Marvel Science Stories was an American pulp magazine that ran for a total of fifteen issues in two separate runs, both edited by Robert O. Erisman. The publisher for the first run was Postal Publications, and the second run was published by Western Publishing; both companies were owned by Abraham and Martin Goodman. The first issue was dated August 1938, and carried stories with more sexual content than was usual for the genre, including several stories by Henry Kuttner, under his own name and also under pseudonyms. Reaction was generally negative, with one reader referring to Kuttner's story "The Time Trap" as "trash". This was the first of several titles featuring the word "Marvel", and Marvel Comics came from the same stable in the following year.
The magazine was canceled after the April 1941 issue, but when a boom in science fiction magazines began in 1950, the publishers revived it. The first issue of the new series was dated November 1950; a further six issues appeared, the last dated May 1952. In addition to Kuttner, contributors to the first run included Arthur J. Burks and Jack Williamson; the second run published stories by Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Jack Vance, and L. Sprague de Camp, among others. In the opinion of science fiction historian Joseph Marchesani, the quality of the second incarnation of the magazine was superior to the first, but it was unable to compete with the new higher-quality magazines that had appeared in the interim.
Although science fiction (sf) had been published before the 1920s, it did not begin to coalesce into a separately marketed genre until the appearance in 1926 of Amazing Stories, a pulp magazine published by Hugo Gernsback. After 1931, when Miracle Science and Fantasy Stories was launched, no new sf magazines appeared for several years. In 1936 Abraham and Martin Goodman, two brothers who owned a publishing company with multiple imprints, launched Ka-Zar, an imitation Tarzan magazine with some borderline sf content. It lasted for three issues, with the last issue dated January 1937. In addition to this marginal sf magazine, in 1937 the Goodmans began publishing several "weird-menace" pulps. These were a genre of pulp magazine known for incorporating "sex and sadism", with storylines that placed women in danger, usually because of a threat that appeared to be supernatural but was ultimately revealed to be the work of a human villain. The Goodmans' titles were Detective Short Stories, launched in August 1937, and Mystery Tales, which published its first issue in March 1938. These were followed up by Marvel Science Stories, edited by Robert O. Erisman, which was not intended to be a weird-menace pulp, but rather an sf magazine. The influence of the "sex and sadism" side of the Goodman's portfolio of magazines was apparent, however: authors were sometimes asked to add more sex to their stories than was usual in sf at the time. This was the first time that the word "Marvel" was used in the title of a Goodman publication. It went on to be used in other titles, notably Marvel Comics in the following year. The word may have been chosen to appeal to advertisers Marvel Home Utilities and Marvel Mystery Oil, or it may have been that Martin Goodman liked the name because it was similar to his own.
The first issue, dated August 1938, appeared on newsstands in May of that year. It contained "Survival" by Arthur J. Burks as the lead novel; this was well received by the readers, and did not contain any sexual content. The first couple of issues contained several stories that did little to offend readers, but they also contained two stories by Henry Kuttner, who was selling regularly to the Goodmans' other publications. Erisman and the Goodmans had asked Kuttner to spice up his submissions to Marvel Science Stories. He obliged with "Avengers of Space" in the first issue, which included "scenes of aliens lusting after unclothed Earth women", in the words of sf historian Mike Ashley, and "The Time Trap" in the second issue. Reader reaction was strongly negative: a typical letter, from William Hamling, later to become a publisher and editor of science fiction magazines in his own right, commented, "I was just about to write you a letter of complete congratulations when my eyes fell upon Kuttner's "The Time Trap". All I can say is: PLEASE, in the future, dislodge such trash from your magazine". In addition to these two stories published under Kuttner's name, there were two more stories in the same two issues by him under pseudonyms which were equally offensive to readers such as Hamling.
After five issues, the title was changed to Marvel Tales; at the same time, the number of stories advertised as "passionate" or containing "sin-lost" or "lust-crazed" characters sharply increased. Though some stories contained little to match the titillating blurbs, others did, with "women entrapped, burned and otherwise maltreated, and whips cracking into use with uninventive frequency", according to sf historian Joseph Marchesani. While women with large breasts often appeared on pulp magazine covers, Marvel's content was unusually explicit. Isaac Asimov wrote in 1969 of how in "1938-39 ... for some half a dozen issues or so, a magazine I won't name" published "spicy" stories about "the hot passion of alien monsters for Earthwomen. Clothes were always getting ripped off and breasts were described in a variety of elliptical phrases" for its "few readers" before "the magazine died a deserved death".
The magazine ceased publication with the April 1941 issue, but in 1950 the Goodmans saw an opportunity to revive it when a new boom in science fiction magazines got under way. Erisman was still working for the Goodmans, and was listed as editorial director of the new version of the magazine, but much of the editorial work was done by Daniel Keyes, who was credited as "Editorial Associate" on the 1951 issues. The first issue of the new incarnation of Marvel Science Stories was dated November 1950. After two issues Erisman switched the magazine to a digest format, but the final issue, dated May 1952, was once again a pulp. The post-war issues contained stories by well-known writers, including Arthur C. Clarke, Asimov, Richard Matheson, William Tenn, Jack Vance, and Lester del Rey, but the stories were of only average quality. In Marchesani's opinion, Erisman and Keyes were able to improve on the material published in the pre-war Marvel Tales, but the field had grown more sophisticated since those days, and the writers who sold to Marvel Tales were now publishing their best work elsewhere. William Knoles's 1960 Playboy article on the pulp era, "Girls of the Slime God", was, Asimov said, mostly based on Marvel.
|Issues of Marvel Science Stories, showing volume and issue numbers. The editor was|
Robert O. Erisman throughout.
There were nine issues in the first sequence, in one volume of six numbers and a second volume of three numbers. All issues in the first run were in pulp format and were priced at 15 cents. The first four issues were 128 pages; the next five were 112 pages. The title was Marvel Science Stories for five issues, then Marvel Tales for two issues, and then Marvel Stories for the last two issues of the first run. The publisher for the first series was listed as Postal Publications of Chicago for the first four issues, and as Western Publishing of New York and Chicago; in both cases the owner was Martin and Abraham Goodman. The intended schedule was bimonthly but this was never achieved. The editor was Robert O. Erisman. The second incarnation of the magazine lasted for six issues on a more regular quarterly schedule, starting in November 1950. The price was 25 cents and the page count was 128 pages for all six issues; the first two issues and last issue of this sequence were in pulp format, and the three from May 1951 to November 1951 were in digest format. The title returned to Marvel Science Stories for the first three issues of this series, and changed to Marvel Science Fiction for the last three issues. The publisher was listed as Stadium Publishing of New York; as with the first series, Martin and Abraham Goodman were the owners.
There was a British reprint of the February 1951 issue, published by Thorpe & Porter and dated May 1951. Science fiction bibliographer Brad Day lists five other British reprints of the second series of Marvel Science Stories, but no copies are recorded by more recent bibliographers. In 1977 the Goodmans launched a digest science fiction magazine titled Skyworlds, which has been described by Mike Ashley as "without any shadow of a doubt, the worst" of the 1970s crop of science fiction magazines; the fiction it contained was almost entirely reprinted from the second series of Marvel Science Stories.
Alex A. Schomburg, born Alejandro Schomburg y Rosa (; May 10, 1905 – April 7, 1998), was an American commercial artist and comic-book artist and painter whose career lasted over 70 years.Argosy (magazine)
Argosy, later titled The Argosy and Argosy All-Story Weekly, was an American pulp magazine from 1882 through 1978, published by Frank Munsey. It is the first American pulp magazine. The magazine began as a children's weekly story–paper entitled The Golden Argosy.Arthur J. Burks
Arthur J. Burks (September 13, 1898 – May 13, 1974) was an American writer and a Marine colonel.Betsy Curtis
Elizabeth M. "Betsy" Curtis (1917 – April 17, 2002) was an American science fiction/fantasy writer.
She was born in Toledo, Ohio. She earned a BA and MA in English from Oberlin College. In 1966, she earned a MEd from Allegheny College.Her first short story was published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in 1950. Her second story was published later that same year in Imagination. Her work appeared in various publications, including Amazing Stories, Analog Science Fiction and Fact, Authentic Science Fiction, Galaxy Science Fiction, If, Infinity Science Fiction and Marvel Science Stories, from the 1950s to the 1970s.In 1969, she was nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Short Story for "The Steiger Effect".She was an active member of the Society for Creative Anachronism.Curtis died at the age of 84.Carl Burgos
Carl Burgos (; born Max Finkelstein ; April 18, 1916 – March 1, 1984) was an American comic book and advertising artist best known for creating the original Human Torch in Marvel Comics #1 (Oct. 1939), during the period historians and fans call the Golden Age of comic books.
He was inducted into comic books' Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1996.Daniel Keyes
Daniel Keyes (August 9, 1927 – June 15, 2014) was an American writer who wrote the novel Flowers for Algernon. Keyes was given the Author Emeritus honor by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America in 2000.Dynamic Science Stories
Dynamic Science Stories was an American pulp magazine which published two issues, dated February and April 1939. A companion to Marvel Science Stories, it was edited by Robert O. Erisman and published by Western Fiction Publishing. Among the better known authors who appeared in its pages were L. Sprague de Camp and Manly Wade Wellman.Excalibur (L. Ron Hubbard)
Excalibur (alternate titles: Dark Sword, The One Command) is an unpublished manuscript written in 1938 by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. The contents of Excalibur formed the basis for Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health (1950) and some of Hubbard's later publications.F. Orlin Tremaine
Frederick Orlin Tremaine (January 7, 1899 – October 22, 1956) was an American science fiction magazine editor, most notably of the influential Astounding Stories. He edited a number of other magazines, headed several publishing companies, and sporadically wrote fiction.Harl Vincent
Harl Vincent (October 19, 1893 – May 5, 1968) was the publication name of Harold Vincent Schoepflin, an American mechanical engineer and science fiction author. He was published regularly in science fiction "pulp" magazines.Here Comes Civilization
Here Comes Civilization is a collection of 27 science fiction stories written by William Tenn, the second of two volumes presenting Tenn's complete body of science fiction writings. It features an introduction by Robert Silverberg and an afterword by George Zebrowski. Tenn provides afterwords to each story, describing how they came to be written.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.Martin Goodman (publisher)
Martin Goodman (born Moe Goodman; January 18, 1908 – June 6, 1992) was an American publisher of pulp magazines, paperback books, men's adventure magazines, and comic books, launching the company that would become Marvel Comics.Marvel Tales
Marvel Tales is the title of three American comic-book series published by Marvel Comics, the first of them from the company's 1950s predecessor, Atlas Comics. It is additionally the title of two unrelated, short-lived fantasy/science fiction magazines.Norman Saunders
Norman Blaine Saunders (January 1, 1907 – March 7, 1989) was a prolific 20th-century American commercial artist. He is best known for paintings in pulp magazines, paperbacks, men's adventure magazines, comic books and trading cards. On occasion, Saunders signed his work with his middle name, Blaine.Pulp magazine
Pulp magazines (often referred to as "the pulps") were inexpensive fiction magazines that were published from 1896 to the 1950s. The term pulp derives from the cheap wood pulp paper on which the magazines were printed. In contrast, magazines printed on higher-quality paper were called "glossies" or "slicks". The typical pulp magazine had 128 pages; it was 7 inches (18 cm) wide by 10 inches (25 cm) high, and 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) thick, with ragged, untrimmed edges.
The pulps gave rise to the term pulp fiction in reference to run-of-the-mill, low-quality literature. Pulps were the successors to the penny dreadfuls, dime novels, and short-fiction magazines of the 19th century. Although many respected writers wrote for pulps, the magazines were best known for their lurid, exploitative, and sensational subject matter. Modern superhero comic books are sometimes considered descendants of "hero pulps"; pulp magazines often featured illustrated novel-length stories of heroic characters, such as Flash Gordon, The Shadow, Doc Savage, and The Phantom Detective.R. DeWitt Miller
Richard DeWitt Miller (January 22, 1910 – June 3, 1958) was an American writer of science fiction and Forteana. His first science-fiction publication was "The Shapes" which appeared in Astounding Science Fiction in 1936. His non-fiction books include You Do Take It With You (1936) (a book about Fortean phenomena) as well as The Mastery of the Master (1944), Impossible - Yet It Happened (also known as Forgotten Mysteries: True Stories of the Supernatural, 1947), Stranger Than Life (1955), You Do Take It with You: An Adventure into the Vaster Reality (1955), and Reincarnation: The Whole Startling Story (1956). Miller wrote one science-fiction novelette published in March 1938 by Astounding Science Fiction under the title "The Master Shall Not Die" with no collaborator; it was not issued in book form until 1956, when Ace Books brought it out in its dos-à-dos format Ace Doubles under the title The Man Who Lived Forever, with co-author Anna Hunger. The book was bound back-to-back with Jerry Sohl's The Mars Monopoly. Miller also authored a fantasy work entitled The Loose Board in the Floor (1951).Uncanny Stories (magazine)
Uncanny Stories was a pulp magazine which published a single issue, dated April 1941. It was published by Abraham and Martin Goodman, who were better known for "weird-menace" pulp magazines that included much more sex in the fiction than was usual in science fiction of that era. The Goodmans published Marvel Science Stories from 1938 to 1941, and Uncanny Stories appeared just as Marvel Science Stories ceased publication, perhaps in order to use up the material in inventory acquired by Marvel Science Stories. The fiction was poor quality; the lead story, Ray Cummings' "Coming of the Giant Germs", has been described as "one of his most appalling stories".What Is This Thing Called Love? (short story)
"What Is This Thing Called Love?" is a science fiction short story by Isaac Asimov. The story was requested by Cele Goldsmith Lalli, editor of Amazing Stories, as a satire of an article in Playboy called "Girls of the Slime God" which had suggested that pulp science fiction stories were concerned with aliens and sex. The story appeared in the March 1961 issue of Amazing as "Playboy and the Slime God", but Asimov later retitled it "What Is This Thing Called Love?"