Wonder Story Annual

Wonder Story Annual was a science fiction pulp magazine which was launched in 1950 by Standard Magazines. It was created as a vehicle to reprint stories from early issues of Wonder Stories, Startling Stories, and Wonder Stories Quarterly, which were owned by the same publisher. It lasted for four issues, succumbing in 1953 to competition from the growing market for paperback science fiction. Reprinted stories included Twice in Time, by Manly Wade Wellman, and "The Brain-Stealers of Mars", by John W. Campbell.

Wonder Story Annual 1950
Cover of the 1950 issue of Wonder Story Annual

Publication history and contents

The first science fiction (sf) magazine, Amazing Stories, was launched in 1926 by Hugo Gernsback at the height of the pulp magazine era.[1] It helped to form science fiction as a separately marketed genre,[1] and by the mid-1930s several more sf magazines had appeared, including Wonder Stories, also published by Gernsback.[2] In 1936, Ned Pines of Beacon Publications bought Wonder Stories from Gernsback,[3] changed the title to Thrilling Wonder Stories,[4] and in 1939 and 1940 added two more sf titles: Startling Stories and Captain Future.[5][6] Pines had acquired reprint rights to the fiction published in Wonder Stories as part of the transaction, and some of this material ran in Startling Stories and Captain Future, but neither magazine had room for some of the longer stories in the backfile. At the end of the 1940s a boom in science fiction magazines encouraged Pines to issue a new magazine, titled Fantastic Story Quarterly, as a vehicle for reprinting this older material, with the first issue dated Spring 1950.[7] It was successful enough for Pines to add another reprint magazine, Wonder Story Annual, later that year. Pines' plan was to use the new magazine to reprint novels, with only a few short stories included to fill out the magazine. The first issue was dated 1950 and appeared in the summer of that year.[8]

The reprinted novels were Twice in Time, by Manly Wade Wellman; Gateway to Paradise, by Jack Williamson; The Onslaught from Rigel, by Fletcher Pratt (titled Invaders from Rigel when it eventually saw publication in book form in 1960),[9][10] and The Death of Iron, by S.S. Held, a French writer (the novel was translated into English by Pratt for the original serialization in Wonder Stories, which began in 1932).[11] The magazine also reprinted some shorter material, including "The Brain-Stealers of Mars" by John W. Campbell, "Nothing Sirius" by Fredric Brown, "The Irritated People" by Ray Bradbury,[9] and "The Eternal Man", by D.D. Sharp, which combined Sharp's earlier "The Eternal Man", from the August 1929 Science Wonder with "The Eternal Man Revives" from the Summer 1930 Wonder Stories Quarterly.[12] Although Wonder Story Annual was well-received and initially successful, it faced strong competition for sf readers from paperbacks, including reprint anthologies. In response it labelled itself "America's Best Science Fiction Anthology", but by 1953 the battle was lost, and that year's issue was the last.[9][8]

Bibliographic details

The magazine was issued annually for four years, from 1950 to 1953. The editor was Sam Merwin for the first two issues, and Samuel Mines for the second two. There was a single volume of three issues, followed by a final volume of one issue. The magazine was in pulp format and was priced at 25 cents; the first issue was 196 pages and the remaining three all had 160 pages. The publisher was Better Publications of Chicago and New York for the first issue, and Best Books, of Kokomo, Indiana, for the next three; Better Publications was an imprint of Standard Magazines of New York, and Best Books was owned by Standard.[9]

A Canadian edition of the first issue appeared from Better Publications in Toronto with the same contents as the U.S. edition.[9]


  1. ^ a b Ashley, Mike; Nicholls, Peter; Stableford, Brian (July 8, 2014). "Amazing Stories". SF Encyclopedia. Gollancz. Retrieved January 13, 2015.
  2. ^ Ashley, Mike; Edwards, Malcolm; Nicholls, Peter (August 23, 2014). "SF Magazines". SF Encyclopedia. Gollancz. Retrieved January 15, 2015.
  3. ^ Ashley (2000), p. 91.
  4. ^ Ashley (2000), p. 100.
  5. ^ Ashley (2000), p. 136.
  6. ^ Ashley (2000), pp. 151−153.
  7. ^ Ashley (1985a), pp. 249−250.
  8. ^ a b Ashley (2005), p. 37.
  9. ^ a b c d e Ashley (1985b), pp. 766−767.
  10. ^ Edwards, Malcolm; Clute, John. "Authors : Pratt, Fletcher : SFE : Science Fiction Encyclopedia". SF Encyclopedia. Gollancz. Retrieved 2016-05-14.
  11. ^ Waage, Frederick (2012). "The Secret Life of The Death of Iron". In Baratta, Chris. Environmentalism in the Realm of Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature. Newcastle-upon-Tyne, United Kingdom: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. pp. 11–29. doi:10.5848/CSP.3542.00001. ISBN 9781443835428.
  12. ^ Gammell (1986), p. 44.


  • Ashley, Mike (1985a). "Fantastic Story Quarterly". In Tymn, Marshall B.; Ashley, Mike. Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Weird Fiction Magazines. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. pp. 249–250. ISBN 0-313-21221-X.
  • Ashley, Mike (1985b). "Wonder Story Annual". In Tymn, Marshall B.; Ashley, Mike. Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Weird Fiction Magazines. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. pp. 766–767. ISBN 0-313-21221-X.
  • Ashley, Mike (2000). The Time Machines:The Story of the Science-Fiction Pulp Magazines from the beginning to 1950. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. ISBN 0-85323-865-0.
  • Ashley, Mike (2005). Transformations:The Story of the Science-Fiction Magazines from 1950 to 1970. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. ISBN 0-85323-779-4.
  • Gammell, Leon L. (1986). The Annotated Guide to Startling Stories. Mercer Island, Washington: Wildside Press. ISBN 0-930261-51-8.
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.

Fantastic Story Quarterly

Fantastic Story Quarterly was a pulp science fiction magazine, published from 1950 to 1955 by Best Books, a subsidiary imprint of Standard Magazines. The name was changed with the Summer 1951 issue to Fantastic Story Magazine. It was launched to reprint stories from the early years of the science fiction pulp magazines, and was initially intended to carry no new fiction, though in the end every issue contained at least one new story. It was sufficiently successful for Standard to launch Wonder Story Annual as a vehicle for more science fiction reprints, but the success did not last. In 1955 it was merged with Standard's Startling Stories. Original fiction in Fantastic Story included Gordon R. Dickson's first sale, "Trespass", and stories by Walter M. Miller and Richard Matheson.

George Kelley Paperback and Pulp Fiction Collection

The George Kelley Paperback and Pulp Fiction Collection is a collection of over 25,000 pulp magazine and fiction works that is housed in the Special Collections unit, in the University at Buffalo Libraries at State University of New York at Buffalo. Noted as one of the best preserved collections of pulp material in modern times, it was donated to UB Libraries in 1994 by Dr. George Kelley, a professor at Erie Community College in Buffalo, New York.The collection spans genres from adventure, crime and horror to Westerns, fantasy and science fiction, including books, pulp magazines, fanzines and other literature. According to UB Libraries, there are hundreds of paperbacks from the 1940s, thousands from the 1950s and 1960s and more from the 1970s and 1980s. Many of these are paperback originals which have never appeared in hardcover editions.

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.

Serge-Simon Held

Serge-Simon Held (credited as S.S. Held) was a French science fiction author known for the 1931 environmentalist novel La Mort du Fer (published in English as The Death of Iron). Very little is known about Held. He may have been from Alsace or of Alsacian descent, with many people from the region fleeing to Paris in 1870 due to the Alsacian cession to Germany following the Franco-Prussian war. The professor of English Frederick Waage was unable to find a record of Held, but noted that Held is frequently used as an ornamental surname among Jews.La Mort du Fer was published by Fayard, and printed by Imprimerie Paillart of Abbeville, in 1931. The novel was serialized in the American science fiction pulp magazine Wonder Stories from September to December 1932. The translation was made by Fletcher Pratt, himself a noted science fiction author, and was later published in full in the 1952 edition of Wonder Story Annual. The novel is set in northern France, and concerns a mysterious "disease" which attacks iron. This eventually ushers in an "after-metal" world, in which plant life flourishes.The French critic André Thérive wrote critically of La Mort du Fer in February 1932 in Le Temps. He claimed that "the book is very poorly put together: a very awkward alternation between private intrigues and 'historical' narratives, the poorly-paced sequence of the story, sometimes detailed, sometimes rushed, and especially an irritating composition which constantly retools the subject, rendering it ultimately schematic, expressed arbitrarily and cursorily". The later critic Juan Asensio , however, praised the novel's realism, characterising it as "remarkable", though "perfectly forgotten, even unknown".The book was read by Ross Lockridge, Jr., and was an inspiration for his unpublished epic poem The Dream of the Death of Iron and for the environmentalist themes of his novel Raintree County. La Mort du Fer has a "disquieting similarity in theme" to the English novelist David H. Keller's The Metal Doom, and the former may have served as an uncredited inspiration for the latter. Waage frames La Mort du Fer as "generational successor" to Germinal, by Émile Zola.

Unknown (magazine)

Unknown (also known as Unknown Worlds) was an American pulp fantasy fiction magazine, published from 1939 to 1943 by Street & Smith, and edited by John W. Campbell. Unknown was a companion to Street & Smith's science fiction pulp, Astounding Science Fiction, which was also edited by Campbell at the time; many authors and illustrators contributed to both magazines. The leading fantasy magazine in the 1930s was Weird Tales, which focused on shock and horror. Campbell wanted to publish a fantasy magazine with more finesse and humor than Weird Tales, and put his plans into action when Eric Frank Russell sent him the manuscript of his novel Sinister Barrier, about aliens who own the human race. Unknown's first issue appeared in March 1939; in addition to Sinister Barrier, it included H. L. Gold's "Trouble With Water", a humorous fantasy about a New Yorker who meets a water gnome. Gold's story was the first of many in Unknown to combine commonplace reality with the fantastic.

Campbell required his authors to avoid simplistic horror fiction and insisted that the fantasy elements in a story be developed logically: for example, Jack Williamson's "Darker Than You Think" describes a world in which there is a scientific explanation for the existence of werewolves. Similarly, L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt's Harold Shea series, about a modern American who finds himself in the worlds of various mythologies, depicts a system of magic based on mathematical logic. Other notable stories included several well-received novels by L. Ron Hubbard and short stories such as Manly Wade Wellman's "When It Was Moonlight" and Fritz Leiber's "Two Sought Adventure", the first in his Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser series.

Unknown was forced to a bimonthly schedule in 1941 by poor sales, and cancelled in 1943 when wartime paper shortages became so acute that Campbell had to choose between turning Astounding into a bimonthly or ending Unknown. The magazine is generally regarded as the finest fantasy fiction magazine ever published, despite the fact that it was not commercially successful, and in the opinion of science fiction historian Mike Ashley it was responsible for the creation of the modern fantasy publishing genre.

Weird Tales

Weird Tales is an American fantasy and horror fiction pulp magazine founded by J. C. Henneberger and J. M. Lansinger in late 1922. The first issue, dated March 1923, appeared on newsstands February 18th. The first editor, Edwin Baird, printed early work by H. P. Lovecraft, Seabury Quinn, and Clark Ashton Smith, all of whom would go on to be popular writers, but within a year the magazine was in financial trouble. Henneberger sold his interest in the publisher, Rural Publishing Corporation, to Lansinger and refinanced Weird Tales, with Farnsworth Wright as the new editor. The first issue under Wright's control was dated November 1924. The magazine was more successful under Wright, and despite occasional financial setbacks it prospered over the next fifteen years. Under Wright's control the magazine lived up to its subtitle, "The Unique Magazine", and published a wide range of unusual fiction.

Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos stories first appeared in Weird Tales, starting with "The Call of Cthulhu" in 1928. These were well-received, and a group of writers associated with Lovecraft wrote other stories set in the same milieu. Robert E. Howard was a regular contributor, and published several of his Conan the Barbarian stories in the magazine, and Seabury Quinn's series of stories about Jules de Grandin, a detective who specialized in cases involving the supernatural, was very popular with the readers. Other well-liked authors included Nictzin Dyalhis, E. Hoffmann Price, Robert Bloch, and H. Warner Munn. Wright published some science fiction, along with the fantasy and horror, partly because when Weird Tales was launched there were no magazines specializing in science fiction, but he continued this policy even after the launch of magazines such as Amazing Stories in 1926. Edmond Hamilton wrote a good deal of science fiction for Weird Tales, though after a few years he used the magazine for his more fantastic stories, and submitted his space operas elsewhere.

In 1938 the magazine was sold to William Delaney, the publisher of Short Stories, and within two years Wright, who was ill, was replaced by Dorothy McIlwraith as editor. Although some successful new authors and artists, such as Ray Bradbury and Hannes Bok, continued to appear, the magazine is considered by critics to have declined under McIlwraith from its heyday in the 1930s. Weird Tales ceased publication in 1954, but since then numerous attempts have been made to relaunch the magazine, starting in 1973. The longest-lasting version began in 1988 and ran with an occasional hiatus for over 20 years under an assortment of publishers. In the mid-1990s the title was changed to Worlds of Fantasy & Horror because of licensing issues, with the original title returning in 1998. As of 2018, the most recent published issue was dated Spring 2014.

The magazine is regarded by historians of fantasy and science fiction as a legend in the field, with Robert Weinberg, author of a history of the magazine, considering it "the most important and influential of all fantasy magazines". Weinberg's fellow historian, Mike Ashley, is more cautious, describing it as "second only to Unknown in significance and influence", adding that "somewhere in the imagination reservoir of all U.S. (and many non-U.S.) genre-fantasy and horror writers is part of the spirit of Weird Tales".

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.