Jack MacFadden and the Faerie Realm: An Early Young Adult Fantasy
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Mixer April is an early story about organ transplants, whilst 'In an Unknown World' by John Durworth November 1 is a clever story in which the auditory and optical senses are switched.
THE BOOK OF LIFE
Most of the writers were transitory. Two of the more regular contributors of imaginative stories were Don Mark Lemon and Frank Lillie Pollock, both of whom contributed sf to later pulps. Lemon's unusual stories started with 'Doctor Goldman' December , in which tissue transplanted from a dead man transfers his memories to the recipient.
Lemon's ideas were always imaginative, and we shall enconnter him again in the Gernsback magazines. Pollock was intrigned by the idea of vibrations, a theme which emerged strongly in later sf. In 'The Skyscraper in B Flat' Jnne he explores the way in which certain vibrations will establish a resonance that is highly destrnctive. He wonld also write one of the best early stories for The Argosy, the Wellsian end-of-the- world short story 'Finis' Jnne After Umbstaetter's death The Black Cat published hardly any scientific stories.
Set in the year it considers many wonders of the future, including teaching by television, though its main plot revolves around the accumulation of interest in a bank account that has passed down the generations and is now enough to buy the solar system. This story was later reprinted by Hugo Gernsback in Amazing.
The Black Cat itself continued until October It had a short-lived revival in , and was even resurrected as a fantasy reprint magazine in by George Henderson of Memory Lane Publications in Toronto, Canada, but financial problems stopped this final incarnation lasting more than one issue.
This Black Cat therefore scarcely had three lives. The Clack Book was something else entirely. It was a small literary magazine modelled to some extent on the British Yellow Book and specializing in bohemian poetry and fiction. Its first issue, dated April , was under the editorship of Frank G. Wells, and was in chapbook form, running to only 26 pages with a mixture of poetry and short prose, mostly anonymous.
The magazine attracted some of the leading artists and poets of the day, amongst them Edgar Fawcett and Elia Wilkinson Peattie. It folded with its twelfth issue, dated June At the end of the nineteenth century science fiction had still not taken hold in the pulps, though it remained evident in the leading popular 'slick' magazines, mostly because of the American serial- ization of the novels by H.
Stockton June- November Set 50 years in the future, the story includes a wealth of inventions and discoveries including the first submarine voyage to the North Pole and a journey inside the Earth to discover that the centre of the planet is a massive diamond. Fezandie was a teacher and popular writer who later became Gernsback's first leading sf author. One of the writers who kept his science fiction relatively light-hearted was Robert W. By the turn of the century, however, apart from the inevitable invention story, science fiction appeared less frequently in the slick magazines and became more the territory of the pulps.
By almost every issue of The Argosy carried a story of some scientific or fantastic development. Two distinct fields had emerged: stories that explored the idea of a new invention, and those that were an exten- sion of the dime novel, featuring sensationalistic fantastic adventures. In the first category are the humorous stories by Edgar Franklin about an eccentric inventor, Mr Hawkins. Humorous invention stories would become a feature of the early Gernsback magazines, and they were common in many magazines in the first years of the twentieth century, indicative of the growing fascination with technology.
Similar to these are the biological creations of Professor Jonkin in the stories by Howard R. His first sf in The Argosy was the serial 'A Ronnd Trip to the Year ' Jnly-November , combining time travel with a fntnre travelogne, a catalogne of adventnres and some fairly blnnt satire. Cook had five sf novels serialized in The Argosy inclnding the interplanetary adventnre 'Adrift in the Unknown' December April All of these bore the trademark of the dime novel with simple characterisation and fast-action adven- ture, but had a veneer of sophistication in setting the stories in a social and political context.
Science fiction received a boost when Munsey started a new magazine called All-Story in January It was here, under the strong editorial guidance of Robert H. Davis, that pulp science fiction began to develop. Serviss was a journalist but also a writer and lecturer on popular science - almost the forerunner of Isaac Asimov. While working as a reporter on the New York Evening Journal Serviss was commissioned to write a sequel to Wells's The War of the Worlds, of which an American adaptation was running in the Evening Journal to tremendous acclaim.
Serviss used Wells's novel as a base only for his own 'Edison's Conquest of Mars' Evening Journal, 12 January February , in which Thomas Alva Edison is able to develop an antigravity device and build an armada which defeats the Martians. This story was extremely popular in its day and it is worth noting the hero-status that Thomas Edison achieved.
The inventor was revolutionizing American technology. Ever since he had estab- lished the first industrial research laboratory at Menlo Park, New Jersey known colloquially as the 'invention factory' , he had become a legend in America. Edison more than anyone before or since inspired Americans to explore the wonders and possibilities of technology, and it was he who provided the boost to the many invention stories that proliferated in the magazines at the turn of the century. He was also the direct inspiration for Hugo Gernsback, as we shall shortly see.
Serviss's 'The Moon MetaT is the story of the discovery of a new metal, artemisium, which is brought to Earth from the Moon by matter transmitter and replaces gold as the financial standard. The novel still has overtones of the dime-novel, but it was right for the time and was very popular. Perhaps Serviss's best story, and in later years one of his best remembered, is 'The Second Deluge', serialized in The Cavalier, another Munsey pulp, from July 1 to January Earth enters a spiral nebula and is subject to a second global flood.
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This had been foreseen by scientist Cosmo Versal, whom few believed, and he creates his ark from a new metal, and saves a few thousand believers and animals. Between and , All-Story published over 60 stories of scientific or fantastic extrapolation.
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A number of regular writers appeared, but the most important was George Allan England, a prolific writer of a wide range of stories, who brought much creativity to his science fiction. And so we come to , the year Gernsback cited as the genesis of Amazing Stories.
As I have demonstrated, though, by then science fiction had become a major part of the content of popular maga- zines and many of the features and story-lines that Gernsback would develop had already been explored by the growing generation of writers fascinated with the possibilities of science. At a very early age he became fascinated in the power of electricity, particularly in the development of the battery. He also took a delight in science fiction which, as we have seen, was strongly in evidence in Europe at that time. Gernsback's father worked in the wine business which did not interest young Hugo and, following his father's death, Gernsback emigrated to the United States which he believed was the land of scientific opportunity, as was being ably demonstrated by Edison and his rival Nikola Tesla.
Tesla was born in Croatia of Serbian descent and had emigrated to the States in , for a while working for Edison.
The two, however, fell out and thus started the rivalry that inspired scientific research for the next 20 years. It was to this creative culture that Gernsback emigrated in to establish his dry- cell battery business. He met with mixed success, but Gernsback had an 'easy-come easy-go' attitude to life and moved without concern from one problem to the next triumph. Before arriving in New York he had been working on a small portable radio transmitter and receiver but it was taking some time to perfect and make marketable.
Once in New York, he found that many of the radio parts were not available so he established The Electro Importing Company called Telimco from the company's initials to import and distribute scientific equipment from Europe, especially Germany. Gernsback completed his portable radio set and wrote about it in the Scientific American as 'The New Inter- rupter' 29 July with the by-line 'Huck' Gernsback. This was Gernsback's first appearance in print, a few weeks short of his twenty-first birthday.
Gernsback's promotion of his radio -set caused some scepticism and he was charged to prove that the radio worked, which he did with no problem. Nevertheless he was astonished at the general ignorance of technology amongst the American public: 'It rankled me that there could be such ignorance in regard to science and 1 vowed to change the situation if 1 could. A few years later, in , 1 turned publisher and brought out the world's first radio magazine. Modern Electrics, to teach the young generation science, radio and what was ahead for them.
The circnlation rose rapidly over the next few years. It was evident from the start that Gernsback was aiming the magazine at the yonng experi- menter or hobbyist. The bnlk of the contents comprised details abont new developments, particnlarly in radio, bnt Gernsback soon began to provide specnlative articles, starting with 'Harnessing the Ocean' December In the same issne he began a colnmn to stimnlate interest in more imaginative areas of science, thongh it was written in a hnmorons style so as to avoid scepticism.
The first considered 'Wireless on Satnrn', showing that Gernsback was already keen to take his readers' interests beyond earthly boundaries. Perhaps the most significant of Gernsback's early articles appeared in the December issue: 'Television and the Telephot'. Gerns- back explained in simple terms the principle of television and put forward his own contribution on how television might be realized. He called his own technique the 'light-relay', but he considered the device 'too complicated for general use', so he did not patent it.
This method, though, was more akin to the way television works now than the scanning-disc system which John Logie Baird promoted and which caused him to be recognized as the inventor of television. Gernsback also established the Wireless Association of America in January , and Modern Electrics became its official magazine.
It demonstrates Gernsback's desire to promote and organize people, and he would repeat this 25 years later when he founded the Science Fiction League. Of greatest significance, however, is the April issue of Modern Electronics. This carried the first instalment of Gernsback's serial 'Ralph C 41 -i-'. The series is only loosely a novel, though it clearly developed as Gernsback became more creative. Essentially it was a forum to explore a catalogue of inventions through the character of Ralph, one of ten great superminds in the year The story continued through 12 instalments to the March issue.
By this time we have had a travelogue of New York and seen many of Ralph's inventions. These include a 'hypnobioscope', a machine which transmits impulses to the brain whilst the person sleeps. Gernsback later patented this invention as a 'learn-while- you-sleep' process, but in the story the machine may be seen as a precursor of modern-day virtual-reality technology, since Ralph is able to experience a film-tape of Homer's Odyssey in his dreams.
It occnrred in the issne for December , in which Ralph's spaceflyer is pursning Martians who have kidnapped Alice, Ralph's fiancee. Not only does Gernsback describe its opera- tion in detail, he provides a diagram which shows accnrately how it wonld work. The word 'radar' did not come into existence nntil when Robert Watson- Watt perfected the method of tracking an airplane by the reflection of short-waves.
VOLUME TWO: LOVE AND SOCIETY
Watson-Watt was knighted for his invention of radar and no credit passed to Gerns- back. When Gernsback's prediction was later shown to Watson- Watt he was astonished and thereafter maintained that Gernsback was the real inventor. It is important to note that in his introduction to the story Gernsback emphasizes that 'while there may be extremely strange and improbable devices and scenes in this narrative, they are not at all impossible or outside the reach of science'. Gernsback always believed that any scientific extrapolation in his stories had to be possible, otherwise it was relegated to the realms of fantasy.
In later years he let this premise slip, but in these early days he was strict.
As a result his readers became subject to a succession of 'invention' stories which at the time may have seemed remarkable but are now extremely pedestrian. The reception accorded to the serial by the readers caused Gerns- back to encourage others to contribute similar stories. The first was by Jacque Morgan, who had already contributed several articles to the magazine. The series explored a variety of humorous inventions just like Edgar Franklin's Hawkins' stories in The Argosy, though with far less literary skill.
Shortly after this Gernsback sold his share of Modern Electrics to his new business partner, Orland Ridenour.
Gernsback's last issue was that for March , though the magazine continued as Modern Electrics and Mechanics for two years before merging with Popular Science Monthly in April Gernsback started over again with a new magazine. The Electrical Experimenter. The format allowed for greater development of photo- graphs and illustrative material and was all round a more stimu- lating magazine.