"How Astounding Saw the Future"
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I like the part about how the Edd Cartier cover was creepy enough to make the editor to think about who he wanted to sell to and he decided to start putting out boring covers after Unknown "But Without Horns"

 

 

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great article thanks for the head up

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Cool read thanks for posting it (thumbsu

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5 hours ago, bronze johnny said:

Excellent article that inadvertently touched on the reason for Astounding SF's gradual decline as a cutting edge SF publication in the early 50's.  John W. Campbell was an excellent writer and editor.  In his capacity as Astounding's editor he approved changes to the publication's art and content that raised the level of mature readership of the pulp.  He also brought in the era of digests during WWII, which caught on in the late 40's and eventually brought about the demise of pulps.

Where JWC wore blinders was his failure to allow sexual content, stories with strong female characters or racial injustice.  He notoriously rejected or demanded changes in provocative stories from top notch authors when their yarns ventured into those areas.  In the early 1950's Astounding SF digests would start losing ground to more innovative digest publications such as Galaxy.  Well known, widely respected authors whose careers had been established at Astounding would move over to Galaxy which not only promised writers better pay, but allowed them much more freedom to tell stories that included adult relationships and themes that Campbell balked at publishing.  Also, while Unknown was a superb fantasy publication, it was never able to unseat the leading publication in that field, Weird Tales.  Arguably, the elimination of cover paintings may have contributed to Unknown's failure to compete with other established fantasy pulps.

One of Campbell's biggest blind spots was L. Ron Hubbard, whose SF work took a back seat to his marketing skills.  For awhile, Campbell bought into his Dianetics theories and allowed Hubbard to use Astounding as a platform to hype his controversial views.  This was long before the long rumored poker game where Hubbard accepted the challenge to create a religion.  And we know where that went...!

Without question, John W. Campbell will always be a monumental figure in the development of science figure in spite of occasionally being sidetracked into areas where history has proven him misguided. In many ways, John W. Campbell's vision of science fiction expanded on that of Hugo Gernsback, who invented the SF pulp via Amazing Stories in 1926.  Like Gernsback, Campbell was more interested in stories which conveyed the technical aspects of science-fiction over dramatic storytelling that involved deeper human relationships.  

Nevertheless, Campbell did expect thought provoking stories with bold dramatic ideas which anticipated the future.  For awhile anyway, he paid well and published great works of fiction by the best authors in the field.  He had a vision for SF and went about proving there was a sophisticated adult audience craving more than the space opera, monsters and the legions of scantily clad women in need of rescue exploited by other pulps of the era (not that those aren't intriguing as well).

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16 hours ago, Cat-Man_America said:

Excellent article that inadvertently touched on the reason for Astounding SF's gradual decline as a cutting edge SF publication in the early 50's.  John W. Campbell was an excellent writer and editor.  In his capacity as Astounding's editor he approved changes to the publication's art and content that raised the level of mature readership of the pulp.  He also brought in the era of digests during WWII, which caught on in the late 40's and eventually brought about the demise of pulps.

Where JWC wore blinders was his failure to allow sexual content, stories with strong female characters or racial injustice.  He notoriously rejected or demanded changes in provocative stories from top notch authors when their yarns ventured into those areas.  In the early 1950's Astounding SF digests would start losing ground to more innovative digest publications such as Galaxy.  Well known, widely respected authors whose careers had been established at Astounding would move over to Galaxy which not only promised writers better pay, but allowed them much more freedom to tell stories that included adult relationships and themes that Campbell balked at publishing.  Also, while Unknown was a superb fantasy publication, it was never able to unseat the leading publication in that field, Weird Tales.  Arguably, the elimination of cover paintings may have contributed to Unknown's failure to compete with other established fantasy pulps.

One of Campbell's biggest blind spots was L. Ron Hubbard, whose SF work took a back seat to his marketing skills.  For awhile, Campbell bought into his Dianetics theories and allowed Hubbard to use Astounding as a platform to hype his controversial views.  This was long before the long rumored poker game where Hubbard accepted the challenge to create a religion.  And we know where that went...!

Without question, John W. Campbell will always be a monumental figure in the development of science figure in spite of occasionally being sidetracked into areas where history has proven him misguided. In many ways, John W. Campbell's vision of science fiction expanded on that of Hugo Gernsback, who invented the SF pulp via Amazing Stories in 1926.  Like Gernsback, Campbell was more interested in stories which conveyed the technical aspects of science-fiction over dramatic storytelling that involved deeper human relationships.  

Nevertheless, Campbell did expect thought provoking stories with bold dramatic ideas which anticipated the future.  For awhile anyway, he paid well and published great works of fiction by the best authors in the field.  He had a vision for SF and went about proving there was a sophisticated adult audience craving more than the space opera, monsters and the legions of scantily clad women in need of rescue exploited by other pulps of the era (not that those aren't intriguing as well).

Great post! 

Perhaps Campbell had a realization that his magazine would attract young people with his kind of science fiction given the lack of available books during that era? Science Fiction genre based books like most others weren't as accessible to the masses given the fact that libraries available to the public were limited and the idea of purchasing books - hardcovers were the standard - was applicable to the smaller population possesing disposable incomes.  

The Hubbard stuff is fascinating given the irony that Campbell never would have thought of or intended - the science fiction genre and his magazine would lay the groundwork for a prophet to convey a religious message that would evolve into a worldwide religion. 

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If anyone is interested and has around an hour, here is a really good documentary on the behind the scenes of pulps with interviews of some writers.  Lots of Hubbard discussion.  

 

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On 1/11/2019 at 9:27 AM, Mmehdy said:

great article thanks.

Sign of the times. Late 1920's and 1930s, folk were hungry for sci-fi and magic stories:

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9 hours ago, telerites said:

If anyone is interested and has around an hour, here is a really good documentary on the behind the scenes of pulps with interviews of some writers.  Lots of Hubbard discussion.  

 

interesting program.

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2 hours ago, OtherEric said:

Unknown_1939_11.jpg

Unknown_1942_12.jpg

Without cover art Unknown loses a lot of it's newsstand appeal, but the Hannes Bok interior art & story is more interesting...

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