and penciling to comics publications like Journey into Mystery, World of Fantasy, Tales of Suspense and Journey into Unknown Worlds.Fox was much older than most of his colleagues, and his comics are noted for their large amount of detail, and stiff "Victorian woodcut" style.Fox never gave an interview and his only public statement was his own entry for the 1973 edition of Who's Who of American Comics. In it, he names Alex Raymond as his only influence and lists "lithographs, water colors, color woodcuts, oils and etchings" as his other mediums. Fox's last known published work is an advertisement, printed in 1967, for original mail-order glow-in-the-dark posters. Two of his comics appear in the 2010 book Art in Time, a collection of works by "unheralded" comics artists who worked between 1940 and 1980.Morning Star (Haggard novel)
Morning Star is a novel by H Rider Haggard set in Ancient Egypt.The Scarlet Plague
The Scarlet Plague is a post-apocalyptic fiction novel written by Jack London and originally published in London Magazine in 1912.The Sentinel (anthology)
The Sentinel is a collection of science fiction short stories by Arthur C. Clarke originally published in 1983.
The stories, written between 1946 and 1981, originally appeared in a number of magazines including Astounding, Famous Fantastic Mysteries, Thrilling Wonder Stories, 10 Story Fantasy, If, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Boys' Life, Playboy and Omni.Tod Robbins
Clarence Aaron Robbins (1888–1949), billed as C.A Robbins and better known as Tod Robbins, was an American author of horror and mystery fiction, particularly novels and short story collections.